It wasn’t that long ago when a DJ’s only choice was to learn how to beatmatch on analog turntables. It is a difficult task that takes countless hours of practice. Most aspiring jockeys were stuck dead in the mud after deciding they did not want to put the effort into it. For those that did stick with it and learn the fundamentals, progressing as a DJ was still a difficult task. Learning to mix in key was the next step that took more of a melodic understanding as opposed to a rhythmic one. Maybe you can match the beats but can you understand music on a theoretical level? Most cannot. Then the third element, from my perspective, would have to be track selection. This took digging through records for hours and spending some serious cash. All these activities were a physical act that took developed skills. It was a combination of your brain processing information while simultaneously manipulating physical objects.
Today, all three of these acts have largely been eliminated or considered unnecessary. With new DJ technology an aspiring mixologist can have the beat synced for them, the key told to them, and can even download tracks from the internet cheaply and quickly using charts. This makes things a great deal easier and also saves a lot of time for new DJs wanting to learn. The result though ends up being an enormously flooded DJ workforce where truth is mixed with lies and nothing is what it seems. The greatest skills DJs need today are IT skills. Can you setup everything without your shit crashing?
One thing that can separate a DJ from the next is original production of their own songs. Just knowing how to DJ isn’t enough to get big. Funny thing is though that even music production has followed the same paradigm that DJing has fallen into today. Everything is easier and cheaper. Just apply template, trace, then cut out. Set it then forget it. Even labeling today’s music as original is highly debatable due to a “Massive” use of presets and loops fed through a “Maschine” used to drive the “Traktor”.
Now don’t get me wrong. There will always be artists that stand out from the rest because of the very issue itself. Someone who is original can really stand out from cattle and wander out of the farm into the open range. I am also a firm believer in the statement that “it either sounds good or it doesn’t.” That is the bottom line. Great tracks come out all the time and new DJs are still popping up. What about tomorrow though?
What does the future have in store for music and it’s ability to get heard by the crowds? This is where I see the development of these technologies moving faster and faster into a world where human interaction is unnecessary. It sounds of science fiction but is frighteningly non-fiction. Most knowledge is now stored on computers and the computers can generate an output of that data. We are being advertised products online because of products we searched for in the past. It knows we want something before we do. This will only increase rapidly. If computers are already knowing what we like before we do, then it is only a matter of time until the computer itself is the best DJ. It will know what the crowd wants to hear and produce it in the perfect frequency range that will be most enjoyable for communicative dancing and hedonism. Promoters will love this because they won’t have to pay their DJs. LOL. That is, if they haven’t already been replaced by computers themselves. It is a business plan that will work. A few powerful people will own DJ computer and he will be the best DJ in the world and can play 24 hours a day in infinite locations and know what everyone wants to listen to.
How much are you willing to have the computer do for you?