You want to become a Salsa DJ and you’re desperate to uncover exciting new Salsa tracks and unleash them on the dancing public. Perhaps you dream of being the one with the status-symbol headphones over your ears sharing the energy with the crowd people dancing right before you. Maybe you just want to earn a little pocket money from your hobby? Whatever the reason, we can help. But it’s no good just sitting there and talking about it, you need to get moving. It’s easy to launch yourself as a DJ provided you know a few insider secrets. I learnt the hard way so you don’t have to. Here’s how to become a Salsa, Kizomba or Bachata DJ.
1. Is your heart in the right place?
It goes without saying, but you really need to be passionate about Salsa. Have you any idea how much music you need to listen to on a weekly basis to become a decent DJ? If you’re looking for a ‘get rich quick’ scheme, then you’re in the wrong place and besides, people will see straight through you. However, if you truly love Salsa and you completely love music then you might be on to a great thing.
2. Know the music
There are so many people out there who jump up and say ‘I’m a Salsa DJ’ yet if you ask them some really basic things about the music they fall flat on their face. Try it out on a DJ of your choice. Stride straight up to the box and ask “What is the artist and name of this track?” A decent DJ will be able to tell you straight away and might even be able to give you an album title too. A rubbish one will fob you off. To me DJs like this are as useless as a surgeon that doesn’t know basic anatomy. Don’t be like them. Take your time, do your research and know your music.
3. Stay up to date
Music is constantly evolving and growing and new music is being released daily. After a few years of listening to the same old stuff, Salsa tracks soon sound tired and dull especially if you’re playing them week after week after week. Do yourself a favour and keep your ear to the ground for more great stuff. For some great inspiration, head over to our DJ Picks pages where some of the best DJs share their top tracks. It can also be great to head over to YouTube and search for ‘salsa 2014’ or ‘Kizomba 2014’ or even just google it. You’ll soon find brilliant websites and blogs to follow (like this one!) and will have a whole host of tracks at your fingertips.
4. Find out which Salsa tracks people love
As a DJ you are not simply playing music for yourself to listen to. Your job is to bring people onto the dance-floor, to get them dancing and to keep them dancing. It’s not an easy thing at all. This is the time to do some more research. Watch the tracks that people really love, make a mental note of the floor fillers and ask among your friends for their top tracks.
This DJing business is not all about your personal taste guys. Sometimes you will have to play the odd track that you absolutely loathe (speaking from experience here) and smile as you do it. Thankfully this doesn’t happen too often.
It’s also important to remember that not every track can be easily danced to. This is where your experience as a Salsa dancer will be invaluable. Again, listen to the tracks that other people play and experiment with your own stuff. Tempo and rhythmic complexity are two key areas that you should bear in mind and can make or break a Salsa track for dancing.
5. Know your equipment
Put simply, you’re going to need to know which buttons to press. Depending on your interest, this can get as complex as you want it to. Ask around and you’re likely to find someone in your group of friends who knows a thing or two about DJ equipment.
6. Get yourself visible
No, I don’t mean donning a high-viz jacket, I’m talking marketing. I know it’s a dirty word to some but it’s necessary. People need to know where to find you if they want to book you. It might not seem immediately obvious but marketing yourself will really help to grow your DJ brand.
First step is to get yourself a website. You can get a basic website for free on some sites or pay a little to get your own professional, self-hosted site. WordPress is great for this. Make it look pretty, tell people how to contact you, stick on a biography and upload some content, whether that’s news, music videos,music articles or whatever.
Next, get yourself on Social Media if you aren’t already there. Think about a Facebook page, a Twitter account, Google+, Soundcloud or Reverb Nation. Communicate with your friends and fans and post stuff on a regular basis that your audience will like.
7. If you don’t ask you don’t get
You might not like it, but you are going to have to ‘hustle’ if you want to get bookings. Contact club and events organisers, festival organisers and people you know and offer your services as a DJ. This may have to be for free or at a low price in the beginning, but it’s great experience to have and will get your business off to a great start. Don’t be afraid to ask- this is how most Salsa DJs got started.
8. Keep on learning
It’s impossible to know everything there is to know about Salsa, Kizomba or Bachata music, so don’t worry. Stay modest, keep your two feet on the ground and be willing to keep on learning continuously. You can always be better, know more and grow more so don’t be afraid. Just keep an open heart and you will go far.
9. Just do it. Now!
What’s stopping you?? You’ll soon achieve your dream of dazzling the dance-floor with your amazing tunes if you get started now. I challenge you to take action today. Go ahead- learn more about Salsa music, figure out the buttons, register that domain today, do whatever it is you need to so you can get that career off to a great start!
It’s easy to get started provided you know your music and understand what dancers need. The rest of it can all be learned, and anyone can do it. Becoming a really amazing Salsa, Kizomba or Bachata DJ is another post altogether. Take the first step and be brave. You can do it.