We Review WikiHow's Worst DJ Tutorials
"This is the EDM equivalent of "Be the change you want to see in the world.""
All photos via WikiHow.
WikiHow is a crowd-sourced website with a simple goal: they want to help everyone on the planet learn how to do anything. With topics ranging everywhere from How To Build A Shelf to How To Express Love, there's really no skill that you can't get hot tips and helpful consumer advice about. But what if you don't want to learn How to Look Goth While Traveling for a Long Time on a Plane? What if you want to learn a tangible music industry skill like DJing? If you live in a small city or are less connected with the club scene, you might think that WikiHow's dozens of mixing guides would be a huge help. They're not.
The unavoidable truth is that WikiHow's many DJ tutorials are fucking garbage and you'd have better luck learning how to DJ from Two YouTube Videos And A Crossfader. Don't believe me? Let's look at a few of their most popular tutorials.
How To Be A DJ
How To Be A DJ is WikiHow's largest, most popular, and all-encompassing DJ tutorial. It has been viewed 1.1 million times, and it perfectly represents WikiHow by failing immediately. If you were to trust WikiHow, you'd be dropping several hundred dollars on a mixer/turntable setup without also purchasing speakers to hear your songs on. Opting to avoid hardware to actually listen to what you're playing is explicitly advised against in the guide's third sentence. To anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with how mixers work, buying a mixer with no speakers is like buying a car with no wheels. Sure, the engine runs and the lights blink, but it won't get you anywhere. WikiHow: 0, Real World: 1
In part 2, the guide really comes in to its own.
Shouldn't a guide on DJing include more than three sentences about a DJ's most necessary skill? Am I the only one that thinking "Learn to mix beats" is rather simplifying things? Part 2 goes on to offer glittering non-advice like "calculate BPM by counting the beats yourself and using a stopwatch" and "you need to be a music expert." I've gone my entire writing career without adressing either of those points. WikiHow: 0, Real Life: 2.
WikiHow does eventually offer sound advice in this guide. In Part 3, they suggest learning from a source that isn't WikiHow and we think this is an excellent consumer tip. WikiHow: 1, Real Life: 2.
How To Be A Non-Hip Hop DJ
How To Be A Non-Hip Hop DJ is a guide that raises far more questions than it answers. Is being a hip-hop DJ so fundamentally different from all other genres that it requires a separate guide? Do metal bands really need DJs? How can there be only four steps? Is there really no vetting process for photographs? Who are the seven people that Liked this article?
Here are this guide's four steps to success:
Step 1: "Become a good DJ"
Step 2: "Make friends with people that are in a band that could potentially use turntables or someone who is starting bands all the time or in about five of them."
Step 3: "Tell them you're a DJ and that you wouldn't mind laying down some scratching for some of their songs."
Step 4: "Get a permanent spot in the band then show you're just as into the music as the rest of them."
This is the DJ guide equivalent of wishing for for more wishes. What kind of person could possibly justify putting "become a good DJ" as their very first step? What does it say about society when 13 editors have worked on this guide and nobody has taken issue with that? This is why I don't go outside.
How To Throw Down A Dope DJ Set In A Club
How To Throw Down A Dope DJ Set In A Club had so much potential. Its catchy title and no-frills introduction filled me with so much hope that for a brief moment, I logged on to Tinder expecting women to like me. My hope (and my romantic ambitions) were short-lived. Despite promising "10 simple steps to make your sets better than the other DJs in the club," the only thing that this guide will prepare you for is an eternity of 9pm opening sets and clearance-bin graphic tees. This guide is like getting socks for Christmas and then being broken up with via Emoji. It's like tripping over your own feet in front of your crush and then realizing you ripped your jeans at the ass seam. It's so bad that we reduced this article from covering five guides to just covering three, because the cumulative blow to your IQ would leave peeling an orange well outside your mental capacity.
HTTDADDJSIAC starts innocently enough:
Remember when Eric Sharp gave us his Top Tips for Opening DJs and recommended building gig-specific crates? That still applies. There's something to be said for having your own unique style, but ignoring the needs of clubs is a surefire way to end your career quickly.
Aside from the hilariously outdated reference of "Pokerface" by a guide that was last updated four weeks ago, I find it a little odd that we're advised not to play popular music. This has nothing to do with my love of Lana Del Rey or Drake remixes, but because this introduction to this guide specifically states that it's "mainly intended for those playing what's popular." Play what's popular, but don't actually play it. If I'd known I would have been running into Schrödinger Step today, I would have brushed up on my theoretical physics.
"Attack 'em with classics" is what a 30-year old fraternity member once told me while he was DJing a rush party in 2008. Using his $500 Toshiba laptop to alternate between old Queen albums in his iTunes library and 98kbps Britney Spears throwbacks on YouTube, I was struck by just how dope he would sound playing in a club. Or maybe I thought the opposite of that. Either way, thanks for reminding us that there are classics apart from "YMCA" and "Black or White or Blue".
Telling a DJ to do more than just cross-fade is like telling a pilot to do more than just jack off in the cabin. Anyone that doesn't know better is just along for the ride. Also, how many times has the word "trademark" been used in this guide? Four times? I'm going to keep a running tally. (™ = 4)
File under: Non-Advice. (™ = 5)
This is actually pretty sound advice. Kudos, WikiHow.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the sky and the crowd couldn't be two more different things. One is an enormous, smoggy mass that's consistently filled with dirt and toxins all across the world. The other is the sky. I can assure you that if you take tips from this article, no amount of looking at the sky will keep them on the dancefloor.
This is the EDM equivalent of "Be the change you want to see in the world." Sure, it looks cute in cursive font when you post it on Instagram, but you're not doing us any favours. Besides, we already have Calvin Harris—why would we need another King?
Put your hands up! Put your fucking hands up! Now screeeeeam! Now hope that your insurance covers lobotomyyyyyyy! Didn't you just tell us to look at the crowd? Why not consolidate steps 7 and 9 into one useful step? While we're at it, why not consolidate the intelligence of every contributing author of this guide into one remedial english third-grader? (™ = 6)
The best thing about step 10 is that it's the end of this miserable, miserable excuse for a guide. If you're in a DJ competition with 14 DJs playing house music, maybe you shouldn't be be playing psytrance. If you think playing electrohouse and hip-hop beats is unique, maybe you should step foot in literally any club. If you want to be a good DJ, maybe you shouldn't be reading guides on WikiHow.
Ziad Ramley is on Twitter: @ZiadRamley