Our existing society is so preoccupied with youth that people who are “less young” feel like starting something new at a certain age is just a waste of time.
And the truth is – being young doesn’t make you more artistic. Youth doesn’t give you any particular talent for DJing – or anything else.
Music is ageless and timeless, and people have entered at different ages and attained mastery at different ages.
Becoming a DJ at 30, 40 or 50 isn’t unattainable at all, and today we’re going to prove it.
We have a lot of things to discuss, so let’s dive right in.
Is It Too Late for You to Become a DJ?
Age is a factor in this field, but it’s only one part of a big puzzle where stuff like knowledge, taste, style, technical, and talents match in.
You’ll likely find “older” DJs (i.e., people beyond the age of 30) as DJs or music producers related to Top 40 charts, most of who yet can’t flutter off the yoke of outmoded youth stereotypes.
But to answer the question, it’s never too late. You can do anything with music at any point in your life. As long as you love mixing and have a passion for sharing music with others, you can never be too old for DJing.
You certainly like listening to music. So why not fool around with the tracks while listening to it (aka to DJ)?
There’s no pressure. You just load the tunes up on your DJ equipment instead of your usual hi-fi set.
Nothing feels better than mixing in a tune you love that folks may not have listened before, or making mash-ups that nobody would ever think about making.
It’s loads of joy, and there’s a lot of us in this boat with you! Don’t let age be a limit.
As far as DJing as the profession goes, it depends on how much you want it and how passionate you are. That requires crazy amounts of practice, your energy, and will.
But no one cares how old you are. I’ve been to parties where the DJ looked antique but was excellent.
The people who are enthusiastic about DJing, whether it’s followers or artists, promotors, or attendees, are all commonly pretty positive towards guys who have a sincere desire to learn the craft and share their passion with others.
You’ll have so many images of you being too old, not fitting in, the works. But it doesn’t matter if you enjoy the tracks you’re spinning, and you’re willing to put the work to be where you want to be.
House is booming. You can perform it practically anywhere, and people will dance to it.
Take the risk or lose the chance. Pascal Kleiman is Frenchman born without arms. He still became a DJ. Your age is not much of a “disability” to be worried about.
The best way to explore your musical talents is as it being a hobby for a start. You can dedicate more time to it and enjoy it more, and there’s always the option to go full time down the road.
Maybe you’ll begin DJing on the side while working 9-5, and five years later, you’ll DJ full time! You. Never. Know.
Commitments, Finances and Expectations
People who are starting to DJ at an early age have loads of time to learn techniques, practice, perform, and network and have low expectations and wants in terms of rewards.
If you want to learn DJing alongside a stressful, high-paying work while you’re paying off your home, vacations with wife and kids, and two cars, you’ll see it as a difficulty.
Maybe you don’t have enough time or energy to practice and mix. Perhaps you can quit/downsize your regular job but then can’t make enough cash.
It’s not just DJing that this correlates to but any profession that needs experience and practice. Low income to begin with, but having potential high rewards for the few that master it.
Also, you need to consider the family aspect. If you are a married guy with children, DJing will maybe irritate your spouse.
You require extra space, make much noise while mixing, and, most importantly, spend time DJing that could otherwise be spent on family projects.
On the other hand, you’re behind the decks at home, and it costs less than a dream sports car. So you could get away with it as I did.
If you someday go pro, difficulty with age is that you’ll have other daily priorities than going out and playing kissy-face with all the foolish bar owners and event promoters.
You also can’t draw in all the young folks you work with at your KFC, car-wash, call center job, or whatever.
But all in all, if you have the enthusiasm, age shouldn’t stop you from deejaying in some form, even if it’s just for posting mixes on Soundcloud, Mixcloud, or YouTube.
Why Starting Late as a DJ Is Actually Great
There’s a reason the bulk of solid, well known, skilled touring DJs are 30 something and over.
It takes time, but after 30, you know more about people and life than someone younger.
Most of us won’t make it big in DJing, but the excitement of the pursuit and the admiration for the process are worth the journey.
I’ve only performed bars and one event, but that hasn’t prevented me from trying to put in more effort. With each gig, you discover something new.
