It’s Friday night and you and your crew are going to a hip new place that just opened up and all you’ve been hearing is that it is the hottest spot this side of the Mississippi. You’ve taken the time to clean yourself up until you’re looking flyer than the sky. You’ve been on your cell phone all day calling and making arrangements to meet or pick up your friends. The plan is to head into this new spot with your clique on some “takeover mission” and have the time of your lives. When you finally get to the club the parking is a little bit of a hassle, but you and your crew manage to find a good spot and walk over to the entrance and stand in the line queue. Within five minutes your crew is inside the nightclub, the music is pumping, and you’re headed through the throngs of people to make your way to the bar. You get your drink and you and your friends head to the dance floor area where a hot new song is rocking the crowd and everybody is grooving. As the song winds down to a close, you feel it fading out and the crowd energy starts to dissipate. But then another hot song comes on and the people that had briefly stopped dancing start up again and the energy is starting to reach that high point again, and you? Yes, you are feeling it too! But then just as you and everyone else is getting into the new hot song, it suddenly stops and another song starts playing. Everybody is standing around briefly wondering what happened to make the hot song just automatically stop but alas, after a moment you let it go, because the song that’s playing now is “kind-of-ok”…. Then, as this “kind-of-ok” song is about to draw to a close, you and the partygoers momentarily pause your dancing as you feel another song “trying” to enter the fray. However, both of the songs playing together produce a jumbled noise that seems to last for far longer than it should. Finally, (after what seems like an extended eternity) the second song starts playing by itself and the crowd attempts to reenergize to the music. Wow; these multiple song variations repeat themselves over and over throughout the course of the night and by the time you and your friends go home, you’ve had an “alright night" but not a “great night” as you had planned (barring the fact that you and your friends only stayed in that one place the entire night). So, what happened? The club had a nice atmosphere, there were alot of people in party mode, the bartenders made you some really good drinks, you had a good time chilling with your friends, and you got to dance somewhat to your favorite tunes. In retrospect, it sounds like the recipe for an awesome night, but instead it was a sort of an “ehhh-nothing-to-write-home-about” night. Want to know why?
The answer is called PVF, or “Party Vibe Flow.” It is the one crucial element that separates real DJ’s apart from those who claim to be DJ’s, and in a general sense, decides what type of night that you – the customer – will have. In the example listed above, there was minimal or no PVF, and if the club had a PVF, then your “alright night" would have definitely been a “great night." Party Vibe Flow is extremely important and it’s solely the DJ’s responsibility, and it is this fact alone that singlehandedly controls the nightlife migration of partygoers in different cities. What type of DJ do you have at the club that you go to the most? Let’s find out…
For the sake of argument, we’re going to separate DJ’s into their two rightful groups…. First, there is the real DJ. The real DJ is an individual who has taken the time to study their craft and knows critical DJ concepts such as how to beatmatch, mix, scratch, read and interact with the crowd, and play and transition the right music according to the party that they are controlling. Real DJ’s practice constantly and consistently, and music is the essence of their life. Real DJ’s are in a constant search for perfection to their game, and no matter how great of a show that they do they always see room for improvement somewhere. Real DJ’s know their music like the back of their hand, they have a vast knowledge of music history, and they know the ins-and-outs of practically every piece of DJ equipment ever made. We could go on and on with the definition of a real DJ, but hopefully you get the point. Out of all of the DJ’s in this world, real DJ’s consist of approximately 10-15% of the people spinning tracks, and that’s being extremely generous.
