Is a DJ a Musician?

A standing man who is a DJ and a musician

Some people think that disk jockeys (DJs) are musicians, and some think they are not musicians. However, it is possible to find out that DJs are musicians.

Combining the definitions of ‘disc jockey,’ ‘musician,’ and ‘perform’ can show that a disc jockey (DJ) is a musician. Also, combining the definitions of ‘disc jockey,’ ‘musician,’ and ‘instrument’ can show that a DJ is a musician.

The first section of this post explains why a DJ is a musician. The second section explains some misunderstandings about why some people might think that DJs are not musicians. After the second section, there are related questions and some closing words.

Why a DJ Is a Musician

By combining the definitions of ‘disc jockey,’ ‘musician,’ and ‘perform,’ we can determine that a DJ is a musician. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the definitions of ‘disc jockey’ and ‘musician’ are (source: disk jockey, musician):

  • disc jockey: someone who plays recorded songs at a party or nightclub for dancing
  • musician: a performer, writer, or director of music

According to the Cambridge online dictionary, the definition of ‘perform’ is (source: Meaning of perform in English):

  • perform: to please people by dancing, impersonating, singing, or playing music

These definitions show that a musician is a music performer, and performing could be pleasing by playing music. So, a DJ is a musician because they play recorded songs at a party or nightclub for dancing to please people.

We can find similar definitions in other dictionaries. I choose these mentioned definitions since these are correct, in my opinion.

A Second View

As far as I know, there are more definitions than only the already mentioned ones by which we can determine that a DJ is a musician. For example, we can also combine the definitions of ‘disc jockey,’ ‘musician,’ and ‘instrument’ from the online Oxford Dictionaries. These definitions are (source: disc jockey, musician, instrument):

  • disc jockey: someone whose work is to introduce and play recorded popular songs on television, radio, at a party, club, etc
  • musician: someone who composes music or plays a musical instrument, especially for work
  • instrument: an object that we can use for creating musical sounds, such as a drum or a piano

These definitions show that we can use objects to create musical sounds (for example, a DJ controller), which are musical instruments. Since DJs can use such instruments, also for work, they are musicians.

A Pioneer turntable

Misunderstandings about Why DJs Are Not Musicians

Some people believe that DJs are not musicians or that not all DJs are musicians. A possible reason could be that DJs play pre-recorded music (source: What is a DJ?). However, it is not required for a musician to play non pre-recorded music, as already mentioned in the definitions above.

I can remember some statements about why some people think that DJs are not musicians:

  • “DJing is not musically skillful/talented since it is just pressing some knobs to play music.” That statement is similar to “Playing the violin is easy since it is just rubbing a bow on strings.” We can be musicians without being musically talented or something like that.
  • “He or she creates bad/too simple music.” A DJ doesn’t create music, but a producer does create music. A person can have both roles as a DJ and producer, but not all DJs are producers.
  • “He or she doesn’t play an instrument.” A typical DJ instrument is a DJ controller. Also, when we compose music, we can be a musician without playing an instrument.
  • “He or she doesn’t compose or conduct music.” When we play an instrument, we can be a musician without composing or conducting music.

There might be some possible causes for these statements. I think some of these causes are:

  • Some people don’t know what a DJ or a musician is or don’t understand the definitions of DJ or musician well enough.
  • Some people don’t like DJs or musicians, so it becomes fun in their opinion to say wrong things about them.

Related Questions

How to know if a DJ is a musician? Combining the definitions of ‘disc jockey,’ ‘musician,’ and ‘perform’ shows that a DJ is a musician when they play music for people to please them at a party or nightclub for dancing.

When is a DJ a musician? Combining the definitions of ‘disc jockey,’ ‘musician,’ and ‘perform’ shows that a DJ is a musician when they play music for people to please them at a party or nightclub for dancing.

Is a DJ a performer? Combining the definitions of ‘disc jockey’ and ‘perform’ shows that a DJ is a performer when they play music for people to please them at a party or nightclub for dancing.

Closing Words

Hopefully, you have learned something about why a DJ is a musician.

If you like this post, look at some other posts on this website since you might also like them.

You can share this post when you know someone who likes to learn more about why a DJ is a musician.

By Markus Kreukniet

Markus Kreukniet is an electronic dance music (EDM) producer and founder of Passion for EDM. He wants to share his EDM knowledge with the rest of the world. Read more about Markus Kreukniet

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