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True DJs VS Music Players

True DJs VS Music Players
  • SumoMe

Today I come to present a very controversial subject, especially if you descend from the old school of DJs, from a time mixing music was a matter of true talent, accurate ears, agile fingers, knowledge of the music you had to play in advance and creativeness, to play with irregular tracks compared with the today’s ones, most from vinyl then, hardware created, and with the true perception of difficulty to mix the more you return the decade, going back to the 90s, 80s and 70s.

The youth nowadays has a vast apparatus in terms of both hardware and software that practically allow almost anyone to be a “DJ”, what the old could consider just Music Players, with no more need of accurate ears, agile fingers, previous knowledge of the tracks, with very well created tracks via software, with beats equally distant from each other throughout the whole track, thus requiring less talent. They do not need to synchronize beats with their ears and hands, software does that for them; they do not need to know if the tracks are appropriate to each other in advance, software can determine that for them; etc.

What are the parameters that should be used to classify someone as a real DJ?

What is the real DJ, someone with ability to mix music up or someone able to click Play in front of the crowd?

Should the assessment parameters be different, if any truly exist, when we consider DJs prior to the year 2000?

One of these days I have been presented to something that definitely led me to creating this topic, I came to know about the existence of the software Mixed In Key, this one:

When I read this question at the bottom of the page “Are you ready to mix like David Guetta, Dubfire, Paul Oakenfold and many more?”, I thought to myself “so is with this that David Guetta has become the #1 DJ in the world? This man is pure crap as a DJ therefore”. I also thought that, if anyone can mix as the #1 DJ in the world, the scene is completely upside-down, coming to the conclusion that being a DJ today is a mere matter of opportunities to play, to be a Music Player.

Now another question that cannot be missed: what are the parameters that define the best DJs in the world, such as the DJ Mag’s ones? I confess, I do not know DJ Mag’s parameters, but I do hope those are based on technical skills. Does anyone know what it is about?

Today, can the status of #1 or best DJs be taken as synonymous with being famous? In other words, the more famous you are, the best DJ you become? How does DJ Mag and others classify the DJs in their lists?

Frankly speaking, if popular poll only is what defines the best DJs, I am sorry for all true and real DJs that do not occupy the first positions in the charts exclusively because they have no opportunities to show their jobs, to be famous, and be fairly judged and deemed real DJs, against possible Music Players that take the lead for being famous.

It is worth saying that some people do not know how to vote, they like the artists’ music productions and vote for them as a great DJ, totally different abilities.

The more radical ones consider these guys as the real DJs:

DMC World 1991 DJ David (Germany):

DMC World 1996 DJ MC Jack (Brazil):

To some others, the real DJs are the ones that forget about software facilities and does a similar job as Ferry Corsten did here below.

Ferry Corsten live in Tokyo, 2002:

To some others, probably the most recent DJs that have come to the scene, it is acceptable to become super star #1 DJ in the world with pieces of software like Mixed In Key, able to determine also if the tracks are compatible with each other, with little intellectual work.

And the possibilities to play the DJ go beyond this, nowadays being possible to do the job with software such as VirtualDJ, iPods and even mobile phones.

Oh man, come on, is that too easy to become a DJ today? Or rather, can they really be considered Music Players and nothing else? Does being #1 in the world really mean being famous only?

If popularity is what makes a Music Player a real DJ, should Madonna wish to be a Music Player, she will become the greatest DJ of the world, much beyond Guetta…

I myself do not mix with CDs or LPs, I use a Torq Xponent Controller. Why do I do like this? It is simple, I do not have CDJs or possibilities to mix with vinyl, it is a matter of money to invest. Am I worried with that? Not at all, I have software facilities, but I do not use them, I do it manually, making my ear more and more accurate and manually dealing with the jog wheel to avoid beats-mismatch. Am I silly and should be doing differently, playing similarly to what David Guetta does?

What are the outcomes of all this scenario?

In my viewpoint, thanks to this reality wherein technology and opportunities to be famous transform Music Players into DJs, naturally, to the ignoramus one that believes being a DJ is to be waving his hand before the crowd after clicking the Play button, now we have truly talented artists hidden due to lack of opportunities to demonstrate their abilities, whereas the most unskillful ones can become the greatest DJs of the world if they are granted the chance to click Play. Furthermore, competitions between true DJs and the fake ones are too fierce today, it is a lot more difficult for the real professional to join the scene, have opportunities, and payment gets lower and lower because now you do not need to hire an artist who deserves a fairly good payment, a Music Player will do it. What is the fate of the true artist in this new world of Music Players?

