Opinion – Why DJ technology advances such as auto-sync won’t change a thing
Written by Michael
September 6, 2012 11:13 am
Amateur DJs and EDM fans are up in arms, the new version of the Pioneer CDJ2000 contains an auto-sync button, potentially eliminating the need to manually beat match. Here’s a selection of comments posted up on the Facebook page for Toolroom records regarding the device:
“Sync button…WTF!!! Djing is dead! Everybody become dj!!!I’m a dj,I was born with the Old School…The Mighty SL 1200 and a little Battle Mix!…no sync,no electronic control,nothing!…”
“if people want to be a dj they should learn the hard way like we did back in the day’s by starting with belt driven deck’s using the finger and thumb and work there way up to direct drive decks and then in to the new equipment then they can say they are dj’s.“
“This ‘sync’ button will just mean that any person will now be able to dj! I’ve spent about the past 4-5 years trying to learn the art of it my self! How can you say as long as the music is banging would you rather have some one djing for ya that’s put in the effort and doing it the right way or someone that’s standing up there pressing play/sync and letting the machine do the work for them. No denying I think the other features on it are brillant but bring on the new age of glory hunters that want to be a dj not for the love of it but so they can be seen to be doing somthing cool!“
“Game over. Final breed of real DJ’s are on there way out. It’s not a hobby that you love that takes skill and practice. Its automated “look at me im a dj” thing now. How long you been mixing for? 2 months. Can you mix vinyl? No. I use tractor and my cdjs and press snyc. Brilliant.“
These kinds of comments are fairly typical, but they all miss the point. Beat matching, except in the very early days on the more ropey belt driven decks, is a relatively easy skill to learn. Time and time again, complete novices have been able to get their hands on a pair of decks and be able to competently match up the beats of two tracks within a few hours practise.
That’s not to say everybody can do it. Of course not. And that’s not to say that beat matching is completely devoid of any skill, but the reality is comparable to other musical, technical skills, it is relatively easy. Further, it is only one tiny part of DJ’ing. Being able to beat match is one of many, many small skills you need to build up to become talented on the whole. Track selection, ability to react to the crowd, showmanship, marketability, personality, these aspects all contribute to the success of a DJ also.
Let’s get one thing clear here. 99% of clubbers couldn’t give a toss about beat matching, or what equipment the DJ is using. What people care about is the experience and the music. Whether that’s a dingy basement drum n bass club or a massive arena trance party, people go to see DJ’s to see a performance.
It should also be made clear that just because I don’t feel beat matching is difficult, that doesn’t mean I think what people like JFB and Scratch Perverts do is easy. What they are doing is so much more than beat matching that it’s a completely unfair comparison. They are not just matching beats and cross-fading, they are mashing multiple tracks together. They are using their ability with the decks and mixers to cross sample the music to create whole new sounds. This actually furthers my argument, the beat matching aspect of their performances is probably the smallest part and it’s the first thing they learn. The fact that a house DJ who just cross-fades and a scratch DJ who creates mash ups can both beat match perfectly proves the point that in the grand scheme of DJ’ing as a whole, beat matching is only a minor aspect that is relatively easy to learn.
Does the CDJ2000 Nexus with auto-sync take the skill away from Dj’ing?
It also seems sad to me when some people complain that technology means “that any person will now be able to dj”. I fail to see how making DJ’ing more accessible to more people is a problem, and again it’s elitist. It’s basically saying that DJ’ing is a skill that only a select few people should be allowed to do. Which is complete nonsense, do artists complain about other people drawing picture? No – if anything in other creative industries wider participation is encouraged.
Even so, this particular model of CDJ2000 will retail for at least £1500, which hardly makes it more accessible any way.
The bottom line is this. Beat matching is a small part of DJ’ing, it is one small aspect of a broader set of skills. Auto-syncing won’t allow anybody to become a DJ because of this, even if you don’t need to beat match you still need to be able to select the right tracks and perform as a DJ for your crowd. There’s other skills also, many DJs have built their entire reputation on spending weeks digging out unknown tracks that the crowds love. Many respectable, pioneering DJ’s already use modern technology that some argue makes Dj’ing easier, Carl Cox for example uses Traktor. But people still go to see him, and he’s still one of the worlds best DJs. The technology, software and hardware you use is, in the broader sense, fairly irrelevant. And if it is made more accessible to a broader range of people to try their hand at DJ’ing then I don’t see why that should be a problem. Personally, the more that try than for me the better, as it could improve competition and force people to be more creative and up their game.
Anyway – what do you think? Please comment below, and keep it clean. No personal attacks will be tolerated.