Microwave DJs

A few months ago I wrote a piece on the term “Microwave DJ”. This negative description is used by a lot of different people to easily identify their personal interpretation of a push-play DJ. I expected the piece to be controversial but is was more misunderstood than anything else. A regular reader and fellow blogger put it best:

“I sort of took offense to the article at first, but when I saw one of your youtube videos I totally understood where you are coming from – your motivation for the article is: if you’re going to be using a laptop to dj you better be putting it to good use… I think people who don’t understand that about you will think that you’re trying to defend that traditional dj culture but you’re really advocating change in a weird way.”

Until people really get the creative potential and intention behind this new digital movement they are not going to see how its can easily co-exist with the old traditions of DJing. The German philosopher Hegel is thought to have presented the idea that everything begins as a conflict between two opposing ideas , the thesis and the antithesis and is ultimately resolved by the synthesis – the superior resolution that includes the best of both ideas. We are trying to find the synthesis around here at DJ TechTools.

Microwave DJ

Have you ever introduced your sister to a buddy and then ended up regretting it for years to come? That’s how I feel sometimes about DJing. It’s beginning to feel like 1998 again when everyone owned a pair of decks and was convinced they were definitely a better DJ than Paul Oakenfold. The club scene is officially in the midst of a nu-dance, nu-rave revival that is looking more and more like the ’90s every day. With another Clinton running for the hot seat, all we need is a reunion tour of Technotronic, and then it’s all Girbauds and fat pants from there. And that’s not even the scary part.

What’s worrisome is what has happened to the quality of DJs. The situation has gotten bad enough that a new term has risen from the flame wars frequently scorching the Serato Scratch Live forums. “Microwave DJ” is a term applied to anyone who has not “paid their dues,” but because they own a laptop and thousands of MP3s, they are now qualified to play in a club. This, of course, threatens the old-school cats who spent 10 years and thousands of dollars honing their craft — as well it should. The game is changing fast, and DJing as we know it is appropriately morphing into the Internet age. The trouble is not with the technology itself but with new DJs taking technology shortcuts and failing to learn the crucial aspects of the craft.

A STAR IS BORN

Let me give you one shining example of this common pitfall. About four years ago, an acquaintance started DJing with popular DJ software that performs the arduous task of beat matching for you, albeit not always so well. This particular individual was genuinely proud of the fact that after only six months, he was being booked to play clubs all over Brazil. During one of my first tours there, he opened for me at a major nightclub, and the resulting sonic mess was sadly predictable. Even though the software was able to match up the songs 60 percent of the time, he was not able to tell that everything else was completely off. Technology had fast-tracked the learning curve, and his ears did not get the chance to become properly trained.

Mix timing is not the only casualty when a newcomer opts out of DJ basic training. During the years that it takes most people to learn, hone and subsequently improve their craft, normally their tastes grow and get more critically focused. That applies to all arts, including the simple task of playing music in a club. Without that crucial time it takes to train the ears musically and rhythmically, a DJ is really not ready to hold the reins of a proper dancefloor.

INST-O-MATIC MUSIC

You really can’t place all the blame on the DJ — it’s a bad combination of several wrong ingredients that turned sour when placed in the sun for hours. Consider this formula:

[blogosphere + easy digital technology access + amateur-DJs-turned-professional overnight] × [bad taste] = bad music.

When the Hype Machine (www.hypem.com) and other music blog aggregators showed up, it was basically the Second Coming for DJs. Seemingly endless supplies of unreleased, one-of-a-kind remixes stretched out for days, promising fresh new music as long as the Internet bill was paid. This was in the “early days” (one year ago in modern technology time), so the smaller music blogs had not yet become the major tastemakers that they are today. Submissions were fewer, and the bloggers seemed to try to outdo each other with the hottest cuts they could dig up. Then it caught on like wildfire and everyone with a few MP3s and Ableton Live started pumping out carbon-copy remixes based on the latest submicro-genre fad. Conveniently, these fads implode after a month, but with each death a more horrendous one seems to grow from its still-warm ashes.

[Nonexistent music training + zero filter] × [unlimited distribution] = endless supply of bad micro-genres.

