How to be an EDM DJ – A Serious Guide of 11 Do’s & Don’ts

How to be an EDM DJ - A Serious Guide

When you search “how to be an EDM DJ” a lot of the results are joke articles aimed at mocking EDM DJs. As much as people want to believe it’s just pressing play and dancing around on the DJ table while throwing cake around there is much more to it than that.

So this is actually a serious guide on how to become an EDM DJ.

Due to being so bass-heavy, EDM is one of the easiest genres to learn how to mix. The best way to start is by immersing yourself in the culture and learning from those already successful. Mimicking mixes and recording practice sessions will speed up the learning process greatly. There is also huge benefit in collaborating, both as a way to promote and also to increase your network.

We do have a full in-depth guide of how to be a DJ available here. However, I recommend reading the rest of this guide first as it deals specifically with EDM and the link will be included again at the bottom of the page.

EDM is one of the most popular dance genres around at the moment. And, although the term EDM stands for Electronic Dance Music, which kinda covers all electronic music, it generally refers to things on the bass-heavy, high-energy side of things.

How to Start DJing EDM

Really want to know how to be an EDM DJ? Start by taking an EDM Bath

You’ve probably come to want to be an EDM DJ after seeing or attending some of the high-energy, extremely entertaining gigs put on by some of the top performers.

This is actually the first step in how to an EDM DJ, to immerse yourself in the music and the culture.

Be careful not to get too lost in the party but, instead, spend as much time as possible listening to mixes and tracking down the tracks used. This really helps you understand how those DJs have constructed their sets and puts their mixes together in order to make them so crowd-pleasing and high-energy.

There is a lot to be learned about EDM DJing by literally going to clubs and watching DJs perform. Just stay sober enough to remember it the next day…

Related: Learn more about promoting yourself as a DJ here

Learn by Watching Successful DJs

While you won’t be able to do this with big-name DJs, most of the time in smaller clubs you will actually be able to get right up to the DJ booth. This allows you to watch how they use their equipment to get the best out of the music, control the crowd and produce great nights full of good vibes.

When you have a particularly talented EDM DJ, then you will often see people crowded around the booth and watching more than dancing.

These are all doing the same thing, they are learning while of course enjoying the music. People like this i.e those ones most serious about DJing, and learning from performing DJs, are referred to in the scene as “heads”.

DJ EZ is known to be one of the most skilful out there

Related: We have articles that detail the software and equipment used by top DJs like Skrillex, Calvin Harris and Deadmau5

The other thing you want to do as an EDM DJ is staying on top of new music. To do that, find some DJ artists you like on Mixcloud, SoundCloud and YouTube and then subscribe to their accounts. This way you’ll get notified of new music that they have made or new tunes that they have found are sharing.

Record every practice session
One of the best ways to learn is to record every practice you do

Practice and Record Your Mixes

A good thing about EDM is that its very bass-heavy, and that makes it one of the easiest genres to learn how to mix.

One of the fastest ways to learn EDM mixing is to record every single practice session.

These recordings are not necessarily to upload online (although you certainly can if they’re good enough).
Instead, they are so you can listen back to them and learn what worked and what didn’t.

It’s a great habit to get into as you can apply anything you notice to your very next practice session. There really is no better way to critique yourself to accelerate your learning.

Details on the equipment needed and how to record your mixes are included in the full guide, which is linked at the bottom of this article.

Love DJ gear?

So do we, check out our favorites…

Get in the Know… Where to Buy EDM Music

It is also definitely worth knowing where to buy all the latest tracks and staying on top of new releases. Check back at least weekly to see what’s hot so you can purchase them and to add to your music collection.

Two of the biggest providers of dance music Beatport and Juno. These are where most professional DJs will get their music from as you can purchase them in various formats as well as buying individual tracks or albums.

Where Do EDM DJs Get Music?

While online shops like those mentioned above are great, when buying lots of tracks things can get expensive. The chances are, if an EDM DJ is serious about their profession they are probably a member of a DJ record pool. These are an amazing way to get access to lots of tracks at an affordable cost.

They are also a great way to discover new music. Not only show you the latest releases but they also have charts of the most popular tracks, as well as individual DJs who put curate their own charts.

Related: You can read a full breakdown on how DJs organize their music here.

Where to buy EDM music - How to be an EDM DJ
Beatport has curated DJ charts, as well as best sellers

A Note on Illegally Downloading Music

It’s not uncommon for DJs particularly, when starting out, to illegally download music and play that. However when doing this you are very much running a risk, and I don’t just because of copyright.

When you download music you cannot guarantee the quality of it. But buy from somewhere like Juno or Beatport and they state and guarantee the bitrate/quality.

Whether it’s a high-resolution 320kbps MP3, or an uncompressed WAV (the highest quality audio file), you know exactly what you are downloading.

However, when you illegally download, although it may say it’s a high-resolution file, then you can never really be sure if that is accurate. Plus there are many ways a file can have been tampered with that affects its quality.

Related: Is it ok to DJ using mp3s converted from YouTube?