The other 85-90% is comprised of so-called ME’s, or“Music Enthusiasts.” ME’s are individuals who swear they know how to DJ, but all they are are people who have large music collections and some extensive DJ equipment. Somewhere along the line, they decided that they can forego all of the learned DJ traditions, and just play their music for the masses without all of that beatmatching or musical knowledge stuff. ME’s have quickly learned that they can make just as much money in a club setting as a real DJ without having to go through the hassle of being taught or learning those aforementioned DJ concepts. Chances are that a huge majority of ME’s arrived onto the scene through the advent of digital music software. The popular notion is that back in the day ME’s may have been partygoers themselves and grew fascinated with the club life and the love that was shown for DJ’s at the time. Either secretly or openly, there came a time in their lives that they wished that they could DJ as well and revel in the notion of being the focal spotlight in a nightclub or party. However, access to money, music, equipment, and learned skills probably seemed too much of a hassle, so their dreams were forced to be put on hold. When the digital music software age arrived, all of their party wishes and club dreams became an instant reality, and ME’s quickly infiltrated a scene that was at one time reserved to a limited few. As with real DJ’s, we could go on and on with the definition of an ME, but hopefully you get the point here as well. On a side note, all ME’s have the opportunity to become real DJ’s in due time, for all it takes is desire and practice. Every real DJ was an ME at one time or another, but the main difference between the two was that the real DJ’s put in the time and effort to practice the techniques that they either learned or saw, while ME’s decided that this was an unnecessary step in getting to the same level.
So, what type of DJ do you have at your club? The differences between a real DJ and an ME is by far a long and glaring list, however throughout the numerous divisions between the two, the main rift comes down to one technique and one technique only. This sole skill is the modus operandi of all DJing functions. To an ME, it’s the hardest barrier to cross, but once it is traversed, it opens the ME into the world of real DJing and the endless possibilities that they could do with the music and equipment that they have. Crossing this threshold is kind of like being a Jedi and feeling the force for the first time or being Neo and seeing the Matrix and realizing the power that you have within you. It allows the DJ to look at their available music and equipment not just as party tools, but as integral parts of a mechanism which they can maneuver, shift around, create, and then unleash onto the world. Before crossing this divine barrier, hopeful DJ's desperately tried to match their abilities to the equipment that they possessed. After crossing through to the other side, a DJ's equipment had to be coordinated to their new abilities. This newly learned technique is the true gateway, and once crossed there is no going back. This sole technique is called beatmatching, beat counting, “speaking in bpm’s,” or in a literal sense, song transitioning. It could take days, weeks, months, or even years to learn, but once learned there is nothing that a real DJ can’t do. With beatmatching, a DJ’s skills are amplified to the point that their power is only limited by the equipment in their arsenal. This technique is the basis of PVF, and it is one of the determining factors of how your night as a club patron will play out. Because of the fact that it’s the actual threshold from going from ME status to DJ status, every real DJ can do a simple song transition. It’s like riding a bike – once learned it’s never forgotten, and it’s utilized to control the party atmosphere and produce PVF. The unfortunate fact is over 85-90% of the people who DJ for a living will never cross this threshold because for them beatmatching is too hard and it takes too much mind concentration. Their mode of thinking is basically this; “why learn a difficult skill when just playing songs in an unconventional order will suffice?”
The answer to this “ME-reasonable” question is simply “YOU – the partygoer.” As a partygoer who wants to go out and have an enjoyable time and spend their hard-earned money to make this happen, you deserve to go to a club where everyone that works there is at the top of their game, from the club owner/manager, to the bartenders/servers, to the security, and definitely the musical entertainment. As a matter of fact, when you go to a club, any club, you deserve the right to have every single facet of that club working at optimum efficiency for your enjoyment, and that includes the house DJ or the live band. Speaking of a live band, would you really want to go to a venue to hear entertainers who don’t really know how to sing or play any instruments? That is the same exact thing that is happening when you are at a club that has an ME on the decks and not a real DJ. On another note, would you want to take drinks from a bartender or server that continuously screws up your drink order or waters it down to the point where it is unenjoyable to even take a sip? That too is basically the same thing that is happening when you are at a club that has an ME on the decks and not a real DJ. Most people that go out to clubs to have a good time don’t realize this because at the time they don’t feel its true effect until after the party is over. They are too busy wrapped up in the aura of the nightlife scene to pay attention to exactly what their DJ is transitioning into. Three screwed-up song transitions in a row are quickly forgiven as long as the fourth song is something that you and your friends like. The funny thing is that a majority of the ME’s that play at nightclubs don’t even realize this as well. They are just playing the songs that they think will excite the crowd; however, song transitioning is a divine art and PVF is attained if done properly. Playing one song after another without any real transitions does not create a PVF, and you as a paying clubgoer deserves better. For example, during a four hour gig at a club an ME will play approximately 60-70 songs in a random order. Whatever song comes to mind, the ME will play it unrehearsed and untransitioned, and will more than likely let it completely play out, stop it suddenly or without warning, or even cause a “trainwreck” (two songs clashing together making an irritating noise) before proceeding to the next track. In the event of taking a request, in most cases the ME will insert it quick, and that also contributes to the disruption of any momentum they may have built.
