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The obvious places people think of DJs are places like nightclubs, festivals, places that are large entertainment venues. But with the especially growing ease of being able to acquire DJ gear, and practice DJing there are tons of other places DJs can become a viable form of entertainment.

This is for DJs playing house parties, beach parties, or maybe an easy bedroom setup. They all have dead easy set ups, as well as ultra portability without taking too much away from their usability. Let’s look at some of the options available.

Traktor iPad app:
Example: Traktor Kontrol Z1 or Traktor iPad app with a Traktor Cable:

The Traktor Kontrol Z1 mixer with the Traktor iPad app actually packs a lot of punch in terms of the features you’re getting. This is because the Traktor iPad app really has a lot of features included in it, and using it in tandem with the Kontrol Z1 still gives you a hands on feel with that important central purpose of mixing without sacrificing mobility or space. Even without the Kontrol Z1, the Traktor DJ app using a Traktor cable still gives a lot of capability to DJ well with a simple setup.

 

 

 

Mini-mixers:
Example: Pepper Deck’s Djoclate II Mini-mixer:

This little number is great for the ultra mobile. Its set up so that you need just two iPods and a set of headphones. This goes with the idea well because in the day and age it’s not unlikley for people to have two iPods, maybe an old iPod mini and an iPhone, or maybe an iPad and an iPhone. It just needs to forms of audio input. It would also be extremely easy to set up.

The problem with a number like this and other models of ultra small mixers is that although this mixer gives you headphones input to cue and mix, a basic iPod has no good native way to cue a track, so although the mixers set up to cue and mix two audio inputs, it just won’t work well unless you have something like a CDJ, and at that point you may as well just use a normal size mixer anyway.

 

 

 

No computer controllers:
Example: Stanton SCS4DJ Controller

For someone who needs to move their gear easy or fit in a small space this is a great option. The design has really taken in all the bare necessities of what you need to DJ on two decks, added in some other cool features, and removed the need for a computer.

The only thing that would worry me is just the same thing any non-computer setup is that using a computer make accessing your music library very easy. Not a huge deal though, this controller is really great idea giving a huge amount of features, good design and removing the need for a laptop.

Mainstream controllers:
Example: Traktor Kontrol S2

This is your go to controllers. Their tried and tested and used by everyone from big name DJs to your local bedroom DJ. These controllers are designed well and have been proved time and time again to work well with a ton of awesome features. This is without sacrificing space or weight, these controllers are still extremely easy to setup, and very portable.

The big drawback is price. These controllers are on the higher price range. The Traktor S4 can be pretty pricey and I don’t think a lot of people even know that the S2 exists. But worth the extra price.

If you want to learn more about DJing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School here at Spin-Academy.

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is a worldwide phenomenon. There are many that have no idea what EDM is or represents, but those that do are saving money and taking pictures and making treks for their next lifelong highlight experience.

Whether you’re a fan of the music or not, there is no questioning the scope and influence that EDM artists command from country to country. Sold out shows. Massive promotional dollars. Elaborate websites filled with merchandising opportunities… there is gold in them decks!

And, soon, more gold there than anywhere else if things continue. Why?

1. Low cost

Paying a band means paying a sum large enough to sustain two, or three, or more members. It also means paying someone to assist with loading in their equipment or schlepping it yourself. It also means feeding them in the green room. Doing a longer soundcheck so you can check all their instruments. And praying that the lead singer isn’t too ‘exhausted’ (read: hungover) from the last gig so that he or she can belt out those favourites.

On the other hand, you could hire a DJ. The DJ would bring in their laptop and a few other boxes they would set up. The sound guy would plug the DJ into the board. Levels check. Done.

Bands have their upsides, of course, and DJs have their entourages. But if you absolutely, positively want to turn a profit on your night, young promoter, get to know some good DJs.

2. No band drama

There are few things cooler than seeing a full band on stage rocking a crowd of people. All the moving parts, background voices, kinetic energy and passion are difficult to match in a DJ’s set.

But those moving parts come with a cost. A four-member band has four infinite possibilities of drama that could befall them. Arguing over groupies. Family members dying. Creative differences. Any of these and millions of other problems could kill a show date. And those possibilities go up exponentially with every individual band member you add.

One DJ. One potential strand of drama. Easy.

