So you want to become a DJ… People repeatedly ask how exactly you learn and which sources to trust.
I put up this quick guide to best places to learn DJing.
The beauty of the internet age is that you can find plenty of resources online for learning even the most obscure skills. And DJing and electronic music are not – they are massively popular and growing every year.
So lack of learning resources is not your problem.
The problem is information overload.
And lack of structure. And lack of direction.
You could spend 15 lifetimes just watching Youtube videos on beatmatching, phrasing and whatnot. There are some gems on Youtube. But at this stage, you don't know enough to tell them from the tons of trash. You risk learning bad habits and missing important things.
You need structure. A curriculum. Step by step. First learn this, now practice this, then learn that, and so on. This is how you make controlled progress. Not by random browsing.
Yes, being a DJ is being an artist – experimenting, trying things… But first you need the fundamentals. Otherwise you are wasting your time.
So for start, pick one good resource.
Don't worry about missing great ideas and materials in other sources. The learning never stops. There will be time to check the other courses, blogs, and videos. But that time is not now.
You need focus. Pick one, stick with it. Finish it. Majority of people who buy online courses (in any subject) don't finish any.
Don't be the course hoarder who has bought everything, spent a few thousand, but has yet to complete a single course.
If you focus, you will make more progress in a month than most people make
in a year ever.
Below I list the best, beginner friendly courses from proven trusted creators.
They cover the essentials, in a structured way, and can be used as solid intro material.
Which one should you choose?
Each has strengths and weaknesses, which I explain below. I don't recommend one of them as "the best" for everybody. It depends on your situation: where you are now, your budget, what kind of DJing you want to get into (if you don't know the different DJ career paths and don't have an idea of the kind of DJ you want to be, that would be the first thing to learn).
So here are the best places to learn DJing, with their pros and cons:
(Don't be put off by their generic sounding names.)
Although I wrote a few lines above that no single source is best for everyone, the best for most people, in 2020, is this.
By most people I mean the typical beginner or almost-beginner looking for a comprehensive course that covers all the key topics in an easy-to-follow way, with high quality materials, active support, and regular updates.
It gives you the so important structure. It covers, better than most, the big picture on DJing and your place in it (whether your ambition is very small and local, or you dream of becoming one of the big names). And your path to that place, what it takes, removing your rose-tinted glasses (beware).
But don't take my word for it – their numbers speak for themselves: 25,000 students in 163 countries, at the time I write this.
I say they, but the website was started in 2010 by a single person – Phil Morse, whose DJ CV includes clubs, festivals, radio, and events in wide range of places including Privilege in Ibiza. He also wrote the best-selling book Rock the Dancefloor! (which you can get for free by subscribing to their newsletter). Over time the site grew bigger and today involves 3 DJs and a professional support team.
- Covers all the essentials, from techniques to equipment to marketing.
- Professionally made, HD videos with multiple camera angles (important).
- Remote classroom style where you can ask questions.
- Lots of free stuff to read and watch before you spend money.
- Unbeatable 12-month money-back guarantee.
- Not cheap (but you can choose 3 monthly payments instead of one).
The best about this source is you can learn a lot even without spending anything. The website has a huge collection of free tutorials. Don't forget to get the free book, which is a great intro on its own.
Go to Digital DJ Tips
Remember how you should pick one source and stick with it? Well, this website defies that principle a bit. It is a whole platform of various DJ courses. But it's too good to not list it here.
Its main benefit is cost. Instead of paying several hundred upfront for one course, you pay $19 per month for access to the whole platform.
This is best for someone who is on limited budget, but also dedicated to learning quickly and willing to invest the time. If you can complete a course in a month, it will cost you fraction of what you would pay elsewhere.
That said, in the end you may as well decide to explore the other courses and stay subscribed (which is exactly what this website's business model relies on).
They have beginner courses, but also some advanced and highly specialized ones.
After these check Advanced DJ Techniques and Tips, a huge 3-level course that digs (much) deeper. I would say after you get the fundamentals, this is the best course to really take you to next level.There are also detailed courses on particular software and DJ gear, such as Traktor, Serato, Ableton Live, and Mixed in Key. They are regularly updated.
Not least, they also cover the business side of DJing: DJ Career Tips. Because playing music is only one part of the job. Another part is marketing, branding, networking, operations, and whole lot of less exciting stuff that is unfortunately essential for success (often more so than the music itself, like it or not).
- Price. The best value you can find.
- There is something for all levels and styles.
- Strong on the practical side (DJ gear, career).
- Good support, regular additions, and updates.
- Free previews (full videos of selected lessons) and 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Only works if you have the focus and discipline. With wide selection of courses, it is easy to jump from one to another, getting nowhere. Go one at a time.
Go to DJ Courses Online
Armin Van Buuren
(Insights from a star)
You know who he is. The best known name that also does a course, titled Armin Van Buuren Teaches Dance Music.
That said, I would not recommend Armin's course if you are a complete beginner to DJing. It is mainly an honorable mention on this list, as it is quite advanced and focused on the production side. To a beginner it may feel like learning to run before you can walk.
But once you get the basics, perhaps as the second or third course, you can't go wrong broadening your horizons and seeing how a top level guy operates and thinks.
The course is hosted at the Masterclass platform and contains 33 videos of 6h50 total.
- Who better to learn electronic music from than Armin Van Buuren?
- Covers some topics that other sources miss (like hosting radio shows).
- Doing a course from a star who's "made it" can boost your motivation (if you need that).
- More advanced and production focused. Not suitable as beginner DJ course.