The Future of DJing revisited
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  1. #1
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    Default The Future of DJing revisited

    Hey how's it going everybody. I wanted to dive more into the article from Ean on the future of DJing (http://www.djtechtools.com/2013/08/1...-intelligence/) If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. To quickly sum it up, Ean speculates that eventually robots/computers will be capable of doing the job of a DJ, i.e. mixing 2 tracks and "entertaining" the crowd.

    I've been doing a lot of long term thinking recently and I always end up coming to a similar conclusion (eventually DJ's will be widely replaced by auto mix software). And really when you look at all the current tech and software on the market, everything is already in place for this to happen, but the only thing holding it back is that all the pieces are disconnected. So first lets look at all the necessary pieces.

    1) DJ/Mixing software: Traktor already has a cruise mode where it'll auto mix between tracks, not without some help (with fade in/fade out points) but with some refinement I think it'd be incredible easy for a programmer to set up more sophisticated transitions. Right now most programs basically have everything they need to create flawless mixes (they have key info, auto gain, energy levels in the case of FLOW). Really at this point how hard could it be for a programmer to create a transition that triggers song B to either start playing at a breakdown/vocal/or chorus. With Flow they've already been able to assign a value to various parts of the song. All a computer program would have to do is reference that number to determine where to go. Basically in this auto mix software the computer would run off one massive schedule. 9-10 could be considered open time so the tempo would be slower, 11-1 would be peak time so over the course of these 2 hours the tempo would gradually increase automatically. Now again people may wonder where will the software get the music from or how will it know what to play next. This brings us to the second piece of this puzzle

    2) People/mobile apps. As discussed in the article the software could detect people's tastes from their iPhone. Even if they're not the kind of person that actively listens to music they could go to an app for that particular bar and request songs for the night. Based on how many requests a song gets, the song will move higher/lower in the song queue. To prevent the same song from being played over and over, the program would basically have a rule that a song can only be played once per hour or something. Ever heard anyone tell you to change a song? Well the app would have an option for that too, play the next song! This again is just collecting more useful data as the app/software will learn how long a song should be played for. If this is all coming from a centralized database then it would be collecting this information from multiple sources/venues. The next question is where would the music come from.

    3) The cloud: This is where I thought DJ's would still have an edge. We'd have the edge by having a human touch for what's hot and what the best sections of the song are. But again one massive database could be gathering more info than we'd ever hope to. And if it's all coming from one place the song could simply contain pre assigned cue points for the all best parts of the song. So it could have the fade in/fade out cue points available and all the tracks would be gridded as well so that there isn't any errors. How could you beat a computer that has millions of songs available compared to your curated selection?

    Again all the tech and software is already there, it's just no one has connected it all.

    Now I have to agree that I don't think it's a matter of if but when this could happen. And although it got me a little frustrated I started to think about it from a different perspective. If this were to happen I don't think it'd be the end of DJ's, if anything it would present an opportunity to have a healthy DJ niche. Although a large majority of people may accept the computer dj, there would be those that reject it. In this scenario going to a club with an actual DJ would become the cool thing to do. If being hyper connected was the theme of the mainstream club then the underground club would be all about disconnecting. You'd pay with cash, you wouldn't be allowed to take your phone. You go there to socialize and interact with other humans, not be catered to by technology. Ah it's 3 AM and i'm tired so this rant isn't really connecting or having the impact i'd hope. To be continued.

  2. #2
    Tech Guru synthet1c's Avatar
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    I don't know how long you have been in the dance music culture, but have you noticed that at festivals and increasingly at headline/international gigs most of the crowd rarely dance anymore. Most of the punters just look at the dj and bob around a little. For that reason I would say that dj's aren't going anywhere...

    Also the pieces of having the selection done for you is already implemented in the three major softwares, but it doesn't work. Granted I use VDJ so the userbase would be different to Traktor or Serato but every song it suggests I should play is crap, and that userbase is in the millions. If your talking about getting songs from a smartphone think about the tracks you listen to on the go, and tracks you listen to in a club, they are probably very different. so I don't think a computer could replace the selection. If it replaces the mixing, as you said that's not a huge leap forward from software djing now, but where is the fun in that?

    So if my summary rings true and the dj is required, wouldn't the dj get bored on stage doing nothing but being something for the crowd to look at? For that reason I don't use sync.. because yes it's easier and gives you more time to do other things**, but ultimately even the most horrendous of dj's won't have effects running all the time and will probably get bored or self conscious about standing there doing nothing.

