Saturday, January 30, 2016

Da Spin Doc

by Professor Bob, from Blogging Hawaii 2 years ago.

I read with interest your blog on "Recorded or Live Music?" As we frequently point out, if it wasn't for live musicians DJs would have nothing to play. So please support live music and live musicians. Having said that...

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least
once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things."

Even a small band has three or four members. An average local band usually gets around $800 for a normal three hours gig. Some get much more, some less. So, any money must be split amongst the performers. Usually, DJs are a solo act. With a few exceptions, DJs frequently get paid a little less than a live band. But, DJs don't have to split the gig money. Instead, DJs must buy, update, and maintain their music library which is a daunting investment.

Regarding the "ambience" of live bands, it is true that some DJs are not visually very interesting or exciting. But, that is also true of some live bands. Some bands react and interact with their audience. Other bands play music and whole sets the same way they rehearsed and in the same order every appearance, as if there was no audience present at all. Some shy musicians never even make eye contact with the audience.

"Play it again, Sam" Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. 

Long breaks are common for live bands, but good club DJs strive to never stop the music over four hours. In contrast, at a three hour club gig live musicians sometimes end up actually playing for far less than two and a half hours. After three or four 10 to fifteen minutes breaks every hour, some dance audiences feel cheated. Club DJs attempt to edit and segue the music by matching beats so that over four hours there is no apparent break at all. If the music is blended properly one cannot tell when one song ends and another begins. DJs don't want to take a chance that anyone will leave the dance floor during "dead air," and thus tarnish their "always fill the floor" reputation.

So far the answer to "live music or DJ?" seems to be a wash. If you've got double the money, usually a live band is preferred by most folks, if only for visual interest. So, let's get to the music! Most bands specialize in a particular genre' of music, be it oldies, swing, Latin, Hawaiian, Jawaiian, country, rap & hip hop... whatever. A few talented "cross-over" bands can play more than one genre'. But no band can play all music genre's. However, DJs must, can, and do play all music genre's! Sometimes the evolutionary decision on what musical genre' a band eventually specializes in is based on what will sell the most bookings, rather than what a specific (and therefore limited) audience wants to hear. A little of this and a little of that.

"Tiny Bubbles" by Don Ho

That's why there are DJs! DJs can play any and all music, from and for any generation, at any time, for any purpose, for any audience, anywhere! A DJs variety, lower cost, and maximum flexibility versus a live band's visual interest or appeal, personality, and audience interaction seems to slightly tip the scale toward live bands. But, not so fast, think it over and do as you wish.