Over To You: Have Digital & Sync Changed How Well We Know Our Music?

Lauren Andio
Read time: 3 mins
Last updated 10 April, 2018

In today’s article our reader asks if it’s fine not knowing your tunes inside out since using sync can make it easier to mix them anyway.

Digital DJ Tips reader Jason Wilson writes: “I come from a vinyl background, but sold my Technics SL1210s and mixer a few years ago when I had kids. I’m getting back into DJing and recently bought a Traktor Kontrol S2, and wanted to find out from other digital DJs if they make a choice to NOT use the sync functionality, why or why not? For a while I stopped using it but then thought: ‘why bother? Anyone in the crowd who knows about DJ controllers probably thinks you already use it.’

“When I bought vinyl I would play it a thousand times to get to know the tune(s) inside and out. With MP3s however, I find it too easy to spend money on seven to eight tunes and never really get to know them, so the sync function helps me to make my mixes smooth. I know a digital DJ should still know their tunes well, but just don’t have time currently to practise every day, and these tools help people like me. I feel like I’m cheating a bit, and am curious to hear what others do when it comes to the sync function? Thanks!”

Bonus: Get some free training on this

There are two huge and fundamental DJ issues here – the sync button yes/no argument and the music collection question. (How big? How well should I know it?)

We actually deal with them both head-on in the second training video in our Digital DJ Masterclass Free Training Event 2016, so we strongly recommend anyone interested in these subjects to watch that video – especially as it’s only available for a few more days.

The course is free, and if you’re a member you’ll already have an email about it – if not, you can get it here.

Digital DJ Tips Says:

Some DJs tend to have a problem with other “button pushing, sync-using DJs” when it involves picking a tune, pressing sync, hitting play, and repeat. One thing sync does really well is give beginners the confidence to continue DJing when the frustration of manual beatmatching may hinder their initial enthusiasm instead of cultivating it.

Also, sync allows creative DJs to do all kinds of side activities: live remixing with Stems, adding loops and acapellas on top of your primary tracks, selecting the perfect song to get your crowd pumped…

Learning to mix your tracks manually is necessary for when the sync function doesn’t work or you have to play alongside other DJs. That skill and instinct will kick in and save you from trainwrecking. However, since you come from a background that required you to beatmix because sync wasn’t an option, you don’t need to worry so much about the cultural stigmas of using it.

Problem is, you aren’t spending that crucial time befriending your music. Buying vinyl made it a lot easier to use your money wisely, as the format is less accessible, expensive, and is a physical activity that requires your presence.

As you know, gathering piles of wax was a tactile experience that provided you the opportunity to learn your tunes naturally. Like you said, MP3 makes things too easy, and you could throw away money on a track you might only listen to once before a gig. Careless purchases will only lead to filling your music library with unnecessary fluff.

Sure, sync makes your tracks mix well most of the time, but does that automatically make those tracks the perfect choice to play in front of this crowd? Do they sound good together? Is there any excitement? If so, how will you transfer your own enthusiasm to the crowd when you aren’t familiar with the music?

At Digital DJ Tips we consider music discovery and set programming fundamental skills for any DJ. Beatmixing by ear is an excellent ability to have and it will earn you respect, but it isn’t what makes you a DJ. The more time you find to learn your tunes, the more you’ll enjoy the process.

Do you find sync has changed the way you relate to and learn your tunes? Do you buy more music now it’s cheaper and easier to get, and ever feel this is hindering your DJing? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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