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Is it Hard to Learn DJing? Is DJ Mixing Hard?

DJing is an interesting activity - both a profession and a hobby - a skill and a pastime. To DJ well, you need to learn several techniques and concepts and understand how to apply them practically.

Learning to DJ isn't the hardest skill in the world - it's fun, especially if you love music and DJing. That said, it can't be mastered overnight, and it takes hours of practice and years of experience to get to the top of your game.

You can learn the basic practices in a couple of hours, and you can become a proficient DJ within a couple of days if you put the time in. Especially today, when there are so many smart tools which make DJ's job easier and more creative, by taking away the technical responsibilities.

In this guide, I'll explain the various skills you need to learn to DJ and rank them in order of difficulty. I'll also point you in the right direction for some great tutorials!

TL;DR - Is DJing Hard to Learn?#

  • The basics of DJing can be learnt quickly, but it takes a long time to become a master.

  • The core skills you need to learn include beatmatching, transitions, track selection, and critical listening.

  • Budding DJs can take advantage of a wide range of powerful modern DJ equipment which makes DJing easier and less technically complex.

  • DJ.Studio is a super useful piece of DJ software for both beginner and professional DJs, giving them a new perspective on mixing, and helping them plan and construct their sets with smart features.

Is It Hard To Learn DJing?#

Learning to DJ isn't the hardest thing in the world, but nor is the easiest. Like many skills, it has a learning curve to it, and many sub-components need to be learned and studied.

You can get the basics down pretty quickly, but true mastery takes years. Obviously, the more hours you put in (with the right intention) the more quicker you become a better DJ.

There are some skills of DJing which are harder to learn than others. Some of the technical skills like beatmatching just require hours of dedicated practice time to become good at, but other more subjective skills - like reading the audience and track selection require a lot of experience. And often getting this experience is the hard part, as understandably, most clubs don't want to put a total beginner on at their busiest slot. But these days, there are a lot of ways to improve and get experience.

In summary, some things are hard to learn, others are easy. But, the advantage of DJing is that it's a fun practice, so often the process of learning new skills can be enjoyable and doesn't feel like a chore if you're passionate about mixing and playing music.

You don't even need to go to DJ school, and you can completely learn to DJ online...

DJ Skills: In Order of Difficulty#

Now, here are the main skills you need to learn to become a professional DJ (or just a good DJ). I've tried to rank these in some vague order of difficulty, but the lines are pretty blurred and subjective to the skills and experiences you already have as an individual.

The skills get harder as you scroll down the page. 

  • EQing - EQing is one of those skills that is easy to start, but hard to master, and has endless potential depth to it. Sure, it's pretty easy to cut the bass, dim the highs on your DJ mixer, or use the EQ controls to make basic mixes, but to make mixes that truly resonate with the dance floor in the right way, and focus on the right elements of a track does take a bit of practice.

  • Hardware and Gear - Learning about DJ hardware and gear is also important, and you want to become versatile enough to be able to perform well on any gear, so you're always ready no matter what club or party you're playing at. Again, this is something that comes with experience, but make sure you try as many controllers and decks as possible and learn the common controls in detail. I recommend learning on Pioneer DJ equipment as this is the most common brand found in clubs and venues. 

  • Cueing - Cuing is the practice of preparing a track in the headphones before playing it. This is relatively easy to learn but is important. That said, the cue button itself has a lot of depth to it and can be used like an instrument. The best DJs also learn how to prepare cue points in their audio files for speedier mixing. 

  • Looping - Looping is pretty basic to start, but takes a bit of skill to do artistically. Anybody can press the loop in and out button, but learning how to integrate this expressively into a set, and use it artistically can take a while to master. That said, learning how to use loops can add a lot of depth, excitement, and uniqueness to your DJ mix.

  • Sampling - This involves capturing short samples from other tracks and using them in your mixes, typically with sample pads. This is pretty easy, it just takes some time to find and prepare the samples. You can use stem separation tools to make your own custom samples. DJ.Studio has a powerful stem separation feature that works perfectly for making acapellas and other sampling loops. 

  • Transitions - Learning transitions is one of the most important skills as a DJ, and helps you to create smooth, flowing, and expressive mixes. There is basically an endless skill ceiling to transitions, meaning you can always do better, and improve your skills. But to learn the basics it's pretty easy, and you can get good within a few weeks of practicing. 

  • Music Library Management - This logistical practice is pretty easy but important. you just need to work out a management system that works for you and stick to it. By having a well-organized music library you won't get stuck looking for the tune you want to play and it makes your life easier overall as a DJ.

  • Music Discovery - This often overlooked and not discussed skill is harder than you might think. Knowing where to find new, relevant, and exciting music (that you and your audience like) can be a tricky process, that takes a surprising amount of experimentation. But, refining your music discovery process is key to becoming an exciting and skilled DJ, who can constantly entertain their audience with new music. DJ.Studio is a powerful app for music discovery, as it's connected to a wide range of music sources, and even lets you experiment and mix with music from YouTube and Spotify!

  • Beatmatching - This is the process of ensuring that the two songs you're mixing are playing at the same tempo. It's one of the more technical skills to learn as a DJ and requires an understanding of DJ equipment and critical listening skills. However, with modern sync tools found on most DJ controllers, you don't actually need to beat match all the time manually. That said, it's definitely worth learning and is one of the core skills of DJing. Beatmatching dance music and electronic music is usually the easiest place to start.


  • Harmonic Mixing - This is a relatively advanced concept in DJing, which requires a basic understanding of musical key signatures, and the Camelot Wheel. In essence, harmonic mixing revolves around making sure that you mix and play music that is in compatible keys - typically using something like the Camelot wheel or key signatures to check. This can take a fair amount of learning to implement off the top of your head, but again, a lot of gear and software have indicators which show you compatible keys. You can also use DJ.Studio to help analyse your library and use the automix to help you mix harmonically. 

