Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why you see the same DJs repeatedly as openers and supporting DJs.

This boils down to simple mathematics.  Most of those DJs worked their asses off to build a name for themselves and have a decent fan base that supports them. When a promoter thinks about booking a DJ, they think about how many people they can bring to the show with their popularity, and how hard they promote the event.  Notice I didn't say skill.

I'll use myself as an example:  A promoter knows that even at my lowest draw, I can guarantee that at least 30 or 40 people will show up to either see me spin, or they know that the type of show I'd get booked at is something they'd most likely enjoy.  Plus I hype the show up and post about it online a bunch, so even though some people may not recognize the rest of the lineup, they now know what type of show it is going to be.  You'd be surprised at how many people only know their local DJs, but not the major headliners.

30 people paying $20 for a party makes $600 for the promoter, at the absolute least.  Since my booking fee is $200, they are guaranteed to at least triple their profits on that particular investment, if not more.  Usually it is way more, but I'm doing a low estimate.  Since my name is recognizable, even if I personally don't do shit to promote their part, or if their party falls on an off day like Monday, or if there is direct competition across the street, they know I'll play a good set, and boost attendance.  I'm not trying to sound conceited, it's just the reality of the numbers.

If you can't offer anything besides your DJ skills, I'm sorry to say that you are not a commodity in the eyes of a promoter.  There are thousands of DJs in the Bay Area alone, with major talent, but it takes more for this shaky music business to thrive.  You need to build a following.  Promoters these days, (unfortunately) see this as a business before anything else.  Some of them are so burned out, and out of touch, that they wouldn't even know good underground music if it hit them in the face.  Hell, it hits them in the face all the time.  You know how many people submit their music to them daily?  Promoters look at numbers and popularity.  They are so consumed by it that all they really know is what's popular.  They'll check your twitter account before they listen to your music.  I fucking guarantee it!  I have a saying: "Never trust a promoter who doesn't DJ."

As a fan, if you want to do something about it, then stop supporting promoters that book the same people all the damn time, and let them know why.  You should be spending $25 on a well rounded lineup.  Not just one huge headliner and a bunch of people you've seen 30 times before.  Once promoters see they are losing business because they are not diversifying, they will change their business model.  Keep supporting the grassroots events like Ritual or Wormhole, who continue to support the community by giving newcomers, and unknowns a chance to shine.

I wrote another article similar to this, but in that one, I wrote about why oversaturation and repetitive bookings can be a negative thing.  You can read it here: LOCAL DJ OVERSATURATION

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why I Think Dubstep Died.

I think there are many factors that contributed to Dubstep's unfortunate demise.  The number one thing in my opinion was the divide in the style of music.  Dubstep had split into two parts.  On one side you had the really heavy "Tear Out" or "Brostep" sound that was hard and crunchy, and played for youngsters at mega festivals.  While on the other side you had the Deep, Dungeon sounding stuff for the older heads, who are probably more into underground hip hop and smoking blunts, rather than fist pumping to Top 40.

These two sounds danced along the same line for a few years, and both crowds seemed to reside peacefully together, but eventually they started drifting further and further apart.  The sad thing is, they both needed each other to survive.  The heavy Brostep got so hard and abrasive, that most of the musical content was lost.  On the other end, the softer dubby stuff got way too ethereal and ambient, and started putting people to sleep.  If Dubstep had stayed united in a similar realm, then both sounds would have stayed alive, but it kept trying to distance itself from the other side.  The youngsters could have had their heavy sounds without their ears bleeding, and the older heads could have had their more intricate sounds with enough of a hard edge to keep them dancing.  These two genres splitting apart, along with the crowds splitting apart, spelled doom for the genre.

Dubstep was not big enough to sustain itself after a breakup like that.  I know many of us in the "scene" tend to think Dubstep was the biggest thing in the world, but I assure you it was just a small blip on the musical radar.  Most people had never heard of the genre.  I estimate that in it's prime, only one out of 20 people ever heard of Dubstep, while only one out 40 actively listened to it.

House music was able to split into sub-genres because it had become big enough to sustain itself, and it had began to evolve immensely.  Plus, it came out at a time when people didn't have such short attention spans, and access to everything at their fingertips.  House music was a revolution in music, at a time when a revolution was needed.

There is a difference between popular, and commercial.  When Dubstep exploded, it became too commercial, and by commercial, I mean literally used in commercials.  Dubstep music was in every commercial alongside a video in slow motion to promote vodka, shoes and Go Pro cameras.  Once that happened, it was all over.  The genre became a product, and no longer a movement.

Also, the over saturation of really really bad music being released on Beatport (etc.),without any sort of filter, made DJs extremely tired of hunting for tunes.  Not to mention all these record labels re-releasing the same music over and over each week in bulk.  It became too much to handle.  Then came all the remixes.  Everyone was making a Dubstep remix of every popular Top 40 song in an attempt to go viral.  When your main goal is popularity and not quality, the music suffers.

Agents also started asking for insane amounts of money to book their artists, but not every market could afford it, so promoters started booking these up and coming Trap artists that were thirsty as fuck for gigs.  The greed that some of these Dubstep artists showed, ended up being the nail in their own coffin.

The genre itself also didn't evolve enough in due time.  Sure it evolved quite a bit over it's 12(ish) year span, but not enough.  When people started getting tired of the same sounds and tempo, it just continued to run itself into the ground.  But why wouldn't it?  On the surface it looked like it was healthy.  It was more popular than ever, and why change a good thing?  Here's why:  You can never know when you've hit the peak, and everyone thinks their good thing is going to continue to grow.  It's like a gambler that can't quit while he's ahead.  By the time Dubstep started crashing, it was already too late to fix things.  Music needs to evolve constantly, especially when things are going good.  It's too easy to get lazy and comfortable.

Fans also age, and stop going out once they start careers and a families.  It is essential that a genre constantly appeals to the new generations of party goers.  If it doesn't, everyone who once liked the music will grow up and stop going out as much, hence killing the scene.  Also, girls make or break your party.  Once Dubstep shows started having mosh pits, the girls left.  No girls, no party.

It also struck a huge blow when 2 of the pioneers of the genre, Skream and Benga, denounced the whole genre and said they'd no longer be a part of it.  How are people supposed to respond to that?  We all thought that Skrillex winning Grammys was going to be the greatest thing ever, but it ended up being the worst thing for us.  To his defense, he really did try to get people to understand the full scope of the genre, not merely the style he had become known for, but people still associated all Dubstep as being "Skrillex Music".

With music, you either need to stay underground, or go full commercial.  It all depends on the music itself, and the culture behind it, and it's really hard to tell what will succeed or fail.  You can't really reside in the middle for very long.  With House music, it had mass appeal and was able to explode and stay relevant, while many of these other genres of music can't seem to do so.  It's not as if you can proactively stop music from really becoming commercial though, especially when people want to get paid for their hard work.  It's going to happen one way or another.  I guess all you can do is cross your fingers and hope that it won't get bastardised like Disco.

When I first heard Dubstep music, I loved it, but I never thought it sounded like dance music.  I loved Broken Beat (House) and 2Step/Garage, which never got too big in SF, but then I got into Dubstep.  I thought it was great, but never could imagine that it would get popular in the clubs.  It always sounded like music I would listen to at home, or in the car.  Once it did blow up in the clubs I was so happy and had a restored faith in humanity.  I hate to say it, but maybe Dubstep never would have sustained itself for this long if it wasn't for "Brostep".  Maybe it would have died in 2009.  As I said before, traditional Dubstep did need that extra edge to propel it forward, I just think it went a bit too far.

There are many other things that contributed to the bubble bursting and I wish Dubstep never came crashing down, but maybe we can learn from this and use it as a learning tool, but most people won't.  Music isn't created to be revolutionary and change lives anymore.  It's just background noise for our drug and alcohol binges.  We live in a corporate society and live our lives in excess.  It's no wonder everything gets chewed up, then spit out.  It's been happening for centuries, so there's no reason for things to change now, but a little self awareness never hurt anybody.

Here is a graph that has been causing a buzz lately.  Just thought I'd share it, no matter how much it pains me:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pop music really is worse than ever. You're not just getting old.

Here are some of my favorite articles on the current state of the music industry.  I highly recommend you take some time to read up on some of these trends in music.  I try not to drown myself in this stuff too much because all it does is make me go crazy, but the knowledge is very interesting and really makes you think a lot about our society and how controlled we are.

Scientists Prove That Pop Music Is Ruining Our Brains.

The Music Industry Is Brainwashing You To Like Bad Pop Songs.

"EDM" Is The Worst Thing That Has Ever Happened To Electronic Dance Music.

How EDM Culture made Outkast Seem Like A Flop At Coachella.

How To Talk To Your Children About Their Shitty Taste In Music.

Top 10 Reasons Why the Music Industry is Failing

Why We Listen To Our Favorite Music Over And Over.

Is Pop Music Evolving, Or Is It Just Getting Louder?