3. The Internet

The light shows. The raver chicks. The wet, sticky fans. Social media gold.

With every festival a new rush of pictures flood Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and any other social media outlets from the phones of fans who can’t get them posted fast enough. You can pay to promote your shows on billboards, websites, radio stations and everything else you can think of. But social media word of mouth is worth more than diamonds.

4. Arena shows

It used to be that if you wanted to see the biggest DJs perform for the biggest crowds you had to go overseas. Now, these massively popular DJs are doing arena tours that penetrate into the US. You don’t have to go to Ibiza or the Netherlands to see your favourite DJ turn a mass of fans into a sweaty, shiny undulating mass of revelry. Just take a road trip. And lots of baby wipes and deodorant.

5. Biggest festivals

Not only are DJs doing arena tours, but they’re also headlining some of the biggest festivals in the world. David Guetta, Tiesto, Avicii and many others are playing to hundreds of thousands of fans at shows in Spain, England and a growing number in the United States.

Until recently band festivals used to command the largest and most consistent crowds. But slowly and steadily EDM festivals are becoming more and more highly attended than any other types of music festivals.

6. Mainstream crossover

Some say it was the R&B sampling and crossovers of the 80’s in EDM’s inception. Some say it was the work of Moby and other DJs working with pop and rock singers in the 90’s. The easy choice for the credit is David Guetta and his rhythmic-pop crossover smashes co written with pop and rap stars. But the pop music explosion that EDM has experienced over the last few years has little to do with radio exposure and pop tunes. It’s been the scene itself that has sold it to the mainstream.

Websites like LastNightsParty.com and KirillWasHere.com take sexually charged nightlife photos from shows around the world and make them available for everyone to see…what party they’re missing.

Social media overflows with the colours and flashes of the latest summer festival to blow through the minds and wallets of EDM fans worldwide.

Radio has been credited over and over again with the explosion of various music scenes into the popular music spectrum. From early rock ‘n’ roll to the SugarHill Gang to New Wave to grunge and gangster music radio was the one to bring them to the masses first and most prominently.

But before radio could make Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’ (featuring Aloe Blacc) a #1 hit or play anything from the greatest DJs in the world, the scene was already worldwide. Few outside of Compton knew NWA before radio got a hold of ‘em. Even fewer knew of Nirvana and Pearl Jam when they were tearing up Seattle stages. But the DJs currently gobbling up radio spins and chart positions were worldwide superstars long before they first started to hit radio.

The EDM scene, unlike any other scene in music history, has promoted itself using mainly word of mouth and social media, to grow itself into the dominant musical entity that it is today. And it only seems to grow bigger and bigger with more and more festivals cropping up worldwide.

If you want to learn more about DJing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School Spin-Academy.

Music News
Apple is launching their new iTunes Radio service and it looks to be quite good. While there has almost always been a radio service of sorts through the iTunes desktop app, this new version will integrate with all your Apple devices. It will react intelligently to you your current listening habits in iTunes and you can also customize it to suit your personal preferences. For all of you that actually use Siri, iTunes Radio will be fully integrated so that you can talk to your radio.

In recent months we have seen iTunes begin to offer exclusive full album streams before the album is released (Daft Punk, Avenged Sevenfold, etc.). This feature will undoubtedly be used more and more as iTunes Radio takes off. They are also hinting at some iTunes Radio exclusive tracks from major artists.

It appears that the service is free to use, but will include audio and video ads from major companies. However, if you are a subscriber to iTunes Match (their subscription cloud storage), iTunes Radio will be ad-free.

On the surface this seems to be a no-brainer for Apple. They can drive sales of downloads, receive ad revenue, and also subscriptions to their cloud service all through a system that all i-product owners are essentially already using. However, right now iTunes Radio is only available in the USA.
The real question is whether this will put a dent in other radio/streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify…

You Can read more about iTune Radio here

DJ News
Pulselocker is a new streaming/storage/retail service designed specifically for DJs. Think of Spotify mixed with Beatport. A monthly subscription gets you access to their catalogue of over 4 million DJ-centric tracks. There is a tiered pricing model where the more you pay, the larger your ‘locker’ is. This ‘locker’ is a DRM protected folder on your hard drive that can contain 25-1000 songs for online or offline use in DJ software such as Serato and Traktor (with more programs to come). Once a track in your locker has become stale, just swap it out for a new track (like an old-school record bag). This way, you don’t have to purchase an entirely new set of tracks every month, you simply put new ones in your locker. You also will have the options to buy the tracks outright through iTunes and Beatport. The audio quality of ‘locker’ tracks is currently set at 320kbps, but WAVs and AIFFs will soon be available.

