Technology changed the concept of DJ’ing in the last 10 years. It’s not like before.
In 80’s and 90’s, skills played a big role on how good you were as a DJ. Do you know what it takes to beatmatch playing records on turntables ? Honestly, I never was a turntablist, but even with CDs, you needed to hear the beats by ear and mix that way.
Vinyl crates, CD boxes to carry around with you. The load was more than enough just to play one tenth of music you carry with you.
What happens now ? 3 pieces in your backpack and you’re done.
I’m totally not against it. In fact, a full fan of digital when it comes to mix music. It brings your creativity and musical vision to light.
Today, I want to talk about the other side of the coin a bit. It’s being and looking lazy and boring while you’re behind the decks as a digital DJ.
I hear you saying, ” Dude, I got all the features and functions here right in my hands, why should I bother trying to do all of it manually or by ear ? “.
I understand, that’s a point. Let’s ask your audience how they think about it.
People want to see the DJ being active and energetic, giving his soul and emotions into the music he plays. If you don’t contribute to the show you put out there, what’s the point then ? Just plug an iPod and let it sing !
I’m not telling you to jump and dance so that your crowd can have fun. It’s about being active on the wheels and buttons in your DJ booth.
Let me give you an example. The SYNC button. It’s great and a big convenience. Just push it and your beats align. I guarantee you that most experienced and veteran DJs use it too.
Does SYNC let you learn how to beatmatch ? No. What if you end up having to use CDJs ?
Digital software does an excellent job with loops, effects, hot cues and more, but it’s all you choosing the songs and deciding when to make the transition and how to apply those features after all.
Your audience wants to see it ! They wanna look at you and say ” He’s playing great music and mixes “, not the software.
Digital DJs naturally move less and do less compared to using CDJs. You don’t have to dig in your CD boxes or books, shuffle them to find just one song. A round BROWSE button does it all. And this makes people think you do nothing.
So, let’s brake this prejudice. Next time you DJ somewhere, don’t use the SYNC button. Match the tempo manually and make the transition. Don’t worry, you can miss the beat. Believe me, people don’t mind. They even like it, cause it is human error and they know a DJ is there playing the music.
Next time you get behind the wheels, use your headphones and preview each and every track. Don’t just load it and push the button. Cue it where the beat begins. Don’t assume the software will find it.
Next time you take control of the DJ booth, don’t stand still, be active. Digital helps you complete the job, but it’s all you controlling it. Make your mixes HUMAN !