Music Criticism Has Degenerated Into Lifestyle Reporting.

How Payola Is Still Happening And Why You Only Hear Major Label Songs On The Radio

You Didn’t Make The Harlem Shake Go Viral, Corporations Did.

How To Become Internet Famous For $68.

How To Get Your Song On Commercial Radio

How to Become a SoundCloud Superstar, One Fake Fan At A Time.

Facebook Is Extorting Bands And Brands.

Edgerank Explained in a Simple Infographic

Here is a bonus link for you.  I find this link relevant because it shows how little people pay attention to lyrics, plus, how few artists write their own songs.

65 Songs You Will Never Be Able To Listen To The Same Way Again

And finally, here is the reason MTV stopped playing music videos:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why I dislike when people use laptops to DJ

I know you’re gonna think I’m merely hating on laptops because I come from an older generation, but believe me, I have my justifications.  Most of these issues I have are for Ableton specifically, while other issues also relate to Serato and Traktor.  Basically, it is the laptop itself that I dislike.  I will still spin on Serato from time to time, but here is my personal list of reasons I dislike laptops at gigs.

Everyone with a laptop can DJ now, and everyone has a laptop.  It’s too accessible now.  There is little fight or battle anymore.  Granted, digital music is partly to blame for that, since it’s so easy to acquire songs, but some of the beauty of early DJ culture was the struggle.  There is still a struggle today, but now the struggle has shifted it's focus to promotion.

The physical laptop literally causes a divide by setting up a wall, separating you from your crowd.  How are you supposed to connect with your audience when your face is hidden behind a screen and no one can see you.  (and yes I see the irony given that I wear a mask, but you can still clearly see my “face”)  If you use a laptop, I urge you to have it off to the side.  Also, it always looks like product placement when I see a DJ on his laptop.  I hope these big DJs are getting free merch from Apple because they sure as hell are giving them loads and loads of free advertising in all of their pictures and live performances.

Laptops can also be easily ruined by beer, dropped, or stolen at a club.  Then these DJs try to set up benefit parties or start asking for donations to replace it.  I’m highly against that practice, but I’ll save that rant for another post.

The light from the screen also temporarily blinds the DJ.  After staring into your laptop, you try looking out over the crowd and all you see is a blurry black haze.  It takes at least 10 seconds for your eyes to adjust.  That’s like 5 minutes in DJ years.  Also, every laptop DJ looks like a brain dead zombie when they are blankly staring into their screen.

Computers also crash all the damn time and totally ruin the vibe with dead silence while they wait to reboot, or someone accidently unplugs the USB cord.  It makes for an awkward experience for both the DJ and crowd.

Ableton's mixing is also not 100% accurate all the time.  When the computer glitches out and starts train wrecking songs off beat, it is almost impossible for people to guide the songs back together.  Alternatively, a good DJ on turntables can easily make those adjustments to realign the tracks.

Ableton DJs tend to squeeze way too many songs into one set.  I personally like hearing a good song play for more than 45 seconds.  How can people get into a groove when you snap them away from their zone so quickly?

It’s also the biggest pain in the ass to set up a laptop and controller while another DJ is performing.  Many times there is no room for it all in the DJ booth, even with a laptop stand over the mixer, which itself can be extremely flimsy.

Ableton also makes it too easy to cheat and pre-plan sets.  It’s also too easy to be lazy and just recycle old sets from your archives.

Not actually spinning is such a huge deviation from the tradition of DJ culture, that it is kind of a slap in the face to the pioneers before us.  By definition, you can’t really call yourself a disc jockey because there are no discs involved.  You may be a performer of sorts, but you aren’t a DJ.  I know things evolve, but for some reason, it just looks like a much more exciting performance when I see people mixing, and it's the backbone of this whole culture.

Laptops have almost completely killed scratching culture.  There are almost no youngsters coming up in the game today, who want to DJ, and are learning how to scratch.  It is becoming a lost art.

I guess that is the end of my rant.  I don't hate anyone for doing what they do, it's just not for me.  I'll still book plenty of laptop DJs and go out to watch them perform.  Hell, I even spin on Serato pretty frequently, but I have to explain why many of us older cats feel this way about the medium, rather than just blindly talking shit on facebook with no explanation.  

I encourage any laptop DJ to speak out by writing an article on the benefits of performing with a laptop so I can have a change of heart.  If it is well written, by a prominent figure, I will happily post it on this blog as a separate article.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tipping your bartender.

Tipping 20% on drinks is standard unless you are getting a bottle of water.  If you don't give a dollar minimum per drink, and $2 for more expensive, or difficult to make drinks, then you shouldn't go out.  Even if you are the DJ, Promoter, or other staff member of the event, you need to be tipping.  I don't give a shit if you have four drink tickets, you still need to tip you cheap bastard!  If you are too broke to tip, and you are spending the last of your money on some party, then you are a dumb ass.  Stay the fuck home and work on your shitty life, because you obviously have bigger problems, and a simple night out won't fix that.

Most bartenders make minimum wage and that alone isn't enough for how expensive it is to live in SF, so they count on those tips.  Plus they have to deal with drunk dipshits all the time, and they just stand there smiling while people scream their stupid boring stories in their ear.  They get hit on all the time by bragging egotistical douche bags talking about their start up company and whiskey collection.  They have to memorize hundreds of drink combinations, while dozens of people yell at them all night to serve them next.  They have to listen to all sorts of horrible music that they never listen to at home, and they don't get off til after 3 in the morning.  It's not an easy job, so show some respect like you do to servers in a restaurant.

Anyhow, here is a youtube video I found on tipping that seems pretty accurate:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The government is killing the underground to keep us stupid and control us.

I honestly believe that the revolution we started, with underground raves as our meeting place, has died.  We lost the battle, and I don't think anyone cares, or even noticed.  We had so much potential and had gotten so far.  I have no other way to say this, but our movement is over.  I hope it is temporary, but we'll just have to wait and see.  The ruling powers know how to keep us just happy enough to stay complacent and enslaved.  We have nothing to fight for, and parties are a dime a dozen.  I alway thought, and hoped, that music would be the great unifier, but it has become the great hypnotizer.  I can only hope that something snaps us awake and we begin to realize that we can have so much more.

These days when I go out, all I hear in the music is simple minded, and socially detrimental lyrics about ego, sex, money and other various forms of ignorance.  The mainstream has invaded our world, and I believe it was a master plan from the start to control us.  EDM is now a tainted catch phrase more closely related to douche bag frat boys and drunkards than intellectuals and peace makers.  We used to hold our scene to a much higher standard.  Now when an underground is thrown, people hang around outside drawing attention to the location, or sit in their car blasting music and acting as a beacon light for the police.  There is no respect for the efforts of the promoter, and the consumer is so entitled now, when they used to be so thirsty and thankful.  There used to be much more effort to keep things a secret, and under the radar.  Now, no one wants to go unless the address has been posted for a week, rather than an hour before the event begins. And God forbid you carpool and park a few blocks away.

Remember when everyone raged their asses off, all night, as if the world was gonna end in the morning?  Now everyone hangs out in the smoking section, or just stands on the dance floor, numb, and scrolling through instagram.  We are more concerned with taking a selfie at the party to show our friends how much fun we are having, rather than actually having fun.  With all these constant distractions and stimuli at our every waking moment, we are starting to get bored, AT A FREAKIN' PARTY NO LESS!

You used to be accepted for who you were and praised for your individualism in the underground.  Now raves are clicky and shallow, and everyone acts and dresses alike.  There used to be a unified hope that we can shake the system and revolt for the greater good, but now all the music brainwashes us to spend spend spend!  Who would have thought the music in our underground scene would begin to have the lyrical equivalent of a kindergarten student's poetry assignment fused with a television commercial for sneakers.

The ruling powers have been trying to crush us since the 80's, and they have finally succeeded.  They do not want intelligent people getting together and thinking critically.  It would cause too many problems with their stranglehold on our lives. They control us with fear every day, but once we unify, and gain confidence, our overwhelming power in numbers would release their bloody death grip.  It's not going to happen though.  We lost.

We used to get together, inspired, with hopes and dreams, sweaty from the whole experience.  Now we need drugs more than ever to stay energized and focused past 4am.  We are so spoiled and desensitized by the whole experience now, that we need insane light shows and stage props to distract us from the fact that the music isn't really all that great.  We used to not only appreciate the process and proper precautions of the promoter, but we would anxiously await each announcement.  Maybe it's a good thing that we are content and have nothing to fight for anymore, or maybe that's what they want you to think.  The things we need to fight for are right in front of us, but we've been blinded by our iPhone screens.

Dealing with critics, and how to critique others.

