The “Digital DJ,” a new age term that has been used to describe this ever-growing group of disc jockeys who rely solely on their computers to entertain crowds. (*Note: the “Digital DJ” is presumably one that performs mostly in club venues that provide their own sound and other necessary equipment.) Gone are the days where DJs must lug around cases full of vinyl and cds, now they just bring their book bag and charger. As with most major changes you can be sure there are those that oppose these “upgrades” but be certain that in the coming years this practice will be common place.
This craft has now become more affordable, why spend thousands of dollars on turntables and mixers when you can buy a laptop and download some free interface. This would of course make some bitter, particularly those older DJ’s that have already invested half their savings in to getting the best equipment. As we will see in the coming years it is no longer about hardware but more so software. RAM, Processors and CPU Power are what DJ’s who intend to survive in this market need to be paying attention to.
It makes me wonder how much longer do companies like Pioneer and Rane have left in the game? Currently it is not completely feasible to do your entire set through your computers interface (unless you prefer the risk and the minimal control it gives you) as most interfaces have not highly developed their digital turntables yet. In particular this means if you enjoy scratching you wont be getting that natural sound that vinyl would give you, it is understandable though, as there is only so much that can be done with a computer mouse.
As with most things, there are downsides. Run your entire set vicariously through your laptop and you risk system failure, lag, freezing, and a host of other ailments. I guess it’s the cost of convenience. Don’t worry, in due time the interfaces will become more advanced and more features will be available. There used to be a time where in becoming a DJ would take experience and years of practice, it was a true craft that took skill and patience to master. However, fortunately or unfortunately that rite of passage is now gone. This new found simplicity is the equivalent of rappers like Soulja Boy who have managed to find a way in while not having any “true talent”, whatever that is. Something like Mountain Dew vs. Carrot Juice, we know which is better for us but often times we choose the former. There is less to learn, it is quicker, and still gives us the desired result.
Yes, learning proper techniques and scratching methods as well as how to count BPM’s without a machine can be helpful, but do I really need to do that? Times have changed and a common response would be “Serato can do that for me”. Should the upcoming generations have to suffer through the same learning curves their elder did? Scratching has almost become obsolete and depending on where you live half the time it is not even expected.
At the end of the day people just want to hear music and have a good time. Quarrelling over who is using what is least important. In fact, I rarely hear much conversation on who is playing what, which is after all (in my opinion) the most important aspect of any party. I could care less what you have I want to hear how well you mix songs and transition, that’s all that matters. I’ve always felt the fancy equipment is more so based on DJ’s trying to impress other DJ’s. The people that should matter most (the party goers) don’t care and don’t know any better, stop showing off and just play good music.