Much like how Amazon.com is said to have killed the bookstore, we must ask ourselves, who is responsible for the demise of record stores? The fond memories for many DJs, who spent hours browsing CDs and even vinyl, are now a thing of the past. While a few small outlets remain, fewer DJs than ever are using them.
One of the main sites that DJs now use is Beatport. It is a fantastic site which not only categorises the track by genre, but also by BPM and key signature. This is certainly a more streamlined system than browsing physical records.
But it does come at a cost. Most large cities used to have numerous record stores, ones that catered to all sorts of genres. They often had second hand music which was hard to find anywhere else, and the lack of computer algorithms meant that you found music out of the selection available.
Sure sites like Spotify and Beatport are great, their programming is a great way to determine what songs you are sure to love, but that comes at a cost – it often tailors your taste to the taste of everyone else. You as a DJ are no longer the curator of the music. Software is.
So while you are guaranteed to get great songs for your set using apps like these, they can be a “closed box”, a vicious cycles which always recommends the hottest tracks that remove your edge. You know for sure that your sets are no longer unique and that other DJs are likely to be playing very similar tunes.
This is, of course, not an issue for any mainstream DJs, tasked with catering to the crowd, but it has removed the authority of many DJs as the people who are responsible for discovering new tracks and bringing them to the local music scene.
So while you would be stupid to not take advantage of the online resources, which are unparalleled in their ability to provide quality tracks, don’t forget to support your local CD stores. Push your boundaries and discover new music.
Even if it is old funk classics, your repertoire of music will expand and you will have songs that nobody else is playing. Songs that you can mashup in the studio, and create new cuts to truly define your sets as unique.