DJing in Canada

Posted on October 18th, 2013 - Written by: Josée Daigneault

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While trends come and go, there is always a place in society for nightlife. People crave an escape from the 9-to-5 life by going crazy on a dance floor, and the person behind that music is more often than not a DJ. Today’s DJ is not typically the same style of disc jockey as in past years, rocking two turntables and a microphone with crates of vinyl records. The tools these days usually include at least a couple of digital turntables, good headphones, and a 2-channel or more mixer. Serious DJs will want to develop a decent home studio with good speakers, a MIDI controller, an audio interface, and Ableton software or the like.

DJ software enables users to access a library of MP3s and often provide live looping and scratching features, delays and reverb effects, and real-time control. Most DJs record demos, playlists and original music at home studios with mixing skills augmented by audio engineering courses. Even big names of the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scene like Deadmau5 have upset their peers by asserting that everybody at that level basically presses “play”, creating mixes in the studio beforehand. Giant electronic music festivals can attract hundreds of thousands of attendees, dancing to DJs in flashy costumes with expensive visual backdrops and props. While it’s true that DJs are gaining more spotlights as front-and-centre entertainers, they are active in many other applications within Canada.

DJs can be heard almost everywhere these days, including the grocery store. Some have turned their audio school skills into rewarding gigs at corporate events, making ringtones, sporting events or fundraisers, or the new generation of elevator music. Self-employed DJs must market and promote their services, but sometimes the best way is to get out there and play anywhere possible. Sign up to work at a college radio station or volunteer at family parties. Live music venues may need music between acts and bars may want your talent for happy hour. These kind of gigs may require versatile music selection so keep up with the current trends and always be on the lookout for good tunes!

Being a DJ means understanding what people want to hear, whether that is the standard wedding DJ or more boundary-pushing gigs at night clubs. Many people today get started in electronic music by producing beats for hiphop artists and then expand their repertoire to become an attraction in their own right. Beat mixing involves maintaining a constant beat while moving between songs so that dancers can keep going without a break. This is an art form but is most easily done by starting with songs that have similar beats per minute (BPM). Once you have mastered crossfading in this way, you can start experimenting with matching beats in different song styles and looping. Learn the intros and outros to blend the mix and always have the next song cued up as the first winds down. DJ training can help you learn the tricks of the trade and on your way to success!

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