FOR BEST RESULTS

Now before anyone gets too insulted, let me reiterate that blogosphere and the new world of DJing are wonderful things. We are in an exciting time when digital DJ technology, broader access to music and the proliferation of music blogs has resulted in a second honeymoon for music lovers everywhere — no complaints there. It just seems a little more restraint on the part of the DJ and bloggers everywhere might improve the uncharted terrain of this new musical frontier. Just because you can post or play anything does not mean you should. The final layer of quality control, nightclub bookers, also seems to be losing to the laws of the free market. From a promoter standpoint, it’s quite simple: Why should I pay you all that money when this guy over here will play for next to nothing? The common excuse: Sure, his mixes might be a bit messy 80 percent of the time, but the crowd is piss drunk. Who really notices anyway?

When you blend all the conditions together, it’s no surprise that the established veterans are up in arms about Microwave DJs taking their hard-earned gigs. It’s enough to almost throw in the towel and start a jam band. Maybe that’s why it’s such a breath of fresh air hanging out in Berlin, where the status quo is pure minimal predominantly played on 12-inch vinyl by a seasoned DJ crop. Yes, it almost sounds like this could be the incredibly tired “nothing sounds like vinyl, man” debate. Well, it’s not: Digital technology rules. I personally switched over five years ago without a single regret. Blogs and MP3s have revived a dying music industry, and it’s great that so many people have access to DJ technology. Unfortunately, I just kind of wish I hadn’t introduced it to my little sister because next week I am going to have to open for her epic rave-rap-electro-rock-ghetto-tech-favella-crunk set.

editorial opinionsNews
Comments (44)
Add Comment
  • Derp

    It’s funny how these articles always start by aiming at laptop DJs and then go on to describe shitty DJs instead. The two aren’t intertwined. Shitty DJs are shitty DJs are shitty DJs. They’re shitty on CDJs, they’re shitty with Ableton, they’re shitty with Traktor, they’re shitty on vinyl. The fact that a laptop is involved and the software can somewhat sync things up for you means dick.

    They would have still gotten booked regardless and made just as much of a mess.

    • Bc8410

      I agree here. Being a shitty DJ has nothing to do with using a laptop/controller and everything to do with HOW you use it, which I think came across as the point of this article. If you want to use a controller and a laptop (which is how I am learning) it is fine, but LEARN to USE it. Work with your tools. Learn to beatmatch, learn to hear out of both ears independently, learn to select tracks, learn to EQ, learn to read a crowd. If you do all those things, you’re a DJ. If you just download the beatport top 10 every week and press play and sync all night, you’re a shitty, expensive ipod.

  • Dj M A Titty

    You’re spot on, and a bunch of the commenters aren’t getting the whole point of your post.
    Dear idiots:   You aren’t a microwave DJ because you use a controller with a sync button.  You are a microwave DJ because you use that sync button as an excuse not to practice and  improve, and learn the skills that take most DJs years to learn.

  • Bobby Cutts

    Let me help you look at this from a different point of view. In addition to DJing, im also into animation by means on computer software, NOW, these animation programs that are around use technology to make animation/CGI easier than having to sit there and draw everything out frame by frame. They use what are called “Keyframes” to control animation parameters. (anyone who’s familiar with After Effects knows what i mean) Keyframes can be looked at the same way as audio envelopes. You build a character, and rig him with controllers. So once you have your character designed, you can now save him to a library and use him for any shot you want. The rest is setting his poses every 20-30 frames and the software fills in the gaps between frames with smooth animation based on the contour you select. Im wondering if old school animators have the same issues with software animators, saying things like, pay your dues by learning to draw your sequences frame by frame instead of having a computer do it for you. Fact of the matter is, you still gotta know what the hell you’re doing for it to come out nice. Using a computer to animate doesnt make things faster. It still takes hours/days/weeks to do to design and animate an 8 minute movie. I’m not really sticking up for auto sync though. I learned to mix on a pair of gemini turntables in 99, then upgraded to the techs of course once i wised up. My point of all this is, even though you’re having the software do the dirty work for you, you still gotta know what you’re doing. You need to know how to keep tracks in phase with eachother and how to mix in/out during a set. If you’re using a computer, make sure you’re using it for a better reason than just to take a shortcut.

