So You Wanna Be a DJ? Dance and Electronic on any Vancouver Weekend 4
So you want to be a DJ do you? Read on for a little advice before getting started.
If you love music, chances are you want to do one of: a) Sing it, b) Play it, c) Compose it, or d) be a DJ. Lets talk about that last one primarily because: a) I can't sing, b) play or c) compose. Actually, I can sing... but the more I do of that, the lonelier it gets at work. The guitar the I borrowed (two years ago) is still in its case... in the corner... alone. No one to play it.
I just realized that guitar and I have enough in common that we should get to know each other a bit better.
Okay, so basically that leaves DJing. It seems simple. You don't need to say much, and people recognize that it's primarily you who is putting on the night and creating the vibe. It just seems like such a great way to put on a show with other people's music. Why not, right?
I am a very recently a DJ. I started doing it for several reasons, but mainly to have something to look forward to in the evenings during a particularly stressful time of my life. The second reason would be to entertain friends and set up the night before heading out. I had considered DJing for years, but never really got it together to search for the gear. The gear is essentially:
a) 2 x turn tables, b) mixer, c) headphones & speakers and d) vinyl.. and lots of it.
Today, you can buy a,b and c for a total of $600 used. That last item is where the $$$ is at. This leads to the obvious dilemma. Do you want to start with vinyl, and go digital later, or just go straight to digital? This is a tricky question. I had been telling friends: "I'm going to start with the vinyl turn tables exclusively, and after I get good at it, I will add a couple CD tabletops in a year's time."
Two weeks later, a friend flying up from LA dropped off the CD tabletop that I ordered from Hollywood DJs the evening before. (( I just couldn't resist )) And, that made three.
There was a good reason for it. I had checked out the vinyl record stores, and realized, "This vinyl stuff is going to be damned expensive if I want to stay current!" I thought, if I could do half of the mixing with CDs, then, I could probably get away with only picking up the occasional record, and purchasing or ripping 75% of my play list to CD.
The vinyl has some advantages, but not many. Some say it has a richer sound. Maybe, but probably not to 99.44% of the population. It does feel more organic, and you can look at the groove and judge where the music is going to shift into another sound. You can't see this on a CD, so you have to memorize the song. This can lead to the occasional miss-queue. Aside from this, the "coolness" factor is higher with vinyl.
Now, there is a long insane story behind this, but basically, in a nutshell... A week after I picked up my gear from a friend who was looking to go straight CD and MP3, my sister tells me that her wedding, which is to be held on an island, is needing some music. I ask, "Do you have anyone in mind for that?" I didn't want to offer, but after learning that my competition was an iPod, I proclaimed that even I could outperform an iPod, and consequently got the gig.
Two months later, I have the car loaded with all my gear, as well as rented speakers (and another CD tabletop) from Tom Lee. Everything checked off and packed except for one tiny, totally insignificant (no one would really miss it).... power supply... which I didn't realize until 10 minutes before my sister and her fiance were walking down the isle in the garden.
There is a story there... indeed... there is, and it's not entirely pleasant. I'm not entirely sure that all my relatives are currently on speaking terms with me.
But, here is what it came down to. Two CD table tops, a mixer with a stack of CDs take up no space, and are nearly weightless in comparison. That combination is easy to set up and tear down, and no where near as delicate. In fact, you can find all-in units (2 CD table tops and mixer) for about $800 used. Not bad.
I don't regret going with vinyl, but I don't think I would do it again. Being versed in vinyl means that I can step in at a party, and take over for a bit. It also means I can say to other people's grandchildren that I did this thing. Currently, it means that I can spin vinyl for my own little home parties before heading out.... and that's just cool.
If you want to do the DJ thing consider if you are going to be spinning for others, or just yourself. If it means staying current, think hard before saying "yes" to vinyl. Will I continue to buy vinyl? Yeah... for a couple years yet. Would I stay with vinyl exclusively? Definitely not.
Okay, the guitar has been desperately trying to get my attention for the last hour. Lets see if it will play.