What are the challenges of DJing? What are the toughest parts of being a DJ? To answer this, we should break the problem up into two categories, the problems of the amatuer DJ and the problems of the expert DJ.

The Amateur DJ

DJs who are just starting out have lots of challenges to overcome. Once they have had enough practice, most of these challenges will cease to be a problem. In the meantime, some of the toughest things for a beginning DJ are:

Matching the tempos of two tracks. The DJ will listen to an outgoing track and try to get the speed of the incoming track to play at the same tempo. Most often, the DJ will not be able to determine whether the incoming track needs to be sped up or slowed down. They become confused as to which beat is coming from which track and cannot tell whether speeding up or slowing down a track will solve the problem.

Aligning two seperate beats so that they are in phase. This is caused mainly by a misunderstanding of musical timing. Many amateur DJs feel that matching the tempos of two tracks is sufficient for mixing but they fail to realize that each track will progress and change on a downbeat. To make the mix sound more natural, one should follow the rules of musical timing and cause the new portions of the incoming track to occur on the downbeats of the outgoing track. This problem can also be caused when the DJ loses count of the beats and does not know which beat (in the set) they are hearing. They may incorrectly assume that they are coming up to a downbeat but guess incorrectly.

This can be caused by not pay attention to the outgoing track for a small period of time, thus causing the DJ to lose the beat timing of the outgoing track. Often a DJs attention to the outgoing track will be diverted if they are concentrating on finding the correct incoming track or even the right portion of the incoming track. Also, if the DJ becomes engaged in other activites, such as conversations with friends, they may lose track of which beat is occuring in the outgoing track.

The Expert DJ

Many people feel that pro DJs are at ease when mixing music. There are, however, a few problems that even they encounter while performing a set:

Track selection is always a concern.It was found that the biggest problem for most DJs is deciding what track to play next. This is a problem that involves understanding the mood and anticipations of a room full of people (the audience). The DJ must know what type of music their audience wants to hear. Will the mix become faster, or slower, harder or softer, happier or darker, vocals or not? Often musical selection is affected by the age group of the audience, the decor of the venue, the time of day, the type of event and the mood of the DJ.

Mixing melodies is often a problem. When the melodies of two tracks are played on top of each other, sometimes they do not create a harmony and can sound quite unnatural. Some professional DJs organize their music collection by using key signatures. Then they know when one key will conflict with another and they will not attempt to mix two opposing tracks. Others will practice mixing their tracks before performing in front of an audience. Practice sessions will help a DJ learn which tracks sound nice with each other and which ones do not sound coherent. Using the equalizers can help in reducing dis-harmonious melodies. Also, there is a famous unwritten rule in DJing - never mix vocals on top of each other. This almost always creates two melodies that do not sound harmonious together. It also makes the audience concentrate on two sets of lyrics, a task that involves mental effort and takes away from the feeling of becoming "lost" in the music.