I can literally talk about all of this stuff for hours because it branches out into so many directions, both industry related and psychologically, but I'll try my hardest not to go off on a tangent or repeat myself.  This can be a very touchy subject for many people and that is because everyone has an ego, but most people are in denial of it's stranglehold on them.  Surprise surprise, but I'm talking to every one of you, myself included.  There is a very thin line between self confidence and ego, and that line is more blurry than Ray Charles's eye sight.  We all have an ego that needs to be stroked in one form or another.  Your kids need to be told they are good, your coach may pump you up to build your confidence, your girlfriend may want to be told she is pretty, actors and musicians need elaborate award ceremonies for their work, politicians lust for votes, we buy expensive things to fit in or stand out, and I myself may get an ego boner if you tell me you like my writings.  What gives your ego a slippery reach around boils down to that feeling of self worth, which stems from the accolades of others.  It's our primitive urge to be loved.  That thin blurry line also separates love and hate, so when you aren't careful about how you express your opinions on someone else's art, they may feel like you hate them personally, and can start to hate you in retaliation (or merely in self defense of their fragile ego).  Your own self confidence should help you decipher what is hatred, and what is personal opinion.

No one seems to be more sensitive than the creative individual, regardless of their medium of creation.  Most creative people get their motivation from suffering and turmoil, and there is usually a lot of pain in their work.  They spend countless hours refining their project into a sort of diary that reflects their soul, and is their own way of conveying their message to the public.  NEWS FLASH!  Many artists are socially awkward, and it can take a lot to get them to be extroverted and share their life's diary full of hurt and anguish.  They are thinkers and outcasts who are sending a message, hoping to connect with like minded individuals, but not everyone is meant to receive that message.

To the listener or viewer it's just a simple song or painting, and being the consumers that we are, we have many outlets to window shop and find what we would like to purchase.  We put a price tag on something that is essentially priceless to the creator.  That doesn't mean that any one art is technically better than another, it just means that some art resonates with some people, but not others.  No artist should take offense or think it is a personal bashing of their character, but that is how we are all programmed to react when the things we use to define ourselves are bruised.

If the creators aren't merely socially awkward, they may just be downright crazy, and creating is the only thing that brings them mental balance and peace.  Some of the most brilliant artists are fucking nuts.  The mere act of creating, through suffering, then receiving affection and admirers is a sort of healing process which curbs the insanity and eases the pain.  To the sensitive artist, a negative comment could bring their whole world crashing down.  It can bring the crazy back, or stir up those awful suppressed memories, and may even cause the person to lash out if you make them feel like a failure.  It is a defense mechanism that we all have a sprinkle of, but being aware of it may help us realize that we don't need to always waste our time defending ourselves.

Sometimes when we talk negatively about someone's creation, it is an ego boost in itself, and we need to check ourselves on our selfish intentions at times.  It shouldn't makes us feel stronger about ourselves to talk down on others, and even stronger when we get a reaction out of them.  That's kindergarden shit.  Technically we have no right to voice our opinion on art at all since it is a reflection of life in general, even down to the mundane and mindless side of life.  On the flip side though, you should never lie to your friends if they ask you how you feel about their piece, and they may really be open to your expertise, but just be sensitive about how you talk to them about their art.  It is always good to start with a compliment about what you like about the piece first, then ease into the areas that can use improvement, but don't just act like a know it all to feel cool about yourself.  That goes to both the creator and the critic.  Sure we may get on our high horse and say that Miley Cyrus needs to stop twerking for the good of humanity, but she isn't leading our children to kill millions of people now is she?  I personally think the Miley thing is brilliant in it's ignorance, especially as a marketing stunt, but that is an entirely different article all together.

Artists should stay humble yet confident and realize that not everyone is going to enjoy their work, and they can react to the criticism in various ways.  There are usually three typical ways we tend to react to criticism.  We either flat out ignore it, we listen and learn from it, or we listen and lash out.

If artists are hurt by criticism, maybe it's because it brings up insecurities in themselves.  If you create something, and you don't truly think it is finished, or as good as you can do, then fucking destroy it!  At least don't show it to anyone unless you are asking for help or direction.  If you lie to yourself and say that it is perfect, when you don't truly believe it is, of course you are going to get mad when others call your bluff and say it's subpar.  If you wanted your project to be finished so badly that you cut corners and convinced yourself that it was finished, and you are upset that you were unable to fool others into thinking so as well, you can't really get mad can you?

"How dare they say my work isn't awesome!!!"  Well, do you personally think everything is amazing?  I sure as hell don't.  I'm insanely opinionated and picky with what I like.  I may even flat out say the art is utter shit and say the worst things imaginable about it.  I'm not saying I have a right to, but maybe it is my own insecurities showing.  Maybe it's my own passion clashing with someone else's passion and we are like two positively charged ions that just refuse to connect.  Whatever it is, I've come to learn that there is no need to violently defend yourself against critique.  Either ignore it, or learn from it and never release anything until it is truly ready.

Great art takes time and patience.  The people that connect to your art will support you and your vision regardless of what others think.  If you fly off the handle and retaliate with negative intent towards your critics, you are just fueling their fire, and showing weakness.  Just go on doing what you want and be indifferent to any criticism.  If you are truly self confident in your work, and everything was created exactly the way you intended, then fuck what anyone thinks.  Your art should be done for yourself first, then you can worry about whether others will enjoy it, or if you can make a living off of your talents.  Be smart and realize that if someone talks negatively about your work, that it probably just isn't their vibe, and eventually someone will ride your wavelength.  No need to be an asshole towards your critics, or even give them a reaction at all, and you damn sure better not let it discourage you from continuing to work hard.  The ones who have thick skin are the ones that truly excel in the end.  Those are the ones who probably don't even need to read this article because they already know it to be common knowledge.

Others people who succeed in this industry are the ones who actually absorb the criticism like a sponge at an adult video arcade.  The smart ones know that life is an endless journey of knowledge, and you will never stop learning.  The day you stop learning is the day you may as well just keel over and die.  You can learn a lot if you just hear people out sometimes.  You may not agree with it all, but some of it may help you think differently and improve your craft.  You may get inspired by a difference of opinion, or get that honest opinion that all the brown nosers are too afraid to tell you. The truly talented people can be masters of many styles and diversify their craft to resonate with many different walks of life.  After all, as an entertainer, you are essentially a juggling clown to make the kiddies laugh.  If you want to create your art the way you want, you do have to bend ever so slightly to cater to more people so you can continue to fund what you create.  I'm not saying you need to sell out, but if you are looking to make a living off of your product, you need to have happy customers.  If you are able to find that balance, you can open up some minds with your more intricate pieces.  Even Aphex Twin has some mediocre shit that I personally feel was just a brilliant scheme to lure the passer bys into his more twisted plan, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

If your one and only goal is to get rich, then you should honestly just give up completely, or just follow every opinion until the project isn't even yours.  Just let the masses water down your craft so you can live the American dream.  Go ahead and appeal to everyone across the board.  Don't ruffle any feathers, be vanilla.  Overconsumption will get your ego all the cocaine filled blow jobs it needs.  Create art that has absolutely no heart or definitive message.  Create something so bland and mediocre that it offends no one and makes no one feel any particular way, or think about anything.  Create something that is going to have a blanket appeal on everyone and you will be forgotten in a matter of months.

You won't really stand out if you aren't pissing someone off and confusing others to some degree, and you are probably boring in bed too.  Be thought provoking and give your audience credit.  You don't always need to spell it out for everyone.  That's like a comedian who feels the need to explain why his jokes are funny.  Let the people fill in the blanks on their own.  That's how you connect with your fan base on a deeper level.  Give them a coded message and see what they do with it.  The artists that are thought of as crazy, and eccentric will eventually be regarded as brilliant and maintain longevity.  They are the ones who will have die hard fans and supporters, and will prevail on their own merits in this meat grinder industry.  I hate to say "Think outside of the box", because merely uttering that cliche is thinking inside the box, but you do need to realize that if you don't stand out in some way, you will be overshadowed by the millions who want to take your place.

All it takes these days to get the sheep to follow is to dress up as a shepherd, so with enough money and marketing, you can easily lead the weak minded to slaughter.  If your goal is to sell coal as diamonds, then go ahead.  You can easily pay people to love you and buy that shiny new mansion.  There are even confidentiality agreements that state that if you work with an artist, and you are fired, that you are not allowed to speak negatively about that artist.  It is not merely a non-disclosure agreement that protects business secrets, but an agreement that protects an artists public reputation.  Some artists even make people who attend their personal parties sign those same agreements.  So in essence, you can be a steaming pile of monkey shit, but with enough money, you can make yourself look immaculate to the public.  Way to keep it 100 pimpin!

If I'm not being clear here, I'm trying to say that there is a difference between having a massive fan base of trend hoppers who will just abandon you when the next thing hits, or having die hard fans who will follow you to the ends of the Earth.  It takes true brilliance, and a desire for something deeper to create art that picks off those few black sheep who can read your diary and find hope in themselves, knowing that there are others out there just like them.  Think of what your intentions are and you will have a better understanding of how to respond to critique.

