Everyone knows the popular dance floor track ‘Last Night a DJ Saved my Life’. While losing oneself to dancing may not exactly be a life saver, it can be very therapeutic. The person behind the console is responsible for this life enhancement.
If you eat, breathe and live music, a career as a disc jockey could be the one for you. There is nothing more satisfying than opting for a career that allows one to follow their passions and dreams. Disc jockeys, or DJs as they are more commonly known, entertain others using music created by other artists, composers and often, music that they have produced themselves. DJs mostly work on a contract basis at radio stations, event management companies and nightclubs, but the greater part of people in this profession work as independent DJs or on a freelance basis.
The Art of DJing
DJs are adept in the art of entertaining a crowd of people using music as a medium. Such performing artists are specialists in what they do. It doesn’t come naturally for anyone and everyone. To get paid to spin the tunes you love, you must obviously have a true passion and commitment to the job. But, before you even reach this stage, you will need to learn and practice as much as you can. Aspiring DJs need to get familiar with certain techniques that are widely used to manipulate music. And the learning doesn’t stop there. DJ styles are continuously changing with the times. Be a sponge and soak up as much information as you can. This will help you apply it to your own style and to develop your skills.
DJ E V of Vancouver-based electro fusion group A-SLAM feels that a successful DJ should have a basic understanding of music, including key and tempo. “Taking music theory classes or learning it on your own will be helpful. The ability to play the drums, piano or other instruments also helps to a great extent. Once you have this understanding, you can then focus on your DJ skills that include mixing, track selection and scratching. You can also further your skills and really turn your decks into an instrument in itself by studying and practising battle DJing,” he says. Pursuing a career in DJing is all about patience. You have to keep going, no matter what the situation is like. Practice is important when you start off and should essentially continue right through your career. Hard work always pays off and with time, somebody is bound to recognise you and give you the big break that you have been long awaiting.
As a DJ, you’ll need to have an allround knowledge of music. Listen to as much music as you can, whenever you can. Explore different genres of music and within each genre, note down those songs that you feel would work in different environments. An eclectic taste in music is the prerequisite here as well as the ability to gauge the moods of people. You can’t turn up at a 16-year-old’s party and dish out Elvis Presley! It helps to be a people’s person. You are the person in charge of entertaining the crowd after all! Expect people to come up to you and request for their favourites. The ability to be an easygoing person is yet another desirable quality in this profession. You are the medium between the music and the people. Networking is an important aspect that helps to get booked.
Since we are in the digital age, music as well as equipment has gone the same route. Keep abreast with the latest music software used in the industry.
The Big Break
Aspiring DJs usually start out at parties of friends. Making contacts at this point of time is crucial if you wish to perform on the big stage someday. Joining an event management company or a local radio station also helps and gives you the benefits of temporary job security and exposure.
“As with other music-related professions, you have to do it for the love and passion of music. If you become one of the top DJs, then yes, it can become a full-time career. However, in Mumbai both the wedding and Bollywood industry is huge, so there might be more opportunities for aspiring DJs,” explains DJ E V.
The Real Thing
There will always be issues that plague even the most talented of DJs. Working hours are never stable as a DJ. You’ll have to work late nights frequently. The pay can range from nothing to the price that you demand, provided you have reached a stage in your career that allows you to command your own fee. The average pay can range from anywhere between Rs.10,000 to Rs.50,000 or more per gig.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to hit the decks and spin some tunes!
- Beat matching: The art of synchronising beats in two songs
- Turntablism: The art of manipulating sounds and creating music using phonograph turntables and a DJ mixer
- Azaredo Acoustics, Mumbai
- Beat Station DJ School, Mumbai
- Spin Gurus, Delhi
- ILM Academy, Bangalore
Volume 1 Issue 12