- You have precious life wisdom that makes it less likely folks will take hold of you.
- You automatically demand more respect and can seemingly network more efficiently.
- You’re more prone to have formed habits and work ethic to grow your career.
- You’re less likely to spend your time doing dumb stuff like getting wasted every night and swiftly finding yourself catching an extended break for health purposes (or worse).
When you begin “fresh” from scratch at a later age, your power is that you don’t feel as much social pressure of your mixing that you might have had been younger since we all know what a jungle social media has become.
If you are over 40 and engaged in music more than ordinary, you have four decades of musical influence in you. Consider that too.
You were born in the eighties or earlier, and witnessed firsthand the beginning of electronic music.
You observed, danced, and listened to a mixture of genres in the eighties and cherished icons that made songs that are recognized as classic and legendary.
Then happened the nineties counterculture, with a rebound to rock and guitars, and you took it all in.
This means that when it gets to creating a diverse song library, you have an evident and definite edge over the common 18-year old that was brought up with, well, whatever came out after the 20th century.
Benefits of DJing After 40
Learning to mix after 40 will help you unite with your more youthful self and music fanatics from more recent generations. Be it at the DJ class you attend, or the DJ forums, or at an event.
If you chose DJing, you have the ideal excuse to go partying again. After all, watching other DJs mix in “live” circumstances is the best way to learn some practical skills.
You will reach like-minded folks who are probably much more childish than you, but you might be shocked by how great you will connect to them.
In turn, that might assist with something that numerous “older” people, particularly those that are well into their fifties, have to endure far too much: loneliness.
My friend is a good example. He only started practicing DJing two years ago, and he’ll soon turn 44. Arguably, he’s into more genres than anyone I know (techno, minimal, trance, tropical house, etc.)
He did his first home-recorded mix and posted it 5-6 months after he got into mixing, and soon he’s performing his first-ever live-gig at a private party at the top of the fancy building. He had like 2-3 live events planned July and August before this entire COVID-19 became a thing.
I’d consider all this a fair enough amount of progress, as he’s recorded home-played mixes, gotten into networking with the regional clubbing-scene, and even some few foreign associations. He, so to speak, “rubs shoulders” with DJs who’ve performed for 10-15 years.
While it’s entirely OK for you to DJ at home only, DJing in public is something else.
The communication with the audience, giving listeners a good time, and, most importantly, having a great time yourself is what deejaying is all about.
As a 40-year-old, you have accumulated large numbers of friends and colleagues over various networks (work, hobbies, school, university, associations.)
As a DJ, these are all groups that could benefit from your DJ skills in some fashion or form.
People find excuses to throw parties all the time, and guess who they will turn to for music and DJing?
Indeed. Additionally, these guys are mostly your age, and they require someone with vast musical culture, spanning more than two decades.
That will help you build a name, and who knows, maybe make a job out of it.
How to Start and How Long Does It Take to Learn to DJ?
Phase One – Buying and Learning Your Controller (10 Hours)
Well, you’ve now started. You purchased your first DJ controller. All that’s left is for you to carve your route.
Watch tutorials, read forums, read StartingtoDJ, and most importantly, practice practice practice.
Once you believe that you’re comfy on your current controller, improve to a more upper-level one with extra functionality.
Everything that comes next is about developing your understanding and ability, which will last for years to come.
There is no limit to how skillful you can be. You’ll obtain new alleys of growth and methods to which you can regularly utilize to your mixes.
Phase Two – Beatmatching (15 Hours)
This is usually the initial step when learning basics, and, luckily, it’s an easy one.
Start with two tunes and ensure their kicks line up using the pitch fader (to equal the BPMs) and jog wheels. That’s it.
Try not to use the sync button as you don’t want to grow too reliant on it. You’ll feel better knowing you can easily sync manually.
Phase Three – Track Selection (15+ Hours)
The essential skill. This is what will make or break you.
The crowd isn’t there to watch what you can or cannot do on the controller. They want to go back to their friends and family and inform them you mix great and played quality tunes and recommend you – to them.