    Finally anywhere that would accept a computer program to mix music in their venue would ultimately be a shit hole that you wouldn't want to play anyway as it would be either commercial and r'n'b or restaurant backing music.

    For all of the above reasons I would say your job as a dj is safe and I don't think amateur producers will encroach on that because most crowds whether commercial or semi-underground want to hear tracks they know, not originals from an unknown producer for a whole set.

    **like ruin good productions with too many effects
    Last edited by synthet1c; 01-18-2014 at 06:15 AM.
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    Tech Guru 3heads's Avatar
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    Have you ever tried Beatport's Beatbot function? Out of the 20 tunes it suggests maybe 1 or 2 are remotely similar to the tune it targeted - if you're lucky, that is. Case closed.

    Quote Originally Posted by synthet1c View Post
    I don't know how long you have been in the dance music culture, but have you noticed that at festivals and increasingly at headline/international gigs most of the crowd rarely dance anymore. Most of the punters just look at the dj and bob around a little. For that reason I would say that dj's aren't going anywhere...
    I pity you, that sounds horrible. And luckily it's not like that here (well, can't talk about the mainstream crap, but frankly I don't care either).
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    Tech Guru synthet1c's Avatar
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    yep it sucks and that's in Melbourne, once the home of the shuffle and having a good time, now a deserted wasteland. All I have to say is don't let drug atticts destroy your scene.. When fools start dying the government steps in and spoils all the fun with tighter restrictions on licencing and more policing which will turn people away.
    Why did the elephant get lost... Cause the Jungle is MASSIVE!

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    I agree with synthet1c, a good selection is the most complex thing, even humans have trouble doing it. Creating a logic for a machine to use for selecting the best next track is something I can't even imagine how complex would be. It is art and in 2014 I still haven't heard about a robot that creates true art (that makes me remember I, Robot).

    I also don't use sync (software) cause it makes me so bored, minutes pass and I don't know what to do with my hands, I'm with synthet1c again, anyone artistically involved on this "robot" would be very bored, so, at the same time, wouldn't have the energy to make the crowd excited.

    Also, the presence of a well known DJ counts a lot. People will have fun just to be close to their music idols, and people will pay a lot of money to have this pleasure.
    Now, people paying a lot of money to hear a "robot"? I don't think so.

    Maybe, and thinking abou the FAR future, one day a machine will be able to create songs live. That would be something that I would pay to hear. Exclusive music made on the fly. But, again, it would be art, and we don't have art-creating-robots on our near future.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by synthet1c View Post
    I don't know how long you have been in the dance music culture, but have you noticed that at festivals and increasingly at headline/international gigs most of the crowd rarely dance anymore. Most of the punters just look at the dj and bob around a little. For that reason I would say that dj's aren't going anywhere...

    Also the pieces of having the selection done for you is already implemented in the three major softwares, but it doesn't work. Granted I use VDJ so the userbase would be different to Traktor or Serato but every song it suggests I should play is crap, and that userbase is in the millions. If your talking about getting songs from a smartphone think about the tracks you listen to on the go, and tracks you listen to in a club, they are probably very different. so I don't think a computer could replace the selection. If it replaces the mixing, as you said that's not a huge leap forward from software djing now, but where is the fun in that?

    So if my summary rings true and the dj is required, wouldn't the dj get bored on stage doing nothing but being something for the crowd to look at? For that reason I don't use sync.. because yes it's easier and gives you more time to do other things**, but ultimately even the most horrendous of dj's won't have effects running all the time and will probably get bored or self conscious about standing there doing nothing.

    Finally anywhere that would accept a computer program to mix music in their venue would ultimately be a shit hole that you wouldn't want to play anyway as it would be either commercial and r'n'b or restaurant backing music.

    For all of the above reasons I would say your job as a dj is safe and I don't think amateur producers will encroach on that because most crowds whether commercial or semi-underground want to hear tracks they know, not originals from an unknown producer for a whole set.

    **like ruin good productions with too many effects
    Alright i've got some sleep so now hopefully I can make more sense haha.

    I don't think DJ's are going anywhere but I think an automated system like this could wipe out a lot of people in the middle. Obviously superstar DJ's and festival headliners will be safe but if clubs had the option between a say a $100-$200 month subscription or paying that amount to a DJ each night, i'm guessing a lot of club owners would do what's best for the bottom line. This would also save club owners the hassle of ever having to dictate or "manage" what a DJ is playing. Now the owners at Mansion don't have to kick off DJ Shadow anymore for playing stuff that's "too future", once the auto mix software has been programmed, it'll behave the way it's supposed to every single time.

