A dear friend of mine showed me the cards about six years back by informing me that the future of the DJ and his or her music collection would involve a virtual mass media storage service dubbed the “cloud.” A concept more than a service, there would be no need to worry about actually owning or carrying around a music library that would encompass a large chunk of hard disk space space on your computer or laptop. All the files would be retrievable in real time through the net, kind of in the same form as On Demand streaming for movies. So in the days on end in the bitter cold front of brick and mortar retail, the death of soliciting music on a person-to-person basis seemed way closer than we thought, having been a veteran in the music business for over 20 years.
So here we are, a few years later, and man was his prediction DEAD-ON!
Now, when a DJ “downloads” a track or “commits” to buying it, accessibility is granted with a hit of a virtual switch inside this great giant cloud floating around in cyberspace. No need to carry a hard drive or storage thingy! That’s a thing of the past. All the files are stored for you, but by who? And if they have your file information, what can they do with it? (Big question folks!)
This is where I draw a line in the sand in the ever expanding technology of the DJing business. I merely am trying to say- STOP THIS CRAZY SHIT! Nice try, but I am not going to swallow this pill.
In the beginning, I was taught by the best ears in the business that skill was just a small percentage of success as a working DJ. What it all boiled down to was who got to play it on the floor first. This little feat was referred to as “breakin-out” a record, and even Billboard magazine had a “club breakout” section. So getting new music was always a mad dash to the booth, week after week after week, after week…
Some of the inventive ways of getting new music played ranged from incorporating reel-to-reel tape machines in a live DJ setups and the pressing of acetates for around $30 a pop. Acetates are the cousins of regular vinyl records but tend to oxidize and wear out over a very short period of time. They were used as spec copies to ensure that the mastering process was sufficient in sound quality prior to mass pressings. But for DJs, it was a claim to fame in the clubs. And by Monday morning, everyone was talking about you!
So why am I bringing all this up?
Simple: A DJ’s music collection belongs to one person and one person only: THE DJ- no one else!
At one point in my career, a very popular rival record store retailer let me in on his modus operandi of the store’s point-of-sale schematics. His store tracked and stored the sales information of every record bought in its computer database, filed under the DJ’s name or account, so if one day, Larry Levan walks in and buys a handful of records, the store could store all his findings and later punch up all his account information and show his entire history, revealing every record he purchased. Do you see where I’m going with this yet? Did you link it with the whole cloud concept yet? OK, I’ll go on… So if anyone wants to know what records Mr. Levan bought, the information could be accessed and shared with the world, which can be a major conflict in terms of Larry Levan’s creative privacy as a DJ.
What do I mean by creative privacy?
I’m glad you asked!
Back in the first primitive days of hip-hop, before there were any rap records made, it was a live impromptu event done with the cutting of 2 identical records and an emcee (M.C.) The DJ was responsible for diggin’ in the crates and pulling out breaks from his or her personal record collection that drove the beat for the MC on the mic, and kept the crowd pretty fucking interested. But, these records were not just any records, they were the DJ’s weapons of choice that drew intrigue from other DJs in the crowd, who were sometimes guests at these events. Many DJs decidedly kept the titles of these breaks under wraps, and they even went as far as masking them in different record covers to throw off the “biters” (slang for copycats) And, they also went further and placed electrician’s tape over the titles and discernible features of the label’s artwork to keep their craft private. So what you play is your creative privacy – get it? Keep your music collection to yourself!
My private beat- not for the cloud!
DJing is and will always be regarded as an artistic craft. The music should belong to the DJ and not to some cyberspace service. So DJs, always keep your beats private and you will keep the heads intrigued and onto your every move. This cloud shit serves to shatter the individuality and originality of the DJ. With today’s technology, anybody can play the same 10 records, so work on owning your collection, and don’t share it with virtual the reality of mass storage: THE CLOUD.
Funny, we all thought Facebook was cool up until it was gruesomely discovered that everyone’s personal interests are a matter of exploit, and tracking one’s web browsing actions were transformed into the business of sharing links with the likes of marketing companies, which give plight to corporations that love to latch onto one’s privacy. No, I am not exaggerating!!! Just connect the dots!
Let’s face it. The cloud service should never be spotted near the domain of any artist or creative minded individual. It is designed for plain generic folk that are slowly becoming that big giant mass of generic nothingness, sweeping over cyberspace like a sea of evil. OK, maybe I am exaggerating just a little here… but it is that giant turd in the sky that turns everything to sludge.
If you feel that a hard drive loaded with your favorite movies or music is too burdensome to maintain, then you seriously need someone to open the fridge door for you when you’re hungry. I rest my case.