  • sticktoequipmentreviews

    i find this article ridiculous, you write a formula

    [blogosphere + easy digital technology access + amateur-DJs-turned-professional overnight] × [bad taste] = bad music

    and every mash up video you have put on the internet is full of played to death cheese

    thinking you are above it all (and you must to write any article like this) makes you worst than the biggest one set wonder (they have at least played a gig)

    while i know there are plenty of amateur DJs turned professional overnight – who cares? don’t go and see them play! Do some research, listen to their music/sets/remixes then decide if they are worth seeing live, and if not let the “i go to festivals because it is cool” kids waste their coin on seeing them

  • SezzMe

    I find this article more than discouraging.  Someone here said it another way, but if you enjoy music to the degree that you would pick up a controller and learn to play for the pure enjoyment of it then more power to you.  Some of the hard-core, long time Dj’s tend to think this is an exclusive club only for those who earned their wings by spinning vinyl.  Loosen up people, interacting with music can be enjoyed by a much wider audience with the invent of MP3s and software and hardware controllers.  Consider the alternative….a world where nobody cares about music and creativity and the arts.

  • Mistermr

    I’m also new to DJing(just two years), and was introduced through controllers without knowing that it wasn’t overly accepted using SYNC buttons and whatnot. I’ve since taken steps towards turntablism and manual beat matching. Really, I think regardless of controller v. Turntables, the people who hop on the bandwagon will weed themselves out, whereas those who really care will stay and pay their dues.

  • Alexander

    The biggest Microwave DJ are this person who wrote this shit article. You can not sit and think of ridiculous terms on how to crack the other DJ that you believe has less experience than you may have. All DJ is well on their own way!

  • wikkid1

    right on! to the previous commenter… he hits the nail in all the proper places…
    seriously, not a single person who came to dance gives a sh!t if youre using vinyl, cdjs or pc… most of the time they dont give a sh!t about your effects, filters, loops etc. they come to dance, theres a reason youre playing in a DANCE club.

  • DEEPDOWNINSIDE

    I agree with the idea is that DeeJays are missing the real point of the matter. That point is the floor and the people on it. Your job as a deejay is to pack the floor. People keep talking about old school this and keep it real that. Yo, the peeps who really created this art form we call deejaying used the tools they had becuase they were all they had. They didn’t use Techniques or Numarks. They rocked RCA’s and Magnavox record players with 1 or 2 speeds. To be honest if tape players were all these cats had then thats all they would use. I once read an interview with Pete Rock, he said he and his buddies used to make mixtapes with two tape decks using mostly music they got off the radio. He compared those early mixtapes his friends used to make to modernday mashups! Its not what you use it is what you do with it. I am just venturing into this realm of deejaying. I have been associated to the underground electronica scene for almost 15 years mostly as a fan and a dancer. Most of my friends were deejays that held it down in the clubs of Los Angeles spinning, everything from hip-hop, D&B, House, to indie rock. I would check them out and was always invited to join them in the booth but I worked a 9 to 5 and gigged with band. I dreamed of deehjaying! But I was limited in my effort to develop the skills. I did not have the time to dedicate to learn the decks and catch up to my firends who were already semi-pros on the turntables by then. By accient years later I stumbled across digital dejaying (thanks djShortee), I realized this was my chance to finally enter deejaying! No longer did I have to hear friends exclaim of what a great selector I was,
    “Dude great mix I rock that CD all the time!”
    Digtal djaying has knocked down the barriers between the fanboys (&girls)and the dj. So what seperates me from my buddies who have been in the booth for 15 years and myself who have been on the floors they were rocking all that time? If you think about for all that time we were in the same places enjoying the same music. Sure they know how to move floor, but I know what moves the floor too. Dancing I would know if the DJ was off or if he was on. I knew what songs all the chicks liked. I knew that if you dropped “Inner City Life” that all the heads would drop their drinks and head for the floor. If you wanted to clear the floor and leave the hardcore dancers you drop any Dillinja track. So, I think we both shared the experience but we have diffrent perspectives on what it takes to rock a crowd.
    The point is that my friends that were in the booth for 15 years and I the dancer during those years all know the science behind the tools of a dj. The science is bascially knowing how to keep them dancing on the floor.

