Being a DJ, is it really a skill?

jvin248

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The biggest benefit to the venue is they only deal with the one DJ, not a seven piece wedding band and the drama they may have amongst themselves or even showing up. Logistics are so much more simple too, 'just plug your laptop into that PA cable over there' instead of 'how many more drums is the drummer bringing in?' and 'when will your band be set up and ready to play?'

The demise of guitar solos happened when DJs started beat matching songs into each other so there were no breaks and dancers were forced to stay on the floor dancing. Guitar solos became a commercial interruption and people would head off the floor and be hard to pull them back on.

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buster poser

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right, it can be tough to navigate. Everything gets more convoluted as it spills out of its original niche/function. Right now we are sort of right back at “Ethel merman/Disney disco record” levels with electronic dance music. In the same way, Woodstock was a vibe, a happening, a cultural phenomenon...nowadays “festival culture” means all things to all people.
True, and many festivals have figured out you can be all things to all people or at least that people are more open to trying other kinds--including those spun by DJs--of music than you'd guess reading internet comments.

There is a functional "scene" around the very loose collective of acts that find their way on to certain annual institutions like Hulaween, Electric Forest, many others. Strong hippie vibe tends to run throughout, but multiple scenes have been really well represented at the few like this I've been to... EDM of all types right alongside bluegrass, hip-hop, jam.

2019 (pre Bassnectar exposé obv). Some bill.

EAadOq2X4AEOYjk.jpg:large
 

cyclopean

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The biggest benefit to the venue is they only deal with the one DJ, not a seven piece wedding band and the drama they may have amongst themselves or even showing up. Logistics are so much more simple too, 'just plug your laptop into that PA cable over there' instead of 'how many more drums is the drummer bringing in?' and 'when will your band be set up and ready to play?'

The demise of guitar solos happened when DJs started beat matching songs into each other so there were no breaks and dancers were forced to stay on the floor dancing. Guitar solos became a commercial interruption and people would head off the floor and be hard to pull them back on.

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Lots of promoters/venues also don’t know what a line level mixer is.
 

redchapterjubilee

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I have DJ'ed on the side for, oh i dunno, 20 years or so. But more like a "bar" DJ than a "club" DJ. My stock and trade has been spinning 80s records. Hair metal, new wave, R&B, hip-hop, alternative, top 40s pop. My catchphrase is the "detritus of the 1980s mixed haphazardly on vinyl". That is pretty much my approach. I crossfade, but I don't often beat-match or remix on the fly, but I do make those kinds of segues sometimes. It takes practice, knowing your records, knowing the cue spots, and being able to make decisions super fast. That's not unlike being prepared to play guitar in front of people. I have friends that use Serrato and other DJ'ing software to mix other people's records. That also takes practice, although the software makes anything capable of being matched bpm and key to anything else. When I'm DJ'ing vinyl it takes much more preparation and skill. That said, my digital DJ friends bring 15% of the stuff I have to bring to a gig. Records are heavy and I bring a lot of them to a gig. My record boxes and DJ coffin take up a lot of floor space.
 

RhythmFender

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I started dj’ing weddings this summer with a company for extra cash.

not as easy as one might think, especially when you’re mc’ing (I’m comfortable speaking in front of large crowds with confidence, others are not) and setting the pace, keeping the wedding party on schedule, coordinating with others, photographers, etc… and tryin to keep everyone dancing and happy, but especially the bride. You’re half a wedding coordinator and a huge part of the success of the night and day, especially if you’re providing ceremony music as well.

I thought it would be easier than it was. I learn fast and I think I still have much to learn. It can be fun, but not as much fun as one might think, because your own personal taste has only about 15% to do with what you play at a wedding. That said, it’s fun to get people dancing to anything, even garbage music. I learned a lot about what your average 20 or 30 something likes to dance to and it’s not what I like, haha.

would love to Dj more in a small club setting at some point.
 

SixStringSlinger

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Being a musician can very much be a bubble, and as such we can often take our relatively oddball, niche knowledge, opinions and emotions as "normal" or "typical" for people at large (or, when we're really pleasant and fun to be around, we think we're the last bastion of enlightened culture). In reality, I doubt many people who have attended live music performances at any point in history have cared that much that there were actual fingers touching actual instruments making the sound right then and there in front of you. For most "civilians" it's more about hearing something you enjoy in a different setting (louder, higher fidelity, etc.) than normal among large groups of people who are, by definition, like-minded in at least some way.

