How to become a DJ

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DJ Sweet works as a commercial DJ in a night club in Swansea – where she plays chart and dance music to an audience of 18-40 year-olds. Once she becomes more established, Sweet hopes to attract more gigs abroard.

How do you know what discs to put on?

Keeping the audience happy is vital, and I obtain feedback from them about which tracks to play next. I use my intuition to determine the mood of the audience, sometimes changing the music to raise the tempo. At the beginning of the evening the crowd may be chatting rather than dancing, and I decide which tracks to play to help develop the mood.

What equipment do you use?

The mixing console is provided by the venue, although I always bring along my own collection of CDs and vinyl singles. Each month, I buy about six vinyl singles (some of which are limited edition dance tracks), and two special DJ-only CDs.

What hours do you work?

I have a residency one evening each week at the club, where I work from 8.30pm until 12.30am I also work for another club about twice a month. During the day, I work for a community music organisation, Total Music Wales, where I act as a DJ. In addition, I work for a record company in my own time, finding new talent.

What skills does this work require?

An outgoing personality is vital, as well as a good musical ear and a steady hand. You need a wide knowledge of musical styles, which can be developed through listening to different radio stations. A calm, levelheaded approach is important. Being able to sing is an advantage.

Why did you decide to become a DJ?

Music has always been in my blood and I have already had three hits in the dance charts. I was always singing, dancing, entering talent shows and listening to music when I was younger. Once I tried out a DJ console, I was hooked and realised this was something I wanted to do for a living.

Are there any challenges?

DJs work in an intensely competitive market, although there has been a breakthrough recently for women, with female DJs enjoying much more success and popularity.

Where do you see your future?

I plan to market myself and would love to expand my career to include other areas of the UK as well as abroad. A DJ management company has also approached me recently which will open other doors.

Sweet's route

  • GCSEs.
  • BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts.
  • Professional singer.
  • Chair of community arts organisation.
  • DJ.

Sweet's tips

  • Ensure that you market yourself properly to clubs with a sample CD, biography and good photographs.
  • Approach community organisations that offer DJ workshops and courses.
  • Having your own equipment helps.

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Salary information

  • Most DJs are freelance and selfemployed, and often have other jobs to supplement their earnings.
  • The pay can be low to start with, although with experience you could earn £200 – £300 per session.
  • Very experienced top DJs may earn £1,000 or more a session.

How to become a DJ

  • Formal academic qualifications are not needed to become a DJ. You will need a love of music and experience of DJ skills. Singing ability can be an advantage. Community organisations sometimes offer suitable training.
  • City and Guilds 7755 DJ skills courses are available.
  • Other relevant courses include the BTEC National Diploma in music technology (DJ Technology) and BTEC National certificate in music technology.
  • Independent collages run DJ courses as well.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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