  • Phrasing - By phrasing, DJs can ensure that their mixes are more cohesive and flowing, without clashing energy or sections of a track. Phrasing isn't the hardest DJ skill to learn, but it is important. Essentially you pay attention to the different sections or 'phrases' of a track, like verses, choruses, bridges, build-ups, and other loops. You then use this to inform the position of your transitions. It just takes a bit of practice and understanding, and you also need to know your songs well. 

  • Track Selection - The music you play is one of the many things that helps you to stand out as a DJ. Selecting the right music, and good combinations of songs is a tricky skill to learn and is something that has to be improved through experience, rather than theory - you can't really be taught it. You need to experiment with track selection, expand your knowledge of music and genre horizons, and constantly find new music to be an exciting DJ. 

  • Gain Control and Volume Management - This is a more advanced concept that takes a bit of audio engineering to understand, but its important to integrate. You need to understand how to structure your gain, where to use the right volume controls, and what dB level to aim for when mixing. This can be learnt pretty easily with a bit of reading, but implementing it in your mix takes practice and focus.

  • Scratching - This is an advanced physical skill where the DJ rhythmically manipulates the decks and a crossfader to create the scratching audio effect. It was pioneered by hip-hop DJs playing records almost like a musical instrument. Scratching can be done in a basic way by beginners, but it won't sound good. To pull off artistic, high-quality scratching, DJs need to spend hours practicing and refining their craft. This isn't easy and is one of the harder DJ skills to learn. 

  • Audience Reading and Interaction - One of the hardest skills to learn as a DJ is the ability to read and interact with your audience. The reason this is tricky is because it's hard to get in front of audiences as a new DJ. It's hard to get gigs, and actually practice you're audience reading skills. This is the type of ability that can't be learned from a textbook, you need to practice in front of real people. You could get a taste of this by playing to your family and housemates and getting feedback, or starting a DJ stream to get reactions for the internet, but it's no substitute for the real things.

  • Stage Presence and Performance - Becoming an entertaining performer might be the hardest DJ skill of all, and some argue that it's a talent you're born with and not one that can be developed (although it can to some extent). Being an entertaining and engaging performer, that brings in crowds and keeps the audience wanting more is something that takes years of practice and experience, and can't be perfected at home alone

What Do You Need To Learn To DJ?#

When it comes to learning DJing, there are a few essential things you'll need and some that make it easier.

Here are things you need to learn DJing

  • A Laptop/PC - The computer is the core of modern DJing. This is useful at all stages, from discovery, to practice, live mixing, and distribution of recorded mixes. I recommend getting a good laptop to use as your DJing hub. You can use it to download new music, organize your library, create USB sticks for gigs, and connect your controller for some mixing.

  • DJ Software - If you're going down the digital route, you'll need some DJ software to help you mix and manage your libraries. I recommend DJ.Studio for working in your studio or on the move, and something like rekordbox or Virtual DJ for mixing a live performance. 

  • Decks or a DJ Controller - While you can mix with a laptop alone, if you want to learn how to DJ live, you'll need some kind of deck setup. Whether this is CDJs/turntables and a mixer, or an all-in-one controller, you'll need something to practice the hands-on, physical skills of DJing, as well as learn the basics of the hardware.

  • Headphones and Speakers - These are essential for learning to DJ, and you need both to do it effectively. You can't learn true DJing with only one or the other. You need to get used to the process of cueing tracks in your headphones, and then playing them out loud through the speakers when you're ready to make the transition.

  • Music - Having a large and diverse music library is key to becoming a good DJ. In the early days, you might want to stick to one or two genres to learn the basics. But to become a proficient and versatile DJ, you should eventually learn how to DJ all the genres. Learning different genres will broaden your skills, and transfer knowledge.

  • Time - learning to DJ takes more time than you think. If you want to get great, you need to dedicate a few hours a day/every other day. The more time you spend practicing, the better you'll get and the quicker you'll learn.

  • A Network - if you want to 'make it' as a DJ, you'll need to develop a network of other DJs, promoters, event organizers, party starters, and music lovers. These will all be able to help you grow your career and get you more gigs.

  • Passion - You need to love DJing to get good.

Check out my list of the Top 10 Essential DJ Accessories!

How DJ.Studio Helps You To Learn DJing#

DJ.Studio is a unique piece of DJ software which makes DJing easier for beginners and pros alike. This gives a new perspective and approach to DJing, helping you get an overview of the process, and streamlines your mixing from music discovery to finished mix distribution.

It also helps with set preparation and takes care of some of the more advanced calculations and thought processes, so DJs are free to focus on the creative elements of mixing rather than the technical logistics.

We also have a bunch of guides on our blog, that educate DJs on pretty much every aspect of DJing. If you read everything on our blog and practice the techniques, I'll guarantee that you'll become a highly skilled DJ, with more knowledge than most professionals!

Make sure you try DJ.Studio's free 14-day trial to experience the power of the software yourself!


With the above checklist of DJ skills you need to learn, you'll have a clear pathway from a total beginner to a seasoned professional of the DJ mix. Good luck on your DJ journey!

Noah Feasey-Kemp
I started DJing when I was 15. Started a record label, residency by a club in Bristol. I’ve played at all the biggest clubs in Bristol (and the small ones) and have entertained thousands of dancers! I love writing about music, DJing, and technology. I've been blogging for DJ.Studio since the start of the project, and am always happy to answer questions and help fellow DJs out!

Excited to start mixing?