Along the way, this topic has been close to any DJ’s heart and it is one of the most talked about aspects that we’ve had on our forums, in our emails and by feedback given through your comments. This subject has often emerged in undercover fashion through questions like “what controller do I need?”, “do I need to mix my tracks in key?”, “what skills are important?” and, of course, “what needs to be done to win the crowd over?”.

There’s no short answer simply because it cannot be covered in a single post, so feel free to say what interests you most. For those of you asking about the gear that pro DJs use I am going to say that it doesn’t really matter. Through the years, I have seen plenty of DJs hyping a massive crowd with just a Mixtrack Pro. Others use custom-made and custom mapped controllers, CDJs are used by some and a couple few use vinyl. The same can be said about software. Everyone has their own choice, usually the best choice being the one they’re already used to. So, if you hear someone go on and on about how important equipment is, just nod and then follow your own instincts.

Imagination is what makes or breaks a DJ. Use your audio gut, regardless of equipment.

“What about skills? Surely they count when playing in front of a crowd!” Well, not really. I say this because we all have our limits (this goes for pro DJs as well). The thing that well known DJs have is style, in the sense that they know what they’re doing to the point where they realize what their limits are. Thus, they have more time to focus on being charismatic with their audience, rather than having their eyes glued to the screen. Somehow making something (a small break from their safety zone), which may not be advanced and coupling it with a DJ-crowd eye contact, sends out a unique feeling to the people. So, it’s not about doing A LOT, but more about knowing what you can do and develop on that.

The crowd isn’t a pack of zombies. Look away from the screen, smile and enjoy yourself by making them happy!

Practice is the key word here, not just for DJ-ing, but for pretty much anything you want to become more professional in. Still, you’d say “practice isn’t a skill, but a medium through which you achieve the skill(s)” and you’d be right. However, not realizing the importance of practice and mixing regularly, especially in front of a crowd, will not make you feel comfortable when you’re playing, no matter what skills you may have. Also, networking with people is very important, leaving the trolls in the dust.

Make parties with your friends, just for the hell of it.

The one skill that any DJ can have from the start is the ability to know what songs to choose. Playing at different parties and having different reactions from one song to another led me to believe that you can win or lose your crowd with the simplest choice of what track you’re going to play next. Reading the crowd can give you hints on what to mix next but as Terry from Digital DJ tips said “It is not guessing what is next, it is not assuming what is next, it is knowing what must come next, from the bottom of your heart.”. He couldn’t have said it better because those that have an honest love for their music and craft will, like me, believe it is the one thing that separates a passionate DJ from anyone else.

To make it short, a passionate DJ knows what comes next.

There are countless parameters to consider so tell me what you’d like to hear about. The equipment? The skills? Staying true to the mood by selecting the right key, the right BPM, but also the right style and transition? Let me know.

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