5 ways DJing has changed forever
DJing is forever changing and evolving.
‘What we knew then and what we know now’ is a famous saying we sometimes use, but seeing as we talk music, psytrance and DJing here, I wanted to look at how DJing has changed and evolved over the years. I am, of course, only speaking from my experience.
Technology – cdjs from 100s to 2000s
When I first started DJing, (back in the day) I learnt on the Pioneer CDJ 100’s. They were amazing to start playing on; basic layout and user friendly so one had to learn to mix with your ears (which I am totally grateful for).
Then Pioneer brought out the next step up, the CDJ1000’s; they were the beginning of a new way of mixing, with BPM counter and loop functions etc. Within 20 years the technology has developed into what it is today and the latest Nexus CDJ2000’s have so many features to be honest I’m still learning all of them!
I think Nexus CDJ is smarter than I am. One day it might even transform into a robot and walk off the table…. The other cool thing about the latest development is the use of USB, eliminating carrying around loads of CDs, allowing the DJ more options with tracks, as you can load up a large selection and everything is digital. The downside is one can lose these little USBs or it suddenly won’t work and then you’re screwed. It is best is to always have CD back up in my opinion, as getting ‘caught with your pants down’ is not cool!
A large part of DJing in the ‘old days’ was scratching around for music.
Back in the day if you wanted music one had to either order a disc online and wait patiently at the post office and act like a kid for Christmas when it arrived. Or one would need to burn CD to CD. This is how we shared music and if any international DJ came to South Africa, we would have to raid his tunes. Literally feel like Sméagol for a few weeks… (My precious new tunes…)
Also not everyone had a computer with a CD burner so one would need to hang out with someone who did. Laptops back then were super expensive and again for me, at that stage I was a poor student and had to hustle hard to get anywhere. Funny thing was that most of my guy friends who could help me had wives or girlfriends, who weren’t so happy with this young aspiring DJane in their house…
Nowadays we have Digital Downloads and ways to share music with one click of a button, so the accessibility is so much easier. Artists are able to sell their tracks online through Beatport but lately Bandcamp is becoming more user friendly for artists to directly sell their music. I think that today the main problem about the new generation is that they want everything immediately and perhaps with that mentality we are not connecting to the feeling of accomplishment or hard work and hustle because it’s right there in minutes, and perhaps the appreciation for each track might get overlooked.
Social media is a great way to self-promote and create a brand when DJing is your passion.
Since the boom of Facebook it has made life so much easier in the terms of promoting and self-managing and has created a medium to bring the fans closer also allowing a more personal connection to the DJs and artists.
Here is South Africa we used to have a magazine called BPM Magazine and as a DJ one could submit your Top 10 favourite tracks and have a photo next to it; this was a huge deal, as there were very limited opportunities for up and coming DJs and producers to get out there. I remember MySpace which in the beginning one would need a computer nerd to help you set up a profile as it was quite complicated and not that user-friendly. So it was more of a hassle in the end, then came Facebook and an explosion of social media… it’s almost hard to remember the days before Facebook.
Nowadays as a DJ or producer one has to be one’s own manager and PR agent as well as the music. This has its pros and cons as it can take a lot of time to manage.
- The length of a DJ set
DJ set times at clubs and parties are becoming shorter and shorter.
This is mainly because there are way more DJs than there used to be.
The down side of this is that DJs don’t have enough time to build a journey from their sets.
Back in the day a handful of DJs would play for almost the entire party, or at least 3 hour sets, making the DJ really work hard and thus getting into a flow and taking a dance floor to new levels.
It is quite challenging to do that and I believe not many DJs have the stamina to hold a dance floor for that long. It certainly makes one a better DJ once you’ve played long sets.
Today DJing means 1 and a half hour sets or 1 hour sets. Sometimes it can disrupt the flow of the energy of the party, especially if it isn’t an experienced DJ, leaving the dance floor disconnected or bored.
Perhaps it’s not even the DJ at the time’s fault, perhaps the person is having to work double hard to pull a dance floor back together and then the hour is over, just spent in rescue mode.
When a good DJ works a crowd and puts the dance floor’s needs first, using at least 2 hours to create a vibe, one can notice this at a party. All of a sudden people are happy, laughing, dancing and the vibe is generally uplifting. This to me is what a good DJ should do, keep the attention and energy up and hand over to the next DJ or LIVE Act with the intention of keeping the flow of the entire event.
As DJs or artists it is our job to become part of the bigger picture of the whole event’s line up, as promoters work hard to create a flow of good entertainment. For me it doesn’t work when the music doesn’t flow, and there is too much difference between each act and thus breaking the flow. One hour DJ sets almost always create a disruption to the flow for outdoor events. Indoors – not so bad!
Aaaagh the good old argument about using software for DJing.
I’m not going to lie it definitely freaked me out in the beginning. I am somewhat softening to the idea as I have seen my friends who are experienced DJs use the software for its true potential and I have seen and heard how awesome the mixes can be. My only gripe about the software is that it is creating a “leapfrog” effect and thus new DJs aren’t learning the basic foundation of mixing with one’s ears, because on the program one can see the sound waves and when and where to mix. Plus there is the good old sync button to naturally align the beats and I think the heart of mixing comes from the human element ‘in the mix.’
I have seen how young laptop DJS struggle with their transitions because they’ve never had to use their ear to mix. Anyway, each to their own; I’m not against DJ software as long as the DJ displays a proper understanding of how to work his/her mixes.
To be a good DJ and make a career out of it and a name for yourself takes time, you can’t just learn to mix or use tools to assist because one has to grow and develop your sound and at the same time be part of a music scene that is defining our generation
What I’m listening to:
Edu from 2012LIVE is in Cape Town for two months, so keep a look out for him, he is bringing the Brazilian flavour to our dance floors; here are some of his beats on sound cloud,
Keep an eye out for his latest release early 2017.
WITH TUNE RAIDER