Hi there everyone! My name is Ross Palmer, and I'm going to show you how to be a world-class DJ.
During my time at Armada Music, I was fortunate enough to work alongside with not only Armin van Buuren, but some of the best DJ’s in the world of dance music today. Now, many of my students and direct mentors are currently playing to packed crowds at festivals, in stadiums, and at the world’s most prestigious clubs, including Tomorrowland, EDC, and more. And I can say with 100% confidence, these are the skills the world’s top DJ’s use to crush it in front of any crowd, every time. How you execute these skills is all about how often you practice, but these are definitely the foundations on which you can become a technically proficient DJ at the highest level.
Sections 1 and 2 will cover all the basics you need to get started. I’ll even give you some advice on purchasing your first deck and how to book your first show.
In Section 3, we dive deeper into the different tools needed to create a really engaging show, including how to make seamless transitions in a pinch and a super easy way to spice up even the most boring sections of a track. I will even walk you through creating a playlist to fill a 1-hour set, which is a lot longer than it seems if you're doing it right.
Section 4 will focus in on advanced techniques that will help you become an in-demand DJ. In addition, you will learn how to mix faster and more precise, as well as secret tricks the pros use to make their show sound larger than life. Finally, we will talk about showmanship and how to really polish your performance to take your DJ’ing to the highest level.
My former students and good friends are signed to the world's best labels right now, Spinnin', Ultra, Revealed and more. I've been very fortunate to learn how it's done at the highest level, and now you can learn too.
Learn about the equipment, and get familiar with what it means to be a DJ!
With all these videos, feel free to skip if it's not relevant for you. I structured this course so that you can jump right in, at any skill level. I truly believe that even professional DJs can benefit from this course, and I sincerely hope that an absolute beginner can have ALL the knowledge needed to leave the course as a competent, well-rounded DJ who is ready for anything.
In this module, I discuss how DJ equipment has evolved, and why, after using so many other types of equipment, Pioneer is the only brand that I can recommend for modern DJing.
Why would you waste time learning on something that isn't actually used at festivals and clubs? All this Traktor stuff, Serato... You're just asking for headaches down the road! Don't use your computer, just use USBs. Start learning with the pro equipment, and you'll soon be a pro!
For those just starting out, all these buttons can be confusing! Fortunately, Pioneer have streamlined their devices so that if you understand one pro device, you understand them all. I chose the XDJ-RX for this course because it's MUCH cheaper to buy than a full CDJ set up, but it DIRECTLY translates to CDJs button for button. I wanted to make this course accessible and "real-world", so that it's as relevant as possible.
You'd be amazed how many professional DJs don't even know what all the buttons do. They never even RTFM!
Think of each button as something cool that you can add to your set. If you don't know what a button does, chances are you are missing out on an element that can set you apart from other DJs!
DJing is all about mixing records, right?
Well, believe it or not, first there's so much to learn about playing just ONE record before you learn how to play two at the same time.
You have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. If you jump ahead too fast, you'll miss some important fundamentals.
I want to give you as much as you can/should handle, but no more. You have to have a solid foundation to build the biggest house! Patience is a virtue!
Believe it or not, this video is where so many would-be DJs stop. They learn about the "sync" button, and then they stop learning! Even in major clubs, a shocking number of DJs just rely on the sync button. As you can see, this is the fourth video out of 50. If you stop your learning here and think "you know it all", you are seriously missing out on some major information.
You have to ask yourself -- do you want to be a bad DJ, or the best? You can stop here if you want, but I encourage you to keep going!!
If you never program your records correctly, you'll never get a good mix going no matter what else you do. You can do everything else right, but if you get this wrong, your mixes will still sound horrible. I can't tell you how critically important this step is. It will take you some time to get this into your bones, but when you do, it will change the way you listen to (dance) music forever!
