Vinyl vs. MP3: Is there still a debate?

Take a good look at this photo and see if you can guess what is missing?  OK… had enough?  The answer my friends is DJs.  Records are strictly for collectors these days, and I still surprised at seeing debates on other sites that still press the very thought of defining the authenticity of a DJ that does not use vinyl.  So, here’s my take on this bullshit issue:

Face it.  Vinyl was just a medium.  The main advantage of vinyl was its vast availability and exclusivity to performing in front of large crowds as a DJ.  It gave hip-hop DJs super powers that invited unprecedented leaps in the battle arena that gave new meaning to cuttin’ and scratchin’.  What made vinyl such a powerful weapon was the fact that you could not duplicate it, and, most of all, it had a vast discography in catalog pressings that fall as far back as the forties.  Vinyl for the producer was indeed the finest component as an inspirational tool when creating beats and samples.  The record companies are still kickin’ themselves in the foot for not saving it.  I guess it would be the same crisis pornography filmmakers are facing today: when it’s easily attainable, it’s just a cheap thrill.  The dog days are over…

Record stores were not just record stores.  To understand the complexity involved in getting a song or track in the hands of the consumer was a mere understatement.  It usually was a month long process to say the least, and if you were an indie, it involved a huge dosage of perseverance to try to get record stores to purchase direct.  This is what gave vinyl its power in the underground circuit.  If you had enough support, you could get it pressed and in the right hands to actually make a living at it.  Vinyl was always the proving ground for any career in electronic music, but when the digital format started rolling into town on those 5-inch shiny discs, the end of it was in the distance.  That distance lasted about 10 years, but what really killed vinyl was the MP3, and around the year 2000, the walls came crashing down when computer vinyl control records from Serato started showing up.

So, where does the DJ fall in to all this?  The object of the game has always been who gets to play it first.  This is what gave record stores the edge.  DJs use to come in right on payday and slop up whatever made it on wax so they can play it at the club.  The main edge was also the advent of getting your hands on an advanced test pressing or promo of an upcoming release.  Some DJs also went to the extreme of pressing acetates, which ran about $30 a pop.  They are a smellier and heavier vinyl looking product, but it made the DJ the king of the dancefloors.

An acetate pressing

DJing was an extremely costly hobby and the record labels were pretty much aware of it, as they flew their execs around the country for promotional events.  Artists got paid, even after the cut.  It was a beautiful world.  The DJ was a sight to behold in the clubs and parties.  There was plenty of room at the top, so you could actually quit your day job to sell mixed tapes.

Why would a DJ prefer MP3 over vinyl.  It is cheap as shit:

– you don’t need to buy it twice for doubles

– you can edit your own versions or remixes at the drop of a hat

– you can copy it as a file in less than a second, and pass it on to whomever you want

– if you make a track, you can release it in minutes

– there are no shipping charges to get it out around the world

– it is so cheap compared to traditional ways of buying music

– it is easier to actually take requests at parties or special functions mainly because you can carry around your entire collection on your laptop

– it also saves the environment (if you’re into all that…)

So, I hope this clarified the reason as to why you should never judge the authenticity of a DJ by what he uses to play, or what format he chooses to spin in.  You should really just shut the fuck up and educate yourself with all the music that is constantly released so you can actually appreciate the work being done behind that little lit wall called the laptop.  A good crowd is an educated one, and not a bunch of drunken asses that cheer for no apparent reason.  Sounds familiar?

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