When I personally criticize music or art, it is usually due to either their laziness (and I feel they can do much better), or when I feel like they are not genuine in their intentions (usually due to following money, and not sending a thought provoking message).  Don't get it twisted, I also love mindless and simple music at times, but only if it is packaged as such.  If you try to sell me dog food and say it is sushi, then of course you will see a clear view of my middle finger in your cornea.  There is really no way of proving that an artist is being lazy or synthetic though, that's why it all boils down to opinion, and everyone has one, but that doesn't make everyone an asshole.  At least when I critique, I elaborate exactly why I dislike something.  I also do the same when complimenting.  It adds weight behind your opinion to be specific and educated on the subject matter or else neither positive or negative comments really have any weight in the first place.

Sometimes you need to reject someone and their art when you are the customer, and you have every right to do so.  If an artist's ego is too big, then they may lash out when you deny them a booking at your show, or you don't buy their art, or promote them on your website etc.  As I said before, certain art resonates with certain people, and when you purchase art, you are also using that piece as a reflection of yourself.  If you don't like a painting, you wouldn't buy it and hang it on your wall would you?  So when you do need to reject someone, just try to be as sensitive as possible.  There is no clear way of how to do that without hurting someone's feelings, but a little encouragement alongside the rejection couldn't hurt.

So on that note, go out there and encourage people when you can, because it takes fifty compliments for someone to recover from that one hurtful review.  Tell someone exactly what it is that you particularly like about their work, instead of a mere thumbs up.  A genuine, well articulated compliment goes a long way.  The same goes for constructive advice.  We need more underground artists to see that they have our support even when they fail, or just haven't quite hit that pinnacle yet, or else they will just sell out their talents so they can eat dinner.  These are the first steps towards revolution and we need to encourage each other today more than ever before.  We'll probably still be poor, but may go down in history as the generation that changed everything, instead of sitting here complacent.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The high.

Some of these posts are showing the hardships of being a DJ or promoter, and you may ask, "Why the hell do you even bother?"  It is because it is exhilarating when you get it right.  When you just absolutely nail it, you can't get enough.  It's like a roller coaster ride that you just need to get back on once it's over.  It's that long hike up the mountain, to finally see that beautiful view.

I get more of a thrill as a DJ than a promoter, and I always correct people that call me a promoter because I really just feel like a DJ that got lucky with his little event, and became a promoter by default.  I will always be a DJ first, and a promoter second.

The thrill I get when I find an amazing song, then get to share it with others who end up going wild to it, is addictive.  It seems to feed this inner desire to have your soul accepted by others.  Music is my soul (duh).  Without it I would be a miserable waste of life.  I'm also a bit socially retarded, so I feel like being able to play music I like, in a manner I feel fit, is a way for my language to be understood.  My shy tendencies are erased and I feel like my inner self is coming out.  I can be a confusing and difficult person, but when I play, you can see right through me and my heart is on my sleeve.  I tend to hide (or mask if you will), how awkward I really am in normal day to day life, but when I'm behind those decks I have the confidence of a warrior off to battle.

I could play forever, and a 6 hour set would fly by as if I time traveled, or was on DMT or something.  It definitely releases some sort of chemical that I've never felt on synthetic drugs.  I never understood how people could say they are getting tired during a set, or an hour set is too long for them, because that shit is like crack to me and I could run a marathon afterwards.

I've also wondered about the actual act of mixing two songs together.  I think the challenge, and eventual gratitude you get from mixing is similar to the satisfaction you get when you complete a difficult puzzle.  They are both temporary, and that adds an element of excitement as well.  The challenge is even more intensified with DJing because you are on a time limit, and have only a couple minutes to connect the next piece.  It's fucking thrilling! That's why it confuses the shit out of me that some producers just want to pre-record a set in Ableton, then hit play and jump around.  You aren't getting the full experience, and that is probably why you are bored.

It is also in our nature to fuck up a bunch before we get it right.  That goes for everything we humans do in life.  So to just have a program cheat for you ruins the whole experience and satisfaction of success.  Hardships and suffering have made the best art since the dawn of time.  You ever notice how one's drive and creativity may dwindle once they have everything they need, and no longer need to fight for it?  I'm not saying someone like Morrissey should stay a depressing whiny cunt (I actually like the Smiths, so shut the fuck up), but you need to constantly set challenges for yourself to stay motivated.  Anyway, I'm getting a bit off track.

You know what else trips me out?  The amount of people that ask if I just bang chicks like it is going out of style because I'm a DJ.  It is actually not a major priority of mine when I spin and in fact, it is one of the last things on my mind when I'm deep into the music.  Seriously, If I was in the movie SAW, and that creepy puppet fucker said I have a choice between going deaf or losing my dick, then it looks like my dog is gonna have a new chew toy.  Don't get me wrong, women and music go hand in hand, and I love watching the way women move, but when I'm spinning and lost in the music, I barely even notice girls.  I get to blow my load all over the crowd, that's more gratifying.

All original sets.

OK, so this may cause some debate, but personally, I hate hearing "all original" sets.  Probably my biggest reason is that every douche that does it decides it's best to get on the mic after every tune drops to let us all know.  Some may even go so far as to tell you a brief story, such as, "I was on a plane for 12 hours and made this" or "This one samples my cat on the harmonica".  Who gives a shit?!  Just play the music and make us dance monkey.  If I wanted a detailed play by play, I'll just read your overinflated bio, or watch your poorly produced mini documentary.

Now to be fair, not every DJ who plays all originals is a douche, but if you are guilty of the aforementioned accusation, then well, the shoe fits.  I don't mind if every so often one of my favorite DJs plays only his/her original tracks, (shit, bands do it right?) but they better at the least have a very eclectic catalogue of diverse music and a large quantity to choose from.  If they only play the same 20 songs at every show, and those 20 tracks all sound the same, why would I want to see them more than twice a year at most?

Let's admit it, watching a DJ can be pretty boring.  Live bands are so much more engaging, with the singing, live instruments and what have you. So for a DJ to just play the prerecorded music they've made, that you've already listened to 50 times, really isn't that amazing or engaging now is it?  With that being said, why wouldn't you sprinkle in some new shit that someone else made like DJs are supposed to do, or at least traditionally were expected to.

I'm not hating on producers, I just think that if the worlds of Producer and DJ are merging, or have already merged I should say, then why not respect the craft of the DJ?  It's like DJs who produce shitty tracks just to get more gigs.  It doesn't, or shouldn't work like that.  If you want to be a performer these days, you should be a master of production, as well as a skilled DJ.

You know what is really tripping me out lately?  The amount of producers that are starting to hate on DJs that don't produce, or even hating on producers that don't play all original sets.  Do you have any idea how boring clubs would be if all DJs merely played their own tracks?  It would be a nightmare.  Can you imagine if there were no more selectors?  There is a reason the crate digging DJ has stood the test of time.  It is because people want to hear a cluster of the best songs that someone can offer.

There is not a single producer who has a 100% solid library of their works that I feel would blow my mind for 90 minutes.  Seriously, when you scan through the average album, there are usually only 4 out of 12 tracks that you really enjoy.  6 out of 12 is considered an amazing album in my opinion, so why would I want to hear all the mediocre ones I don't like in the club?  Producers should just pick their best ones, and fill in the gaps with the best from other producers.

I mean don't they get all the freshest unreleased tunes if they are all friends with each other anyhow?  Why wouldn't you want to drop those tunes live?  I know producers don't have time to dig for tunes since producing is so time consuming, and they tour a lot, but if you get tracks falling in your lap, you have no excuse.

If you are a big headliner name, and go to a major city twice a year, your next set should be at least 50% new material that you didn't play the last time.  That means you should be producing at least 3 solid tracks a month, which isn't the case with many of these performers, plus they sometimes play 3 or 4 times a year in those major cities.  There is nothing more heart wrenching than being disappointed or bored by a DJ you really love.  That is how many producers burn themselves out in certain markets, and sometimes lose a big fan base.  Over saturation is bad enough because you will devalue yourself, but it makes it even worse if you become predictable and people already know what songs you are going to play.  It could potentially ruin you.

Stay original by not staying original.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ghost Producers

So I assume this is true since so many people talk about it, and it sickens me a bit.  It is the notion that many so called "producers" buy finished tracks off of other producers, then pass them off as their own.  At least in hip hop, an MC will buy a beat, then rap over it and show love to the creator by shouting them out somehow.  Even Pop stars mention who produced a song in the liner notes.  How do these fake ass producers keep a straight face in interviews that ask them what they used to create the track, or what inspired them?  I know we all want to be rich and famous, but why would you want to go about it in this sort of shady way?  Producing is not easy, I get it, but there is no reason to build your career on lies a deceit.

Many producers want to make money off their tunes, but are horrible at marketing themselves, so instead of putting out some tracks online that don't bring in a profit, they will sell them to someone who is a bit more known.  They may even get royalties or a bonus if the tune hits high marks, or if the artist goes on a big tour, but that would more than likely just be a homie hookup, since most of the ghost producers have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.  In some cases, the ghost producer is too shy to perform live, or just sucks at it, and in this day you need to be able to perform live since that is where most of the money lies.

