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Disc Jockey Job Description

Arun Prabhu
Regarded as one of the coolest professions of the present, a DJ is the life-giver of any party. But at the same time, a DJ has to uphold the giant responsibility of making the party successful. To help you out with that, here's some things that you need to know about the DJ business.
When Cool Herc spun his first parties in the Bronx, people knew that they were witnessing the start of something that could define generations. They were right, because DJ Cool Herc is regarded as the father of hip-hop, the one who used the turntable to accomplish impossibilities that others thought ridiculous.
Now, when he started out, being a DJ wasn't really a job. There were no auditions, no schedule, no crowd control. But today, it has all fallen into place. Being a good DJ means being entrusted with a lot of power and responsibility.
Abuse it once and you may never stand behind a turntable again. You won't be as constant as an RJ or as visible as a VJ, but you will sure as anything make people dance to your beats.

DJ Equipment

Let's start off with a list of the main things that you need to buy or rent, to become a DJ.


The most important piece of equipment that you will need, no doubts here. What remains to be decided is the type of turntable you want. You need to choose to stick to a vinyl turntable or a CD turntable. Each has its set of pros and cons that only you can find out after trying them both on for size.
Try talking to a fellow DJ to get to use his or her turntable for a party. That said, even if you have a world of advantages on a CD turntable over a vinyl, once you're a vinylophile, you will not touch CDs again.


Same as the turntable, you cannot host a party without a mixer. You should know by now what a mixer can and can't do. If you don't, you need to figure that out now. Apart from mixing tracks to create the kind of environment you want, you can also create new tracks of your own, using fading and repetition.


Also a very important piece of technology that you need, the headphones will help you decide the timing between tracks and other things. The better the quality, the clearer you can hear any individual track that you need to mix into or out of.


To find out the right kind of cartridge, you need to do quite a bit or experimenting. The two main categories of choice are between sound output quality and your ability to and liking for scratching.

What Makes a Good Disc Jockey

Here's a gist of what you need to earn and learn to become a great DJ.

Skills and Knowledge Needed

Being a DJ requires two things from your personality - the ability and ease of socializing and improvisation. In a way, being the DJ for a party is like being a clown; you need to put forth a constant environment of entertainment, regardless of the crowd or the place.
You need to understand that crowds, music preferences and locations keep changing, so you need to learn the flow of the masses to adapt and play the kind of music that will have people hooked to your style all the time.
This is the kind of knowledge that you will only attain by being the most social animal that anyone has known. If your tastes match the crowd, then you'll end up having fun too! In all fields of music, the art of disc jockeying is the one that requires the most knowledge about what's going around in the circuit.

Expected Pay

Now talking about the disc jockey salary aspect, the kind of money you can expect is the same as all other professions in music; the more your popularity grows, the more you earn. On an average, a respectable DJ can earn anything from $35,000 to $55,000 in a year.
The pay entirely depends on how well you publicize yourself, your total experience, who's hiring you, and your knowledge on being a DJ. Disc jockeying as a job is one tough egg to crack, so you'll have to be on guard for everything.

Bonus Duties

A good DJ will always inform the crowd about what's going on outside the room. Keep yourself updated on traffic reports to tell the people if they can take a better route when they head home. Incorporate the audience into your play, interact with them and take a couple of requests from time to time. Sometimes, good manners work as fine as being a bad-ass DJ too!


The only way you can earn a fixed income is through radio broadcasting. Find out if any station is looking for a new DJ, and don't waste time in applying for the job. Unfortunately, it has been observed that radios are slowly falling out of listeners and the business will see a steady decline over the next few years (as concluded by the BLS).
The other way would be to enter DJ battles to earn both prize money and fame, but be prepared for intense competition over there. Again, all these are pretty much one-time deals, and you'll need to be on your toes if you want to find out more of them.
Being a DJ is indeed a tough profession. If you don't love your job like it's worth your life, then I suggest you find another one. For the rest, the message is clear - there's only a point to which equipment and small-time parties can take you. There is a whole world beyond that, just waiting for you and your style, but the question remains to whether you have what it takes.