This question could be open to different opinions, however for the purpose of this article we're going to assume that this means "How to long does it take to be able to play a continuous DJ set by blending tracks together using modern technology and tools".
Now it gets interesting...
Firstly, we don't want to undermine other DJs or make the art of DJing seem incredibly simple because it's not just about mixing tracks - it's about personality, crowd engagement, track selection as well as many other things. There are incredibly talented DJs who are able to do all of these things as well a actually produce their own music - that takes talent.
However for the sake of this article we're going to look at how long it would take to learn how to mix tracks together to produce a continuous set.
So let's get to the point. Here's the basic steps required to mix one track into another, from the outro of one track to the intro of the next track:
Assuming you've pressed play on the previous track (and it's current playing), select the next track that you want to play and load it into your decks/mixer software.
Line up the correct section of the track you've just selected. Normally this would be the start of the track, but if there's cue points available then press the first cue point. This should take you right to the beginning (on the first beat).
Adjust the BPM (Beats per minute, the tempo of the track) of the track you've just loaded to match that of the track that's currently playing. If the current track is 128 BPM, adjust the slider on the side of the track you've just loaded to match this value. This is so that when you play it, both tracks will play at the same speed.
Step 4Press the 'Sync' button on the track that you've loaded. This means that when you press play the mixer software will automatically synchronise the beats of the two tracks together. This is something that's called 'beat-matching' and takes time to learn. Ideally it's good practice to learn how to do this by ear incase you have a technical failure when playing live, but for the point of this article, modern technology can do this for you. It's actually common for club DJs to mix using this feature.
At this point, you should make sure that the knob that controls the 'bass' filter on the track that you're about to play is turned fully to the left (turned right down, anticlockwise). This means that the bass of this new track won't get in the way of the previous track (it can sound muffled and distorted otherwise if you have two bass layers playing).
When the track that's currently playing gets to the outro section, press play on the track you've loaded exactly on the outro beat. The main thing that matters is that you press play on the correct beat. Imagine that you count from 1 to 4 on every beat throughout a track. You should press play on the count of 1 when the intro section of the track that's playing comes around.
The software will then match the beats of both tracks and make sure they are synchronised.
Now, both tracks are playing together. In your own time (within the first 15 - 30 seconds of pressing play on the new track - however this varies based on genre) switch the bass filters, by turning up the bass on the new track and turning down the bass on the track that is about to end.
That's the process. Obviously the exact buttons to be pressed and the timings of when exactly to press play will vary (as tracks have different structures) but this is the basic principle of how to mix one track into another.
Repeat this process by loading up a new track, and do the same again.
So how long does this process take to learn?
Depending on how quickly you can pick up new concepts, for some people it can take 20 minutes to get the hang of it. For others, it may take an hour or more.
In theory though, if you're able to mix from the outro of one track to the intro of another, over and over again then you're able to string multiple tracks together at once - which is DJing in it's simplest form.
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