Become a DJ in 8 steps

So, you’ve all seen the DJ’s, you’ve all heard them play. Have you also secretly wanted to be them?

Here are my collected “wisdom” (a term I use loosely about myself :P) from my time as a DJ, both in SL (for about a year) and RL (about 10 years).

1) The player! This is essential, you need something to play on. There are many alternatives, but the main ones are SAM Broadcaster (pricey, but one of the best), Virtual DJ (Mid-range, but reliable) and Winamp (free, but rather unreliable and a bit clunky, you also need a plugin for it to work with Shoutcast)

2) The stream! You need a stream, which is basically a web address that you send everything you play to. You set up your player/plugin with the address and some additional info (like what you want to appear on the DJ board, if the club has one and the format that the songs should be displayed in in the chat on Phoenix/Firestorm viewers), Many clubs in SL have their own streams that you can borrow, but that limits you to that club. You can also use an apache server to stream from your own computer, but unless you have around 100MBPS up on your broadband, this is not an option. The best option would be to rent a stream, either directly from SL in one of the many stream rental places or over the internet. The former is more convenient and you have everything already set up for SL, but the latter gives more control and can be a bit cheaper if you know what you are doing. Steams in SL can be as cheap as 100L$ for a day (great for auditions or events) or 800L$/month (great to keep on a subscription if you get a job at a club).

3) The music! As a beginner, pick a genre and stay to it. Throughout your whole career you should think of mixing up the songs, so you don’t play too much from the same artist. Every genre have great mix-collections (either on CD’s or as downloads) that give a good, solid foundation. A mix-collection is usually about 2 hours long (the length of most sets in SL clubs) and have all different artists. You can then start to expand by getting more from the artists that you notice people are liking. A good start is to have enough songs for 8 sets of 2 hours, that’s 16 hours worth of music, all of different artists, so you don’t play the same artist twice in a set, but the latter is the DJ’s preference.

SAM Broadcaster User Interface

4) The workplace! Clubs around SL are many, and it might be hard to find the one YOU like, and DJ’s are plentiful. Even with that, I can assure you that ALL clubs in SL are looknig for DJ’s. The DJ business is hard, you WILL be playing for empty dancerooms a lot in the beginning, before you get a following. Once you get fans, your reputation will rise and you can expect more and more crowd. Just give it your best and you’ll make it in SL club circuits. The mistake many DJ’s do is that they try it out for a month, notice that noone is there and quits. The thing the great DJ’s of SL, the legends, did when they started was to play for the sake of music, not for the crowd or tips. Playing for a club so full the sim crashes is a wonderful feeling, but it takes time to get there.

5) The following! That brings us to your identity. I know this might seem counterintuitive, but before you even get the stream, create an identity. What do you want your host to call you? Once you have that, create a group named “DJ X fan group”, where X is your identity. Invite your host to the group and give him/her invite rights, put the group as free to join and open enrollment and make sure your crowd knows you have the group, so they can join it. Send notices before EVERY event you’re playing at!

6) The Host! The hosts job is to work the crowd, to get seats filled and take care of them. Your job is to play the music and make sure you get the right music for the moment. IF you have time over, you can join the chatting, but that is the lowest priority. That’s why you have a host there.

7) The Mic! Even thou it’s not a necessity, hearing a DJ talk over the music hightens the emotions of every visitor. Get a mic, get used to talking in it and use it while DJing. Don’t use it too much thou, use it after a song when you got tipped, other than that, just use it for announcements every 4-5 songs at a maximum. Remember that people are there for the music, not the talking.

8) HAVE FUN!!! This is the most important part! If you’re in a bad mood, it will reflect on your performance. The transitions get sloppy, your voice will sound harsh and you won’t pay as much attention to the crowd. If you’re not happy at any of your sets, there might be something wrong at that particular club. Don’t be afraid to tell the club owner or manager(s), that’s what they are there for. If it’s the music that gets too repetetive, they might allow you to do a few sets outside the clubs genre, if it’s a problem with a person, you might get some help sorting it out. If all else fails, try working at another club for a while, there is nothing preventing you from working at several clubs at once. Be careful thou, know your limits. When doing something you love, you risk overdoing it and I’ve seen many DJ’s go down by being overworked. When you have a timeslot at a club, it’s easy to get stuck on the idea that you HAVE to play then and there, every week, indefinitely. Then you get to another club, get an offer to play there, and suddenly you’re stuck with more sets than you can handle, but don’t have the heart to say no to any of them. Don’t be afraid of telling the owner or manager that you feel overworked, they might consider pulling you down to one set every other week instead, or give you a leave of absence for a month or two.

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3 thoughts on “Become a DJ in 8 steps

  • February 12, 2012 at 7:27 pm
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    Great article Morph, on the nose!

    Although on some parts I stray from the “norm” a bit, have been working in the same club for 2 years now (and counting), and that has given me certain privelages: I can safely go off the beaten path without getting into too much problems with management 🙂 Hell, if you can combine Disco and Metal in one set (at a classic rock and blues club!) and still get a thumbs up you doin’ fine 😀

    Vis a Vis Hosts – and I’m not going to make myself popular here – I don’t have anything against hosts, they are great fun, keep the conversation going etc… but I rather work alone. I’ve had hosts interfering with sets, getting angry because I put in a musical joke or two (“OMG, I’m so gonna get fired if you keep doing that!) and that’s too much of a responsabiltiy for me, if I’m going to bugger up it’s gonna be my backside on the line and nobody else’s cute tush.

    Reply
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