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There are a variety of disc jockeys, but all have the same goal in mind--to entertain. The DJ adds ambiance to a nightclub or event. Being a DJ can be pursued as a hobby or as a career, and although modern technology has made it easier to become a DJ, it takes more than just music equipment to get bookings like the professionals do.
The Mobile/Wedding DJ
The "mobile" DJ (or wedding DJ) specializes in social gatherings, weddings and corporate functions. These DJs provide their own equipment and setups, as well as a large library of music. Mobile jocks usually provide their own marketing, and meet with clients in hopes of being chosen to provide entertainment for a given event.
The Radio DJ
The "radio" DJ can either be the announcer or the mixer, or even both. The announcer is responsible for abiding by the station's playlist while interacting with listeners and promoting station events. The mix show DJ spins live over the airwaves and also abides by a playlist to fulfill song rotations and agreements with the record labels. These DJs must also conform to time restrictions so that commercials can be played and to allow for contests and station promotions.
The Club DJ
The "club" DJ spins at nightclubs and bars. Most club DJs have residencies (secured gigs at specific clubs) and perform daily, weekly or monthly. Club jocks don't usually have to provide the equipment since the club has it already furnished. The most important goal of the club DJ is to keep the dance floor packed with patrons, while clearing it periodically so that bar sales will increase.
The “turntablist” or battle DJ manipulates the sounds of the records and doesn’t focus on mixing. Turntablists perform at battle competitions and special events. They use instrumentals, voice samples and sound effects to “beat juggle,” “scratch" and “transform” the music. DJ Q-bert and Jazzy Jeff are good examples of turntablists.
Formal training isn't required to become a DJ. Modern technology has made it easier for anyone to perform like disc jockeys do. All that you need is two turntables or CD players, a DJ mixer, speakers/monitor and a laptop, if you plan to use DJ software. In order to pursue a career as a DJ, it's important to learn how to mix properly--while keeping the crowd entertained. Watch other DJs and take note of mixing styles and techniques.
According to Simply Hired, the average DJ salary is $51,000 as of 2010. This varies depending on the DJs and how often they're booked. Club and mobile DJs charge by the hour or have a set rate for club gigs or events. Experience and popularity play a role in how much a DJ gets paid as well. Announcers are paid salaries, plus any talent fees for guest appearances or station events.
Marketing is an important aspect of becoming a successful DJ. Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are great marketing tools. Networking with other DJs and promoters helps get your name out too.
Lysa D’Angelyse has been writing since 2004. Her work has been featured on websites such as Sonik and Billboard. She writes on a variety of topics, including radio, music, fashion and travel. Her background includes entertainment, marketing and computers. She pursued an Associate of Arts in advertising at Gateway Community College and in broadcast journalism/communications at Mesa Community College on a full basketball scholarship.