It seems like everyone is talking about the advent of modern technology in DJing. Some are in favour of it and some are in extreme opposition to it – and as time goes by, the debate is – if anything – getting more brutal and less sensible.
Now, whether you love where technology is taking DJing or whether you hate it, I’m writing today to ask both sides to try and see the bigger picture. After all, all that a turntable, CDJ, or Midi controller really is to a DJ is their medium. Since when has a medium ever dictated the worth of an artist?
The dancefloor doesn’t think in terms of beat matching, BPMs, or “what kind of equipment you’re running”; only DJs think about these things. Yet some DJs, it seems, are so fixated on the medium that they forget the two most important things about it all: the music and the experience.
I’ve never once heard of an average clubber go up to a DJ and say, “You aren’t a good DJ because you aren’t using turntables.” Give me a break! A good DJ is a good DJ no matter what they use. In fact, isn’t the mark of a good DJ someone who can rock the party using any available gear? I honestly struggle to understand it.
Before we had cars, we used horses. Before we had horses, we used our own two feet. So how come people aren’t ridiculed for using a car and not a horse, or for not walking everywhere? And how come car drivers don’t routinely point and laugh at pedestrians for choosing to walk?
So as a plea for unity…
Dear Vinyl DJs,
Please, it’s time to embrace technology and nurture the DJs of the future. Think how cool it is that anyone who genuinely (believe me, you can tell who the genuine ones are) wants to know about DJing can now learn about it a lot more easily (and a lot more cheaply) than they could 10 or 20 years ago. You spent hours practising, matching those beats and hauling around crates, and now today’s lucky DJs don’t have to!
Midi controllers and tempo syncing aren’t your enemies; they’re your friends. They actually mean that now, DJs can enjoy their sets and the crowd even more, without having to worry about the small stuff. (Let’s be honest, beatmatching is really not that big of a deal. A child can start a turntable. An intelligent child can match beats.)
The essential experience with rocking the crowd still remains. And let’s face it: The technology is not going away. Isn’t it time to accept it?
With best wishes, etc.
Dear Digital DJs,
Please understand that just because you have a program that automatically beatmatches, it doesn’t make you a DJ. A DJ is an ambassador of good music. DJs read their crowd and pick the tunes that seem to be meant for just that particular moment. A real DJ gets the crowd ecstatic. If you can’t accomplish this, then you’re not yet a DJ – whatever you’re using to play the tunes on.
You could do a lot worse than getting a set of turntables or at least messing around with someone else’s. Give respect to those who came before you, and know your roots. Mix on anything you can get your hands on – it will make you a strong, well-rounded DJ.
And don’t undercut other DJs’ prices just because your set up isn’t as elaborate as theirs; it only hurts the profession. If you give respect to your tools, you’ll probably get more respect for using them.
With kind regards, etc.
If you are a vinyl DJ and feel digital DJing is inferior and stupid, then sorry but for me, you don’t really love DJing. Likewise: If you’re a digital DJ who thinks vinyl is overrated and lame, then you don’t really love DJing either. The point is, if you’re a DJ who really loves your art, you’ll love everything it has to offer.
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” So said German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer.
I think digital DJing is going through the first two of these stages at the moment: Being ridiculed and violently opposed. After all, CDJs were hated when they came out, but are now an industry standard. New tools, new rules – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for everyone.
• Matthew is a Digital DJ Tips reader who’s getting tired of DJs bickering among themselves and wanted to try and encourage some harmony through this article…
Do you think it’s time to stop bickering and all get under the same roof, rocking the party together? Or can’t you accept the viewpoints of your fellow DJs, for whatever reason? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!