I'll admit that I am not insanely knowledgeable on this subject, so I'll just end it with a couple paragraphs and an article I found online that talks more about it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Picking a DJ name, event name, record label name etc.

First off, everyone on the planet should know what google is by now.  I suggest you use that first, then come back and read the rest of this article.  I mean seriously use google.  Don't just type in the name you think is cool, and look at one result page.  Type in 10 different spellings, and combinations of related words and scan through 5 or 6 pages of each variation, because you are not the first person to come up with a DJ name that is a popular movie hero, or name your party after a popular rap song.

You may want to avoid putting genre names in the title of your name since things may change down the line.  It is especially hard if your website, email or url's are all in that genre title.  Times change, and you may change down the line as well, and won't want to suffer because you weren't careful in the beginning.  If you decide to change your style or expand into different sounds, it may be hard once you've branded yourself as "Breakbeat Charlie".  Think of this name/title as a permanent tattoo.

Your name should be fairly easy to find online through a search engine, but not so simple that it is overshadowed by dozens of other categories.  For example, if your performer name was a simple name like "Butter", it will be a bit harder to locate you online since there are a million search results for such a basic household product.  On the flip side, if the spelling is too crazy, with too many symbols and numbers in place of letters, or anything similar, it will probably be a bit more difficult for people to remember how the hell you spell your name when they try to look you up.

You may also want to look into copyright infringement because once you start making money, or getting popular, you could get sued if someone already copyrighted the name.

There is nothing worse than choosing a name that is already being used, but there are a few things that I feel come close.  I really don't like when people do the following, because it seems really lazy and uncreative to me:

*Unless your name has a really snazzy ring to it, or is very different from the average person's name, I wouldn't just use your birth name.  It works for many people, but I personally just find it a bit boring.*

*Using a plain, average name like Joseph Adams, when that is not your birth name is even weirder than the above.*

*Try not to be too cheesy and use a pseudo clever pun with the spelling of your birth name.  Such as "Just In Time" if your name is Justin.  It is just tacky to me.*

*You are not the first person to just spell your name backwards either.*

*I dislike it when a performer uses a title that suggests they are a group, or duo, when it is really just one person, such as, "The Green People"*

*Try not to make your name a one word spelling that has 30 characters and is impossible for anyone to pronounce.  Everyone will butcher your name, no one will remember how to spell it when looking you up, and your name will be really small on fliers.*

* I hate when hipsters use a verb or statement as their name.  You are a person, which is a noun.  Just because your favorite author, or movie, had a quote you like, doesn't mean your name should be "Running Through The Trees On Sunday" or "Many People Enjoy Sandwiches"*

*Using the year or month you were born in your name, or as your name, is kind of lame to me as well. It is just too easy and bland. The same goes for using the city, state, or country you were born in.*

*Using a spin off name of a popular celebrity or other famous musician, or combining slang words with a proper name to sound like a celebrity is kind of wacky in my opinion too.  Such as "Swagnum P.I." or "Trillary Clinton".  Don't get me wrong, I think some are really creative, but they don't strike me as timeless names that you can carry around for years.  It may be really funny and clever at first, but eventually the joke will wear off.*

*You can use your high school nickname or your mom's pet name if you want, but now is your free pass to create your own nickname you've always wanted.  Take advantage of it "Broski", or should I say "Sugar Cakes".

(These are just my personal feelings, so don't get all butt hurt if this relates to you.)

Tricks promoters use to fool you into thinking their party rocks.

I have been a little frustrated at some of the tricks promoters do to fool you.  Some of it is minor and innocent, some of it is just ignorant and they are oblivious to their faults, and other methods are just flat out sinister, malicious, and fraudulent.  I tend to over analyze the shit out of everything, so instead of merely bitching to my friends, I'll do it here for you all to hear.

One of the most fucked up tricks is not telling the public that one of the main performers was cancelled.  They may tell you at the door, or not at all, but either way it is shady if they didn't blast it online publicly.  Not very many people are going to turn away from the club after they spent so much time getting ready and getting to the club, so clubs use that against people.

Sometimes clubs will hold the line till it is really long, and let people in at a very slow pace, just so people passing by will think it is super busy, and by default a great party.  Meanwhile the inside is dead and the music sucks.

Sometimes they won't tell you the exact time it shuts down.  They may say 2am, when they really close at 1:30.  Rounding up isn't because they wanted a more round number on the flier.  They do it to get you to be more interested in showing up.  Sometimes they will just list the party as "going late".  What kind of shit is that?  Just tell me the fucking time!  Maybe they will keep the party going if it is still busy at closing time?  So then just fucking say it like that!

These next two drive me fucking nuts!!!  Not telling you the set times, and not telling you the door price!!!  The reason promoters won't tell you the times the artists perform in advance, is to get you to show up as early as possible, since you may be fearful of missing an artist you really want to see.  That means you are less likely to pre-drink somewhere else too, so they will be making more money off you.  The reason they don't tell you the door price is because they just want you to show up to find out, and like I said before, people are less likely to leave once they've made their way over to the club.  Also, if the night is not breaking even financially, they can jack up the price halfway through the night to try to get more money to cut their losses, and since they never said publicly what the door price is, you can't argue it.

Another trick is to say that presale tickets are sold out, when they really are not.  This makes people think the show is in high demand, and they will be missing out if they don't go.  It is just false hype.

Have you ever seen the events where there are like 100 DJs on the lineup, the party is 8 hours and has 4 rooms?  Basic math will tell you that the DJs are only playing for 20 minutes, and any DJ that is only playing for that short is most likely a rookie with little skill.  Promoters feel like their audience is stupid sometimes, and they think that people will be fooled into thinking the more DJs, the better the event will be.  I'd rather go to a party with a few amazing DJs, rather than 100 shitty ones.

Sometimes a promoter won't mention that there is a seven dollar service fee when you buy tickets online, so your $25 ticket is really $32.  Or, they will just blatantly change the door price from $20 to $30 when you arrive.  Then when you show up and argue it, they basically just tell you to go fuck yourself.  Other times the ad will say "free before 11pm", but then when you show up, they say, "sorry, that's only when you RSVP."  Now in all fairness, some club goers don't read the event info properly, then get mad at the promoter and call them shady, when it was really their own fault.  Whenever someone calls me out on something at my events, I ask them to pull out their phone and go online to prove to me there was a mistake.  If indeed there was a mistake made, I will honor it.  I can't even count the amount of times I have personally pulled up an ad on my phone that states cheaper pricing, and the club does not honor it.  Usually they scoff at me like I am the asshole, so I make it a point to make good on false advertising at my own events.

Sometimes promoters will even jeopardize the safety of their patrons just to get people to come out.  One example is not telling people that the neighborhood is a little rough.  This is a bit of a grey area here because sometimes promoters may not really consider a certain area super hood, because they may be used to it, but others may have issues.  If you are inviting people to an underground warehouse party in a bad neighborhood, it may be a good idea to let people know so they don't leave valuables in their car, or girls may want to dress differently to not attract attention.  Like I said, this is a bit of a grey area, mainly because it can scare people more than necessary, and they may take it as a warning to not even come.  A lot of the time people blow things out of proportion when they read it online.  I have omitted information like this at times because sometimes it just causes paranoia, when all you wanted to do was tell people to be smart and aware of their surroundings.  Myself, coming from a tough neighborhood, taught me that being aware of my surroundings and staying under the radar should be standard behavior in any circumstance, but for some people, they are completely oblivious to the seedy side of life.  More than likely you will be fine if you are with a few people and hide your valuable in your car, or take them out completely before you leave the house.  If you are being loud and obnoxious, drawing attention to yourself, you may be making yourself a target.

There are a few other promoter tricks that I won't say on here because they are just my pet peeves, and not too many other promoters know about them, so if I blast them on here publicly, more people will start doing them and pissing me the fuck off.

I understand that people invest a lot of money into these events, and sometimes they take a big loss.  It is all part of the game, but no one should sacrifice their integrity and fuck over their main supporters in the process.  We can all still profit in this game without the shady tactics.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Innovator, or Sell Out: Part 2. "Switching your style"

It is a very tricky manoever to switch up your style.  As much as people claim to have diverse tastes in music, the fact is they have a preconceived idea of what they want to hear from a DJ when they see them perform.  Sometimes a DJ brands themselves with a particular sound, and when they decide to go off the grid, people may shun them.  If someone is a huge fan of a certain house DJ or Producer, and they pay $20 to hear them play some of their favorite house tunes at a show, they will more than likely be upset if the DJ starts playing all Trance.  This type-casting is what makes so many performers fearful of switching gears.  People can be so quick to alienate their favorite DJ when all the DJ wanted to do was expand their style.