DJs don't just wear headphones to look cool (or stupid depending on how you look at it). They serve a critical function. In this video, I'm going to show you how to use them and why. Learning to separate your two ears from each other and listen to two different things at once and make sense of them is the hardest and most valuable skill in all of professional DJing. Especially in a loud club or at a festival, your headphones are so much more important than you could ever realize until you actually perform.
This is it guys -- the bread and butter of DJing. THE most important skill of all. This is what sync-button newbies can't do. When you learn beatmatching, you are learning a time-honored skill that will earn you the respect of DJs throughout the ages. This skill is so hard, and yet so rewarding once you learn it. You'll be spending months on this, but if you neglect it and go back to the safety of "sync", you are only just hurting yourself and your potential!
Two records playing on top of each other never sound good. You need to make sure you carve out space for two records to play at the same time, and you also need to make sure you don't explode the subwoofer/speakers of a club you are playing in by blasting double the bass all of a sudden. This is a CRITICAL component of being a pro.
What do you have to bring with you to a gig? What don't you have to bring? When are you prepared, and when aren't you?
For those who started from vinyl, Rekordbox is a godsend. The program may still be buggy and far from perfect, but it's a major leap forward for organizing and preparing your sets. It would be VERY hard to deliver a professional set without preparing your tracks this way.
This is something so simple that so many people still get so wrong. You really can't be Armin van Buuren without mixing in key, and it's one of those things that screams "amateur" if you don't do it. While you don't ALWAYS have to mix in key if you're very advanced, in the beginning it's a good idea to pretty much always mix in key no matter what.
When we practice, we tend to do what's easy and fall into patterns. This is the enemy of improvement. I'm going to show you how to think about practice so that you always improve with each session. I want you to get drastically better over time, and this is how!
I wanted to include this in the beginner module, because you need to know that the great majority of DJing is damage control -- controlling and fixing things when they go wrong. You wouldn't believe how many things can go wrong before, during, and after your set. If you think that just being a good mixer is enough, you are way off base! Being a good mixer is expected. Keeping the party alive is expected. No matter what, even when things go wrong that aren't your fault!
There's a lot of pressure on your shoulders, so here's some insight into what kinds of pressure and how to prepare yourself for it.
Accepting your first gig is a tough moment for a lot of new DJs. You're scared, you don't know if you're ready. I'm going to give you some advice on taking your very first gig.
The more complete your knowledge of DJing past, present, and future, the better all aspects of your performance will be.
I wanted to show you EVERYTHING in this course that you might want to know. Here's another way for you to think about your music!
Believe it or not, this is one of the most closely guarded industry secrets of professional DJs. For many years, you had to be "inside" to ever learn about this. It takes so much of the guesswork out of digital mixing.
The first time I learned this, it was from a trance DJ who just got back from playing one of the largest festivals in the world. I had developed my own style before then, and the simplicity and efficiency of this method blew me away. Once you learn the Dutch way of mixing, you'll never go back!
Here's a great starting point for a simple transition. These are the building blocks upon which the whole empire is built...
I LOVE reverb, and you should too. This is where we start having more fun, and creating separation between you and other DJs. Remember that ALL FX should be used in moderation only!
The filter is one of the "most used" knobs in any professional DJ set. It has so many more applications than you might first realize, so start getting used to using this all the time!
Now we are getting into territory that even many professional DJs don't know about. I personally love this effect, but you have to know how to use it right for it to not sound like garbage. From here on out, you are learning things that you will see many pros don't even use, because they don't know how to tame it!
The echo effect is a classic staple of DJing for the last few decades. I'll show you how it's historically been used so you can increase your repertoire and variety in your sets.
Even though with any linked Pioneer system you theoretically only need one USB to play, I'll show you how I often use two at once for a very specific purpose that might benefit you as well!
The quantize button and sync buttons are often confused, but there's an important distinction. I'll sho you how (not) to use this powerful tool.
With looping, all things are possible. Looping can save you in an emergency, and it can open the door to a whole world of highly advanced techniques.
