DJ Music – The Future Looks Gloomy. Or Does It?

Major Record Labels Announce The Shift To All Digital Sales By 2012

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So you’re into DJ music. Remember the 8-track? I don’t. Do you remember those little plastic tapes? How about the mini-tapes? Nope and nope. You should remember what vinyl is like and how it all of a sudden became harder and harder to find. Now CDs are heading down the same path.

Last week, major record labels announced that the future is digital – which we all knew – and that they will be transitioning to all digital music by 2012. This makes CDs extinct like the vinyl, tapes and 8-tracks before it.

Theres a number of ways these changes will affect the DJ music industry and its fascinating to look at how digital DJing will affect the DJ music industry in the future.

First, what I find fascinating about the major record labels giving up on CDs is that vinyl lasted 50+ years before it was abandoned. 8-tracks were around for 20 years. So too were tapes after the 8-track. I remembet it took my parents YEARS to start using CDs instead of tapes. Now CDs have been eliminated in just 10 short years if you agree that CDs were actually dead close to 5 years ago. Each new music format we DJs and music listers use is killing off the old dj music format at an increasingly expansive rate. How quickly will digital mp3 DJ music files get trashed for the new medium?

Which brings me to the next point, what will the new medium be? When DJs were using vinyl, we couldn’t see past using anything but vinyl. Now we’re using digital MP3 music files and we can’t see whats next. How do you change the medium away from digital aside from just beaming it right into people’s heads? Digital is the last evolution we’ll see in musical medium. Or is it?

And what does this mean for DJing? Well the music industry still hasn’t figured out how to make money in a market where DJs & music listeners like you and I can download the music for free. The availability of digital music for free the day that a song is released makes it impossible for record labels and music download stores to make money. But the DJs and producers are still prospering.

The smart cats in the industry figured out years ago that charging for music was dead but that music still had value as a promotional tool. If lots of people like your tracks they will pay to see you live DJing so smart DJs and record labels have taken their focus off of making money from music and laser-focused it in on touring, selling merchandise and other celebrity type sponsorship and PR deals.

This all started when electronic band Radiohead announced (in the early 2000s) that it was going to release its new album for free on its website. There were two catches.

You could donate if you wanted to. You could pay $.01 or $100 for the album. Or you could pay nothing at all. What was the result? Radiohead made more money giving the album away for free than they would have if they had released it through traditional music industry distribution channels as most bands and DJs do. Whats even better is the exposure they got was HUGE. Instead of selling a couple hundred thousand copies of their album, they had tens of millions of people downloading and listening to their album. This is some serious exposure. This type of creativity is awesome but what will this mean for DJs, producers and record labels now that everyone is giving away their music for free?

And what happens to all of those CDs? Do you think DJs will keep using them? Do you think there will still be demand for them?

How about the DJ industry club standard of Pioneer CDJs and other DJ CD players? Will they no longer be needed in this world of all digital? Or will DJs continue to burn their digital tracks to CDs so they can have the full control that a Pioneer CDJ gives? (Sounds like the age-old argument that vinyl gives you more physical control and so it will never go away. We all know what happened there!)

Should you jump ship now as a DJ and sell your CDJs before they become worthless? Should you pick up a cheaper, more streamlined Digital DJ controller like the Numark Mixtrack Pro (by far the best)?

All in all, in the business of DJ music you either adapt and change with the times or you fall by the wayside. How many DJs have you seen rocking vinyl lately (aside from scratch DJs)? Not many. None of the top DJs play vinyl anymore and soon it will be the same with CDs.

I guess the only question left is what are we going to do with all of those left-over CDS?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below!

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