Most DJs have diverse tastes in music, but chose one sound to define them.  Think of how many multi genre artists are successful compared to the success of the artists who focus on a particular style.  I guarantee the artists with extreme A.D.D. are the ones less likely to make an impact unless they are a band with 30+ years of experience under their belt.  This isn't always true though, and showing how skilled you are across multiple areas can gain you even more respect at times, but it is a fine line.  You need to make sure you are talented across the board, and very few are that brilliant.  If Stevie Wonder started rapping, I'm sure people would think he lost his mind, even though he may have been deep into hip hop for years.  Would it really be that surprising if he was a good rapper?  He shares the same craft of poetry as a rapper, yet no one would take him seriously.

I think people just assume that if you play 10 different genres, that each one is a bit watered down.  I mean, how can you possibly have great taste in 10 different genres (sarcasm).  But that is what I think people assume.  Folks want to know that you have focused all of your time and energy into one sound, and spent years to perfect it.  I feel that having a few sounds that define you is great, so when I say multi-genre, I'm usually referring to way more than a handful.  This can be especially painful if a DJ tries to stuff 8 styles into a one hour time slot.  It is too hard for people to lose themselves to the music when they are constantly jumping from sound to sound and confusing everyone.

As a DJ, it is much easier to switch up your style than a band or producer, but if you do it too frequently, most people will just brand you as a bandwagon DJ.  If your style is just all over the place and has no structure, you probably won't be able to build a solid fan base because no one will know what you will end up playing when they go out to see you.  There are some people that like the element of surprise, and the scatter brain multi-genre DJs sometimes have a decent fan base, but very rarely do they get large.

I personally started my days as a DJ spinning all sorts of music.  I played Trip Hop, Broken Beat, Acid Jazz, Downtempo Electronica, Rare Soul/Funk, Deep House and a little Top 40 when I needed the extra cash and would whore myself out.  Even though I had built some skill and a tiny fan base, I never really had any dedicated fans because not everyone has diverse tastes, even though the genres I described really aren't that far off from each other.  I could tell that some of the people that liked a certain style of mine, may not have cared much for another.

That is one of the many reasons why I decided to change my identity and focus on one sound.  It worked extremely well and I gained a dedicated fan base of people that knew they wouldn't be let down with a sound they didn't like.  Although, over time, the sound that everyone once loved by you, could easily turn into predictability and people may not be as excited to hear you play after a while.  In these cases it makes sense why people change with the times.  It is a survival tactic.  There are many people who fall off the map completely because they stay too true to their core sound.  This is not necessarily a bad thing since everyone has what they are passionate about, but getting bitter at the changing times is an uphill battle.  There are some Drum and Bass DJs I know and respect who hold on to the genre so tough and refuse to diversify.  That is perfectly fine because they are following their heart and what drives them, but if people have moved on to other sounds, but the DJ won't expand, then eventually the DJ will just be floating in the open ocean alone on a sinking life raft.  I must specify that I never think anyone should just alienate a genre they love, but opening the doors to a second or third style may breathe new life into your name.

You hear this statement all the time: "I went to see so and so last night, but all he played was blah blah blah.  What a waste of money"  That scares the crap out of performers because they can be too afraid to branch out and lose people's interest, but on the flip side you also hear people frequently say, "I went out to see so and so last night.  I never really liked him before, but he played blah blah blah, and blew me away"

That is one reason why many DJs switch up their style, but it needs to be done at the right time.  It is hard to predict when the time is right.  If you wait too long, people may see it as a desperate attempt to stay relevant in a changing market, but if you switch too soon, people may assume you are just a trend hopper.  I have no immediate answer on when to switch up, but there are two methods that I think are the best ways when you do decide.

If you plan on switching up immediately, whether completely or just introducing new styles, you need to create a new alias.  This way people will not be shocked when you start playing a new sound.  If you do not want to change your name, then you should ease people into the new style gradually over the course of a few months by sprinkling in the new sound when you play live and release tunes or mixes.  That way it won't be a complete shock to people.  You won't look like a sell out, and you can gauge your audience and see if they are responding positively to the new sound.  If you do have a few different sounds that define you, you may want to specify what style you will be playing at each event so people know what to expect.

Musicians are constantly evolving.  Sometimes a band may completely fall off the map and just be a memory or one hit wonder.  This terrifies people into staying true to the formula that made them a success, but if you stay stagnant for too long and become predictable, you may end up losing that fan base anyhow.  If you innovate at the right time, you may lose a small percentage of fans, but if the music is good, you can open yourself up to an entirely new audience.  There are many people whose popularity has sky rocketed after switching up their style.  Some for better (Pablo Picasso), and some for much worse (Black Eyed Peas), but in the long run it is all merely a matter of opinion.

I personally am in this struggle right now.  The music world I am a part of is opening up to other styles and I want to open up as well.  I do not want to alienate my core sound and audience, but I also want to dabble in some new directions.  I plan on releasing a few different mixes of completely different styles, then gauging the reaction to each sound.  That will give me a good estimate of what people are willing to accept.

Trap music is picking up quite a bit, but it's not quite the direction I want to go in.  I don't have anything against it, but it's just not me.  At least not yet.  Maybe in time I will be as inspired by it as I was with Dubstep, but for the time being I can merely bob my head to it.  I am finding other new genres that inspire me though, that are neither Trap nor Dubstep and I am anxious to share them with everyone.  I won't stop spinning Dubstep, but I am slowly working my way towards new outlets and hopefully people will move with me.

Only time tells whether or not the directions people take will lead to success or failure, but I truly feel that if you are passionate enough about something, and stay true to yourself, you will succeed.  It may take a long time, and lots of hard work and heartache, but in the long run it will pay off.  That's what happened to me when I decided to put on a mask and start playing Dubstep full time.  I lost some fans who thought I lost my marbles, but eventually gained many new admirers who respected me.

If you are just switching styles because you know what's popular, and you are merely chasing the money, I assure you people will see through it.  I have been a DJ that plays what pays (Top 40), but I hated those gigs.  Sure the money was much more prevalent than other gigs, but I still felt empty inside and left the gig feeling low, uninspired, bored, sickened, fake and bitter.  There is nothing more soul crushing than cheapening the artform you love and going against your true passion.  I understand that we all have bills to pay, but to me personally, I see music as much more than just a job.  You should be moving towards what inspires you, not merely what will get you laid and paid.

There is much more I can talk about on this subject, and I may end up repeating myself a few times, but I'll save the next rant for part 3.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ways DJs make you think they are cooler than they really are.

So many DJs, producers or promoters lie and deceive you into thinking they are God's gift to music.  Some consider it just basic marketing, but some people intentionally twist their words or over hype their image just to stand out when they don't actually have the talent to back it up.  It is unfortunate that many amazing artists get over looked because they don't like cheapening themselves or wasting money on shady promo.  I have seen countless talented musicians with little impact on the public appeal, while some tool with no talent is turning into a star, merely because one spent more time and money on publicity.  It is all part of the game to promote yourself, and eventually you will need to beef up your look in the public's eye, but don't do it before you can deliver the goods.

My dad told me something when I got my first car, that seems so obvious now, but at the time stuck in my head.  When I first got my car I was so excited to get a new stereo, new rims and a fresh paint job.  My dad chuckled and said, "Make sure it runs first".  It hadn't even occurred to me that this car was a necessity to get back and forth to work, and without a proper oil change and maintenance, it would just be breaking down on me all the time.  I felt like a dumb ass when I realized the first thing I wanted to do was look cool, before I even knew the thing could get me around safely.

One thing DJs do to make them look like they are in high demand is blast on Facebook that they are being booked in a major city across the country, or a huge festival somewhere.  This is probably a true statement technically, but the way they word it makes a world of difference.  Saying, "I'm being booked in New York", is different than saying, "I happen to be going to New York, and I asked someone to get booked on their lineup, and they said yes, even though they've never heard of me before today.  I'm not getting paid, and I'm playing the opening slot."  DJs do it all the time.  They may have even paid to get on the lineup, or at the least, paid all the expenses to make it out to the festival, including air fare and buying a ticket.  Haven't you ever wondered how some mediocre local DJ got booked on a fat lineup in some other state?

Having lot's of facebook fans is one way to cheat too.  This is not hard to get at all.  Facebook let's you add as many people as you want.  They try to limit you, but getting to 5000 fans is not hard over the course of a couple months.  If someone has 5,000 fans, but no one is liking or commenting on their statuses, you can tell it is phony.  Twitter and Soundcloud does not have a way for you to add fans, but there are services out there that you can pay for followers and track listens.  I think it comes out to $100 for 10,000 fans. It is a shady move and eventually there will be ways to track it, and you don't want to be caught when they crack down on it.  How embarrassed will you be when over night you drop from 11,000 fans to 1,000.  It already happened to major artists when youtube cracked down on record labels, and millions of fake view counts were deleted.

Having lots of professional pics is another way they make you think they are awesome.  This is one of the easiest things to do.  How hard is it to hire a photographer?  Or at least have your buddy with a nice camera take your picture on the Golden Gate Bridge?  Seriously, I don't know why we all fall for this, but it is in our nature to assume the guy with professional pics has better music than the guy whose profile pic is from their cell phone.  Do your research and actually listen to the music before you hop on the bandwagon, or skip past someone.