Eventually, your hearing is your best friend. Your ears are your best mate. Pick at least two music styles and study them inside out – this prevents you from getting bored.
The more engaged you are in DJing, the more adapted your hearing will become in terms of what sounds great and what doesn’t with ingredients such as:
Phase Four – EQing, Phrasing, Transitioning, Effects, Gain/Trim, Etc. (20+ Hours)
I have sets on my MixCloud that I can’t believe I posted because they’re junk, but it’s all a part of the trip, and I keep them up to represent that.
Stop bothering about your age and get on with it. If all those underripe young dancers are OK with stompin’ in the club to DJs more than twice their age, there’s nothing to worry about.
Simple and Actionable Tips
You’re never too old. If you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Don’t try to learn mixing skills to become the best DJ in the world; do it because you feel excited to get behind the decks and play the music. You might become the greatest DJ of all time, you never know. But don’t expect you will.
Don’t pick your tunes from the top 40 charts, and I mean any top 40 charts. Dig, dig, dig. Listen to hundreds of songs to find that one song no one told you about, but makes you feel uplifted.
When you have a couple of dozens of these, then you will be able to start. That will make you sound different.
Many people are mixing the same top 40 tunes everywhere. Don’t do that. It’s a simple way, but being a real DJ is about delivering something that is yours, not what everyone else requires you to play. That’s termed a jukebox.
Listen to tunes all the time, and make sure it’s the music you enjoy. Actively discover (and enhance the ways you discover) new tracks you love and listen to tons of chosen genre.
Any time you can listen to music, do it. It helps you concentrate on stuff that you don’t need to hear, too. Always seek to expand your taste as well.
Ask yourself why someone likes a type of genre that you’re not too into, and think it out. Shift your perception.
Pay attention to all the parts of the mixes you listen to and how they match each other. Compare genres that don’t seem similar at all at the superficial level.
That’s how you get an excellent fundamental feeling for music. I feel like I have a great taste of good music, and I’ve listened to different genres most of the day, every day, since before 4th grade.
It’s practice. You listen to a lot of music, you know a lot of music. Creativity arises from what you know and who you are.
The more songs you know, comprehend and fill your mind with the more musical data your brain will pull from for creativity.
Finally, another significant thing is letting go. Please stop trying to figure it out rationally.
Logic is a flawed human invention. Feelings are not. Believe your gut. Your gut impressions are sent from your mind based on what you know and assume to be accurate based on what you know.
Build up that catalog of data, and don’t be scared to mess up because that’s the most reliable way to learn, not to mention fortunate accidents have produced some of the best mixes out there.
Can You Still Succeed as a DJ After 30?
There is no age limit. At the end of the day, what matters is the quality of your mixing, track selection, and a bit of networking.
Play a few gigs, make some extra money, and have some fun? Absolutely. Well, maybe, if this virus doesn’t kill the entertainment industry entirely for the next long while.
Be the next world-touring megastar? Not very likely, but if you are in music for fame, you are in it for the wrong reasons.
As for performing in a club: I find it an excellent exercise to imagine a packed dance floor while performing at home.
I try to get into that Friday-night vibe and kind of put myself in the situation of someone in the crowd. Then I judge if the records I play would make me want to dance. I know it sounds quite silly, but it works for me!
How to Get Gigs and How Much Time Would It Take?
You’ll get your first gig when you feel comfortable enough to reach out and have some demo mix prepared. It’ll progress as fast as you’d like it to.
It depends on how dedicated you are to DJing. Seeing as how you just started the journey, I’d say a few months for some small gigs assuming you practice every day. It’s not an overnight thing.
How you become successful is nailing the small gigs you can land, properly networking every opportunity, and being visible in the scene/attending DJ events and other DJs shows.
Grow a base from there and begin to build a name for yourself, get a social media presence, grow, hustle, repeat.
It’s going to be harder unless you have friends who are already promoters or club goers. Most people have moved on by then.
Instead of relying on connections, make them, you must break the ice and approach them yourself. The other route is way harder and super rare, start producing and get recognition of your music. This would lead to gigs.
As you get gigs, I recommend smaller events at first to cut your teeth. Don’t get in over your head.