  • Dj Select

    Microwaves are people that use technology to compensate for their lack of Dj skills. Can a DJ who uses strictly turntables and just plain all serato be a microwave? The answer is yes. Here's how… uses two turntables but plays someone else's mixes. He/she doesn't do any mixing at all.

    • Colin Smith

       Yeah this guy at the club I usually go to on wednesday nights does that, pisses me off so bad. But at least he looks retarded if you pay attention to him because you can tell he’s not doing anything, lol.

  • nan

    technology has a basic purpose… make things easier, faster, and better. If you consider other careers oustside djing or making music, like for example a Doctor or Dentist. There are old school ones, that will only keep up with the necessary things, but will continue with their old school technics to heal others, and might be considered the best. But there will be others that will get deeply into the new technologies and apply them to become most likely better than the old school ones, maybe not using the same technics and procedures, but excelling on their own, continuing to heal others in an easier, faster, and better way. I think so will dj's, only making others stay on the dance floor through the whole gig in an easier, faster and better way… Maybe not exactly now, but it will happen soon enough.

  • chromeclone

    The on going discussion about "The Old Way" Vs "The New Way" in music has been going on since the 1950's.

    If we "look to the past we can see the future".

    Allow me to elaborate, when the electric guitar starting appearing in music the musicians like it because it sounded different and was easier to play than the acoustic guitar. Purist hated it period (I'm sure they felt threatened).

    People use technology to make life easier.

    If you want to be a great guitarist and not play in cover bands, you start on the acoustic and then graduate to electric. This is so that you learn tonality, pitch, etc. If you start on the electric guitar you can miss these values of music (usually because they are covered by effects loudness, etc.).

    DJing is similar to this in that Digital DJing can be instantly gratifying if you jump into the PC and let it do all the work, but the experience of DJing is somewhat muted. DJing is about listening to the music, not necessarily the song (I don't know many right words to songs, ask my wife).

    In the DNB/Jungle scene they treasure turntables because vinyl is more rare and "underground" like their genre.

    I am sure that is why vinyl hasn't totally died out; there is something to vinyl….LEGACY.

    I personally use CDs in Mobile DJing, but love scratching and MIDI is awesome. Embrace them all for diversity!

    Oh yeah, don't check your e-mail or IM while DJing, It's a performance.

    Don?t be a tool, interact with your audience.

  • Ean G.

    wowzers. i think that guy needs to read dj tech tools. Well, at least he is enthusiastic. Toooo funny.

  • kidfromkibbly

    Ha; seeing as Ean is everything that is right with the digital DJ'ing scene, I thought a good comparison was in order – so ladies and gentlemen, I give you the worst abuse of a VCI I have yet seen:



  • Matt Holden

    its hard to fully agree with either side of this argument, i only started Digital Djing about 3 months ago and i love it, being able to easly find and practice with tracks is liberating and the amount of gear you need to carry now is also extremely attractive.

    when i was 15 about 6 years ago i got myself 2 turntables and tried to learn how to dj, i couldn?t afford to keep buying vinyls so eventually had to sell them, i didnt think i learnt much from this, however looking back on it, i learnt a hell of alot from those early years of just playing with vinyl, just spending some quality time trying to listen to beats and is extremely rewarding (even if you dont know it at the time)

    The fact i learnt about beats is what spurned me onto learning drums just after i sold my decks. Ive been playing drums ever since in various bands etc however im back into djing.

    Now i admit i could be called a microwave dj, i use traktor and guilty of using sync one to many times, however after reading this post i have vowed to stop and just go back to the basics. I think it is key to learn these basics but i really really hate elitist dj's who look down on people who use digital technology, not everyone can afford to go out and buy turntables and if they can most cant afford to buy enough records to practice on. So with digital technology people no have the ability to access unlimited tracks to practice with however i stress you gota PRACTICE with these and take advantage of all the tunes available to you.

    anyway, ive said my piece lol. Good luck from microwave to another.