Long press write ups with quotes from sources you've never heard of is another method.  Next time you are reading a bio, and it says they have been mentioned in "such and such" magazine or website, look it up and see if it is a reputable source or not.

Getting a logo made and plastering it on T-shirts, stickers, or other merchandise, then getting a website to sell it all on is not a bad idea to make extra money and get your name out, but if you don't have shit to show for yourself, you are just a fake ass.

I love it when I hear DJs say, "I played with Skrillex", when all they really did was play the opening set in the side room because they handed out fliers for the promoter.  It always makes me laugh.  It is ok to say they have played at the same party, or been booked by the same promoter, but if you don't specify your role in the party, it is obvious you are just trying to pull a fast one on everyone.

Sometimes DJs won't put a track listing on their mixes because many people are too dumb to realize they are a DJ, not a producer.  Many people have come up to me after a set, saying that my production is amazing.  I tell them I'm not really a producer and I wasn't playing my own tracks in the mix.  They look at me with dead cow eyes and a befuddled look on their face when I try to explain that not all DJs are producers, and not all producers just spin their own tracks.  Many DJs try to capitalize on that very stupidity to boost their own name and fool people into thinking they are producers.  Maybe they didn't put a track listing down because they think people will assume they are all just exclusive tracks that only they could obtain, when in reality all their music can be purchased on iTunes.

Sometimes a DJ will have an agent, a manager, or a publicist when they really don't need one yet.  This is one way they can boost their fees and make you think they are in high demand.  They try to fool promoters who don't know any better.  Some try to pull that move on me, as if I am not paying attention.

Don't let any of that shit fool you either.  Sometimes you may see a producer with an insane amount of fans, but their music may be awful to you.  Trust your instincts and your musical taste, because people can buy fans these days.  Also people/fans don't want to be left out, so they may follow someone popular just to fit in, even though they may not actually like the tunes.  I myself have instinctually added a big name on soundcloud just based on the fact they have a lot of followers.  I may have never even heard their music or name, and by the time I do listen, I may think it is horse shit.

Every tactic I mentioned here is a really good way to promote yourself and get exposure.  I don't want you to think that promoting yourself professionally means that you are being fake, because it is essential to your growth.  I am merely saying that before you do so, you need to build your skill and actually have some weight behind your name before you go about it or else you will just look like an egotistical douche bag.  There are many really good artists that are just too lazy or uninformed to work on the promo and image side of things, but it is equally as important as the quality of their music.

The importance of a nice flier.

You know that saying: "You can't judge a book by it's cover"... well, no one really pays attention to that when it comes to events.  If your flier looks like shit, you are giving people a bad first impression of your event, and first impressions really do last a lifetime so to speak.  You may know a little bit about photoshop and other image editing programs, but unless you are a semi-pro, I would leave it up to the experts.  I see way too many events that just seem amateur, and although I may not trip on it too much personally, the people that don't know as much about the music scene as others may be turned away, especially if there is a similar event on the same night that looks a bit more professionally put together.

Clear and vivid imagery is essential, and the font should be something other than a Microsoft Word preset. is where many people go to get free fonts.  Your font should also stand out from the background and not just bleed into it, making it difficult to read.  I absolutely hate seeing some of the hippie fliers with a cheap stock photo of some computer generated psychedelic crap from 1994, and you can't read a thing.

It is also a bad sign if the text is too close to the edges or too close to other words.  There also shouldn't be too much info on the flier, just the most important stuff.  I know it can be expensive to get a designer, but if you have the extra $100-$200, it will be a really good investment down the line.

If you have a reoccurring event, maybe you can have the flier designer make a general flier that can just be edited week to week.  If they send you the template, all you will really need to change is the DJ lineup and the date.  This is one way to save money if you are on a budget.  Many people are starting to add QR codes to their fliers as well.  I personally think it is ugly, but it is one way to get info to people.

Local DJ over saturation.

People tend to get sick of seeing the same person over and over on local lineups.  There seems to be those same supporting DJs on every damn lineup am I right?  They may be awesome DJs, have diverse styles, and update their music libraries frequently, but eventually people will start to be less and less excited to see them play regardless of these factors.  This can even happen if a local person is a huge name but still plays more than once a month, especially if they only play their own produced tracks.  There is so much talent in the world, and especially in the major metropolis areas, that there really isn't much of a need to over saturate every event with only a handful of the same people.  You will burn people out on you.  Don't you ever wonder why trends change so fast, and some DJs change their styles so frequently?  It is because they get to a point where they are finding themselves irrelevant and snap into survival mode.  The next time you see a local DJ and reminisce about the 12 different styles they went through in the last 4 years, go to their upcoming calendar and I'll bet you they play at least once or twice every week.  Some DJs will argue that they are just changing with the times, or they are so diverse that they get bored with one sound, and to some extent that may be true, but more than likely they noticed they weren't drawing a crowd anymore, or getting bookings.

When I get asked to play shows, I try to only play 2 times a month at most, within a 50 mile radius.  When I book others to play, I factor how often they get booked which will determine if they will actually draw a crowd or not.  Sometimes a promoter will book you to play a show, then you add 4 more shows within 2 weeks of the event.  That is kind of a dick move to the promoter because they are hoping to use your name to build their numbers.

If you are only booking yourself and your friends at your own party, other DJs may start to think you are too full of yourself to share the spot light.  I also hate it when I see weekly parties that book their resident DJs in the headliner time slot.  That should be an obvious no no, so I won't even elaborate further on that.

We are in a time where you can't really blow up as a producer unless you can also perform live, and you can not blow up as a performer unless you produce music.  So unless you are a master of both, and constantly improve and diversify your sound, no one will want to see you every single week.  Not only does it spread your name thin, but it makes it seem like you are cheap and have no value.  You will burn people out on hearing you, and sometimes you can't recover once everyone is sick of you.  Spacing out your bookings will get people more excited to actually come out to see you play, even if you are just the opening DJ.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

So... your DJ friend blew up?

Don't get butt hurt if your now popular friend does not cut you fat deals anymore.  It is the natural progression of the hard worker to eventually build their way up the ladder and increase their worth.  You should be supportive and excited for their success.  Don't get all bitchy and say "they've changed man".  When you think about it, you are probably the one who actually changed for being a dick head friend now, that feels they owe you something.  Maybe they do owe you some gratitude for helping them in the beginning, but there are many factors on why they may not be able to play your show for dirt cheap anymore.

They may only be able to play a limited amount of times within a certain region due to contract restraints.  Their agent also gets a cut of their fees, so a hook up can cut into other people's pockets besides their own.  Sometimes word gets out that they are cutting deals.  Next thing you know, they are getting hounded by anyone who simply interacted with them once, asking them for insane deals that are rude and unprofessional.  Most DJs have a minimum too, so some other promoters may get all pissy if they find out they paid way more for an artist than you did.

Sometimes giving out deals makes people assume your value is low, or you fell off.  It can lower your appeal if people know they can just see you in the forest for free somewhere, anytime they want.  So why would they pay $20 to see you in a club?  That mentality not only damages the artist, but it makes the promoter, club owner, and anyone else involved lose profits.  This is a business after all.

The music industry is a lot different than it was 10 years ago.  Most of the money is made in live shows now, not record sales, so you are cutting into their main source of income if you ask for a deal.  You may as well, quite literally, reach into their wallet and steal cash directly from them.  If they do cut you one last deal, be grateful and don't guilt trip them into hooking you up all the time from now on.  Sometimes your budget is too low to afford them anymore.  Don't get mad at them if they can't work with your budget anymore.  I assure you it is nothing personal.

Maybe it was someone in your crew who blew up, and you are jealous.  It is natural to feel a bit of jealousy when someone surpasses you, but you should turn that jealousy into motivation.  Your crew is family.  Their success should inspire you to work harder to catch up.  That is the best way for a crew to work and grow together.  Don't be too shy to ask them to help you get to their level either.  Most likely they would love to see you at the top with them.

If you are the one who blew up, and are feeling guilty that you can't hook your friends up as much as before, you should realize that a true friend would completely understand.  Don't let people use you and take advantage of you.  I'm not saying to completely cut everyone off, and only do stadium shows from here on out, but try to be selective.

Don't get sick this winter.

OK, it's time for my germophobe side to come out.  This is probably the most random post I've ever written, but it's something to think about.  Now that it's winter, you need to take precautions when throwing multiple shows with many guests.  It is so easy to get sick because you are hugging tons of people, shaking hundreds of hands, or talking really close to each other's faces since the music is so loud.  Since your immune system is a bit lower this time of year, and you are exposed to more people than the average person, just take your usual methods of staying healthy a bit more serious.

