What Makes A Great DJ?

There are many things which make a great DJ, but in this post I want to talk about the things that don't really come up that often. Here are some of the important aspects I feel are needed to be discussed as they can be some of the things that can make or break you in the industry.

Here are 3 key things which I have found over the years that truly make a great DJ stand out above the rest.

Bryan Kearney at Studio 3 Crown in Melbourne

1.  Personality

It has often been said that “your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, and how you leave others feeling after having an experience leaves you with a trademark” - Jay Danzie
Your personality, the way you come across and how you deal with people is vitally important in the DJing industry. It can make the difference between getting booked on a regular basis or struggling to get booked for gigs at all. DJ’s such as Armin Van Buuren, Carl Cox, Above & Beyond - they are not only superstars with their music and performances, but are type of people who can have a laugh and smile on camera when interviewed, they are also very humble and positive towards others, and always come across as upbeat and easy going. This is what gives them such a charismatic aura, with their genuine personalities that people can connect with, feel comfortable viewing and become even more interested in them as people, not just DJ’s. The fact is, people can relate to you more when you are a friendly character and don't take yourself too seriously. People want you to show your personality behind the decks and I strongly believe that this is one thing which separates the A list DJ’s from the rest of the pack.


2.   Stage Presence

Have you ever felt that when a certain DJ comes on, there is just that something special about them besides their music  which makes them come alive and really draw your attention? Whether they are jumping up and down, stage diving like Steve Aoki or Eddie Halliwell or wear a mask like Deadmau5 or Daft Punk, they just connect with the crowd in their own unique way that makes a DJ set more and more interesting to watch. That certain type of X factor that they have that before they have even played their first track the crowd are going ballistic for them.

DJ Eddie Halliwell performs at Urban Wave Festival In Minsk, Belarus


3.   An Educator

A DJ that can come out and not just play hit after hit, but slowly warm up the crowd and be able take them on a journey for their set is a DJ with patience, skill and experience. It’s not something you see often these days, especially from some of the newer DJ’s coming through the ranks. A DJ who has the ability to educate the crowd to their own musical style and tastes is what can really earn them a lot of credibility and respect, enabling them to be unique from the rest. A DJ who can surprise a crowd by dropping a couple of bombs unexpectedly from nowhere. A DJ who can have the crowd in the palm of their hands for an entire 2-3 hour set and controls the movement of the dance floor is something which many of the top DJs of the world can do so masterfully, now that requires some talent right there, but is a skill which can be learned through experience. Really pay attention and take notice of this next time you’re out to see one of the big name veterans of the scene to get a better idea of this.

Steve Aoki show at 808 Festival Bangkok


The purpose of this post was to create more awareness and to help give up and coming DJ’s a little bit of insight and to think outside of the box more when it comes to ways to stand out from the rest. Ask yourself the questions, “what sort of DJ do I want to be?”, “how can I be more a person of influence when I get out and amongst it?”, “what can I do to bring more excitement or something different to the table?”. More to the point, next time you are watching a DJ, observe how they go about their business and conduct themselves.

Posted on May 26, 2015 and filed under DJ.