Nightclub DJs are masters of the dance floor. With their characteristic
headphones, they spin records and mix tunes, controlling the sound and the
vibe in the room.
Nightclub DJs spin records in live settings -- be it at nightclubs, dances,
weddings or other events.
When nightclub DJs first started spinning, vinyl records were the format
of choice. And they remained so for a long time. Eventually CDs became the
popular format, and DJs used a combination of both CDs and records.
Nowadays mp3s are popular. It's not uncommon to see a DJ hunkered down
behind a laptop rather than two turntables! The word "mp3J" is even starting
to get tossed around.
"Once you could only get vinyl records to DJ with, so everyone was well-versed
in the use of turntables," says nightclub DJ Kenzie Clarke.
"But now the vinyl has all but disappeared, and mp3s are the new thing.
Whereas before you could wander down to your local record store and search
hopefully for that song that you really wanted, now you just have to click
a button a few times and it's there. Convenience-wise it's great, but nostalgically
speaking, it's not so great."
Evan Bluetech is a popular Hawaiian-based DJ/producer. He also performs
under the names Evan Marc and Evan Bartholomew. He agrees that the Internet
has made things easier for DJs.
"Especially with DJ-oriented music sites like Beatport, which has made
it much easier to find music that fits your style," says Bluetech.
On being a DJ, he says, "I get to tell a story, almost compose a journey
in the moment using other pieces of music that have moved me. It's fun, spontaneous
and allows a really cool level of interaction with an audience as you see
what's working for them."
"I really love music, and listening to it on my own is a huge part of my
life," says DJ Hrdvsion (also known as Nathan Jonson to his mom).
"To be able to present music and affect other peoples' lives in doing so
is incredible. I can't imagine how my life would be...without music. And to
have this possibility of adding this love to someone else's life is infinitely
So how do you get started on the journey to becoming a nightclub DJ?
You'll need a great ear for music, as well as a collection of music that
expresses your particular vibe, according to Bluetech. "It's easy to play
what everyone else is playing," he says. "It's much harder to build a distinctive
style, but that is ultimately what will give you longevity in a DJ career."
Before starting out, Clarke suggests taking some lessons or talking with
an established DJ. But be sure DJing is something you really want to do, she
The investment in equipment can cost $400 to $1,500, and that's just the
beginning, she says. "The costs are quite high to stick with it, and most
people who start find that they don't want to do it as much as they first
thought. As a sole profession it is very difficult to instantly become the
next big thing, but, as with every other profession, persistence, some business
savvy and practice will help you move towards your goal faster."
It can be tough to make a go as a DJ, according to Clarke. To get by, many
DJs earn extra income elsewhere. "It's such a touch-and-go industry in regards
to making money," she says.
"Most people basically just break even. What they pay for their equipment
comes back to them eventually. You do see the 'superstar DJ' culture in magazines
and on websites, but these people are very few and far between."
Like many professionals in the entertainment industry, nightclub DJs experience
ups and downs. There are times when dance clubs are really popular. At other
times, economic trends or even changing musical tastes can draw people elsewhere.
Clarke says the popularity of DJing is currently on the upswing, due to
the ease at which people can learn to DJ. "Programs such as Traktor or the
introduction of the iPod DJ console have brought the living room DJ into the
clubs, and have started to let people try out the DJ role for themselves,"
But Clarke tries not to pay attention to the changing trends in the industry.
"Focusing on the music is the most important thing in order to ride out these
changes," she says.
"There will always be parties, clubs and venues where people go to dance,
so as long as people like dancing, there is work for a DJ," says Bluetech.
"If you are technically proficient, have a great music collection, and most
importantly, a gregarious and open personality, then you can be quite successful
as a DJ."
However, DJing is just one avenue. Bluetech suggests pursuing the musical
expression that suits you best -- whether that's DJing, producing or performing.
"DJs get to be the sound of the party, the ones creating the vibe that
everyone else experiences," he says. "It's not a bad job."
There are side benefits to DJing as well, according to Jonson. DJs become
part of a community, which builds social skills, he says. DJing also promotes
hand-eye coordination and works the brain. "Not to mention, it's just fun
to see people dance to the music you love too," he says.
Visit this popular site where DJs can download music
The DJ List
Find a huge directory of DJs from around the world
Read this US-based magazine for professional DJs
Visit Bluetech's website
Learn more about Hrdvision