Check out their website

New Gear
Pioneer has been a household name in the DJ world for quite some time with both its industry-standard CDJs and a range of mixers. They are now looking at tackling another part of the DJ market; reference monitors. They have designed a new monitor dubbed the “S-DJ X” available in 5, 6, and 8-inch woofer sizes to appease the masses. They come with a host of built-in features such as an auto on/off, built-in equalization, and a wide ‘3D’ sweet spot designed with the DJ and producer specifically in mind. The S-DJ X will be available in September and will come in both black and white.

Top Mix
Montreal’s Tommy Kruise brings the first mix from the Dime MTL crew. Hazed out hip hop for late night roll sessions en route to the club.

Top Download
I seriously can’t get enough of Ta-Ku. This guy is like Australia’s J Dilla. The amount of quality beats he puts out is almost inhuman and we thank him for it. Listen and download his latest work on Drake’s “Over”.

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to learn more about DJing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School Spin-Academy.

There’s lots of information out there about different ways to get prepared for your DJ gigs, but what should you bring along ?

The Bare Necessities

You would think its easy to bring those basic things you need for a gig, but always make sure you have absolutely all your main setup elements before you leave.

Check to make sure you have your laptop, charger, sound card and some RCA’s. Helicopter pilots always do a preflight check this should be your pre gig routine to make sure you have everything you absolutely need. Write a list and keep it near where you keep your bag. This advice goes especially for DJs with lots of small parts, a couple controller cords and the like.

If you need to pack in a rush having a list makes it easier to quickly and easily make sure you have all your must haves with you.

The Extras

Always pack at least one or two extras of stuff you need. It’s not unlikely an RCA will stop working or a control CD will be too scratched or dirty to use. Anything its fairly easy to acquire it’s good to have a backup or two of, this includes things like:
-USB Cords
-RCAs
-Control CDs/ Records
-Extra Needles

The bonus is too, often times other DJs will not have these things prepared and it’s always nice to be able to help out a fellow DJ with an extra USB cord.

The Backups

Sometimes in live performances stuff goes wrong. I’ve had three nights in the last two years where my Serato box stops taking input from it’s CD players. All these nights I survived because I have an extra small MIDI controller that I have mapped to control pitch and cues.

Always be ready for something to fail. I try to carry a quarter inch with at least a set of earbuds somthing I can moniter with in case my headphones go. A controller in case my control inputs fail for whatever reason. I have a CD or two incase my laptop crashes, and an Auxiliary to RCA in case I need to jam my iPhone in quickly and throw on a mix.

Obviously you can’t be prepared for every situation but the more the better !

Remember, Arrive Early !

Make sure you show up early and be prepared with what the club has for you to use and what you have to bring. Controller users be aware of how big the booth is and how much room you have for your controller. Showing up early give you time to say hi to the other DJ and let you get almost set up without being rushed and disturbing them. Be polite in the booth !

If you want to learn more about DJ’ing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School here at Spin Academy.

I recently found out that I had been volunteered to be the DJ at an outdoor family event.  A ‘dance’ that was setup during a family reunion of sorts that would be attended by infants, teenagers, seniors, and everything in between.  This is not a typical scenario for me and I didn’t think that my usual DJ rig consisting of a laptop running Ableton Live, audio interface, and multiple controllers was appropriate.  The remote location of the event also meant that the P.A. and power supply would be limited, so having a low maintenance, plug-and-play rig would be essential.

I have been playing around with various iPad music apps and thought that this would be a good opportunity to do a full test on one of the DJ apps.  Initially, I was going to use the new Traktor app, but soon found out that my Gen 1 iPad wasn’t enough to run it.  Since Traktor was no longer an option, I went to plan B; DJ Rig.  IK Multimedia makes a wide range of music apps and I already had quite a few of their free demos (including DJ rig).  With a $1.99 price tag for the full standard version, it was an easy sell.