  • Fatlimey

    Couldn’t give a monkey’s what gear or sources a DJ uses to mix their sounds – I’ve seen DJ Surgeon in his bedsit (went to University together) do an ambient mix off tape loops and an analog echo box plugged into nothing but itself. Talent will out whatever equipment is used – it’s all about the _music_ and the _journey_. Nothing else matters. “Journeys by DJ” was the inspirational CD series that introduced the concept to me wayback.

    Then there are producers performing live who mix sounds in ways I can’t fathom how they do it – The Orb touring with their enormous Sound archives and expansive vision of what works together, Sasha deconstructing tracks at home and reintegrating them in the club with seeming direct control from his brain to his gear.

    These people inspire me to always do better, to find that hidden loop deep in an outro, restructure that track to tell *my* story, add that missing bassline, break or accapella that pushes the mix over the edge.
    Controllerism is just the start, a more direct way to insert your creativity into the mix. The creativity still has to be earned through practice and dedication, and the journey doesn’t come from the tracks you sequence, it comes from the DJ you are.

  • Jens Paul Malone

    joe, the xponent is ok but the vci is much better (build quality, layout, jogs, community support etc.), and traktor is better than torq.

    i suggest you get the vci-100 and a echo audiofire 2 (maya44 is outdated).

  • Alejandro

    Thanks for the article. Myself, I have to agree with everything that was said on this article. The technology that it is out today is great, but people need to have limitations, adopt the technology and actually take the time to learn their craft. I’ve been to several clubs and I’ve seeing Dj’s that have all of the technology in their disposal to have a kick ass set, but in return don’t have the basic knowledge on how to even scratch properly let along transition from one song to another (which sounds horrible). Even worse, you have new or establish Dj’s out there that have all of the elements or techniques for a great set, but the music selection is too out there that it takes away from the techniques that the DJ has to offer (Play that funky music white boy at a college night??? What the hell!!!!!). Like drinking responsibly, Dj’s got it Dj responsibly too.

  • Average Joe

    What's the set up that you guys are using when u dj???

    just wanna know….. to get and understanding of what to get in the future…

    I've been wanting to get the xponent with torq and a trigger finger…

    OR

    Vci-100 with a maya44usb sound card and a trigger finger…..

    what are you guys using???

  • whiskers

    P.S. Also, digital and the popularity of the internet made stuff like trance more mainstream. Before, you had to look for ASOT episodes and Trance Energy rips in forums where your internet friends from across the ocean would record them from the radio and then post them, if they had the hosting

    Nowadays everyone and their grandma has a radio show on di.fm and you've got teenyboppers bawling their internet hearts out about that "ZOMG AMAZING AMAZING VOCAL best trance ever xoxoxo" on youtube, that makes YOU cringe because of its cheesiness.

    /get off my lawn

  • whiskers

    About 3.5 years ago I started with on Numark CDMIX1 with 0.1 pitch resolution and no channel EQs. It was so bad, I gave it up after about a year of on & off mixing. Then, 1.5 years ago I decided to see what all the rage was about with Traktor… been hooked on it ever since, even went back to the CDMIX1.

    I have to say, digital makes life so much easier. After 1.5 years of self-teaching, recording all the keys for the tracks (thanks, rapid evolution) and beatgridding the tunes, I claim that I’m able to pull off a transition almost as good – if not better – than some of the transitions AVB had in his older ASOTS (130s-140s), as I recently listened to them. Quite a humble statement, isn’t it?

    My ability to tell an excellent track from a generic run-of-the-mill trance track, however, did not improve much. I can pump out one banging tune after tune, all beatmatched, keymatched, and semi-well-transitioned, but how much satisfaction do I get from it and how much the same does it all sound? It has become incredibly easy to work with loops, keys, BPMs, but what about track selection and atmosphere, knowing when to play what? Does the promise of inst-o-matic mixes help me satisfy the crowd, make them feel the music?

