I’m writing this from a glamorous lakeside in Italy, a classic European holiday spot – and it’s a rallying call for all DJs thinking there’s no room for them out there.
I just witnessed a middle-aged DJ, with nice gear, play a six-hour Sunday afternoon set to a packed inland “beach” (actually a grassy lakeside sunbathing spot). And I’m sorry to report that the guy was awful – no mixing, no set structure, no enthusiasm. Over-use of random effects. A truly weird selection of frankly baffling music. No surprise the interaction with those present was non-existent.
To be clear: Spotify would easily have done it much, much better. Frankly, lord knows why he was there. Yet there he was, presumably also being paid by the bar that backed onto the shore.
It was a missed opportunity to truly enrich the experience of the people choosing to spend their Sunday there – and I felt the usual anger I’ve always felt in such situations, mainly that the audience was being sadly short-changed.
“Anger is an energy”…
When I was a younger DJ, it was moments like this that drove me to get chatting to managers, venue owners and promoters and pitch ideas for their events where I felt I could make a difference. From city festivals to Sunday chill outs, some of my most enduring memories come from gigs I played where the main driver to action was: “I can do better than that!”
So here’s my message to you: If you love your music, are prepared to study what the importance of a real live DJ is and what they bring to an event that a playlist, AI or radio feed cannot, and if you can find the boldness to ask for DJ gigs, act on it. You don’t have to be brilliant. You just have to be better.
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When you see or hear a bad DJ play, don’t just moan about it – ask the question, and when your time comes, grab the chance. It has always been one of the biggest reasons why people get into DJing in the first place, and I was reminded of it forcefully today. Reader, I have to admit I put on the noise-cancellers and chose to listen instead to…nothing.