Playback Events (Mansfield)

Changing Pace – DJing Through Time

These monthly articles are designed to be hopefully of interested to people within the industry perhaps to provide information or just as a talking point, just me putting my views across really whether they be right or wrong, also perhaps to provide insight that beginners may find useful. Either way I have been asked to write an article each month and I am happy to do so, I must however stress that these are my words and opinions only and not the general opinion of Playback Events or any of its staff or colleagues.

I am often asked why I don’t use CD’s or Vinyl anymore and sometimes told that I should, i’ve been told in the past that you are not a “proper DJ” unless you use vinyl and that software like Virtual DJ and others like it make the job to easy and take away the skill of the DJ,I think it is simply that times and the needs of the customer have changed and moved on..

Back in the old days as I call them anyway when I first dipped my toe into the DJ world I used 2 single CD decks, I’m not talking about the fine machines we call decks now, I mean single tray stereo CD separates. Back then CD was the new thing and many mobile DJ’s were still using Vinyl singles. Compact discs were easier to use, easier to carry and easier and cheaper to buy, it seemed the logical way forward, I’m not taking anything away from the great sound of vinyl, i think event today it still has it’s place and deservedly so, but for me as a mobile DJ, CD’s at that time were better and much more practical, you could fit a greater selection in a smaller box and you didn’t have to be as strong as “He-man” to carry them into your venue.

Now with the digital age of course there is no record case or CD box, just a little storage device on your computer which can hold more music than 50 record boxes ever could and you need that ability to survive now. The reason you need all that music at your fingertips can also be blamed on the digital age. Back in the 90’s a customer would ask “Do you have this song” at that point you take a look in your box of CD’s that you had selected for the gig and say either yes or no, if the answer was no then the customer accepted that as the norm as you can only carry so much music is was impossible to have everything, but now a pub going customer has changed their attitude towards what they want, they typical customer now has access to every track they could ever want at home on sources like Youtube or Spotify and they can take their favourite music with them on their phones, as they have access to unlimited music they expect you to have the same, they have changed their question from “Do you have” to “Can you play this”, as a DJ in pubs and party venues you are expected to have everything or certainly the vast majority from every genre, making using CD’s nowadays virtually impossible, the needs and expectations of the customer have changed along with the technology, the modern disco must change with them. Just like modern speakers and amplifiers which are becoming smaller in size yet more powerful as time passes, your music collection needs to get smaller in size yet bigger in variation.

I certainly don’t miss the days when Karaoke was done with compact discs in a huge book, finding and swapping disco for each performer was the norm for me for years, in my earliest days of karaoke I remember using laser discs, if you remember those then you must be as old as me, modern technology has certainly helped the Karaoke DJ, saving them time as well as from a bad back.

While they were great and innovative for their time and can’t imagine using them now, in my early experience producing and presenting radio show and even up until quite recently used Mini-discs and I believe that many radio stations still do, these didn’t last long or really take off in the domestic market but commercially where widely used because of there versatility and hard cased durability, unlike a CD you could just them and throw in a bag or stick them in your pocked much like a memory stick today without any fear of them being scratched or damaged, I believe that many radio stations still use them today.

I don’t think I am any less skilled now for using software to save me time or using digital technology to give me the ability to carry more music, I think it is simply practical thinking, being able to be versatile and meet the ever changing needs of the customer. I’m sure that in 20 or 30 years the next generation of DJ’s if there is one will wonder what we were doing all these years, but that a story for another blog post.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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