    I guess what really defines a DJ is what s/he is striving for – and good DJs should strive for better audience satisfaction (to an extent, I won’t play DJ Alligator, no thanks), for constant self-improvement, better skills in mixing, matching, and selecting, better sound quality. Doesn’t matter if you’re doing it all manually or use software to help you – I guess the end result justifies the means. The rest of the folks – for whom software made this possible – just come out there and play – they’re the push-button DJs.

  • sgb

    Well said b. What I'm wary of is the balance between using the software and overkill of using the software. True talent will know how to balance the use of the software to rock a party.

    Ean – you mentioned that current vci owners would be able to upgrade to your new firmware. I'm not going to upgrade myself, I'm still tweaking out Midipipe to my liking, but Vestax has been quiet on the 1.2 firmware upgrade. At this point, I'm willing to do it myself if I can the firmware and whatever hardware I need to do it.

    Is there any interest in swapping out the VCI LED's to different colors, probably white/blue?

  • b

    without the newschool there is no oldschool!

    True talent will always deliver, no matter what the gear or format is, true talent will stand out, and in the end what is djing about? exactly playing music in a way so the crowd goes mad! and the format really doesn't matter. (at least, not for the crowd)

  • Ean Golden

    yeah- that was only in the vestax private meeting room. I saw that last year but its a hand made one of a kind. Not something you can buy, order or have made by vestax. So i didnt post it, as its no fun to get peoples hopes up.

    <blockquote cite="#comment-1158">ean: will your Ean Golden TKS be available for our black Vestax vci-100s ? 🙂

    thanks

    yes- but to be honest its really better if you wait and buy the full "ean golden" vci-100 because then all the firmware has been changed. Otherwise you are going to need to use a midi translator to do all the crazy things I have programed my vci-100 to do.

  • Tommy

    ean: will your Ean Golden TKS be available for our black Vestax vci-100s ? 🙂

    thanks

  • Rob C

    I very new to the DJ scene, but yet very familar with technology (esp computers). Therefore, once my love of dance music found the new developing world of midi controllers, I have become (dare I say) a mircrowave DJ. Hear me out first, I pay respects to old school turntables and even CDJ style decks (hell I was planning on getting dn-s3500s or cdj800s a year ago); however, now I’m fairly set on the Numark NS7.

    Before you judge, walk into my world of college binge drinking on the weekends mixed with studying @ the #2 accounting school. I’ve always had compliments about my music every party I through. I listen to everything from daft punk to guetta to ATB and especially enjoy a good dance remix of a “pop” song. I plan on using my well-developed itunes library, a bit of creativity, and a whole lot of technology to pump my future parties. I plan to DJ to entertain. Therefore, how good I relates to how good of music I play, not so much my mixing ability. Hell if I just loop out and cross over while beatmatched it sounds better than anything I’ve ever heard on campus.

    Therefore, I hate when people diss people like me just because we have passion for the same thing you do, but have different goals. I never want to scratch, make beats, or anything like that. At the most I want to play some samples and build up a few loops to cross into my next song. I will rely mostly on just FINDING good music, I feel the taste is the art just as much (if not more so) than actually fading/mixing etc b/c you can dj your ass off but if you just play a better remix the crowd won’t know.

    • ROCA99

      That is exactly the kind of attitude we hate mate, “you can dj your ass off but if you just play a better remix the crowd won’t know.”. That is the DEFINITION of what a microwave DJ will say.

      Don’t say you have love for DJng because if you actually did you would WANT to become creatively better and technically better at ALL aspects of the art form.

  • Ean Golden

    Glad everyone is getting in on this discussion. Its great to hear your take on the subject. The points I raised in the article were not about new school or old school. They are not vynil Vs. digital. whatever medium you choose, learn it well and raise the overall level of the craft.

    As many people here have rightly pointed out, its not what you use but how you use it! So keep rockin those floors.

  • OLD SKOOL

    I am from the old skool ( people that learnt to beat match on vinyl ) BUT I use the new tech now the game has definatly changed alot in a very short space of time.People SHOULD AT LEAST learn to match beats with the pitch fader instead of using bloody sync all the time it will help them in the long run.

