How To DJ In NYC

How To DJ In NYC

I was interested in DJing in New York City. I decided to do some research and look it up, and this is what I found.

So I was wondering how to DJ in NYC? If a person wants to become a DJ in NYC, they have a school available called Scratch DJ Academy. New York City is one of the biggest cities in the country, and many places there requires education and degree. The talent and love for music and people are essential.

Scratch DJ Academy in New York

In 2002, the Scratch DJ Academy was founded by Jam Master Jay of Run DMC fame. Since that time, Scratch DJ Academy has passed on skills to over 500,000 student DJs and producers from all over the world. Besides the Scratch DJ Academy located in NYC, there are also locations in LA, Miami, and online. The Program has two main options: the Accelerated Program and the Part-Time Program. Both programs are open to students 18 years of age and up.

The Accelerated Program is created for beginner students who want to become a working DJ/Producer in a short period of time. This program is structured with 100+ hours of curriculum, plus lab hours, to help students meet their goals both career and time-wise. Sessions meet multiple times each week, and there are no breaks in the scheduling. The concept is to systematically lay the groundwork for students to become a working DJ at the program’s end.

The Accelerated Program is designed to help students achieve key milestones, such as: 

  • Milestone 1: Learning to pay respect to those who’ve gone before by discovering DJ history; music theory; all about equipment; the ABCs of scratching, timing, and mix recording; learning about EQ; creating the DJ’s first mix! 
  • Milestone 2: Intermediate scratch techniques for working with mixes.
  • Milestone 3: Finding the student’s distinct sound.
  • Milestone 4: Making a brand and a business.
  • Milestone 5: The touches that pull it all together.

Besides the Milestones, students are aided by instructor mentorship and collaboration with peers. Students move from one milestone to the next higher level once the students have learned and mastered the information. After successfully completing the Accelerated Program, graduates earn a plaque with certification, and they get an introduction to Scratch Talent. 

Scratch DJ Academy’s Part-Time Program is designed to help students grow in their craft and to meet their goals of becoming working DJ/Producers. The Part-Time Program includes schooling in the varied skillsets for scratching, mixing, and music production techniques.

The curriculum is made up of 8 Levels. Part-Time Program students get together once a week, and the average completion time is 1 year. The class sizes are intimate, and they are designed to contribute to a collaborative vibe. The schedule allows students to maintain the same day and time throughout the program with the idea that this will help to reduce scheduling conflicts.

If a student already possesses some experience, Scratch DJ Academy will work with the student to evaluate and recommend the correct entry Milestone level. At the program’s successful completion, students graduate with a plaque and certification.

Other Ways to Get help from Scratch Academy including taking just intro classes to dip in, and there are private lessons. And once students have mastered the skills, there are workshops to stay sharp. For the newest DJs around, there are Kids After School and Kids Summer Camp.

Scratch DJ Academy, which bills itself as the “largest DJ resource in the world,” handles weddings, and they provide DJs for private and corporate events. Now, no promises made, but it seems like having an institution with branches in the best party cities in the US that has a hand in the entertainment industry and knows first hand your skills could be an interesting proposition.  

The Talent and Love for People and Music

The most important qualities for a DJ to possess are a love and appreciation for music and authentic people skills. To begin with the first quality, it’s vital to be aware of the music out there. Some DJs specialize in one or several interrelated genres. For some folks, music is music. Then some have a curiosity and interest that is far-ranging.

For example, let’s look at the example of a music phenom who is not a DJ but a hip-hop sensation, rapper, feel-good guru, and band-nerd who goes by the name of Lizzo. She gets the feels fromRussian symphonic music“I love classical music: Tchaikovsky, Kalinnikov, Shostakovich. It makes me feel alive.” Word up. That sounds right and righteous!

The more you know, the more you grow as a DJ and as an individual immersed in the medium. You have to know the songs you want to play, how to interpret the songs to add your DJ skills to the mix, and how songs affect the audience. 

While it’s not necessary to be a stone-cold party animal, it doesn’t hurt. At the very least, having genuine respect for people is necessary to be a great DJ. You are making the crowd come alive at an event, club, or on the radio. Yes, it’s all about the music, but the music is for the people. See how that works? Respecting and caring for people is at the heart of what a DJ does.

You have to have the people skills to network and present yourself for gigs. You need to market and promote your gigs or time slot. You need to be able to read a room and see what people need to have a good time. You have to take requests with a sense of grace and style. You have to care enough about people so that it’s your number one priority to show up with your A-game at shows. Plus, the people skills to work with producers and sound crew at a radio station, or promoters, managers, and the waitstaff at clubs.

The people that you interact with, from listeners to the hard-working people who labor behind the scenes deserve your attention. And if you are going it solo, as an independent business person, you are going to possibly need a backup posse for the skills that will help you shine. You may want to work with people who have the skills to schedule, keep books, market, or hump equipment around. Needless to say, they all bring their own needs and wants to your interactions.

The successful DJ does his or her best to be fully present and engaged at events that require full attention such as corporate events, bar mitzvahs, birthday fests, street parties, raves, or weddings. These are someone else’s big day. Not everyone gets a lot of big days, so when you have been given the honor of being part of someone’s red-letter happening, take it as the honor that it is.

NYC Different Territory

NYC is sort of like Valhalla for Vikings. It’s where the warriors want to go. There is where the big kids play, a major stage in the world’s music and art scene. The bucks can be big here, and so is the competition and pressure. However, while the competition can be tight, there are many clubs and private events that require the services of an experienced and on-point DJ to make the magic happen on the dance floor. 

Related Questions:

If I finish the course, can I become a DJ at any age? 

It depends on the legal age to start working in the location. The youngest a person can join the class is 11-years-old; however, they are limited to where they can play due to being a minor. That said, get ’em while they’re young. Start early and lay the tracks to move into a long and rewarding career as a DJ with education, experience, and connections. Being a DJ is a vocation that is more reliant on talent, people skills, experience, knowledge of music, responsibility, and business acumen than on age. 

Is the pay more in NYC?

It depends on the club or party. They determine the rates. That said, on average DJs in NYC pull down $25-$50 an hour. ZipRecruiter claims that the average pull for a Weekend DJ in NYC is $51,892 a year, with a range of $14,000-$110,530. Most of the Weekend DJ pay right now range from $28,000 to $59,000, and the market for NYC and the surrounding environs is healthy. This same source claims that a DJ in the US earns, on average, $28 an hour, with pay as low as $6.00 and going up to $72 an hour.

DJ paydays right now run from $13 to $34 across the country. So the rules that govern DJ rates include factors such as the number of years of behind-the-mic experience, how many people you can get into the club, and the venue’s location. 

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