Try to wash your hands more frequently or have some hand sanitizer handy.  Take some airborne or similar vitamins to boost your immune system before you go out, and try not to share too many drinks.  Also wipe your pipe after you pass it around.  You don't want to ruin crucial bonds by being too paranoid and not touching people, and some germs actually help you build your immune system, but just be cautious because you don't want to feel shitty with the flu at your own party.  Speaking of the flu, when you are in this line of work, and exposed to so many people, it is very wise to get a flu shot every year.  This is all stuff you should already know, but after getting sick a few times after shows, i just thought I'd mention it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gogo Dancers.

Obviously gogo dancers (even merely half naked ladies), are there to make men drool over them and they add a sexy flavor to the party.  Maybe subconsciously it convinces guys to drink more too, making the bar even more money.  Who knows the deeper psychological effect, if there even is one, but I do know these hot ass young girls make me go home alone, hating myself for feeling like a fat old loser.  That's a joke if you didn't catch the sarcasm.  I can't truly talk shit about gogos because I do have a penis, that is still fully functional, but there are a few things that I'd like to critique.

They absolutely must not suck.  I can't begin to express how unsettling it is to see a bad gogo dancer that just looks like a wet dog flopping around.  Have you ever met a hot girl or guy, end up going home with them, and the sex is just awful and awkward?  Well I feel the same way when I see gogos that either can't dance, or are just flailing around goofy and not sexy.

There is a difference between being sexy and just being hot.  Basically any young girl who is willing to expose herself in front of a crowd and bend over, is probably going to be fairly attractive.  Although, If she can't dance, or hasn't learned the subtle art of how to tease, or take things slowly, then she just makes me feel like a pedophile for staring at her with tunnel vision.  Speaking of young, don't have all your dancers just barely 18 either.  Not everyone wants to see only kids up there.  Have some variety and throw some actual women in your crew, and while you are at it, diversify your crew's race, height, weight and anything else that will set them apart.  What is the point of trying to get everyone's attention, and having mass appeal, if all the girls are just clones of each other.

My long time friend who happens to gossip with me while she cuts my hair, told me something that made a lot of sense.  She is a very attractive woman, but like me, she is getting older.  I was belly aching to her about some of the negative sides of aging, such as my hair thinning, and she said this to me: "You know Daniel, I went through that phase too.  The phase where you are still young, but not as young as the people you are surrounded by.  I work in this salon and I see all these younger, perky girls and I know I'm not the center of attention anymore.  It bothered me for a while until I realized that even though I'm not the youngest girl here, I am by far the sexiest."

That stuck with me and now I think about that every single time I see a young gogo dancer that hasn't quite aged into what true sexiness is.  It takes time to learn how to be sexy.  Anyone can wear skimpy clothes and shake their ass, but to really be into the music and let your body sway, instead of just slump over, takes a certain amount of practice and heart, and not everyone can master the art.  I'm far from the foreman of sexy, so I can't see myself even attempting to put into words what a girl should specifically do to be sexier.  I do know what makes my pants tight and sticky though, and I know that over doing it, is not what turns me on.  If you are trying too hard, you've lost me.  It should be natural.  The slightest glance in the right manner can melt me more than an off rhythm girl slamming her boney ass into my pelvis.  Learn how to tease and seduce, not just squeezing your jelly bean butt cheeks on some dude's half chub.

Gogos should be really into the art of dance in my opinion.  Not just a crew of slutty girls that want attention.  As I said before, these are just my opinions, but I think it is important to have passion for your work.  Take a fucking dance class at a community college or something, or Zumba at the gym for Christ's sake.  You get bonus points if you take pole dancing classes, belly dancing classes, hooping classes, do yoga, are in a burlesque troop, or a samba group etc.  Shit, if you break dance on the side, just marry me now.  These are all good ways to train your body to be more creative, agile, balanced, and even spiritual.  The ones that take the shit seriously are amazingly talented people and will actually make you think and be inspired, not just eye candy to jerk off to in the parking lot.  You can tell by their scars, bruises and other war wounds if they dedicate their time to their craft, unless they are just a meth head who gets beat by their pimp.  Go ahead and tell me to fuck off.  I know I'm insensitive.

I also hate seeing dancers hammered as fuck, or on so much molly their eyes are rolled back in their head, making them sweaty and gross.  If their lower back has sweat beads dripping down because they are dancing so hard, and not merely displaying a greasy, dripping, thizzed out forehead, then that is a different story (now excuse me while I FAP that first image out of my head).  Besides the fact that being super fucked up is unattractive, it is also dangerous as hell.  Not only to your physical well being and safety, but your health can be at risk too.  No one wants to see a dancer fall off stage and break their ankle, or have a seizure and shit.

I may be nit picking here, but it also kind of bugs me when dancers are singing/yeling the lyrics to songs to the crowd.  I don't know why it bugs me, but I think it just looks tacky.  You're not a fucking hype man.  That's just my personal pet peeve... or when they stop dancing and start talking to their friends in the crowd, while still on stage and the center of attention.  I just think it's unprofessional.  Go ahead and throw up a peace sign, or blow a kiss at your buddies, just be subtle and talk to your friends about kayaking later.  You are working and being paid.  You wouldn't see a runway model stop halfway down the lane to have a conversation with someone.  It just looks bad, especially on a big stage at a big show.  Also, this should be obvious, but please fucking shower and wear deodorant.  Dude, seriously!  I wouldn't even mention it if I haven't been around some stanky people.  It isn't often, but do you think people are gonna find that shit sexy?  I know you just got off work and had to rush over to the club, but baby wipes and perfume will not override hot buttery asshole cheese.  This goes for you too men!

And for the love of God, don't bring your damn boyfriend to the show.  Do you bring your boyfriend to your day job too, so he can stare down every other dude in your office that looks at you?  Are you fucking retarded?  This shit just boggles my mind when girls do this.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the appeal of a sexy dancer is that she is somewhat approachable (metaphorically).  If I see her making out with her man the second she walks off stage, or pulling him into the bathroom, I'm not as inclined to want to stare at her like the usual hornball that I am.

The dancers shouldn't be an asshole to the stage managers or performers either.  If someone in charge is politely asking you to get off the stage, or off a speaker, GET THE FUCK OFF!  They are asking you for a reason.  I have seen so many dancers flip out on someone that is just trying to maintain order on a hectic stage, and do their job.  I know you may be getting paid to dance, but you are not the authority figure here, and arguing with someone in charge, in front of a huge crowd just makes you look like a stuck up bitch.  Sometimes the stage needs to be cleared for the music acts, or the club's insurance may not cover a dancer in high heels prancing on a one foot wide, beer soaked speaker.  If I was a stage hand and some skinny girl was giving me lip in front of 2,000 people, I'd be so tempted to just pick her narrow ass up and toss her into the crowd.  Let all those horny zombies feed on her entitled flesh like piranhas, leaving just a crowd surfing skeleton with fuzzy boots on.

I'm joking again, obviously, in case you were too offended to tell, but you do need to respect the dancers and their needs.  I know it may be hard if they have an attitude problem, but let's put that aside for now.  They get a lot of shit from people and they need to have a certain hard edge to keep them protected from douche bags and drunk, aggressive, pieces of shit.  They are performers and you need to provide certain amenities for them to do well and be safe.  I know it may have sounded like I was suggesting just throwing them aside and not giving them special attention or respect, but that is far from the truth.  I do not mean to discredit the value of the dancer and all the hard work that goes into it (only the shitty ones).  Here are a few things I've noticed a gogo should have standard.  If I missed a few, feel free to let me know.

They need to have a sturdy platform or stage with plenty of room to move around, preferably out of arms reach of nasty perverted dudes.  Bouncers should always be within a few yards of them in case some shit goes down and they need to bust someone's skull open.  You also need to make sure your ladies are hydrated and get plenty of breaks.  Always bring them water in a sealed bottle and have a place for them to safely store it because rufies are real.  Have a bouncer escort them off stage to rest, preferably in a safe back room.  No one should be allowed to leave their drinks on the dancing area.  Try to have them on separate platforms from painters, or on a different structure from the band or performer, unless it is big enough to share, sturdy enough to handle her body movements, and she has enough room to move without slapping someone in the face.

You should always respect your dancers, but they should never take attention away from the music, or take priority over the music.  Maybe that is just me, but when I see promoters giving more attention to their dancers, and not the DJs, it just makes me sick.  Most of those sleazy promoters are just trying to fuck em all, and it's a damn disgrace.  If there are so many gogos that you can't even see the performer or stage, you've gone too far.  If your event was specifically made to showcase dancers, then by all means, keep the music listed as a lesser priority, but if your party is music based, keep it that way.

As much as I love seeing a half naked, young, sexy lady shaking her ass, it will never be as awesome to me as watching a skilled hula hooper, belly dancer, aerialist, fire dancer etc.  It is just way more interesting to me and can easily be just as sexy, if not more so, than a gogo at times.  You'd actually be surprised at how much more affordable they can be too, compared to some gogo dancers.  It is not always the case, but it should definitely be something you research and take into consideration.

(PS, I just watched 3 Bill Burr stand up comedy specials in a row, sorry if I'm all amped up)