When regular awesome mixing is just too easy for you, you can challenge yourself and hype the crowd by throwing in acapellas.
I have to warn you though, I've seen Chuckie mess this up live BIG time at Mysteryland by picking tracks and acapellas that were out of key, so even though it's very cool when done well, it can be very very bad when done poorly.
Sometimes we all need a helping hand when we are getting started or trying new things. This will help you further prepare for your set.
The flanger is deceptively simple, and can actually be quite cool when used in just the right way.
I'm going to do a case study here where we go over some genre-specific mixing in action.
When you are performing, an hour can be a very very long time. People get bored so easily, that you need to pack every hour as full as you possibly can. Many DJs struggle with keeping the crowd engaged for a full hour.
If you only ever want to play loungey background music, don't worry about this. If you want to be the center of attention for a full hour, it's critical!
This is a very controversial topic, but in my opinion it's critical. When you perform professionally, you'll see how valuable MCing can be for hyping the crowd, and how hard it can be without it.
If you have Ableton, you can use it to "cheat" when preparing for your sets. As I said, I wanted to give you ALL the information on DJing out there, and this is important too. You can decide what to use and what not to, but I believe you should know EVERYthing and then make an informed decision!
New genres will constantly emerge in EDM. Each genre has very different rules for mixing. You can't mix techno like you would future bass or trap, so diversify your abilities!
Many years ago, I was afraid of mixing trap music. Once I learned how, I can't live without it! I LOVE the kind of mixing trap music makes you do, it's so much fun!
One of the biggest party kills is people who play entire records. We live in the Snapchat generation, and we think in terms of 8 second blocks. If you're mixing whole records from start to finish, you'll basically NEVER engage the crowd at a pro level unless you're playing to zoned out techno folk.
WARNING! You can completely blow it with this technique if you don't do it right. If you DO, you are a god.
I use this every day, all day. What a valuable, valuable skill. Again, you are in HIGHLY advanced territory now...
So many people worship Martin Garrix and DVLM, so I thought I'd give you a little bonus to make you feel like you can perform at Tomorrowland. Don't you kind of feel that you can by now anyways? If you've been following along since the beginning, odds are you are well on your way to being far better than your average big room DJ in terms of technical skill.
This is a very very powerful tool that I use all the time! Great stuff for experienced DJs.
Here's something that I do that I basically never see anyone doing. And yet it's so much fun... This is how you differentiate yourself from the pack!
This is your kit for being like Yellow Claw, Skrillex etc. Just do this almost every transition and you're there! (Just kidding, OBVIOUSLY).
When we practice, we spend so much time trying to mix as smoothly as possible. This is something that we never think about, and something that can bite you if you're not fully prepared. It's details like this that all other courses never talk about, but believe me it's so so important when you're a pro.
Pure fun! Used once or twice in an hour, they'll love you for it!
Nobody wants to hear every DJ playing Jack U's EDC set over and over and over again. If you only have the same records as everyone else, the odds are good that the DJ before you will play all your tracks ahead of you leaving you with nothing to play! You have to bring original material to the equation.
More technical than some videos, but highly important nonetheless!
Practicing ending your set in a graceful manner is very important to maximizing this highly important moment of your performance. It's your last chance to leave a lasting impression.
Get ready for sonic mayhem!
I remember a millionaire DJ mentor sitting me down about this over coffee a few days in a row. It's really, really important.
Yet another one of my personal favorite tricks. Again, this is something that basically no one knows how to do.
That's all for the main course! I hope you've learned a lot and are ready to tackle the world. Let me know how you're progress has been!
Ross Palmer worked at world-famous Armada Music in Amsterdam. He also helped create one of the largest dance music blogs in the world. Not only that, but he's DJed at clubs and festivals around the world. He's learned from the best, and taught professional DJs who are currently releasing on: Armada Music, Spinnin' Records, Ultra, Revealed, and more!