DJ Track Lists, Should They be Mandatory?
By Damen Smith-Draeko — A few days ago, a DJ announced to his social network on Facebook that he was removing his mixes from Mixcloud (http://www.mixcloud.com/). Mixcloud is one of the many websites, like SoundCloud,( http://soundcloud.com/) and Mix.dj (http://mix.dj/), that allows a DJ to upload mixed music sets so that a wider range of listeners can enjoy them across the Internet, from all over the world.
Unlike SoundCloud, mix.dj and mixcloud requires that a DJ must supply a track listing of the set with each upload. Well, the DJ I’m referring to was a bit nonplussed (that means upset to those of us who didn’t pay attention in class) that other DJs would then have access to his choice selection of music. He’d put in a great deal of painstaking work, hours upon hours, of picking through the bins, and sorting through the lackluster, to find the gold and platinum that was to be his eventual set of sheer awesomeness. The idea that some upstart, or that anyone, could simply train spot his list and achieve the same end result he had with less effort was urine in his Saturday morning breakfast cereal.
So, he deleted his mixcloud account.
Since then, I have heard both sides of the argument as to whether or not he was justified.
Today, everyone has got wires and networking technologies coming out of our ears and butts. There was a time, before the Internet, back when vinyl ruled the earth, when the number of prints a label produced was way more limited. Sometimes back then, there would be only 500 prints or less of a certain track, or there were white labels where the artist’s name wasn’t even on the record.
In defense of the argument, this topic wouldn’t have been much of an issue back then. Even if someone train spotted your set and wrote down everything you played, (totally unlikely) the advent of them actually locating the music afterwards was slim pickings.
At one time DJ sets were hours long. Residents could start playing from 10 PM or 12 AM, and play until 12 PM that next day. The odds of someone else playing the exact set of records in the exact order would have been astronomical. Now however, you’d be lucky if you can play a two hour set, even if you had the stamina to do so. But the point I’m leading to here is that, with such a time restraint, the usual hour, and with Internet download sites across the globe offering the same selections on an international scale, that astronomical number is now reduced greatly. It is now possible (in theory) for someone to play the same tracks, in the same order. Furthermore, if they are beat matching and actually counting, you could have actually have the same set, at the same event.
It is possible. I have yet to see it, but it is indeed possible.
So, I can see some justification as to why there would be some push back against providing a track listing when uploading a mix. But, here’s my take on it, and the feedback from a good many people, thankfully.
Isn’t it supposed to be more about the music, the vibe, and the love, and less about the Disc Jockey? Isn’t the DJ merely the emissary for the artist who created the music in the first place, that is, if he or she is not producing the track themselves? The DJ is merely the conduit between the audience and the producer. We don’t really have the luxury of concealing the origins of these tracks from the rest of the world. It is, in fact, our responsibility to promote them, and to do so fully.
If any singer, or musician were to perform a cover of a song of another singer or musician on as large a stage and to as large an audience as many of the big name DJs do without giving due credit to those singers and musicians, oh how the para-demons of litigation would flap their leathery wings on a speedy flight to the courthouse. When you’re uploading your mixes to a web site catering to an international clientele, you should be giving the proper credits and shout outs.
In my day, DJs were in some elevated booth enshrouded in darkness with only a tiny pin light to see the mixer and his records. Anyone below, dancing on the floor, could barely see who was spinning, but it was the mixing style that let us know who was on the tables, many of them actually having their own remixes before the radio entities had even gotten wind of them. They knew it wasn’t about them. They knew it was about what they played and how they played it.
What about the producer? He or she put time and effort into his or her creation. Isn’t it just good practice to get their names out into the public, to give them credit, especially when that track you love so much is so phenomenally good? Wouldn’t you want that artist to get as far, to get as paid, as he or she possibly could?
Even though I am a DJ, and I love to play in front of large dancing crowds, whenever I can, I know it’s not about the DJ. Essentially, it’s not even totally about the producer. It’s about the music. It’s about the love. It’s about the vibe. We should be doing everything we possibly could to make sure that we promote everything we like within this industry, all the good things about it, because somewhere a producer is struggling just like you and I, to make ends meet and to live a creative life while still having a safe and comfortable place to live, with food in our stomachs.
By not putting those track listings up there, we are not promoting, and we are taking away from the garden of creativity that is the sheer greatness of the Electronic Dance Music industry, without really planting anything sustainable in its place, just ego and selfishness. If every disc jockey, heck if even half of us, gave in to such lower aspects of our humanity, then in the end, there would be no flowers in the garden. And I’m not dancing in any deserts or on barren dirt.