As you figure out your niche and how far outside your comfort zone, you’re willing to go, be ready to say yes when someone calls at the last minute. Keep your gear ready to pack up and go at an hour’s notice.
Don’t use your DJ stuff all over the house, sharing cables with your PlayStation, home stereo, etc. Make a checklist at first, so you know you have everything you need with you.
Again, the gig might be more than an hour from your house, going back for a plug or specific piece of gear might ruin your reputation for promptness.
Always show up as early as you can. Scout out new places before the gig, if possible, look for power access, test out the venue’s equipment, predict trip hazards, look for entrance and optimal parking, etc.
On the day of the gig, make contact with your client. For bar events, it might be just the bartender, for bigger clubs, a booking manager.
At weddings, try not to disturb the bride (she’s got plenty to think about), get her mom’s number, or someone included with the wedding setup like a wedding planner.
Would you hire you?
In any business, you have to pretend like you’re already in the role that you are striving for.
Act like a professional, live that to the fullest.
Work hard, stay confident, exude passion in every single DJ set that you do, and something great will happen in every chat you have.
DJs Who Started Late and Succeeded
I was at a street party a few weeks ago, and there was a DJ in his mid-60s who was playing only 45s. He was mainly playing older tunes that no one had heard of, as well as some classics. He had pretty much everyone dancing, and it was a good time.
As long as someone is passionate and can get people moving, age doesn’t really matter.
Eats Everything got his big opportunity at age 31 in 2011. He is only around the past nine years and is living the dream now around the world. He’s now one of, if not the biggest name on the House circuit right now. You can never be too old to master an art.
Raja Ram, born in 1940, entered the 80th year on Earth, and he’s the main headliner at a lot of Psy-trance parties/festivals.
Petar Dundov, the Croatian sensation, was 37 when he did get his big break.
Comet Bernhard is in his 70s and was in his 70s when he started DJing.
Next, Jose Padilla. He’s DJ in the Café del Mar bar on Ibiza, who didn’t start his residency until he was 36. He started at around 30 and worked his way up! He’s 65 years old now still mixing.
Passion, work, and being kind to people can bring you far. So if this is your dream, I urge you to follow it.
A few years ago, I was in Italy in a place called Ilmuretto. There was a DJ (believe he’s called Giuliano Veronese) who was around 60/70 years old. He played at 4 AM, techno, and completely killed the gig.
Do You Know Who Ruth Flowers Is?
Ruth Flowers got invited to her grandson, Javier’s birthday at a club. The bouncer at first refused to let her in because of her age, but after insisting, she succeeded.
Immediately fascinated by the exciting and dynamic atmosphere nostalgic of her Youth, Flowers started to joke with her grandson that she too might become a DJ.
A couple of days later, Ruth said to Javier that she was really serious about that plan.
She was then presented to a young French DJ, Aurélien Simon, whose musical project picked her passion.
He showed her electro, taught her DJing techniques, and helped her build her name.
She progressively began to grow her own mixing style, with influences from some of her favorite musicians, including Freddie Mercury, The Black Eyed Peas, and many other prime names in the music industry.
Her first performance was in front of the audience of celebrities such as Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey, throughout the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, at the Villa Murano.
She then performed at the Queen Club in Paris on 28 January 2010. She has also had a few TV and radio shows all over the world.
Do You Know Who Sumiko Iwamuro Is?
Another “old lady” succeeding in the DJing world comes from Tokyo.
Sumiko Iwamuro is an 82-year-old baker who has been managing a restaurant in Tokyo for over 60 years.
But she also performs as Sumirock, a techno DJ at the DecaBarZ nightclub in the Shinjuku area.
Iwamuro got into mixing at age 70 when she was picking tracks for her son’s birthday gathering. Now she is a hit amongst the younger dancers in the Shinjuku.
“It’s basically techno music, but only that would be boring,” she said in one interview when asked what kind of music she plays.
“I add jazz, French chanson, and a bit of traditional music.”
Now it’s your turn. You’re only gettin’ older by sitting here reading all these blog posts. Start DJing!