Let’s be honest, you don’t really need to go to college to learn how to DJ. There are many self-learning tools online, such as web tutorials and articles. You can also find software, which will help you get started on mixing music. Some recommendable software programs are Virtual DJ Home, Mixxx, and Traktor Pro 2. Besides this, you can self-teach by studying different genres of music and learning about the industry.
You can also go to DJing schools. You won’t exactly get a degree there, but they will teach you about the different techniques, equipment, how to use it, and often give you some business in-site. On the other hand, they will also help you get a network going by connecting with your professors and peers. You’ve got many options here and will probably be able to find schools within your community, but a few bigger ones are the Scratch DJ Academy, Dubspot, Spin Academy, and the DJ School.
However, you might also want to get a college degree. It’s unlikely that you will find a program that offers a degree in DJing, but you can take a music-related degree, for example in Music Production. This will allow you to understand how music is created, produced, and what might be the most crucial part –how it is marketed. You will get a chance to learn about the industry, plus you can continue practicing your DJing skills while you are in college. If a degree is something you’d like to have under your belt, then this is a win-win deal, since you will also have a back-up career once you graduate.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A DEGREE IN MUSIC PRODUCTION?
You definitely have the option of attending your local community college to get a generic music education degree. However, we have included some of the top music production schools in the U.S. here.
- Berklee College of Music
The Berklee College of Music in Chicago is one of the top schools in the U.S. for music-related programs. Their music production and engineering department offers major and minor options, as well as summer workshops. The programs are very hands-on and have all the necessary equipment for students to practice on. Tuition for degree programs is $37,800 per year.
- Full Sail University
FSU offers both online and onsite options for those looking to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Music Production. Their campus, located in Winter Park, Florida, offers latest technology and a special focus on all things tech. You also have the option of getting an associate degree in recording arts. Campus tuition is an average of $14,286 per semester and online tuition is about half, at $7,125 per semester.
- New York University – Steinhardt School of Music
NYU offers a Music Technology program, focused on music, audio, and sound technology. The location is, of course, a great option for aspiring DJs, since you will be in a hot-spot for the music scene. The school has a state-of-the-art studio for hands-on learning. NYU offers undergraduate and master level studies, as well as accelerated programs and summer workshops. Average tuition here is $18,924 per semester.
- John Hopkins University – The Peabody Institute
Located in Baltimore, The Peabody Institute offers bachelor and master level studies in Music and Studio Sciences. The program is a combined degree, which corresponds to the requirements of a general music degree, and additionally covers recording arts and sciences. Current tuition is $41,190 per year.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
Once you have gotten the general DJing skills down and have developed a style and genre of your own, it’s time to get your name out there. This may not be easy, since you are not alone in the industry. The first thing you’ll need to do is make a brand for yourself. This doesn’t just mean a cool name, but also a web presence, a website or a blog, a Facebook and a Twitter account, as well as things like business cards, your look, and the type of music you play.
Your brand will partially depend on you but also on the type of DJ you are. For example, if you mix at clubs your business cards and website will probably look different than if you are looking to land gigs such as weddings and birthday parties.
Once you have established who you are as a DJ, you will need to market yourself. While your online presence will help you get started with that, you will also have to network. A lot! Meet people everywhere, whether they are in the industry or not. Offer free or cheap gigs to your friends and family. Make sure people know you are a DJ, you are up for taking on new gigs, and that you play great music. You can also get in touch with local DJ organizations or other DJs and companies; they might help you land your first jobs.
You should also continue to learn about the industry, even if you have already established your own style. Check out DJs who play something different. This will help with networking but also with your own music, since you might learn something new from pretty much anyone.