For those of us old enough to remember when the tools of the trade were the same everywhere: 2 turntables, an analog mixer and vinyl, we also remember how our ability to use those tools were what “thinned the herd” as it were. Working with vinyl is an art form, whether you went the route of turntablist or blending there was more to it than cueing up records and playing them. It was more about feel than BPM. It was about understanding your crowd and your role in the club. You had to memorize your records, knowing each songs variations and intricacies in order to best use them effectively.
When tools like CDJ's became available, they were not meant to make everyone a DJ. They were designed for the vinyl DJ, offering features that would make our creativity come through easily. The byproduct of course was that it did make many of the most basic aspects of being a DJ much easier, allowing more people to become part of the culture. But there was still the investment and that was pretty pricey, which did help to limit the influx of new participants.
Then along came the Controllers. The invention of CDJ's and mixers placed into one easy too use package has made being a “DJ” more accessible than ever. Recently I myself made the investment, purchasing a beautiful Pioneer DDJ-SX2. And I did it not because it was my dream tool.....but because of economics. Its an amazing piece of hardware, but a full on investment into a complete DJ system did not allow me to buy what I wanted (a pair of CDJ-2000's plus a Mixer). Instead I had to compromise. I think that happens with a lot of newer DJ's when it comes to their tools of choice. Its far less expensive to buy an all-in-one controller and take that from gig to gig than the alternative options.
Thanks to the amazing technology available, one thing is definitely certain....developing the basic skills necessary to mix is far easier now than ever. I think that's where most of the issues lie between the new breed and old guard. What took me years can now be learned in months thanks to automation and tech. But that doesn't mean everyone who invests will be good at it. Sadly the world is now flooded with so called “DJ's” that can't even mix using the tools at hand and they are trying to make a name for themselves. And when they are not fully prepared for working in a club bad things can happen....as in the new rules at the LA club The Cure and The Cause.
Learning and applying the basics are one thing, becoming a Professional DJ is something entirely different. Even with all the tools at hand, you still have much to learn in order to call yourself a “Professional”. Clean mixing, great programming and the ability to understand that working in a club is not all about you, its about the crowd and the venue making money. There have always been new DJ's around, looking to grab a spot somewhere and earn a reputation...usually for less $$. So in that respect nothing has actually changed. What has changed is the sheer number of new DJ's out there...unprepared and cheap.
So in summary, being a DJ is not about the tools...its about the skill. Make the crowd love you, make other DJ's envious and make the venue money...and you can call yourself a Professional
I am DJ FreddyG, Creative Genius of Digital Visions Edits. I'm an old skool professional Club DJ turned Remixer....offering DJ Friendly edits to DJ's worldwide.