How to Be a Hip Hop DJ for a Nightclub

by Chris Snellgrove

For many, the nightclub is a location where people can experience many different things: great fun, great music, and a chance to meet great people. If you’re one of those people, you may wish to take on a more active role in producing great music. If so, there are a number of tips for becoming a nightclub hip-hop DJ.

A Nightclub's DJ

The first step is to make sure you have practiced for a very long time on your own. Like any other public exhibition, being a DJ is something you should be very comfortable with before you are performing in public. Listen to as much music as you can, especially the work of other DJs. In time, this will help you create a sound and style that is uniquely your own. Make sure you have the right equipment for both practice and shows: at minimum, you need two turntables, headphones, and a sound mixer. As time goes on, you may invest in more equipment, from speakers to audio interfaces. Your equipment needs may vary by the venues you play and the equipment they already have available.

Next, research the clubs you want to play for, and find out what style DJ they prefer. If you want to showcase more experimental music, playing at a place that requires you play only Top 40 countdown-style music may not be for you (See References 1). Communication is key for finding, booking, and keeping gigs. Befriend DJs locally as well as through your social network to help you find work. This work may begin simply as assisting an established DJ in some capacity. This may not be as satisfying as playing on your own, but it allows you to meet owners, managers, promoters, and even security. Getting to know them will help you get work in the future, ensure clear communication of any problems before or during your show, and improve your chances of keeping a job if you begin performing there as a DJ.

The final aspect to finding work as a hip-hop DJ is producing your own mixes of music and distributing them digitally. It is very easy to distribute music through channels like YouTube and the rejuvenated Myspace, and to share links to what you create through your social network of friends. This helps to get your name out there, and ultimately gives you an edge on the DJ competition: your competitors may just be other DJs, but as someone with some renown, you will not only get more gigs, but more followers who will want to hear your latest creations live.


  • Be sure to listen to audience feedback regarding what is working well and what is not.
  • As time goes on, invest in different software for your gigs, and find out what you are most comfortable with.
  • Don't forget that you have made your passion into a job, which is amazing.

About the Author

Dr. Chris Snellgrove is a writing specialist, and a veteran of everything from a book-length dissertation to a newspaper editor's desk. He has produced work for academic, business, creative, and non-profit endeavors.

Photo Credits

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