    Loving the new tech

    Great article speakes alot of truth

  • mr flexxx

    this is an interestin discussion, but i really wish the old skool crew wud just drop this argument. technology is there to b embraced and thats the world we r livin in.
    For me personally i deejay 5 nights a week and recall the days when i used to have to lug 5 boxes of records to clubs doing my back in and then spendin hours the next day sortin them out….it was a flippin pain.
    i currently own a vci and while i agree it dosent beat the feel of vynyl, i wouldnt knock it cos its made life alot easier.
    technology dont u just love it.

  • Jesse

    I think, this discussion takes us to a question what this whole DJ-thing in the future will be about.
    When everybody is able to get the hottest tracks and remixes (what finally was my main-motivation for switching from vinyl to digital)
    and modern mixing-software is able to mix almost on its? own – what makes the difference?
    In my opinion this question is really interesting and we will see what future brings…

    Quembino from the Discobots

    Couldn’t have said it better. The DJ of the future will be much much different than any of the DJ’s of the past. I sometimes feel guilty for not learning how to DJ on turntables and going straight to digital but I never had the money to afford turntables or records. Now that I do, I will definitely get a pair of turntables.

  • Quembino

    Really interesting article Ean.
    Thank you!

    I think, this discussion takes us to a question what this whole DJ-thing in the future will be about.
    When everybody is able to get the hottest tracks and remixes (what finally was my main-motivation for switching from vinyl to digital)
    and modern mixing-software is able to mix almost on its? own – what makes the difference?
    In my opinion one possibility could be that the DJ of the future will become more and more the main SELEKTOR, “The guy with the ultimate taste” – who finds the best tracks and combine them in the best way for the crowds` needs. Perhaps the evolution would bring up what to “be the DJ” really always has been about: being the guy who is the professionel in clubmusic – being uptodate, knowing every track and how it matches with all the other tracks. Simply being the guy who takes the clubnight serious. And to be able to play just the perfect music, it is definatelly necessary to spend most of your time for the music-research and trackpool-organisation. I think this could be one way to seperate the wheat from the chaff – “hearable quality”.
    But perhaps everything will be different – Kids play for kids and no one really cares about skills and a good flow -> “up-to-dateness” is everything and the just kids want to hear exactly the same music they hear at home at their favourite blog on a huge soundsystem in a club….
    In my opinion this question is really interesting and we will see what future brings…

    Take care guys!

    Quembino from the Discobots

  • MGyver

    I've been manhandling vinyl for a year and a half, and its been great. But when I ran out of money, I ran out of records. Canada doesn't have the advantage of having records pressed in our backyards; those things are expensive here! My big reason for going digital is that after a lofty initial investment, those little MP3's are in the cheap-to-free range, and the selection is just enourmous!

    Agreeing with MDVL; there sure is a lot of crap to sift through, but the bar is being raised by virtue of sheer volume. The crap is crappier than ever (notably: the crazy Japanese Ronald McDonald remix on Break.com) but the odds say that there's some incredible stuff being created now that by and large will never see the light of day. I feel that I owe it to obscure producers to spend the hours of my life grinding through the forums digging for that one gem of a track. I sure hope it's from my fave micro-genre!

  • Kr0n

    It's called democratization of the technology. It already happened with photography and digital photography. Even more, the history repeats: what did musicians use to say (and still do) when Djing started to become a fact?

    About the microwave dj, the point is that the minimization of the learning curve affects directly to the curation of the individual taste. And sadly not everyone has been provided with a good taste, or worst, nor they care about providing theirselves with one.

    But technology can't be blamed for that (I'm not saying you did ;)). The individual who doesn't care about been tacky is the one who has to be blamed. Or the club owner who doesn't care about the fast food music he's playing in his club.

    Fast food… it's all about that.

  • Mark Settle

    Good work. I have a few points to add:

    As technology latches itself onto any scene or industry – not just DJing – there will be old school casualties. These time served OGs find themselves ejected from their lofty well paid positions straight into the sidelines almost overnight. These people have 2 options:

    ? Sit and moan about kids, technology and the loss of the craft and slowly watch their livelihood dry up.
    ? Get with the program, adopt the new technology and remain head and shoulders above the newbies they hear snapping at their bank balance.