I'm pretty sure that if you had all the same lights and props and everything else, most casual, average Pink Floyd fans back in the day wouldn't have cared much whether Pink Floyd were actually onstage or not.
 

davidge1

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People becoming famous from playing other peoples recorded music

DJs who become famous do a LOT more than just play music. These DJs are in the realm of hip hop and techno, and are actually mixing recorded sounds right there in front of you. It IS a live performance. I was fortunate to watch Cut Chemist perform a DJ set a few years ago, and it completely blew me away... changed my whole way of thinking about what "live music" actually can mean. He was so full of energy, and at the end of his set was completely drenched in sweat. I'd say it was one of the most impressive and exciting musical performances I've ever seen.
 

buster poser

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I'm pretty sure that if you had all the same lights and props and everything else, most casual, average Pink Floyd fans back in the day wouldn't have cared much whether Pink Floyd were actually onstage or not.
We sure didn't... weekly trips to the Richland JC planetarium for laser "rock" shows were a very close second.
 

ronzhd

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On the radio for sure, clubs and etc, not as much. Know your music, your crowd and have a little timing and creativity, CART racks and multi turntables help.
 

chris m.

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Avicii and the top guys make (made) crazy money. But they actually do create their own music, from scratch, using DAWs, synthesizers, and even real instruments.

From Wiki:


Salary and earnings: During his career, Avicii could regularly earn as much as $500 thousand per gig.
He regularly earned $15 – $20 million per year.

Sadly, Avicii went the way of many "rock stars"--

Unless you're under the age of 35 or a fan of electronic dance music, you may have never heard of the Swedish musician, super DJ,
and music producer, Avicii, although you likely heard his most popular song, "Wake Me Up," playing at one point or another.

Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, reached almost absurd levels of fame, success, wealth and adoration.
Sadly, his success came a heavy cost of anxiety, depression, heavy alcoholism, and ultimately suicide.
He was only 28 when he died from self-inflicted wounds from broken glass on April 20, 2018.


DeadMau5 also claimed to make this kind of crazy money for gigs:

If you were not already aware, DJs and producers are getting paid serious money for performances these days. A
mong the top earning dance music artists in the world is Deadmau5, who recently revealed how much he gets paid per show.

According to a tweet that was sent in response to someone asking how much he gets paid "to press play," Deadmau5 said he gets paid
"anywhere from $400,000 to $1,000,000 USD." That's a huge sum when put into perspective, considering he was #11 on the
top earning dance music artists in 2015, behind the likes of Diplo, Zedd, Skrillex, and even Afrojack.


I'm sure Covid pretty much cratered most of their income, since it relied heavily upon extremely large EDM festivals with hundreds of thousands all buying very expensive
tickets. Of course, they also get millions of YouTube views and plays on Apple, Spotify, etc., that also add up to millions.

Folks, if you haven't been paying attention, video games make WAY more money than movies do, and EDM producers/DJs/artists make WAY more money than traditional pop and rock bands do.
Hence all the EDM influence that you hear in pop music now. Everyone wants even just a piece of that big action, whether you're Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande, or whomever.

It can be very formulaic what with anthemic vocal lines, bass drop, and 808 beats, but it is also very catchy and easy to dance to. Party music for the masses.

The line about "press play" is accurate. The top guys put their set together, load it onto a USB thumb drive, and just insert it into the DJ console when they get up on stage. They dance around, wave their hands, and move their hands around in front of them to make it look like they're doing something, but they're not doing anything at all except enjoying the vibe and watching the Benjamins roll in in big bundles.

 

loopfinding

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I will stick by my original statement. These people are "entertainers" and perhaps very good at it. They are not musicians! They may be technology wizards in how they put together their program, but they are not those hired to sit in with a group or orchestra to recreate a score of music. Those are separate set of skills and knowledge.

I grew up in a family of musicians, who studied and can read musical scores. I doubt many DJ can do this or even be interested in doing that. My father as a free lance musician could play in a polka band one night, play in a big band jazz orchestra the next night and be in a symphony orchestra the next night. That is the definition of a musician in my world. I don't have anything against DJ's, I have enjoyed being entertained by them on a number of occasions, but I never got it in my head that I was listening to a musician. We have to keep those realities in their proper places.

right, i was just pushing back against your statement that "None of these people, DJ's, Rap Artists, pop singers are really trained musically. They are nursed along by slick, crafty producers and recording technicians in order to produce music with a beat."

i've studied and played music in some way since i was around 10, almost went to school for classical guitar, and i later got into techno and on occasion DJing. getting into dance music and thinking i had some special advantage was a mistake, there are loads of people out there in it like me who studied or played music in some conventional form before getting into electronic dance music.

