What does a DJ do? Great question! There are several different types of DJs, and they do distinctly different kinds of work.
Dance Music DJs for clubs and festivals – This is the kind of DJ this website deals with, because that’s the kind of DJ I was, and it’s the kind of DJ I know the most about. Electronic dance music DJs blend existing tracks (their own or those of other DJs), along with their own sounds and special effects, to create a musical set over a period of time from an hour to many hours in a row. The music does not usually stop at all during that time (although brief moments of silence can be an important part of a set), and the audience is expected to continue dancing throughout.
The goal of a good dance music DJ is to:
A) – Choose good tracks that people like to dance to
B) – Create a good flow or journey from the beginning to the end of the set, with a pace that is appropriate for the time of day or night (early in the party, peak time, ending time)
C) – Provide technically superb mixing, so that people either can’t tell when one track becomes another or are totally amazed by the skill of the DJ in moving from one track to the next. A DJ nightmare is when two or more tracks collide unpleasantly; this is known as a trainwreck and trust me, even in this day of automatic sync buttons, trainwrecks can and do occur, even to the best DJs in the world.
Many DJs are also producers who make their own tracks from scratch using a wide variety of tools and gear. It has become more and more common to see “Live” sets, where the artist creates all the music he or she plays, throughout the set. That is, they don’t use any tracks that aren’t theirs, although they may incorporate bits and pieces from other artists’ tracks. It’s a highly creative process.
Top global DJs and producers can make many thousands for each set they do. But that is an elite group. Most of us mere mortals are thrilled to get to play music, get free entry, drinks and a +5 guest list. The first time you make $100 on top of that, you’re over the moon! Interested in learning to DJ this way? I can get you started here.
Wedding DJs – these guys and gals typically get a playlist from the bride and groom, and their job is to play those songs in a good order to keep the party happy and dancing until the wedding party is over. There is usually not much mixing involved, and the DJ may speak to the crowd and initiate games and such per the bride and groom’s wishes. Good Wedding DJs make good money per gig (around $1000 for a few hours work). They usually work in party venues such as hotels.
Radio DJs – these DJs usually have their own show that can be all talk or might combine talking and music, either on an Internet radio station or old-fashioned FM. They might work in a studio or at an event and probably have a regular weekly or daily schedule.