Last but not least, should we forget about all this pride that made DJs true artists in the past? Should we embrace the new technology and cross the fingers to have opportunities to be famous, accepting any payment for our jobs?

If you are 20 years old or less, maybe the answer to the last question is straightforward to you, you probably do not have the background of a 30 year old guy like me, someone who attended a DJ course and had classes on Vinyl and CDJs with no software present.

Please, have your say and let us foster a great discussion, with different answers expected depending on age and perhaps nationality too.

Regards from Brazil!


  1. From DJing for Dummies by John Steventon (a must-have book if you ask me):

    “People come to DJing from different places and for different reasons, but
    they can be split into those who love the music, those who want to make
    money, and those who think that DJing is cool and want to be famous. You
    may fall into one, or all three of these categories, but the most important one
    is loving the music.
    If you’re a good DJ, and get lucky, you may become rich and famous, but
    when you’re starting off, if you don’t love the music, you may become easily
    bored and impatient with the time and practise you need to invest in your
    skills, and quit. Even if you do manage to get good at DJing, if you don’t love
    playing and listening to the music, night after night working in clubs will start
    to feel too much like work. DJing isn’t work; it’s getting paid to do something
    you love.
    When I started DJing, I already loved the music, but the first time I experienced
    the true skill of a DJ working a crowd (Sasha, Ibiza 1996) I fell in love
    with DJing, and knew I wanted to be one. The mechanics of it didn’t occur to
    me until I first stood in front of two turntables and a mixer, all I wanted to do
    was play other people’s music and have control over a crowd.”

    That’s DJing for me, soft, turntables or phones, if you love the music you play, you can own the crowd, experience is what makes a good DJ, but ultimately the love of music is what makes them famous :))))

    • Thanks for your answer, Amine. And it seems that we have the first opinion different from mine :)

  2. The thing that most bothers me (I don’t know if bother is really the word) most, is that what the “non DJ’s” do to the image of the art of mixing. Mixing is and has become a valued art form to those practicing the art and those that appreciate the artwork and style of the artist. I have spent years in the underground warehouse scene here in Texas and believe me, there would never be a chance for a “music player” to get up and crank it for the crowd. The knowledge of the music and the art of mixing it, was observed by both fellow DJ’s and those dancing to the music. That being said, it was a great place to “grow up” in the DJ scene having that sort of discipline, unfortunately most of the current EDM listeners are not interested in exploring or have no idea of Underground EDM and would rather listen to what is popular and “rave”… The majority of those who are into EDM now are the same people that were listening to poppy punk music and whatever was cool just a few years ago. These people go with the flow and just go with what is popular, being the parties labeled as “raves” thrown in big clubs… The interest by party goers has shifted to more of trying to fit into the scene (which is not the “real” scene anyhow) than the music in which drives it.
    All in all, you have the folks who appreciate the art, and you have those that just want to go so they can think they’re at a “rave”.
    As Amine somewhat said, if the crowd is having a good time then I guess the event is a success. I just think the “poseurs” if you will, will enjoy partying until something new comes along and the true lovers of the art will keep on pumping away and growing with the music.
    All for good times, good times for all.

    • Hi John, thanks for your answer!

      I’ve got some questions if you don’t mind:

      Do you support Music Players?

      Do you think it is better to maintain the classical pride of being a DJ by properly doing it or we should feel we’re great DJs by the use of software doing most of the job for us, as long as the floor is kept moving?

      Does that pride matter to you or should be forgotten, considering that technology is around and must be used?

      Do you think Music Player “steal” opportunities from Real DJs?

      Actually, if anyone can answer those questions, the thread would be a lot valuable to me, at least :)


  3. Q:Do you support Music Players?
    A: I personally do not support “Music Players”. We have the most basic programs such as itunes that will to the job of a “music player”. The point of a playlist (itunes)is so that you can set the music you want to hear at your gathering and you can get out there and mingle/party with the rest of em.
    So I think most of the “music players” are more into listening to the music than being an artist themselves (mixing and reworking tracks), they should be a person in the crowd if that’s what they enjoy. Don’t try and steal glory and be something you’re not.