And, while it might sound fine playing through your home speakers, you run the risk of a lack of quality really showing through when you get into a club with a professional-grade sound system.

Ensure Quality & Support the Scene at the Same Time

For example, a common way to tell low quality is that the bass line will sound weak.

With a full quality WAV file then the track should sound really “full” and you will actually feel the bass. However with a low-resolution file then the sound will be weak and be missing those bass frequencies.

Imagine it as the difference between EDM through your phone speakers, and through decent speakers with a subwoofer.

Another thing that spending money on your tracks does is actually makes you think about the music you are buying. Building and curating your own music library is a huge part of how to be an EDM DJ.

Trust me when I say purchased music is always better. Plus, it means you’re actually supporting the scene you are trying to be a part of.

Related: How Do DJs Make Money? 17 Different Ways

What Do Edm DJs Use to Make Music?

This post should perhaps have been called, how to be an EDM DJ and Producer. That is because producing another great way to become established.

To do this you’re going to need to get some industry-standard software on which to make your music. Ableton Live (used by Skrillex, see his amazing setup here) is one of the top choices and it is very reasonably priced from Amazon.

There are plenty of EDM specific tutorials on YouTube and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get going.

Chances are your first several tracks will be terrible, don’t worry, everyone’s is. Just stick with it.

Producing is great fun and you will be learning from day one. Every track you create will get you closer to having a banger that you are truly proud of.

Produce your own EDM tracks - How to be an EDM DJ
Ableton Live is the industry-leading software for EDM production

Expand Your Horizons and Collaborate

Another way to get out in the EDM world is to collaborate with other artists. EDM is so popular right now that there are many singers that want tracks produced for them.

So contact singers or artists that you know, or in your area, and offer to make some tracks with them. Again this will also help progress your skills.

Another bonus is that they will also be promoting the track through their network too. And, who knows where that might lead, you could just end up with the next EDM smasher.

Collaborate, thats how to be an EDM DJ
Collaborating with singers and other artists be a massive boost to your career

How to Be an EDM DJ? Network…

As with most genres, networking is key in how to be an EDM DJ.

Find some EDM DJs in your local area, either by checking out local club nights and tracking them down online. Or by doing searches on Mixcloud, SoundCloud, Facebook or YouTube using EDM and the name of your town or city.

Doing this should allow you to find plenty of people in your local area (or beyond). Then one by one hit them up and ask either for advice or for gigs.

Be careful not to hassle people though.

Related: How do DJs duos work together?

Think of networking as just making new friends that are also into mixing and being an EDM DJ.

Really the best way to network is to go to your local EDM club nights. Then you are supporting both the local DJs and the promoters. Perhaps even ask the promoters if you can help out at the night.

This is another great way to accelerate your learning. You’ll pick up so much just being around other EDM DJs already doing what you want to do.

Also, if you make some promoters friends, as soon as they need an EDM DJ, you will be the first in line.

Put simply, make as many friends in the industry as you can.

Forget About Age

As they get older people worry they may be too old to get into EDM. Or any other genre for that matter.

The truth is that if you are good at what you do then straight up doesn’t matter. Especially if you have high energy and you’re able to keep a crowd happy.

It really doesn’t matter how old you are, or what age you are, just start practicing. Just do what you love and you can be a success in the EDM scene or any other.

It’s never too late to do anything that you love.

DJ Derek was never to old - How to be an EDM DJ
The legendary DJ Derek eventually retired as a Dancehall, Reggae and Soul DJ aged 72

How to be an EDM DJ? Do What Feels Right to You

The great thing about EDM is, while it does follow musical rules, you have a lot of freedom of expression.

So, when you are making tracks or creating DJ mixes, do what sounds good and feels right to you.

It is through exercising this expression and freedom that you will go on to form your own unique style, and that is what people will be attracted to.

Thought I was joking about the Cake throwing?

Check out this video of Steve Aoki launching on over 80ft and hitting someone in the face

More coming to this post soon…

What next?


2 thoughts on “How to be an EDM DJ – A Serious Guide of 11 Do’s & Don’ts”

  1. Sometimes it surprises me that the younger up and coming DJs still regard us old timers as relics! I’ve seen DJ Derek play multiple times (he was a regular DJ in the bunker at Ripsnorter in Bristol) and to make it even better – he played off one record deck, and introduced each track on the mic – more like a radio DJ than a club DJ, but it was always completely packed – even when there was someone like Nick Sentience up in the main room!

    It’s also something that happens across multiple genres as well – Krafty Kuts, Freestylers… people like that are older than a lot of people would think – and they’re still smashing breakbeat and similar out today!

    • Agreed, I actually don’t think a DJs age matters at all. They still have the ability to play fresh tracks, and the experience to know when to drop classics, and yep DJ Derek is the perfect example, he was an absolute legend!
      Fun fact – We once played a gig with the Freestylers, and after our set a guy in the crowd came up and, mistaking us for the Freestylers (who were still on stage), said “I’ve seen you guys 3 times before but that was the best one yet”, still quite proud of that remark 🙂


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