Raise your hand if you’re the friend who everyone says has the best taste in music. You’ve been to countless parties during which someone asks you to take control over the playlist. “You know which songs will get us all dancing,” everyone says. “So please put something on that’ll get people off the couch.”
If that resonated with you, I bet you’re wondering if there’s a way that you can parlay your taste in music into a great side hustle. Fortunately, a growing number of aspiring DJs have carved out a niche by curating online events. Let’s explore some of the ins and outs of online DJing—and more importantly, how you can get paid to do it.
What Is Online DJing?
Online DJing can mean a lot of things. However, the “textbook” definition would probably tell you that an online DJ uses the internet to distribute mixes and create online events from the comfort of their home.
Some online DJs focus on creating mixes of popular songs and promoting their work on platforms like SoundCloud. Others put on full-fledged online concerts, during which they spin mixes and pump up the crowd as if they were doing the event in person.
In the image above, you’ll see that this online concert by Marshmello took place in 2019 before the pandemic began. While the concept of online concerts isn’t a brand new idea, the popularity of virtual events has exploded over the last few months.
How the Pandemic Impacted DJing
In a recent article for The Conversation, Adam de Paor-Evans said that DJs were hit particularly hard during the Covid-19 pandemic. He continues, “While the idea of streaming live DJ sets is not new, the unforeseen arrival of Covid and lockdown has triggered an unprecedented rise in online DJ streams.”
While it’s difficult to replicate the experience of attending a concert online, that hasn’t stopped people from seeking them out. Last year, over one million people attended a virtual version of the Tomorrowland festival, featuring DJs such as Martin Garrix and Steve Aoki.
OK, so it’s clear that there’s a market for online DJing. There are also plenty of options if you’re looking for a DJ online course. But what are the tools required for the job? And can you get paid DJing online? Let’s explore both questions in further detail.
The Tools You Need to DJ Online
The requirements for DJing in virtual clubs or a livestream are essentially the same as they are for DJing an in-person event. In a previous guide on how to become a DJ, we explored some of the essential tools for DJing. However, if you’re looking to learn how to DJ online, your initial shopping list can be a bit shorter.
In layman’s terms, an audio interface allows you to connect instruments and microphones to your computer. Many options connect to a laptop via USB, which makes it easy to get started almost immediately. Additionally, as you learn to DJ online, you’ll quickly discover that your audio interface dramatically improves the audio quality you can output in virtual clubs or during a DJ livestream.
Step into any music store and you’ll likely be overwhelmed by expensive audio interface options. However, before you make an expensive (and potentially unnecessary) investment, check out our previous guide on essential music production equipment.
Computer or Laptop
If you want to become a livestreaming DJ, you’re going to need a computer—and you’re going to need one that can handle the demands of livestreaming. And by “demands,” we mean some serious technology requirements.
As you get started, here are a few things to look for in a computer or laptop.
- Buy as much memory as you can afford. Memory (also referred to as RAM) is like your computer’s library card. It dictates how many applications you can run smoothly at once. In a livestreaming environment, this is critical.
- Choose a computer with at least a four-core processor. Some of the new MacBook options have gotten rave reviews thanks to the performance of their new M1 chips. If that’s not in the budget, choose something that has at least four cores.
- Take build quality seriously. Some of the software required for being a DJ online live is intensive and can make your computer very hot. Look for a computer that’s made of high-quality materials and can withstand that type of punishment from a livestreaming DJ.
While you could opt for an old-fashioned turntable to be a DJ online, mixing can be done for an online event with some powerful but user-friendly software.
As we reviewed in our previous guide on how to become a DJ online, mixer favorites include Serato, rekordbox, and Traktor. But no matter which one you choose, look for a DJ application that covers all the basics, including EQing, hot cueing, looping, scratch emulation, and browsing.
How to Get Paid to DJ Online
There are several potential avenues that you can take to get paid DJing online. While none of the following options will make you a millionaire overnight, they are fairly easy to spin up with just a little bit of effort.
Getting Paid to DJ Online
Want to DJ online for free? Look no further than YouTube, which offers a free platform for anyone who wants to livestream just about anything. Throughout the pandemic, plenty of folks have found a way to DJ online for free using a few pieces of technology and these platforms.
However, building your audience on a free platform like YouTube might take some time. If you want to kickstart the process, consider a DJ online tool like Mixcloud. Plenty of folks learn to DJ online, mix and perform via this platform, thanks to its legal sharing service features and livestreaming platform. It’ll cost you $15 per month, but in return, you get access to an engaged audience and analytics to help you improve your craft.
Wait, parties? Aren’t those against…most local and federal guidelines?
While it might be some time before we start to throw huge dance parties again, many have found ways to be a party DJ online in the burgeoning virtual clubbing scene. And as Refinery 29 reports, some of them are very successful. As you build up your fan base and begin to DJ online live, consider throwing a virtual party on platforms such as YouTube or Twitch, where guests can tip you as you perform as a party DJ online.
In the same vein as online parties, some experts have found that virtual events are up 1000% since the beginning of the pandemic—and they’re showing no signs of slowing. I’ve attended a few online events recently that replicated the in-person experience by hiring DJs, so keep an eye open on your social media platforms for opportunities to do just that.
When in doubt, go live.
As we mentioned earlier, platforms like YouTube and Twitch make it easy for DJs to throw together a livestreaming event. While you might not make five figures after just one livestreaming attempt, a regular presence on these platforms will ultimately help you build your audience and eventually generate revenue.
Like most things that went virtual during the pandemic, online DJing is likely here to stay. While it will take you some time to build up a following, there are plenty of ways that you can carve out a side hustle that’s fun, creative, and keeps your DJ chops up to snuff for when we can go back to in-person events safely.
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