Five Steps to Become a DJ Like 3LAU!


*The following words are simply one man’s opinion and do not reflect the views of MMIBTY as a whole… although, come on 3LAU…*

I know you, you’ve been sitting there at the festivals, grinding your teeth yelling at your neon clad bros “HOW CAN I DO THAT?”. Well have no fear, music icon and self proclaimed spokesman of all DJs has laid out some simple guidelines on his Facebook page so that you too can headline the festival of your choosing!

Take a look at what 3LAU had to say below.

Let’s get something straight…People (some DJ’s who think they know what’s up) tend to hate on producer/DJ’s who “plan the arc of a set” who don’t “read the crowd” (of course we all do when we need to) – “beatmatch” – “don’t use cdj’s” etc etc etc. the list goes on of complaints based in old world views. Those are all sorry excuses for dependency on old technology and lack of adaptation.

Here’s the thing. Being a DJ isn’t about any of those things anymore; sure, maybe it is if a crowd isn’t there to see YOU, and they’re just there to party, some of those variables matter. But when we play in front of many people, there’s a certain level of trust between the artist and crowd, that we are going to bring the crowd to a world they haven’t seen or heard before. To do that, we cant just wing it and mix whatever, that’s impossible.

For people who come to see my shows, I try to create a musical journey. That sounds kinda dumb and cliche at first, yet, in 1.5-2 hours of time, my goal is to make you forget about everything else but the people around you and whatever dance floor supports your flailing feet. It’s about the experience and the music, not the best matching skill or antiquated DJ technology.

Before i play my sets I have hundreds of tracks to pick from, labeled by key in ableton. Could i drag something in if I wanted to? Sure, i was in vegas the other week and had a request from an important person to play wiz – we dem boyz. So i went in to itunes, downloaded it, and mixed it in my set without error. Nobody cares.

Regardless, creating a memorable live experience requires an intricate weaving in and out of multiple tracks in short intervals, enabled by a simple understanding of “the circle of fifths” and more complex editing technique. That’s just my style, everyone has their own, and I respect the masters like laidback luke who can crush every set with insane CDJ / mixing skill. But,

The point of all of this is. WHO THE FUCK CARES what software / equipment is being used to DJ, or what we’re doing up in the booth. We press buttons, All of us, that’s obvious. So what separates DJs is their SELECTION and their editing skills. What makes a set great isn’t how spot on the transition from a 126 to a 130 bpm track is, it’s the execution of a familiar breakdown with an anthemic vocal that drops into a beat that nobody’s heard before, but has people going buck wild.

So to you hater DJ’s – face the shit, nobody cares if u can mix, everyone can mix, we all mix, mixing isn’t TALENT. People care about your TASTE, and its manipulative bridging of the familiar and pleasantly unfamiliar, because at the end of the day, taste is what regulates crowd response, energy, and lasting memories from a set.

And you’re entitled to your opinion, I’m just gonna keep doing my thing, and hope it keeps working.”

After reading this you may have to take some time to  yourself, sit down and think about it. It may take a few minutes to digest what you just read. It seems that 3LAU really has a complete understanding of what it takes to be a memorable act. Let’s break this down and see if we can figure out how to be awesome DJs just like him!

#1 – Beatmatching: Forget it, you don’t need it.

Beatmatching? PSHHHHH what are you Amish? Who the fuck beatmatches anymore? With so many amazing products out there that will sync your tunes together with a touch of a button why bother taking the time to learn how two songs can beautifully blend together? Like I told my mom “Fuck guitar lessons, I have guitar hero”.  3LAU says beatmatching is an old world view, and we just don’t need it anymore – people just need to simply, adapt.



I cannot stress the importance of this tip to becoming a successful DJ, it is probably the only thing that stands between you and the ever-lasting glory of the main stage. “We can’t just wing it and mix whatever, that’s impossible” honestly should be written on the walls of your studio, fuck it tattoo it on your forearm  so that you can always remember that prefabricated and rehearsed sets that possess no elements of danger are the only thing that people want to hear, and if you try otherwise you will fail, and your cat will probably die or something. But honestly I am really glad that 3LAU speaks for all his counterparts, because it really makes me appreciate individuals like Seth Troxler or Sven Vath, even Joe Nice who must spend hours and hours rehearsing those six, seven, even 10 hour sets! But don’t you fret your silly little heart you cute little thing you, if you want to be a big time DJ like 3LAU you won’t have to prepare for a set more than an hour and a half, that’s all the festivals usually have enough pyrotechnics for anyways.

#3 It’s about the experience, not your skills.

Kids if you want to be big all you need to know is the basics. Think about it like this, it’s like getting a job at a movie theatre and all you have to do is teach yourself how to load a wheel into the projector. But here is the catch, once you load that film in and hit play BOOM the screen is actually behind YOU! and you get to stand in front of the audience! PRETTY COOL RIGHT?!

You are almost there! Just a few more steps and you too can be an expensive act to book for festivals!


#4 What you do in the booth is your business.

When you are performing it is your time to shine. No one else but you gets to determine what goes on in that DJ booth so if you want to text Dillon Francis funny things about cats and upload photos to Instagram, you go and do it. If you want to drink really expensive liquor and grab some starfucker’s ass, kid you go grab that ass. Like 3LAU says, “WHO THE FUCK CARES what software / equipment is being used to DJ, or what we’re doing up in the booth. We press buttons, All of us, that’s obvious.”  The most important thing honestly is that you look like you’re doing something! Even if the mean old sound guy has taped up your master to not blow out a sound system worth more than an NYC block, you fucking twist those knobs till your fingernails bleed. Oh, side tip, make sure your haircut is on point and you are dressed in all black so Hardwell will think you’re cool, there will be lots of photographers.

#5 Nobody cares if you can mix.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. You may have thought DJing was about mixing? Well fuck you it’s not. So you sit the fuck down and listen to what 3LAU has to say: “face the shit, nobody cares if u can mix, everyone can mix, we all mix, mixing isn’t TALENT. People care about your TASTE,”.  Do you get it now? All the EDM scene really is, is just who has the better iTunes library. It’s only about picking good songs to play and that’s it, that’s all, nothing else really matters. So what you really need to do is make a lot of friends in the industry, get songs before they come out and WOW the crowd with the new song that sounds exactly like Animals and like Wolfgang Gartner, tweet at fans that you will go fuck their mothers on a bed of money, which you will be able to, cause you’ll have a bed of money, and a lot of Instagram followers to post pictures of your cat or whatever you do.

Putting it all together…

So what does it all mean? Let’s pull it all together so that you too can have that shiny “artist” pass at Ultra. Basically you need to know nothing about keeping tracks in beat, you shouldn’t even bother learning how to do it because there are plenty of controllers and software that can do it for you. Don’t bother being innovative or push the limits on what can be done in front of a live audience – that has never worked in the past and it never will. It’s also only about the experience! Hire the best sound and light guys you can, let them work their ass off, sort a few songs, press play, get your dick sucked. Easy. The booth? Fuck it, it’s the booth. Get pissed, press a few buttons, twist a few knobs, you’re gonna look like the fucking man so just chill. And at the end, no one gives a shit if you can mix, they are just there to listen to songs they heard on the radio, so don’t bother perfecting your craft, after all you’re going to be around forever…right?


go you!