DJ vs. Producer: Is going DJ a Downgrade?

Them's fightin' words.

Posted by MShemel on Fri Apr 4, 2008

Music News
As solely a producer of primarily trance music, I have much to thank the celebrity DJís like Armin and Tiesto for. If it werenít for them, I would most certainly not have such a larger pool of listeners for my creations. Lately, we often see such big time DJís producing ďoriginal music,Ē which in some cases is questionable. The big timers have so many people at their disposal; I donít see how they are not being helped along the way, especially, if they werenít producers prior to becoming DJís. As much as I donít want this article to sound offensive to DJís, please understand that this is just an expression of personal opinion on subject matter that many producers question. So consider this an editorial.

My first point revolves around recognition. The one thing I canít stand most is the most common ignorant belief that the DJ is the one who makes the music itself. Yes, the DJ is an artist of sorts, and he will also give credit when due, but the listeners out there have either abused too many substances, or might just be a little slow. You might find it surprising that at the last Armin Concert I attended in New York, I was talking to some people who complemented his great melodies, excellent beats, and songs as a whole many of which werenít his. I canít blame Armin either. In his weekly show, he constantly gives credit to the producers of music. I donít see how the world of fans for this genre consists of a fair number of people that are continually unable to distinguish a DJ from a Producer.

Well, from a DJ perspective, one might say that the DJ is a producer himself. He uses songs like ingredients and mixes seemingly unrelated songs so that they may sound like a single continuous song. There is definitely skill in there. DJís add beats, mix and match sounds from multiple pieces, and basically bake the cake for the party. However, it feels like producers have been reduced to baking soda or vinegar, a minor ingredient. Many producers are forced to go DJ for financial purposes. I understand that. Many go DJ, hoping to gain enough momentum to begin producing original music again. I understand that as well. I myself, am going DJ, but not for financial purposes, but only to better understand how my songs should flow so that they fit in the plan of the DJ. Effectively, I am mixing to tailor my music. And to a certain extent, I find it quite fun to DJ. And I see all the challenges. But where is the real challenge. I suspect it differs for everyone.

For me, I find the challenge in taking a bunch of sounds and putting them together to make a song. A DJ, might make this song more popular. So basically, us producers are making something from nothing, and DJís are making something from something. Yet, while there are some well paid producers out there, there are some much better paid DJís. From a financial perspective it all comes down to image and marketing. It is more difficult to market a single artist, than it is to market multiple artists under the guise of a single person who mixes them together. The DJ adds some beats of his own. The DJ needs a certain level of musical understanding or know how to get his job done.

I guess it comes down to the single person. I have had the opportunity to ask the Hybrid DJís out there if it is more rewarding to stir a crowd with other peoples music or to see a crowd stirred up by hearing their music. The most common answer I get is that they love to stir the crowd up as a DJ, but with their music. But if they had to choose, they all told me that they would get a better feeling just watching the crowd react positively to the original creation. I feel the same. I have been experimenting with DJ equipment for several months now and it has helped me to produce some great tracks and there is a certain level of reward associated with a clean mix of two songs. But I must say, that regardless of fame, there is never a better feeling than getting a sound you imagined.

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