When a mixed gathering of all age groups needs music to dance, an instant personality is needed to break the ice. These include corporate parties, school dances, bar mitzvahs, and weddings so all types of people have to be encouraged to mingle. This is one of the roles of the deejay.
There are considerable differences between the nightclub DJ who plays dance music and scratches on the discs, the radio DJ who announces over a set playlist, and the mobile wedding DJ who plays all genres for all ages. Radio deejays are trained in college and need a degree to apply to a station, where they will work their way up the ladder from low-paying small town positions in a pre-planned career. Big market stations have only so many openings so only the cream of the crop will hit the big time.
With the advent of portable digital sound equipment, the capability to be a mini-broadcasting company meant that everyday people could entertain and speak over the music as one song segues into the next. A knowledgeable music fan with a good speaking voice and some people skills could put on a show that would get people dancing in a nightclub with a nicely-mixed portfolio of songs. In a short time, the DJ could be good enough to earn money with his music collection and some good sound gear.
Knowledge of music is essential, but knowing what an audience will enjoy is a matter of trial and error. When more people get up and dance, then the disc jockey is on the right track and it makes less jovial banter necessary. Therefore the deejay gets better at sizing up an audience as he gets more experienced, just as do musicians, comedians, and other performers. A wedding DJ in Toronto Ontario once said that he didn’t like the novelty songs and oldies he was forced to play at receptions to please the more senior members of the audience who would only complain at loud pop-dance or disco music.
Music stores sometimes offer payment programs for disc jockey sound equipment or will lease the system to the deejay, so it is fairly easy to get into the business. Scratching discs as you spin is the technique of the nightclub disc jockey so the wedding DJ won’t have to learn how to coordinate a rhythmic show to a live audience. It takes good control of the digital equipment, scratching along, adjusting controls for lights and fog, and rapping to the people on the dance floor and those that are being coaxed out of their chairs.
Once you have transportation and resign yourself to working weekends, then there’s no barrier to putting up your website and hanging out the shingle in local advertisements to line up some bookings to get that extra income going, and maybe have a good time while earning money, even if the music genres aren’t your favorite. The attention alone is enough for some people – and a chance to be where the action is.