I recently finished reading an editorial piece over at DJ Tech Tools.com that covers a subject near and dear to me that I’ve had plenty of personal experience in. The article entitled “Will Producers Make DJs Obsolete?”, examines recent trends in technology and the EDM scene that have blurred the lines between producer and DJ and may ultimately make them synonymous despite their inherent differences. DJTT, however, claims that the bridging the gap between producer and DJ not only strengthens an artist in obvious ways but in some that are not quite so apparent.
Before we begin I have to remind myself that not everyone obsesses over EDM every second of the day, so I’ll be throwing out background info as we continue to evaluate DJTT‘s opinion. Bear with me though, this article offers up some amazing points for DJ’s, producers, and those who have interest in becoming either.
1. What is the difference between a producer and a DJ?
Essentially there are two types of people in EDM: Those who make the songs and those who play the songs. Producer only refers to an artist who creates original songs and remixes, while DJ refers explicitly to those who spin already made tracks. You can be one or the other, (often times both).
2. Why would anyone choose to produce when you could skip right to live performance?
Let’s be real, production is hard, I know this all to well as a producer of several years. Production requires some musical prowess, or at very least a damn good ear. Learning how to produce can take months if not years of invested time and the learning curve can be brutally steep at times. Production is not only time consuming, it can aslo be expensive. I, personally, have take loans out to finance my production set up, which now values a little over $3,000 (this doesn’t even factor in the amount of money I have lost by choosing to produce rather than work a ‘real’ job). Why then, would one choose to produce? The most obvious benefit to production is watching an idea materialize from inspiration into a concrete song. There are very few things in life that beat the thrill of pure musical creation (I know I have no life, shut up). Euphoria aside, DJTT argues that production hones some very practical real world skill that live-performance skips all together.
3. Ok, so what skills does a producer learn that a DJ doesn’t?
Great question! That’s the whole point of this article after all! DJTT breaks it down to a few points, let’s touch on those now!
One, producing music makes you on the whole a smarter person! Learning to think about the big picture is crucial in production, you learn to create and manage individual pieces that fit together to create a work of art. It’s tough work but this practice rewires you to think about the big picture with micro focus. DJTT never explicitly says it, but I argue that this equips you to be a better DJ, as you are able to apply your attention in your mixes.
Two, production introduces you to the business world. Spreading your own music helps develop business sense; how to network, license, and market your creation. There is very little difference in trying to sell an invention and trying to successfully market a track. Successful business in EDM allows producers to move up in an already mega-saturated market. DJ’s on the other have no actual good to sell but their time, so business savvy is much less important; they find a place to play, set a rate, and play.
Three, producers unlike DJs can collaborate. EDM is the undisputed world champion genre of collaboration. The nature of digital production allows for artists to link up and share ideas like never before. Hell, some artists have even made a career out of collaborations, I’m looking at you Aoki. Jokes aside, learning how to work with other producers and live musicians advances you as an artist and expands your horizons.
Finally, producers are more decisive. This is the only claim I had difficulty believing. DJTT suggests that production helps build confidence in quick action, “…there is no such thing as a music production decision with complete information. The best producers have a bias for making quick decisions and accept that at best 70% of them will be right.” I have met many artists who meticulously tweak tracks for months. I believe that patience is a virtue that separates producers from DJs. Sure, it takes patience to put great transitions together in a mix, but nowhere near the level of patience it requires to do something simple like creating synth patches and layering samples. In the case of production, I think haste makes waste, learning to be patient is part of the production game.
To wrap everything up… It’s pretty apparent that producers should have an edge up on pure DJ’s (Producers that DJ even more so). DJ Tech is on point with the benefits of production for the most part. However, I don’t see producers completely destroying the traditional DJ. DJs wont disappear all together, we still very much need the services they provide. Not every occasion calls for a producer to be behind the deck; clubs need warm up acts and entertainment on off nights. DJs can still throw down festival level sets that bring down the house even if none of the material is original. DJTT‘s resident controller god, Ean Golden is a perfect example of how face-meltingly awesome a pure DJ can be. Without a doubt I’d rather spend an hour listening to Ean rock out than an hour listening to a new bedroom producer run through original material. Ultimately, production brings some serious benefits, none of which however, come without serious hard work and personal sacrifice. Check out the original article here.
Do you think that DJs are a thing of the past, or is the producer DJ just the next step in EDM’s evolution? Leave a comment and join the discussion.
-Brett E. @brettedgerly