    The thing to remember here is that technology is only a small and part of the equation, and not necessarily as important as you might think. Skills and music selection remain by far the best assets a DJ can have. There’s no amount of gear that’s going to read the crowd and pick the best music. Put a newbie in front of the best gear on the planet and you can be sure that the resulting audio car crash will clear the floor. Equally put the 45 king in front of Fisher Price decks with a stack of classic funk 45s and the floor is full all night long.

    But here’s an alternative viewpoint that we as DJs find it surprisingly hard to adapt to – the view from the floor. We are judging other DJs – our peers – from a strictly DJ point of view, but it’s the wrong way to look. We need to be looking from the floor, because it’s the punters and the club owner/promoter who are deciding if we DJs are any good or not. What counts more than anything else is is the floor is full and the bar is busy. You can’t blame the gear if the floor is empty, but you can blame the DJ if their skills suck and their music sucks harder still.

    If the clubs are full of Microwave DJs getting paid, who’s to blame? That’s what you need to think about.

    To me it’s a simple matter of adapting to survive. You DJs who have honed your skills and paid your dues to the 1s and 2s have a massive head start over the Microwave DJ. You can wither away and die or play them at their own game and almost certainly win. Software cannot replace experience.

  • Michael

    Hey Ean, I just wanted to let you know that I definitely agree with you on that article. I'm about to get my first soundcard and controller for Ableton and my biggest fear is exactly what you say, playing boring music. I know I will be able to mix it, but that's not the only point, the music in a party has to go on a time-line, you can't just drop every track.. Beatport is a great place to find music, but unfortunately you can find shitty music too, music that sounds great for a night or two..

    The whole article just reminded me what Sasha said in one of his first interviews when he started using the Maven. He said that he could mix every track he wanted, he could do a lot more weird stuff at his sets and be a lot more creative.. BUT he started losing it, he wasn't focused on the tracks that much and the first sets sounded like crap! (he said that, not me 🙂

    PS: that video of you using Traktor in Watergate @ Berling is amazing!

  • Johannes

    Thank you for this well-written article. Especially the reference to Hegel stunned me – Digital DJing as the antithesis to Traditional DJing. Nice 🙂

    I am from Berlin and see the backwards-oriented DJing culture here very skeptically. DJs even using Serato (backwards if compared with VCI-100, Xponent etc.) are critisised as being "button pushers" who are killing Vinyl record stores such as Freizeitglauben, Hardwax etc.

    Of course i love our nightclub and afterhour scene..get lost at Watergate or Bar25 till Monday morning. And the musical selection is till great. But as i say, not very open to new things.

  • Average Joe

    Damn….. well I'm just starting… I have played around with virtual dj.. u know.. with the mouse of course… that's y I've been looking around everywhere.. even when I found this blog spot… for info on good dj equipment… I wanna learn everything.. about djing.. u know..

    I have looked at the numark dj console, mk2, vestax of course… but for some reason… I have been thinking of just gettin two turntable's.. with m-audio torq software…so I can learned the old school way of djing… as well as the new form with tech an all..

    I got mad respect for all those old school dj's u dont see them much.. but to be able to flip it at a club straight raw with tables.. is mad props..

    hopefully like me and any new guy trying to learn this will learned the old school way and new school way as well… cuz we have to keep up with technology this days…..

    great post..

    peace..

  • MDVL

    Preach, Brother.
    I’ve been DJ’ng since I was 16 in 1990. The shit we used to do for “imports”, “extended remix” 12’s, and whitelabels. Skipped the CD thing, went Serato a year and a half ago. Own 13,000+ records.
    The whole thing is a bastard double-edged sword.
    On one hand, “Digitalia” has upped the ante and advanced the game significantly. The Democratization of the means of distribution have created an accessibility to the craft of making music that is unprecedented in our time. Th evolution of music has been greatly sped up and is evolving at a cancerous rate.
    Ironically enough, it seems that even though there is a whole lot more crap out there, the good, is GOOD. I mean realy good.
    It’s kinda like the talent show got bigger, but the number of winners has stayed the same.
    Know what i’m sayin’?

  • Wasted German Youth

    dont praise berlin too much man. its hard for a digital DJ to set foot into clubs….