DJing from your laptop or PC is just a click away. These software pieces are a mix of free and subscription-based options for many devices like Mac, PC, and iPad. When shopping for software, consider what type of computer you’ll be using (some may only work with mac and some may only work with a PC). The next thing you’ll want to do is make sure you’ll have enough memory on your computer. 8GB will do, but if you have more, even better. Once you have a laptop, desktop, or iPad with enough memory, consider your budget. Some beginners opt for free software and some jump straight to paid subscription options. They can range between $50 to hundreds of dollars depending on the service and specs.
We went through the pros and cons of each software to help you figure out what you needed. Here are 4 of the best DJ software options for beginners.
Best Free Software for Beginners
1. Traktor DJ 2- FREE DJ SOFTWARE FOR
DESKTOP AND iPAD
Picking out software can be tricky. We recommend starting with free software if you’re completely new to DJing. Traktor’s free software is great if you think you’d want to give Traktor Pro 3 a go eventually.
Traktor DJ 2 is completely free and a great starter software for beginners. Traktor allows you to record your mix and save it with a tap, thanks to the built-in mix recorder. Overall, it’s a great option if you’re looking to mix some of your favorite songs. DJs do have to source music from DJ pools such as DJ City or CD Pool, but you’ll be able to stream from SoundCloud with this software. Traktor teamed up with DJs to create SoundCloud playlists based on their real mixes. Give these expert picks a spin.
|Free||Only 2 decks|
|Available on Desktop & iPad||No Tag/Metadata Editing|
|Great for SoundCloud Users||No Fade-in/Fade-out cue points|
Mixxx is another great free software for beginners, by DJs. Yep, it’s made by DJs and programmers at no cost to you. It’ll always be free, thanks to the passionate people behind Mixxx. See what this award-winning software is all about.
This free software allows you to drop a song onto a deck and start playing. (You’ll get 4 decks here, the free version of Traktor allows 2.) The BPM and musical key detection help you find the next track in your library and you can use the master sync to match the tempo and beats of up to 4 songs for mixing!
Use any MIDI controller or HID device for hands-on control of Mixxx’s features. (We rounded up some of our favorite MIDIs here.) Adding sound effects will be the best part, get creative with all the knobs and use turntables with timecode vinyl records to scratch digital music. It’ll sound like they were pressed on vinyl.
|Free||MIDI mapping can be complicated|
|Windows, Linux, & Mac Compatible|
More Top-Rated Software for Beginners
3. Serato DJ Pro Digital DJ Software
When you think of industry-standard DJ software, Serato is a top pick. It’s very reliable, which is why artists will never turn their back on the software. Serato is loved by music producers, DJs, and musicians worldwide. Whether they’re making music at home or in the studio, Serato is their go-to. You’ll also love Serato.
Serato DJ Pro’s software is known for its organized song library and easy-to-use effects. Cues, loops, sync, and quantize are a few. SP-6 sample player provides you with 24 sample slots you can use to spice up your mix and the best part is that it’s super easy to use and keeps your display-clutter free. Whether you’re at the club or spinning from home, this software is fantastic for performances.
|Compatible with Mac & Windows||$249|
|Users Love This Upgrade||Serato DJ Pro requires compatible hardware in order to function. (Rane, Pioneer, Numark, Novation, & Vestax)|
|Full set of iZotope effects|
4. TRAKTOR PRO 3 PROFESSIONAL 4-DECK DJ SOFTWARE
If you like Traktor’s free software, consider giving Traktor Pro 3 a shot. This user-friendly DJ software lets you blend genre and BPMs. Push sync to get your tracks beat-matched so you can experiment with your mix.
Some features you’ll enjoy: The stems audio format splits tracks into 4—drum bass, vocals, and melody so they can all be mixed separately. This is great for edits during live performances. The one-shot samples and loops on Remix decks allow you to insert samples and effects and trigger them in sync with your mix. If you like a loop from another deck you can keep it playing in your remix deck for extended mixes.
|4-decks||Not integrated with Spotify yet|
|Under $100||No track recommendations|
|Sounds.com for royalty-free hits & loops|
Where Do DJs Find Music?
DJ pools are where DJs get music. Some are able to pull music from iTunes, Tidal, and even SoundCloud, but typically DJs will find music from DJ City and Bandport. These streaming services offer DJs some peace of mind when it comes to copyright. No one wants to get in trouble for mixing songs they’re not supposed to. It can be tricky at first, but if you’re paying to use a pool, make sure you’re okay with the monthly or yearly subscription first, especially as a newbie.
DJ City allows you to download music, exclusive remixes, DJ intros, a capella, and more. DJs love it because you can automatically download multiple songs at once using your phone or browser, have access to curated playlists, and use day and night mode (perfect for switching environments if you gig often). And of course, an enhanced search feature makes work so much easier when it’s time to find a certain song.
SoundCloud Go+ vs. SoundCloud DJ
SoundCloud DJ is the best bang for the buck for saving unlimited tracks for offline playback.
|SoundCloud Go+ ($9.99/Month)||SoundCloud DJ ($19.99/Month)|
|Mix SoundCloud tracks within select DJ apps||Mix SoundCloud tracks within select DJ apps|
|Get ad-free listening on every track||Get ad-free listening on every track|
|Stream in high-quality audio||Stream in high-quality audio|
|Save unlimited tracks for offline playback within select DJ apps|
DJs love BPM Supreme. You’ll find Radio edits, a capella, instrumentals, and more. If you’re curious, you can browse for free.
Beatport’s preview mode is a great way to browse genres in playlists for a few minutes. With over 25 genres, you’ll be ready to subscribe and get to playing.
You may have noticed DJ bundles online. So your setup is a laptop and DJ software of your choice and a compatible controller. Some will be limited to compatible controllers (take the Serato for example) and some are compatible with just about any MIDI on the market. This is something to consider, but you can always play it safe with Serato’s expansion packs. Serato Play is a fully-featured Expansion Pack that lets you DJ using only your laptop!
Hardware can be pricey. Expect to pay anywhere between $200-$1800 for a DJ controller. Of course, you don’t have to break the bank on one, but it’s more reason to consider free DJ software if you’re a newbie. Pioneer DJ is a great brand to check out for DJ controllers. Their controllers are the industry standard for controllers. Some of your favorite artists definitely use their controllers. Be on the lookout for them the next time you’re at a gig. Kygo, Dan Reynolds, and DJ ravine have been confirmed users.
Photo Courtesy Native Instruments