Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 310: Rumours about DJ Download closing - the Truth.

Yesterday rumours emerged about about awesome DJ Mp3 store DJ Download closing down.

All the rumours seem to stem from the following alleged e-mail:

Dear Label Partner
It is with great regret that we have to inform you that DJdownload Limited has been placed into administration by the Directors of the company effective today.

The Directors have worked extremely hard over the past few months to try and save the company: overheads were reduced and attempts to increase revenues were made but ongoing efforts to raise further finance were unsuccessful. Despite their best efforts the company was not able to continue to trade.

We would like to thank you for your support and business over the years and we wish you all the best in the future.

If you have any questions with regard to UNPAID ROYALTIES from DJDownload Limited please contact:

MXXXXX WXXXXX - Case Administrator at Bridge Business Recovery


Phone: +44XX XX XXX XXX

Yours sincerely

Now this we found most worrying here at Bang the DJ. Not least because we are regular customers ourselves, and they offer a customer relationship much more considerate than other leading download stores.

The two main great features naturally being their consistently cheaper price, and customer reward scheme (1 free tune for every X purchases).

To this end we thought it only right to contact DJ Download directly asking if the rumours were true, and in minutes this is the reply we got:

The site has been bought by a new operator and we are looking forward to continuing to provide you with great tunes! There should be some improvements to the site in the next few months and we'll be adding even more content as we look to expand our offering!

So, it looks like this is rumour milling in action.

I then received this further official update later in the day:

Juno has stepped in to keep dance music store DJ Download online, after it went into administration yesterday.

Juno has bought the business and assets from the administrator and from today, will continue to run under Juno’s co-ownership.

DJ Download will still manage the site from their Battersea offices for the time being, but the music on the site will be supplied from Juno’s digital back-end. Their front-end operations will continue as normal.

Juno founder Richard Atherton said the combined strength of the Juno and DJ Download brands would make the download market more competitive and improve customer choice.

“DJ Download is a pioneer in digital music and a key player in the dance music business,” he said.

Juno Download was formed in 2006 by the makers of Juno Records, and now has more than 1 million tracks available for sale.

Meanwhile DJ Download prides itself on being a site made “by DJs and clubbers for DJs and clubbers”.

It is passionate about dance and electronic music of any kind and believes that the artists need to be rewarded for their talent.

The move is a sign of the times – in the current economic climate many online music retailers are struggling to stay afloat.

So it's official, for now they will continue to keep trading, continuing to offer DJs and electronic music fans the great value for money that has become their trademark.

Source: Official Juno Blog.




Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 309: Author Interview - Stephen Webber (DJ Skills)

As mentioned yesterday, we were lucky enough to pin Stephen Webber author of "DJ Skills" down for long enough to get him to answer some DJ related questions. Here is the interview in full:

What do you think draws people to DJing as a form of performance over, say more classical options like the guitar etc?

I imagine it’s different for everyone. People seem to know it down to the cellular level when they see something that really appeals to them. I remember a few times in my life seeing something and being overwhelmed by a feeling that “I want to do that!”

Whether it’s seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, or Grandmixer DXT spinning with Herbie Hancock, or seeing your first DMC World Final video, or seeing Kid Koala at a Radiohead concert, or whatever; things speak to people in different ways.

Stephen, in the book you give an excellent historical account of DJ culture. With that in mind what would you say are the defining qualities/Habits of a pro DJs (in any field).

First off, thanks for the compliment; it was really fun doing research for the history portion of the book and talking to everyone from Flash, Theodore, DXT, Herbie Hancock, Rob Swift, Q-Bert, BT, Paul Oakenfold, Shadow, Kid Koala, and dozens of others to try to weave together a cohesive story.

To answer your question, I’d say the most prevalent defining quality of successful professional DJs is first and foremost, attention to detail. Think of Z-Trip getting those mash-ups just right, Flash figuring out beat extending and quick mixing, Q-Bert getting all those ridiculous scratches so clean that they seem super-human, BT sitting in front of his computer quantizing the snot out of the rain or some other crazy, creative wild idea. These guys are all digging in.

Desire as well; a desire to make excellent music in this way, and a desire to share this with people and to move an audience.

With DJing popularity at an all time high, do you think there is still space for people to realistically make a career out of their passion?

Sure, although it’s certainly competitive. One of my recent alumni who is really moving up fast is Jason Dawson who goes by DJ JD. He’s the music director and resident DJ at the MGM Grand in Connecticut, he’s one of the best-selling re-mixers on, and he’s starting to get high profile gigs around the country. There are many other former Berklee students who are also doing great things and coming up; some are turntablists in bands, some are pushing the envelope in terms of combining live video and audio, it’s really rewarding to see them taking flight.

In the age of the digital DJ, how do you see the lines between DJ and Musician blurring even more (on the fly remixing, making re-edits etc)?