    I would agree I don't think the computer alone could select the right songs. That's where the audience request app would come into place, the collective audience would be selecting the "right" (current radio hit) songs. Really all it would take is a voting system and request count to "validate" that this is a hit track. And even though there is theoretically millions of requests people could make, naturally the "hits" would probably end up crushing the chart.

    As you said, any club that would employ this kind of system isn't the kind of club you want to play at, but maybe that's a good thing. Club owners can be satisfied paying for a music subscription and the mass audience gets to hear their hits. But then for those that truly want a different experience they can go to a club and hear a real DJ. For anyone that accidentally shows up there and demands the hits they can go to the cyber club. If anything it may actually create more respect for DJ's if this system was implemented. People may appreciate the fact that a DJ can take them on an unpredictable journey, unlike a automated system where you can see the track queue all the way up to closing time.

  7. #7
    Tech Mentor shr3dder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by synthet1c View Post
    yep it sucks and that's in Melbourne, once the home of the shuffle and having a good time, now a deserted wasteland. All I have to say is don't let drug atticts destroy your scene.. When fools start dying the government steps in and spoils all the fun with tighter restrictions on licencing and more policing which will turn people away.
    You're going to the wrong places.

    I live in Melbourne, the scene is fantastic if you know where to go/avoid.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniboy View Post
    I agree with synthet1c, a good selection is the most complex thing, even humans have trouble doing it.
    And let's not even get started with reading the crowd. Even if software should be able to determine what would be a good track to play next by musical criteria, it may be the worst track in respect to the situation on the dance floor.


    I'd say it's going to take some decades until computers will be able to replace DJs.

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    Tech Guru synthet1c's Avatar
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    to my knowledge there is only one club that plays good music regularly "brown alley" they have d'n'b, breaks, minimal, progressive. There pretty much used to be at least two of every style of club and regular raves and warehouse parties that were actually at night when a rave is supposed to be held that didn't cost $200 to get in to hear the same song on repeat and generally brought together many different genres and communities, I found a love for breaks and d'n'b at kryal castle.

    And all of the clubs that had a culture associated with them have shut down and now there is mainly shitty pop electro places with random crowds. Granted I don't go out much anymore as I'm approaching 30 in about a month and am far too cynical about the whole scene these days.. Now get off my lawn you young whipper snapper
    Last edited by synthet1c; 01-19-2014 at 06:43 PM.
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  10. #10
    Tech Mentor shr3dder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by synthet1c View Post
    to my knowledge there is only one club that plays good music regularly "brown alley" they have d'n'b, breaks, minimal, progressive. There pretty much used to be at least two of every style of club and regular raves and warehouse parties that were actually at night when a rave is supposed to be held that didn't cost $200 to get in to hear the same song on repeat and generally brought together many different genres and communities, I found a love for breaks and d'n'b at kryal castle.

    And all of the clubs that had a culture associated with them have shut down and now there is mainly shitty pop electro places with random crowds. Granted I don't go out much anymore as I'm approaching 30 in about a month and am far too cynical about the whole scene these days.. Now get off my lawn you young whipper snapper

    I'm approaching 30 too (29) so hardly a whipper snapper, also I went to a few of those old Kyral Castle raves, and I don't go out regularly but the Melbourne scene is thriving if you know where to go, it's quite easy to avoid the doucebag 'melbourne sound' and electro clubs.

    Yeah Brown Alley is good on some nights, but you're forgetting places like New Guernica (Hosted Danny Howells Friday night, Zabiela, Andrew Weatherall and Pedestrian coming up this weekend) Liberty Social (Hosted Hot Since 82, Jeff Mills etc lately), Survivor (Mayer this weekend, Mr G last weekend, every touring techno dj plays there) Mercat (again regular techno) MyAeon in Coburg also has loads of kick ass local parties (Phil K, Machine, Black Market et al)

    Plus there was a big warehouse (amalgamation of a few tech crews) rave a few weeks back in Yarraville, along with an open air 'illegal' party this weekend in Essendon (Bunker)..


    Send me a PM and I'll hook you up with a few promoter facebook pages so you can see some of the better sides of Melbourne...
    Last edited by shr3dder; 01-19-2014 at 09:23 PM.

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