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How Hard is it to Become a Professional DJ?

The rise of digital DJ technology has made access to the tools of the DJ trade much more widely available to almost everyone. This has made people believe that being a professional DJ is easy, however if anything the reverse is true, to become a professional DJ is even tougher now than ever. The general public and even some DJ’s themselves don’t have a clue how hard it is to be a truly professional mobile DJ.
 
This has given some people the impression that a mobile DJ isn’t worth much and they’re not much more than a glorified jukebox. This means the amount people are willing to pay has fallen and many DJ’s have dropped their prices to just above what they’d charge for the rental cost of the DJ equipment itself.
 
What they don’t realise: A true professional DJ is trained and skilled in a variety of disciplines, each of which could be a career all in itself.
 
The following is a list of skills a good professional mobile DJ requires:
 
Music
To successfully DJ an event like a wedding can be a very taxing task. Not only does the DJ need to have a great knowledge of music, from history and genres, to titles, artists, song structure, key, BPM (beats per minutes / tempo) and current trends. A DJ also needs to know what music is appropriate for each situation, from lyrics that are suitable for children to music that can keep anyone from 10 years old to 80 year olds involved and having fun. The mobile DJ is expected to balance all these things for the entire event, not just for an hour.
 
Master of Ceremonies
Are you scared of public speaking? Can you communicate a message effectively to a crowded room with a microphone? This is another skill required of mobile DJ’s. Being able to able to give a proper formal introduction is a required skill and not to mention presiding over ceremonial aspects of an event or function. The mobile DJ is required to communicate effectively, hopefully with charm and elegance, in an entertain and engaging way. This is not easy.
 
Planning and Coordination
Planning and coordinating a successful event requires understanding a lot of different things. You must understand the entertainment principles and logistics, including how to set-up the room, so that it is conductive to the activities taking place at your event. Making sure things happen at the right time and feel like a natural progression are the touches that make an event run smoothly.
 
Technical Set-Up
Understanding the equipment and the technical aspects of it’s set-up takes a lot of experience. A DJ needs to know how to troubleshoot problems on the spot and understand how an events set-up will affect technical requirements.
 
Not to mention understanding acoustics, EQ’s or equalization of the room depending on how many people it will contain. To be honest there are a whole list of technical aspects that require a DJ to have expert, almost sound engineer-like knowledge.
 
DJ’s also edit music for timing and content (take out bad lyrics, create ”mash-ups” and other edited/mixed music applications. As well as often controlling the lighting and set-up of it at events.
 
To be honest the skills listed above don’t even cover all the things a pro-DJ has to have some knowledge of and make look easy. Anyone skilled in their art or craft tend to make what they do look easy. What people don’t see is the hours of practice, rehearsal, learning, research and preparation that goes into making everything run smoothly.
 
You’ll never really know how hard it is to be a professional DJ until you are one.
 
What else do you think should be on the list?
11/02/2015
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