Digging for Diamonds

By Tony Fernandez

Through my travels on the web and through the various DJ pages, I keep seeing a recurring thought: The state of music, specifically current music, is at an all-time low. If that isn’t enough, that state of mind puts DJs into the frame of mind of: what are the good songs that should be played? The stuff out now is crap… blah, blah, blah….

I gotta tell ya, I really have no sympathy for the DJ who can’t figure out where to get “good” music. Let me explain my position before you flame me…

A long time ago in a galaxy not far away, there were these things called record stores. These record stores would have music on physical formats that people would purchase. DJs, at least the proactive DJs, wouldn’t go to a “regular” retail stores where troglodytes would buy their music. Nope. DJs would go WAY off the beaten path to find outlets that catered to them.

In these establishments is where bonds were formed, deals were made, fortunes found.

Now I’m not really going to wax on about record stores. That’s not the point. The point I’m trying to elucidate is: if you are lacking “good” music, go find it. It’s out there. Nothing worthwhile is just going to drop in your lap.

With the dawn of the digital age, record stores met their demise. As such, music is currently traded around, downloaded, and acquired in the digital scheme. That scenario, I think, has made a lot of DJs lackadaisical, complacent, passive and downright lazy to a fundamental aspect of being a DJ…

You have to dig to find that diamond in the rough. You have to put a bit of effort in your musical acquisitions. There is absolutely no reason to be obsequious in this aspect of your job. Make the time. It’s part of your job.

Just because you keep up with charts, subscribe to record pools and/or remix services doesn’t absolve you of keeping up. You really can’t just sit back and expect format radio to break the next “hot” song.

If you haven’t figured this out… format radio isn’t in the business of breaking music. Format radio is in the business of selling advertising time, to make money. They use music to do that.

You can’t just wait for your inbox to give you a notification that your downloads from the pools/remix services are ready and you’re good to go.   It’s not the job of record pools to pad your hard drive. Pools are at the mercy of the record labels and their release schedules.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of tracks that radio, the charts, the pools, the remix services are NEVER going to pick up on, play, or release. It’s incumbent on you to seek those out. To at least listen and see if something new and different is worth playing it or your crowd.

I also realize that people are creatures of habit. They like familiarity. They like things they know. They like things they’ve heard. I get that. I’m in no way saying that DJs need to play unreleased, white label, bootleg versions of songs to be cool or relevant. The vast majority of DJs play to the general public. As such, we need to keep our music programming recognizable. I do get that.

Since music now is in a digital medium, we ALL have access to the SAME tracks. (Pretty much…) We all are drinking form the same fountain, as it were. Because that’s the case, we need to set ourselves apart. Finding new music and/or remixes to current / popular music is an aspect that DJs need to take advantage of. There is good music and good remixes out there. Just don’t expect it to fall into your hard drive.

Keep ‘em spinnin’ and dig around a bit. You’ll never know what you might find.

Based out of Richmond, VA, DJ Tony Fernandez has been a DJ, Remixer, Producer, Musical Soothsayer and Audio Gear Oracle since 1980. Find him on facebook. Email djtonytf@gmail.com

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