Recording engineers can be musicians also, there are some out there. The famous George Martin was a studied classical musician in conjunction with also being a music producer. Although he may not have been the engineer operating the tape machines, he was instrumental in how he wanted to focus the sound he was after.

exactly, that's what i'm saying, that happens in the DJ realm too. look at squarepusher - i mean not classical music, but the guy plays fusion at like jaco pastorius level. hell, they know how to operate the tape machines too.

but i don't think it's fair to call DJs "entertainers" unless they are entertainers. many historical examples are artists, and had a hand in developing the unique structure/form/aesthetic of the music itself, that they're not musicians doesn't take away from that. if we're going to go down that route, then personally i think musicians who play tunes in the background at restaurants or bars are also being "entertainers," and not necessarily artists.
 
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buster poser

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Avicii and the top guys make (made) crazy money. But they actually do create their own music, from scratch, using DAWs, synthesizers, and even real instruments.

From Wiki:


Salary and earnings: During his career, Avicii could regularly earn as much as $500 thousand per gig.
He regularly earned $15 – $20 million per year.

Sadly, Avicii went the way of many "rock stars"--

Unless you're under the age of 35 or a fan of electronic dance music, you may have never heard of the Swedish musician, super DJ,
and music producer, Avicii, although you likely heard his most popular song, "Wake Me Up," playing at one point or another.

Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, reached almost absurd levels of fame, success, wealth and adoration.
Sadly, his success came a heavy cost of anxiety, depression, heavy alcoholism, and ultimately suicide.
He was only 28 when he died from self-inflicted wounds from broken glass on April 20, 2018.


DeadMau5 also claimed to make this kind of crazy money for gigs:

If you were not already aware, DJs and producers are getting paid serious money for performances these days. A
mong the top earning dance music artists in the world is Deadmau5, who recently revealed how much he gets paid per show.

According to a tweet that was sent in response to someone asking how much he gets paid "to press play," Deadmau5 said he gets paid
"anywhere from $400,000 to $1,000,000 USD." That's a huge sum when put into perspective, considering he was #11 on the
top earning dance music artists in 2015, behind the likes of Diplo, Zedd, Skrillex, and even Afrojack.


I'm sure Covid pretty much cratered most of their income, since it relied heavily upon extremely large EDM festivals with hundreds of thousands all buying very expensive
tickets. Of course, they also get millions of YouTube views and plays on Apple, Spotify, etc., that also add up to millions.

Folks, if you haven't been paying attention, video games make WAY more money than movies do, and EDM producers/DJs/artists make WAY more money than traditional pop and rock bands do.
Hence all the EDM influence that you hear in pop music now. Everyone wants even just a piece of that big action, whether you're Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande, or whomever.

It can be very formulaic what with anthemic vocal lines, bass drop, and 808 beats, but it is also very catchy and easy to dance to. Party music for the masses.

The line about "press play" is accurate. The top guys put their set together, load it onto a USB thumb drive, and just insert it into the DJ console when they get up on stage. They dance around, wave their hands, and move their hands around in front of them to make it look like they're doing something, but they're not doing anything at all except enjoying the vibe and watching the Benjamins roll in in big bundles.


Well I stand corrected. That amount per gig seems crazy to me, even for the Garrix level guys. They sure can't do it at big festivals like Tomorrowland because there are 100+ acts and each one gets 1-2 hours max. At the gigs where it's just them... even in a big city... maybe a few thousand folks will pitch up? I saw Rezz and Alison Wonderland at Echostage in DC (among the biggest/best clubs in the US), both insanely popular at the time, and there were maybe 2,500 people at each gig. I guess Ibiza residencies and corporate gigs must account for it.

I will say re: doing it live... Kalkbrenner and the Belleville Three were absolutely doing their own thing. Kalk has his own gear... that's the "regular"-use CDJ stuff to his right for the hand wavers. I think I spy a couple of Fender pedals.

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chris m.

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This is a good documentary, on Netflix. In it some of the DJs readily confess that they are just plugging in a thumbdrive. But others are more hands-on,
doing filtering, turning on and off effects, adjusting EQ, etc. But the documentary does a good job of tracing the origins of EDM and "DJ'ing" from its
roots to the modern era of giant festivals.

 

buster poser

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This is a good documentary, on Netflix. In it some of the DJs readily confess that they are just plugging in a thumbdrive. But others are more hands-on,
doing filtering, turning on and off effects, adjusting EQ, etc. But the documentary does a good job of tracing the origins of EDM and "DJ'ing" from its
roots to the modern era of giant festivals.


I remember that doc, timed well for my first trip to TML after years of not really keeping up with dance music. I'm not a big Garrix fan myself, but man some of those dudes seemed bitter. Oaky needs to emulate Carl Cox.
 




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