Now, it seems, the laptop is the main tool of both the musician and the DJ, and programs like Abelton Live are doing a lot to cancel out the distinctions between musician and DJ.

At Berklee, all of the students are musicians, and they love the different perspective that thinking as a DJ offers. Working with larger phrases over individual notes, layers of beats rather than drummers and percussionists, employing technology in different ways.

DJing is more accessible than ever, but what key tips would you give to someone just starting out?


The argument over vinyl Vs Digital will likely rumble on in Internet forums for years to come, but what is your personal opinion?

I love both. I use both. I personally see no reason to choose just one or the other.

I do think there’s something to be said for learning turntable techniques on vinyl. I’ve started using a Numark NS7 for digital mixing and I’m digging it.

What are the most common mistakes/problems you think people encounter when they are learning to DJ/be a better DJ.

The classic neophyte mistake is spending too much time in the headphones at the expense of listening to what’s coming out of the PA. The worst manifestation of this is sending something to the PA that you didn’t intend to when you’re cueing up.

There’s nothing more excruciating than watching someone sending what they’re cueing up into the main speakers, totally oblivious to the fact that everyone can hear them back-spinning.

In your opinion, who are some of the most influential DJs right now?

I love what Logic is doing in the jazz world. Q-Bert is always moving things forward, he and Yoga Frog are constantly pushing themselves to come up with new things, with their on-line DJ school and all. Z-Trip is proving there’s still plenty of interest in mash-ups; he’s always coming up with classic stuff.

5 Skills every DJ should have?

Great work ethic


Ability to read an audience

A highly developed sense of what to mix together, and when

The chops to pull it off

You lecture at Berklee College of Music, how is the DJ/Production element received in comparison with some of the more 'established' musical faculties?

It’s still a challenge. We’re still fighting for legitimacy, fighting ignorance. One of my students told me the other day about one of his other professors ranting about the turntable not being a musical instrument, saying, “play me a major scale on that thing and then I’ll call it a musical instrument.”

Of course, we’ve been playing scales and melodies on turntables for years. Check this out:

In the basement, in the modest turntable lab, we just keep making our music, making recordings (the Stylus Symphony record should be out in the spring), doing our gigs. Later this week, I’m taking an ensemble on tour to Finland. The group consists of two turntablists, sax, tuba, keyboards, multiple Emcees and vocalists. We’re having a blast with it, and eventually, DJs and turntablists will be better understood. It’s unstoppable.




Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 308: DJ Skills by Stephen Webber - Review

Last week we reviewed Web Marketing for the Music Business, this time it's the turn of "DJ Skills" by Stephen Webber.

The Author has over 25 years experience as both a DJ, and a record producer. Stephen also a professor of music production and turntable technique at Berklee College of Music. So you can be assured of his knowledge with credentials like that!

The book claims to be 'The Essential Guide to Mixing and Scratching' where you will learn;

  • DJ Skills and techniques
  • to Understand the tools and push the limits of technology
  • Discover the history of DJing from the masters
The last of those bullets comprises the first section of the book. While reading it, I must admit, that initially I was itching to get into the good stuff, the idea of reading interviews and gambits from various DJs seemed frustrating.

This was until I read it of course. With extremely interesting comments made by some DJ/Music legends like BT, Paul Oakenfold, Jazzy Jeff, Jam Master Jay and many more you soon find yourself getting very much into the mindset of the DJ. This of course works great for the following chapters of the book.

All the basics are covered comprehensively, though it might be fair to say that this text has a slight Hip-Hop/Turntablist leaning, more so than club DJing. This was actually great for me, as I sit more so on the Club DJ side, so a lot of the info was informative even having learned my skills on the beatmixing side of things.

So much so, was the interest garnered from reading interviews with old skool Hip-Hop DJs and scratching technique, that when I finished the book I promised myself that I would go out and buy myself a turntable (I'm all digital) as soon as I could, and make sure that I go back and learn these pretty fundamental, yet difficult skills.

The book focuses a lot on the question of is the turntable and instrument or not. A question that is intentionally left open to interpretation. The latter half of the book is where all the practical examples are, and it comes with a free CD too, complete with examples and scratch samples.

Over all a definite read for any DJ. If you are a club DJ then it's worth reading to make you consider broadening you skills, and if you are already set on being a turntablist, then this contains all the information you need to get started.

As with last time, Bang the DJ were lucky enough to score an interview with Stephen Webber himself, which we will publish tomorrow. In the meantime, head over to Amazon and pick yourself up a copy of the book.

Publisher: Focal Press




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 307: Digital music sales on the up. FACT

Music company whiners would have you believe their children are starving, and they can barely afford new 21" alloys for their Land Rover Wide Boy addition. Boo Hoo.

Conversely, and in fairness, I don't really buy this idea that they should be expected to change their business model just because people thieve music these days. Do you think the local corner shop would be looking at a shared milk and tea-bag monthly subscription service just because all the locals stole from their shop?

