How to Be a DJ with a Laptop?

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In the olden days (a couple of decades ago), hip hop club DJs needed to lug around two turntables, mixers, microphones, and crates of records to get the party started. Today, all you really need is a laptop, well-organized files and storage space, and the appropriate software to bring your music to life.

What setup do you need to become a DJ with a laptop?

At least at the start. If you don’t have much of a background with DJing or any at all, it’s probably best that you figure out the basics before dropping a lot of cash on a mobile DJ setup. There is plenty of low-cost apps and demo software you can get from the internet to get you started. This knowledge can help you achieve your goal of becoming a successful DJ.

What type of DJ Software do I need for my laptop?

Almost any DJ software you find will come with two virtual decks, mixing software, and an area to pull your music. The software should let you know the beats per minute (BPM) of a given song (great for beat matches), its genre, the keys they’re set in, and so on. This information is very handy when it comes to bringing together your set.

Native Instruments TRAKTOR Pro, Serato DJ Pro, Mixxx, Reason, and Ableton Live are all great examples of DJ software. When choosing, make sure to look at reviews, what features are most important to you, and if there are any free versions or demo options for a test drive. While DJ software at the core is pretty similar, what they deliver can differ dramatically.

What type of DJ Hardware do I need for my laptop?

If you already know the basics, there is additional hardware you can acquire to make your sets that much better. An audio interface with a separate headphone jack will take some of the pressure off your laptop and give you more options (such as listening to tracks before you’re ready to use them).

If you find working with a mouse and keyboard doesn’t quite give you the “DJ Look,” you could invest in a DJ controller. There are a variety of models (and prices) and many come equipped with an audio interface. These will allow you more hands-on control with mixer controls, jog wheels, performance pads, and more.

Just like with the software, you’ll want to ensure the gear you’re buying is compatible with your computer and the rest of your setup. Nothing is as frustrating as having two pieces of technology that don’t like each other.

How to choose your DJ music?

Now that almost everything has gone digital–especially if you’re DJing from your laptop–you’ll need to fill out your library with digital tracks instead of vinyl. MP3 files are probably the most common because they take up less storage and are usually cheaper to come by.

But because of their compression, they may come across as a little flat on a festival stage sound system. Using WAV or AIFF files will give you a better, truer sound. If you must use MP3s, try to find 320 kbps files. You’ll also have to decide what kind if music your library will consist of–but we can’t help you with that.

As a DJ, it’s up to you to create your persona, and a big part of that is the music you mix or sample for your DJ set. There’s also a stage presence (Deadmau5, Daft Punk for example) you’ll want to consider. But for now, start finding music, curating your library, and learning the software.

Learn to DJ from the Pros

Recording Connection offers programs for the aspiring club DJ. Whether you want to learn how to Live DJ or become an expert at Ableton, we’ll place you with an industry professional where you’ll get a one-on-one education. Depending on the type of DJ you want to be, we’ll set a curriculum to match those needs.

Our Ableton Electronic Music Production Program will give you the foundation you need to begin your career. Used by audio engineers, music producers, and artists around the world, Ableton Live is a powerful digital audio workstation that many mobile DJs use on stage.

Recording Connection programs last six to nine months and give you a fully immersive look at the music industry. You’ll learn the right way to play music as a DJ instead of hoping you’ve picked the right YouTube video or online tutorial to follow. If you’re ready to Amplify Your Life as a Live DJ, apply today.

Get your music production certification and build your music production and audio engineering skills by learning with an industry professional near you.