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What Does A DJ Actually Do?

Wednesday 30th March 2016

A DJ’s main job is to keep people on the dance floor. Whether DJing for a club, bar, wedding, corporate event or private party, they should be experienced in the following skills and techniques:


Beat Matching,



Mixing in Key,



Reading the Crowd


Beat matching is seamlessly mixing one song into the next by lining up the drum beats. To ensure the tracks run at the same speed, the DJ will adjust the BPM (beats per minute) by moving the pitch-fader on the DJ mixer.

Phrasing is knowing when to bring in the new track over the song that’s already playing. The DJ will be listening in the headphones, lining up the beats, then deciding when to drop the new track by counting the bars and phrases. This will precisely synchronize the rhythms and keep the energy consistent.

EQing is blending the tracks by adjusting the low, mid, and high frequency knobs on the DJ mixer. For example, emphasizing certain frequencies such as the midrange might enhance the vocals on a track. Removing the low frequencies can prevent clashing bass lines and create smoother transitions.

Mixing in key is to mix two songs together in the same musical key so that the basslines, melodies and vocals sound perfectly balanced and harmonically blended. The DJ will use this skill alongside EQing and beat matching to enhance tonality and create a more dynamic mix.

Structuring is knowing which song to play next. The DJ will select songs that take the crowd on a journey by building and releasing energy at certain points. They can maintain the vibe, deliver climaxes or give the audience a chance to take a breather by lowering the tempo.

Planning is having a good knowledge of the songs and keeping them organised, typically by genre, speed (BPM) and key. A DJ might pre-plan a set but should ensure they have plenty of flexibility to go with the flow and adapt to their crowd. Proper organisation will particularly help when playing on the fly.

Reading the crowd is knowing what the dancefloor wants and delivering the songs in a unique way. By keeping an eye on the crowd, the DJ is able to respond to their reactions and adjust the set accordingly. It’s important for the DJ to have a varied and extensive collection of music and to keep up to date with new tracks and current trends.

There are many different ways a DJ can execute these techniques, and everyone has their own methods. This is what gives each DJ their own unique style and flair.

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