Tag Archives: Music Format

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

Playlists. The Demise of DJing?

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 djtonytf@gmail.com

Music and DJs – Finding the Sweet Stuff

By Tony Fernandez

 

When I began DJing, I used cassette tapes. Don’t ask me how I did it, but I did. A lot of the tracks were bootlegged off the radio in NYC and then I’d bring these gems to VA, where I was in school (I was 14 at the time; I know better now). I quickly moved up to vinyl, eventually stepped up to CDs around ’89 and have been hustling for new tunes ever since.

Back then, I had established a network of people that knew me and knew what I liked. There were record stores. I knew the people in those stores and they knew me. There was mail order. I used to call 12” Dance in Washington DC, or Dancetraxx/Vinylmania in NYC more often than I’d like to admit. And there were record pools. Pools would have advanced copies and promo-only mixes that weren’t accessible to the public. Naturally I wanted those the most.

Having that new release or remix and dropping that track in your set is an awesome feeling.

It’s even a little sweeter, if you have that mix that no one else has.

I was fortunate to become a Billboard Reporting DJ for a time, which led to even more music that was not readily available to the public. Then the Internet happened. Napster happened. Limewire happened. WinMX happened. Audio Galaxy happened. The Internet became the great equalizer. Through legit (and sometimes not so legit) means, anyone could get almost any song created by any one.

And everything changed.

Music can now be streamed or downloaded at your desire: remixes, unreleased mixes, bootlegs, white labels, promo only releases, etc. — literally millions of songs and remixes await the click of a mouse. With a little effort you can find foreign edits and mixes done by DJs in the UK, France, South Africa, Germany, and more. That crazy version you heard at your club, concert, festival, radio, car, store, gas station, TV commercial, streaming service? Your chances of finding that version now are pretty high.

So if we ALL have the access, by and large, to the music being cranked out for public consumption, how do you find that unique banger that’s going to make you stand out? Trust me, it’s out there. There is new music to be found and new music to be had…

You just have to be proactive and find it.

 

  • If you just wait for your monthly subscription to feed you tunes, you’re not being proactive.
  • If you just echo what’s on radio, you’re not being proactive.
  • If you’re bemoaning the “fact” that there’s no “good” music, you’re not bring proactive.

 

Some would say (me included) that it’s part of your job as a DJ to seek, find, and play new tunes.

They’re right.

Be proactive in your approach. Be the proactive DJ you can be. Find those new tunes. Your crowds, your floors and your clients will thank you.

 

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

Music and DJs – Finding the Sweet Stuff

By Tony Fernandez:

When I began DJing, I used cassette tapes. Don’t ask me how I did it, but I did. A lot of the tracks were bootlegged off the radio in NYC and then I’d bring these gems to VA, where I was in school (I was 14 at the time; I know better now). I quickly moved up to vinyl, eventually stepped up to CDs around ’89 and have been hustling for new tunes ever since.

Back then, I had established a network of people that knew me and knew what I liked. There were record stores. I knew the people in those stores and they knew me. There was mail order. I used to call 12” Dance in Washington DC, or Dancetraxx/Vinylmania in NYC more often than I’d like to admit. And there were record pools. Pools would have advanced copies and promo-only mixes that weren’t accessible to the public. Naturally I wanted those the most.

Having that new release or remix and dropping that track in your set is an awesome feeling.

It’s even a little sweeter, if you have that mix that no one else has.

I was fortunate to become a Billboard Reporting DJ for a time, which led to even more music that was not readily available to the public. Then the Internet happened. Napster happened. Limewire happened. WinMX happened. Audio Galaxy happened. The Internet became the great equalizer. Through legit (and sometimes not so legit) means, anyone could get almost any song created by any one.

And everything changed.

Music can now be streamed or downloaded at your desire: remixes, unreleased mixes, bootlegs, white labels, promo only releases, etc. — literally millions of songs and remixes await the click of a mouse. With a little effort you can find foreign edits and mixes done by DJs in the UK, France, South Africa, Germany, and more. That crazy version you heard at your club, concert, festival, radio, car, store, gas station, TV commercial, streaming service? Your chances of finding that version now are pretty high.

So if we ALL have the access, by and large, to the music being cranked out for public consumption, how do you find that unique banger that’s going to make you stand out? Trust me, it’s out there. There is new music to be found and new music to be had…

You just have to be proactive and find it.

  • If you just wait for your monthly subscription to feed you tunes, you’re not being proactive.
  • If you just echo what’s on radio, you’re not being proactive.
  • If you’re bemoaning the “fact” that there’s no “good” music, you’re not bring proactive.

Some would say (me included) that it’s part of your job as a DJ to seek, find, and play new tunes.

They’re right.

Be proactive in your approach. Be the proactive DJ you can be. Find those new tunes. Your crowds, your floors and your clients will thank you.

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

4 Things No One Misses About DJing (and one thing you should!)

By Glen Ervin:

Crack a cold one with my dad and he’d inevitably fall into telling you how the Designated Hitter Rule and the equally un-American embrace of expansion teams ruined baseball.

Like father, like son.

Join me for a brew and odds are you’ll hear me go grumpy old man about my favorite pastime, too. My favorite go-to, inevitably: “DJing was better in the day.”

But was it really?

Decide for yourself. Let’s take off the rose-colored beer goggles for a look back at a few things I suspect no one much misses — and the one thing we may all have to say goodbye to forever.

Shopping for music – While I didn’t have to walk 15 miles uphill both ways to buy music when I was kid, I did have to make a 90-mile pilgrimage to the bright lights and big bins of Orlando’s Orange Avenue for the “good stuff.” It was there I would spend entire afternoons combing through albums, along with other preternaturally pale music nerds, some who are still friends today — none of who would trade the ability to download the newest releases from the comfort of their favorite chair for days gone by.

FUN FACT: In 1985 a typical album was $9.98. That’s $22.42 in 2016 dollars.

Lugging Crates – I never weighed a crate of vinyl, but if I had to guess I’d say it fell somewhere between    ‘are you kidding me’ and ‘call 911.‘ On the plus side, gravity did inspire me to pare my options down to well-planned playlists, the downside of which was that I could never plan for everything. Given my druthers (and my age) I much prefer the unbearable lightness of my laptop.

 Upgrading Formats – If my research is correct, and it should be because I didn’t do any, in the 1990s the record labels made approximately a bazillion dollars getting us to repurchase the same music we bought on vinyl on “indestructible” compact discs. The only thing I miss about that is my money.

 Vinyl – Here’s a dirty little secret you won’t see on the “Real DJs Spin Vinyl” threads spreading like Zika on social media these days: Even the best cared for vinyl will crackle and pop after repeated use. And as for vinyl sounding “better,” the lossless CD-quality files reputable DJ pools offer provide the same high-res 24-bit audio the artist hears upon studio playback. If warmer sounding is what you’re looking for, a few filters, a little mid-range boost and analog speakers are all it takes. Nostalgia does not equal great sound, just nostalgic sound.

The Sanctity of the DJ Booth – Not so long ago audiences expected a DJ to DJ. Just as you wouldn’t tell a plumber how to fix a faucet or your barber how to cut hair, you wouldn’t think of walking into a club and telling the DJ how to do his highly specialized job. The mere fact that he was at that club said it all: You went to that club to hear that DJ.

I miss that.

After being turned out to pasture following a 16-year club residency, Glen Ervin finds himself gainfully employed as Promo Only sales manager, media consultant and staff writer.