By Tony Fernandez
Google “playlists” and you’ll likely get the following results: Best 25 Playlist Ideas on Pinterest, Playlists from Spotify, Playlists from Soundcloud, Playlists from Tidal, The Ultimate Wedding playlist… none of which bode too well for the DJ industry, at least as we know it.
And there is no stopping the trend.
In a relatively short span of time, playlists have grown from innocuous lists of songs individuals put together to run, work out, enjoy in the car, etc. to defacto musical blueprints for weddings, parties, and life experiences.
I don’t want to come of like some old geezer that doesn’t embrace technology. I’m a geek with a very well populated hard drive and the skill to know how to use it. So I get that playlists serve a purpose: it’s how most people organize, cultivate and share their music.
But playlists are also dumbing down the most important aspect of DJing — music. And it’s happening on two fronts.
First, given the ubiquity of playlists, regular people (i.e. people with the potential to sign your paycheck) are under the delusion that if they can pick tunes for their life events, why hire you to do it. Of course, as professionals, we know it’s not so easy to string along a set of songs together and whip up a party.
Making a list of songs is easy. Making a list of songs work for a group of people in a harmonious, fluid, timely, and celebratory manner is hard.
Secondly, as the digital age of music has immersed our society in streaming the music we consume, DJs (to me) have lost the drive and desire to explore music and seem to rely on playlists to do their thinking. It’s akin to having a tiger in captivity and a tiger in the wild. If a captive tiger is being fed, that tiger isn’t going to be as sharp as the wild tiger that seeks out and hunts its food.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve all asked for help with music. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking advice, assistance, and insight from your peers. It just seems to me that there are far too many DJs taking the easy road and expecting playlists to properly execute a well-played set. I know that playlists are not going away. I’m not daft enough to even suggest DJs shouldn’t use playlists. They are a great resource when used to supplement your arsenal. But come on kids, don’t be lazy, don’t be complacent. Learn your music, learn your craft.
The benefits and rewards you’ll reap will serve you for your entire career.
P.S. I’ve recently discovered something even scarier about playlists. Companies like Spotify will soon be using the playlists being generated and shared by their subscribers to target market to those very same subscribers. But don’t worry about that, Google, Apple, and Skynet have bigger and better plans… J
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 firstname.lastname@example.org