by Joshua Helton

How to start DJing

Start your DJing career now, and learn the basics with the free-to-download TRAKTOR DJ 2.

So, you want to learn how to DJ? The first question you need to ask then is, “what do I need to start DJing?” Today, DJ apps and software have made it easier than ever to start DJing. TRAKTOR DJ 2, which is free for desktop and iPad offers entry into the world of DJing at no cost. To get you started here are a few things you will want to know about how to DJ with TRAKTOR DJ 2.

For any aspiring DJ looking to learn how to mix music, the most important thing to know is that it all starts with the song selection. Your taste in music and the way you choose to present it is the most important element for your DJ career. Play music from your personal library, or via your SoundCloud Go+ account to access all liked tracks, likes, and playlists.

Using the Match function, TRAKTOR DJ 2 makes song recommendations that will mix well with the current song you are playing to help with your selection. As you browse your music you may find a particular tune that you want to play later, simply add it to your queue list for easy access.


The basics

Before starting out, it’s recommended you learn a few fundamentals of DJing. When you first open TRAKTOR DJ 2, you will see two decks, with a mixer in the middle. Simply press the + symbol at the top of the deck to open your browser to select a track and start playing some music. At the top of the display, you will see the song’s waveform. The red line in the middle of the display indicates the track’s current position. The white lines refer to the beatgrid that coincides with the/tempo of the music. The highlighted white line represents “The 1” in a 4 bar section, which is important to understand as this concept will help your phrase your mixes more effectively. TRAKTOR DJ 2 analyzes your music and sets the beatgrid automatically for you. While TRAKTOR DJ 2 does a great job of accurately setting this for you, it is sometimes necessary to make adjustments by clicking the BPM in the info section of the deck.

Sync and mix

When beat mixing, the Sync function automatically matches the tempo of the next song loaded to the current one being played. The pitch fader can also be used to do this manually by adjusting the BPM. When you change the pitch of a track the original musical key of the song changes as well. TRAKTOR DJ 2 is equipped with an automatic key detection algorithm that uses the Key Lock feature to preserve the original musical key when tempo changes are made to the track.

The platter offers performance techniques such as scratching, back spinning, and cueing your start point. The double arrows next to the platter allow you to nudge your music to make subtle adjustments that help lock in your beats. Even when using Sync, there are times when one track is slightly ahead or behind the other by a fraction of a second and needs to be nudged forward or pulled back to dial in the mix.

You can change the display function at will. By choosing the Jogwheel display you will open up even more performance features, and be able to set Hotcues. These allow for you to quickly jump to different cue points in a song and can be setup in advance or on the fly during playback. Selecting a blank Hotcue pad drops a numbered marker in the current position on the waveform. These Hotcues are saved with your music and appear every time that song is loaded until you delete them.

The controls

Each deck also has a Transport section with Play, Cue, and looping functions. Cue can be used to set a reference point that represents the place where you would like to start or quickly return to when preparing your mix. Pressing Cue sets the cue point at the current position of the song. Holding Cue will start the song and return it to the cue point once released. Next to Cue is the loop function, represented by the left and right arrows and a number that indicates the loop size. This allows you to be able to play a section of the song on repeat. The arrows can be used to increase or decrease the size of the loop.

The two-channel mixer is where the mix comes together. Each channel has a three-band EQ section for isolating different frequencies of the music. Once you have your mix going, adjusting the EQ is helpful in smoothing out and shaping your mix. The headphone cue is where you can pre-listen to the music to play to try things out before going live with it.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how to DJ, it’s time to play. Have fun with it! Don’t be afraid to take risks. Be adventurous with your music selections. Play with the various features available to you, make mistakes, and enjoy the process. Always remember that practice is the key to success.


TRAKTOR DJ 2 is available for free on as an iPad and desktop app. It’s also compatible with other hardware, including TRAKTOR KONTROL S2, and the TRAKTOR KONTROL Z1.

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