Features
Customizable deck display with Vinyl, Waveform or Digital Deck interface featuring accurate scratching engine with CloneDeck™ technology
Waveform display mode for ultra-precise visual cueing
Fast BPM detection and beat-map analysis with Tempo Sync and Beat Match
X-Sync mode detects the BPM from external audio sources and automatically syncs the audio/tempo of the internal decks (when used with iRig MIX)
Advanced looping section with continuous loop surface; create loops with tempo divisions always to the beat; manual and slip mode
12 effects: Delay, Flanger, Crush, High Pass Filter, Low Pass Filter, Band Pass Filter, Comp, Auto-Wah, Phazer, Fuzz, Reverb, Stutter, all with X/Y touch interface control (all 12 effects are included in full version of DJ Rig for iPad, and are available as in-app purchase in DJ Rig for iPad FREE)
6 new “creative” effects (available via in-app purchase): Noise, Tail, Brake, Spin, Twist UP and Twist DOWN
On-the-fly expandable sampler with 9 pads and multiple sound banks (expandable via in-app purchase)
Live sampling functionality with volume and pitch control
5 visual cue points per song (1 built-in plus 4 available as in app purchase) and Auto Cue for automatic first-beat positioning
3 crossfader curves for customizing fades and crossfade filter
Direct access to iPod Music library and playlists
AutoMix Feature for automatic mixing of playlists or entire library
Live recorder allows recording of full mixing gigs
Supports/plays all major digital audio formats including MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF
Multiple output configurations for virtually any audio setup

The Good
The basic mechanics of a 2 deck setup work well in DJ Rig and the option to use a vinyl, CD, or waveform interface make it an easy transition for DJs of all styles.  There is quite a bit going on in the visual layout, but for the most part, it has been laid out in an intuitive manner.  A couple minutes of playing around and you’ll know your way around the app.

The waveform analysis worked surprisingly well for a mobile app and accurately put a beat grid to most of the songs.  The range of loop features also worked quite well including the slide gesture function to build a loop roll from 1/16 – ?.

The X-Y grid for effects works fairly well, although you can only use 1 effect at a time.  The 6 effects that they provide are basic staples that most DJs use in some capacity, so while you can‘t go completely crazy destroying your tracks, they offer a basic toolkit

The Bad
I was not a fan of the volume and gain pots (are they still called pots if they’re digital?).  It’s difficult to control with the same level of precision as a physical knob.  This was also true for the tempo slider.  In addition, the lack of key locking makes the finicky tempo slider even more awkward.

While I like the idea of the sample pads, the default samples and configuration are not ideal.  There are additional sample packs that you can buy and you can also import your own samples.    If you spent a bit of time configuring everything to fit your exact style, the sample pads might be an effective tool.  However, my goal with DJ Rig was to have a ready-to-go easy alternative to my Ableton Sets that I put hours of prep work into, so I thought this feature was somewhat lacking.

The lack of cueing ability is also a major downfall, but this is true for all apps that run straight from the iPad.  However, IK Multimedia has a solution for this; they have created a small external mixer that works exclusively for DJ Rig.  While I didn’t get a chance to try it out, it seems that this small piece of equipment would fix most of DJ Rig’s pitfalls.

The Verdict
I needed a cheap and easy alternative to my full Ableton Live setup and I think DJ Rig provided  well.  The low price point, intuitive interface, and stripped-down cable needs make this a great backup plan for any DJ.  That being said, this could also be useful for the young DJ-in-training who wants to learn some of the basics.

I wouldn’t recommend using this for any paying gigs, but for a backup plan at random events, DJ Rig is definitely useful.  There are 1/8” mini jacks available in many places (including cars!) so setting up on-the-fly is a very real possibility.  If you have $1.99 to spare and like to play on your iPad, I say download it!

Check the DJ Rig website…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to learn more about DJing and gear we highly recommend you check out our online DJ School here at Spin-Academy.

About Spin Academy

Spin Academy is an online DJ and music producing school. At Spin Academy our goal is to give you the necessary skills to unleash your true musical creativity, and carrier potential. We have a huge library of high quality up to date video tutorials featuring some of the most successful DJ’s and music producers in the world.

Questions? Give us a shout at support@spin-academy.com

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