In case you’ve seen me mention ‘Record Pools’, well, these are organizations who are ‘recognized’ by the Artists’ Record Labels as either club or studio or mobile DJ professionals. And the ‘labels’ send me, weekly, hundreds of fresh cuts, re-releases & especially ‘remixes’ you might never be able to purchase.
Back in ‘vinyl’ days, the records would be stamped (on the label or jacket) with a warning: ‘For Professional Promotional Use Only’. No kidding, I’d visit my ‘pool’, pickup a weekly box of ‘vinyl’; take it home and ‘preview’ all the records. And back then, I’d have a ‘Feedback Card’ (written, yes) that I HAD, WAS REQUIRED to fill out once I played the record/cut/etc. in a club. You might chuckle, but back then if I wrote ‘needs remix/intro/outro’ or ‘scratch version’ or ‘instrumental version’, the next week I might get that requested vinyl in my box. And then I’d have 2-3 versions to spin on 2-3 tables (yep) for ‘transition mixing’ (yes, yes, yes….’disco’ mixes). Like in the picture to left.
What does this matter? Few reasons. First, you should know, we won’t be using any turntables or vinyl at your event. We use a ‘controller’ (newspeak for ‘mixer’ that uses ‘files’) For over 15 years, it’s been all ‘Mp3 files. So plenty of DJ’s don’t ‘pay’ for their music. They ‘scrape’ it from YouTube or Vimeo & the quality: not the same. On purpose, by the labels. I’ll leave it there. So when you make ‘requests’, that’s where they source., sometimes trying to ‘stream’ live & it’s crap, simply. Me? If it was published by an artist in the last 20-30 years & right up until last Friday, I own it. And ‘oldies’, classics, ‘old school’: same there. I have libraries of music files. We carry over 75,000 songs, BESIDES THE ONES YOU REQUEST AHEAD OF TIME, with us.
Second: if a DJ won’t commit to paying artists for music, imagine what the rest of his/her attitude is about ‘audio’; or lighting; or whatever. It’s like ordering ‘beef’ for your wedding dinner without knowing that ‘sliced roast beef’ from the deli is ‘beef’, vs a filet mignon or NY Strip. It’s just not right.
Did the Bee Gees create ‘Disco’, et al? No. Nor the dancing, nor the advent of the ‘DJ’, mixing danceable music in clubs. But…they made it more ‘acceptable’ & mainstream. For that…we actually have Eric Clapton to thank, but more on that some other time. (Ask me). No, the Bee Gees & the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’ ignited a generation of sociable ‘dancers’ to get together & act like ladies & gentlemen & just ‘dance’. It was an exciting time & I got introduced to ‘mixing’ (we called the mixes ‘changes’ back then) by a Professional DJ who noticed me listening intently to the ‘mix’, more than the music. Let’s just say, if it wasn’t for the drinking age changing to 18 & myself being 6’3″/210, I’d have never met the man who introduced me to ‘disco’, but more to what a ‘turntable’ was really used for. This was before Saturday Night Fever, but…pretty close to it. Anyway, one night he invites me in the ‘DJ Booth’, shows me the basics, teaches me about BPM & energy levels & says: ‘Robert, I think you can do this’. I did, successfully.
Let’s just say, a longhaired kid wearing RayBans, a tee shirt & shorts didn’t look like your ‘normal’ disco DJ, but over the next ten years, I worked more than I didn’t & I played in straight, gay, ‘more black than white’ clubs & yes, plenty of country line dancing clubs later on…but when I had the chance, plenty of ‘mobile jobs’ too. I was taught to make a ‘change’ (mix) by a Professional DJ who was taught by Jim Burgess, the ‘father’ of multi-table ‘riding’ & within a month, I had three & four turntable DJ booths. More on that sometime, if you wish, but here I was, this ‘kid’ with the ‘rock/country/etc’ music brain mixing ‘disco’ & blending it all together. Once someone asked ‘How do you start a ‘set’ with the Stones ‘Sympathy For The Devil at a disco’?”, I replied: ‘It’s all Dance Oriented Rock’ (DOR) & my future was cast.
Lotsa fun ‘war stories’, but fast forward & long story short: the ‘clubs’ begin to fade. The ‘life’ of working till 3 am (& later) gets tired. And guess what? I’m making more money at ‘mobile jobs’, with a lot less hassle & getting home to sleep (some nights) so …..that’s where I’ve been for the last 30 or so years. Working as a Wedding DJ & Event DJ, still ‘mixing’, still trying to ‘educate when I can but otherwise taking requests for music & putting sets ‘together’ better than the next guy. It takes a solid five hours, per week, to ‘keep up’ with the new music I get. Sure, I can skate through a wedding or party with songs from 50’s-2000’s, mixing the floor ‘just right’ to keep your guests hopping. But I also can take a High School Prom or Homecoming Dance & make Nicki & Ariana sound even better by mixing them with some history. Bottom line: any ‘service’ who tells you it’s about the ‘event’ is half right: the ‘floor’ & the ‘flow’ is my real job as a Professional Event DJ. And I love it more than ever.
So, how does being ‘dance club trained/tested’ differentiate me from my competition? Here’s a good analogy: imagine you train for four years at a time to compete in the Olympics. And you train three times, for three Olympics? Think an athlete who goes through that process learns things other athletes don’t? Believe what an athlete learned sticks with him/her for life? Well, working ‘dance clubs’ (discos too) back in my 20-30’s is just like that. You never forget how important ‘pacing, selection but especially mixing BPM’s & energy levels can be to a dance floor. Can it be learned on your own? No. It’s just that simple…I think differently, work differently & ‘produce’ differently than my competition. Most of them: ‘entertainers’ who play music. Me? a Pro DJ who ‘entertains’ you & your guests by taking the best music on earth & presenting it in a very special way.