That said... I never really suspected that music sales were all that dire anyway. Yeah, I mean sure, compared to the 90s they will be. But that's as much to do with the fact that the big labels were loving it as they watched everyone 're-buy' their entire music collection to get it all on CD. That and the whole CD revolution, portable players, in car and the like.

Not to mention the popular bands of the era were also stadium fillers, unlike today's far more fragmented scene. Ravers kept the vinyl sales afloat, while hoardes of musos happily paid for quality albums from bands such as Suede, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N Roses, Moby, U2, Michael Jackson, Sonic Youth and many many more.

This decade to compensate, we have seen a constant churning out of mediocre pop, often under the banner "RnB". This is the one genre that still sells physical units, and the labels know this, so they have milked it for all it's worth, at the expense of actually fostering any talent. Typically going for the quick win. Well it's coming back to bite them now.

A good example might be someone like Duffy. Like her music or not, she has been an undeniable success of recent years. NOT however thanks to big lable talent spotting. She was actually gentle brought to the fore by none other than Rough Trade (one of the longest standing, while checkered independent lables ever). While not definitive proof, it is a nice example of the golden goose attitude of the majors being out witted by keen and dedicated music listeners.

Who would have thought that music fans might actually know a thing or two about music (big lables take note).

What does' all this mean? Well who knows, but I for one know that I am still willing to pay for music, I know that, because I still do. Probably more so today that a few years back, which is the final part of the puzzle for me.

When the technology to steal first became available, of course people went nuts. Like if someone bought in a plate of donuts into the office. However bring some in everyday, and the novelty soon wears off, they become sickening in fact.

Well this is what I think is happening with music. People have gorged themselves on the free stuff, so much so they are full to the brim after basically stealing anything they could, just because it was there to be stolen, much like munching on the coffee creams at the bottom of the chocolate tin. You don't really like em, but hell you might as well as they are there.

Now though that the thrill of stealing is over, we can all just get back to buying the music we like now. I personally like owning my music, and I certainly cherish mp3s that I have paid for more than one's I get sent as promos for example. There is something rewarding too paying for music (independent music at least that is) as I know this most likely ensures it can continue to be made.

Therefore I have been semi predicting better times for the music business for a while now, and the following graphic would seem to concur. OK, so it might not buy those 21" rims, because the money is being distributed in many more places (and importantly more directly) than previously, but maybe this is more like how it should have been all along.

It might not be the saving of the industry, in fact numerically cash flow is likely to still be on the decline. However it's encouragement enough in my eyes that people still want to buy music, just give them good music to buy in the first place, and it might not turn out all that bad after all.




Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 306: Yamaha Download new music producer portal

Yamaha make many things, some of which are entirely non music related. However, many of them conversely are. I never really understood the sort of company that might make motorbikes AND pianos. Oh of course, don't for get the tenori-on.

Therefore it's not entirely unfitting that they have just launched a music production and band site "Yamaha Download". Claiming to still be in BETA, but we all know that means it's fully working (but they aren't confident enough to admit it yet).

Expect interviews, features, gear and competitions, plus much more I would guess. Already they have a swathe of features, many relevant to the DJ and producer, such as this one on mixing desks.

They are also hosting a battle of the bands style competition, which while not relevant, does give you the chance to win £1000 worth of kit just for taking part, so be sure to check that out too...




Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 305: DJ Hero Daft Punk trailer.

OK so there has been a whole bunch of DJ Hero related hype over the internet the last week, with it's imminent release.

I've largely avoided it, mainly cos I don't have anything to play it on in the first place so there is no point me even teasing myself. A lot of what seems to have been written recently isn't all that positive. A lot of people complaining the price point is too high at $120 (About £100 for UK gamers).

That does seem a lot of money, you could buy some legit DJ kit for that much. Certainly a real direct drive turntable!

That all said and done, it's still pretty hard to no get a little bit amped about it when you see trailers like this:




Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 304: Take the iPhone for a Quixpin Full DJ app creeps ever closer.

The dream of a fully functional, easy to use and robust DJ app for the iPhone seems tantalisingly close. To the point where Quixpin, for all intents and purposes seem to have cracked it.

Sadly apart from the factors out of their control (Namely Apples baffling refusal to allow access to the music library).

That aside, quixonic have come up with some innovative ways of sidestepping some of the problems that the iPhone has in dealing with DJing. Most notably is the cue/monitoring. The iPhone only has one audio output, so to cue a track they cleverly split the audio temporarily into two channels.

This means you have the cued track in the left ear, and the master out in the right. The obvious limitation being that the tracks have to be in mono.

With a Y splitter though you could feasibly have one channel going to headphones and the other to an amp, which is not bad going.

The video below gives a great demonstration of the software actually working, so take a look and see what you think. I definitely think it's worth the few dollars if you want to play around with mixes on the move in the most convincing DJ emulation yet. I think I would still lean towards the Pacemaker for that though over all.

Good progress though.