    Q: Do you think it is better to maintain the classical pride of being a DJ by properly doing it or we should feel we’re great DJs by the use of software doing most of the job for us, as long as the floor is kept moving?
    A: I think that it is very important to keep the job of a true DJ sacred in the sense of, what progress is made by listening to a track that has already been produced, in live applications. Now I am not knocking the hard work of a greatly produced track, I’m saying that as a DJ, you have the opportunity to make someone’s piece of art (produced track) into a completely new and expanded masterpiece by remixing/melding one or more tracks together. (Think of it as being at a rock show, you’re waiting for your favorite song to be played, then the band starts cranking the jam, then all of a sudden the lead guitarist blasts off with an insane guitar solo in the middle of that song that absolutely blows your mind).. Being a DJ gives you the opportunity of creating something new at the touch of your fingertips..

    Q: Does that pride matter to you or should be forgotten, considering that technology is around and must be used?
    A: Never to be forgotten, and I don’t think it will. You’ve got to realize who a lot of the people are listening to the music at the times it gets popular, mostly those that are into it because of the party and because it’s the “cool thing to do” (going to parties/raves, what have you). So many don’t even have the opportunity to realize what a real art form DJ’ing is and more specifically a Mixing DJ’s Scratching DJ’s. So if the folks don’t ever learn what DJ’ing is really about then there’s not much for them to forget. We will always have those that stay true to the music and the art. All genres of art have that Diehard following.

    Q: Do you think Music Player “steal” opportunities from Real DJs?
    A: Now I was going to say I’m mixed on this but.. They steal opportunities for hardworking artists to get up, work and make a potential living, yes. The biggest problem I have with these “music players” is the fact of what they’ve done to an industry. They have belittled the artform so much as to where a club owner may only pay such a trivial amount of money for an all night performance, because they’ve been accustomed to paying “music players” very little because most of them will accept very little or no money, just as so they can get up there and be a “DJ for the night”, and the venue gets it’s music for cheap or free.
    Now there is nothing wrong with being paid for your DJ’ing talent, it’s art, if people enjoy it they will pay for it. Although the highest reward is having someone truly appreciate what you do and continue to spread their love for the art.

    I appreciate the questions, very good subject. I am more than happy to state my opinion and respect those of others.

    • Tremendously great answer, John! It seems that you agree with me in every idea, the true art of DJing should remain solid and impeccable, without leading ourselves more and more into being a Music Player with the constant evolution of software and technology.

      There are many well crafted mix sets out there, but the way they are created is never asked. That may not matter to the public, but to us, DJs, I think we should preserve the scene for the real professionals, avoiding joining the new software movement that gradually standardizes real DJs to the level of Music Players, and misleads the latter to believe they’re real DJs. This competition is unfair and can be avoided, it’s just a matter of understanding the matter, its outcomes and interest in it

  4. It was never about HOW you play music, it was always WHAT you play and in WHICH order. You can be a bad technician DJ but if your choice is good, and crowd support you, you’re on the horse. However, nobody will still any job from so call “REAL DJ”, if real DJ is so good, he’ll get his gig. Do I like music most paid DJ-s are playing, NO, but someone has to do dirty job, and if that is the price to be and act stupid, let em be. If you want big money, forget about playing what you love, it’s a bout what crowd wants. They’re spoiled now because they can get all your music from internet just like that. Back in the time, you have to kill for some good vinyl…

    • I just don’t agree with the part “It was never about HOW you play music, it was always WHAT you play…”, where the word ‘never’ is used.

      There was a time, 70s, 80s and 90s, at least, that in order to be a DJ, besides the WHAT, without the HOW, nobody could be a DJ. In other words, only skillful and talented people could be a DJ. Today, with the evolution of technology, practically everyone can become a DJ.

      Having said that, today, people play with the WHAT; before, DJ’s played with the WHAT and the HOW, therefore being greater for not only impressing poeple, but also impressing other DJ’s and professionals, besides the possibility of facing challenges and developing the ways to excel oneself. In comparison, theses challenges in the mix practically do not exist today thanks to technology.

      I think it’s easy to notice why the older DJ’s may tend to think they were more of a DJ’s than the guys we see today, simply becoming DJ’s overnight.

      Just my point of view :)

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