Inconvenience and the Privilege of the Local DJ

Somewhere in Revaler Straße 99, someone is very pleased with himself

In this post, I want to make the somewhat counter-intuitive argument that there are some privileges to being a local DJ. In so doing, I’ll also explore how the privliges of being local intersect in surprising ways with vinyl/digital debates and ideas about expertise, labor, artistic value, authenticity, and so on. More broadly, I’ll be making some arguments about how privilege works in Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scenes and why this should make us re-think how we understand our commitment to the values of inclusiveness and equality that are part of the history of EDM scenes (if sometimes in contradictory ways). You might ask why I use the term “privilege” here instead of “advantage” or “benefit.” This is because the notion of privilege helps give me clarity about how the ease or difficulty of doing something can say something about the uneven distribution of access, opportunity, and resources in society. I’ll come back to privilege in a moment, but let’s begin first with brighter side of local-ness. (more…)

After DJ Bios, Comes Guest-List Etiquette

Just a few days ago, I wrote a satirical-but-I’m-only-half-joking post on “DJ bios,” the marketing strategics that go into them, and the clichés that make them sometimes absurd and unreal. And then, just this morning, a friend of mine sends me a link to another blog, where the author gives tips on “How to be a shitty plus one.”

Here’s a bit of explanation for those who aren’t familiar with this bit of shorthand: (more…)

The DJ Anti-Profile: How not to write a DJ bio

Well, I remember—back in the days when raves were promoted primarily by flyers printed on actual paper and distributed to record shops that had bricks-and-mortar storefronts you could go and visit—that a “DJ profile” used to just mean someone’s name and their affiliations to rave collectives…and, later, to record labels. Sure, those DJs that were big enough to have an agent probably already had a paragraph or two about them written down somewhere, but they circulated in a smaller, closed circuit of “professionals” behind the scenes. About 15 years later (for me, at least), even beginning DJs have a carefully-crafted “bio” to email to anyone, to bundle into their press kit, and to post on their blog, personal website, MySpace Music profile, Facebook fanpage, Soundcloud user page, Resident Advisor DJ page, and so on. The move of event promotion from paper flyers (where text space is expensive) to the internet (where space is cheap, but attention is hard to keep) has vastly expanded the amount of information we expect to have available for a DJ: a few well-targeted web searches about any particular DJ will provide you with a discography (including collaborations and remixes), DJ-charts (where a DJ lists his/her “top ten” records of the moment), several versions of the DJ’s biography, images of him/her, DJ-mixes/podcasts, videos of the DJ performing live, and—if s/he is doing well—a few interviews. These changed expectations mean that DJs launching their careers now are under enormous pressure to generate “media presence” at levels that DJs of the 80s and 90s never even imagined. In particular, the “biographic” aspect of the DJ profile has become an important element of career-building and marketing; and, like any other type of marketing, there are certain narratives (story lines, themes, events) that “sell” well.

In other words, there are clichés and standard formulas for writing a DJ profile, and (more…)