The State of Online DJ’s

Every so often, there is an experience that humbles you, brings you back down to reality and changes your course of action. No amount of power, fame, money or security you may have never really prepares you for this experience, but when it hits you know it has hit you. It is then when you realize a change has to happen and it has to happen quickly.
While I was in Vegas, I outlined what goals and accomplishments I would like out of 2007. My goals fit into two cateogories: securing my role as a DJ and to influence and build on the tools and experience that I have as a DJ. The new website design, the weekly show on RadioRadio is all apart of these goals.
It took a horrible weekend of DJing to make me re-evaluate the way I am achieving these goals – mainly that I’m not. It also reinforced how much I miss the experience of being at the bar/club – something that is unable to be replicated online. I feel that I am going about being an online DJ the wrong way, and I need to change my course of action. It does not matter how good of a DJ I think I am, I know I have failed as a member of the online DJ community. Today we online DJ’s have a lack of concrete tools than we had some few years ago. While technology has progressed, online DJ’s have been left far behind. It was from my horrible experience this weekend that made me realize much more still needs to be done to foster the online DJ community and how much needs to be done to make it a more creditable segment amongst the entire DJ community.

Here is a perfect example: online DJ’s have two major options to DJ with, Winamp and SAM Broadcaster. Both of these programs both lack features that the other has. SAM lacks the support of playing ACC+ files (as of this posting) and Winamp lacks the professional tools and plugins for streaming content such as audio overlays). Both lack the real DJ feel and features that Traktor 3 have – which lacks a LOT of the features both Winamp and SAM Broadcaster have. It becomes a major clusterfuck of what software to use, what techniques do you have to employ to get the desired effects and how to manage it all.
Even hardware wise, online DJ’s only have a few options to make their shows as roboust as it should be. I’ve found the best way to DJ is to have two computer systems – one strictly dedicated to streaming, the other strictly dedicated to taking IM’s, downloading, or being in Second Life/Anarchy Online/WoW/what ever virtual world I’m currently in. I am also finding out (through a lot of humiliating experiences) that a networked attached storage drive (or a NAS – essentially a hard drive attached to your network) is the best way to handle your music files.
While software and hardware are major issues, there’s still no one reliable source to get legal digital music. Granted it is easy to go to your local music store, get the CD and rip it, but then you may have to rename all of your files, make sure the ID3 tags are properly set, etc. Then again the price you would have paid for 1 CD you could have gotten 2 from iTunes, or most online services. Lets also be honest online DJ’s are not making a lot of money, and after they have purchased their content legally, they have to comply with licensing issues, which are a pain in the ass.
It took me one really horrible weekend to realize the set of circumstances that we online DJ’s are in (among other things.) A part of me feels responsible with projects such as the Online DJ Wiki and the Desktop DJ turned into ghost towns due to improper planning. It really makes me wonder why I continue to strap myself up for a gig every week, why I force myself to do this, as I have, for the past three plus years. Sometimes it is a listener, or fellow DJ’s or some sort of achievement I’ve made that reminds me why I started to do this. This time it’s the lack of tools that online DJ’s have, it clearly has to get better and quickly.

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