On the other hand, a real talented DJ would never do what an ME does. During a four hour club gig, real DJ’s play exactly 1 song per night, which is consisted of approximately 100 songs blended together into a super on-the-fly mix. This “Super On-The-Fly Mix” has been visualized by the DJ and maybe practiced throughout the week, and it is designed and formulated to keep you and your friends on the dancefloor all night long. Reading the type of crowd, taking requests, and various moments throughout the night will alter it somewhat during the actual club night performance, but this super on-the-fly mix will never, ever waver from its intended purpose, and that is to create the ultimate “Party Vibe Flow”. The transitions are wonderfully seamless and the music is blended together in a way that an ME does not have the skills to do, but secretly wishes that they could do. The basic thing about a real DJ’s performance is that it is live and on point and awesomely credible; as a partygoer you can feel it deep inside with each song that is played. It’s not about pressing a sync button and letting their DJ software line up their song beats for them. Real DJ’s put in that work themselves, for they know when to transition in and out of a song and there is no DJ software on the market that can tell a DJ when to do that or read a crowd and do it for them. It’s also not about creating 45 minute mixes at home and playing it in front of a crowd either. Real DJ’s have too much pride and there is too much change and variety during a four hour club night performance to let their skills “rest” and let a mix try to do all of the work. Real DJ’s also tend to add on-time scratching, cool effects, and precisely placed voiceovers into their performance as well. All of this adds up to PVF, and that’s what turns that “ehh, not all that great of a night” type of night into that “wow – that was a hell of a night” type of night.
Still not convinced? Place yourself in an ME’s shoes. When you think about it, you, your friends, or anybody else can do what an ME does. Heck, a toothless monkey can do what an ME does. The only things that separate an ME from you is that they have audio equipment and a bigger music library than you do and they are paid to be at the club that you more than likely paid to get into. As a matter of fact, you could get behind the DJ booth of an ME and do the exact same thing that they do without even practicing. Lining up a song, pressing the play and stop button, and moving the crossfader back and forth between the decks (if they even use a crossfader) is not rocket science. You can easily spot an ME at a club because they rarely need or wear headphones. Headphones are used by real DJ’s when it comes to transitioning their songs. While you and your clique is grooving to the song that is playing, a real DJ is listening in their headphones cueing and prepping the next song to grace your ear canals. In the case of ME’s, why use headphones when they never transition the song anyway? It’s much easier to just play the songs in front of everybody with no transition preparation. A popular ME mode of thinking is that there are enough hot and popular songs on the radio that they could play to keep the crowd pumping the entire night. Unfortunately for them, 20 or 30 of the hottest popular songs will not cover an entire 4 hour span; they’ll need other music as well, and that is the exact moment when you will see an ME show their amateur ability. This is also the point when DJ’s have to think of a song to keep people on the dance floor and although a real DJ will have this easily covered, this is an ME’s “uh-oh” moment, and 90% of the time they will just throw something on that won’t mix correctly, or come out of nowhere, and disrupt the party groove they may have built. Most likely it’s one of those aforementioned “trainwrecks” and the ME will get that “WTF stare” from the people in attendance. That “uh-oh” moment will tend to get people to clear the dancefloor, but hopefully the ME can play something that can rebound off of the jacked-up music mistake they just created and get the club back into party mode. If not, then there really are no worries anyway because the ME is still getting paid and most of the people in the club will give the ME a pass for the screw-up. If that doesn’t happen, it’s possibly guaranteed that the ME is more than likely surrounded with a contingent of friends that falsely hype up the ME's non-existent abilities and don’t have the guts to tell the ME that they don’t have DJ skills. As a partygoer, you deserve better than this. You deserve optimum performance, and an ME will never be able to provide that, only a real DJ can.
The recent infiltration of ME’s into a highly revered livelihood has caused a lot of real DJ’s heartbreak, pain, and frustration. Whether it is by undercutting a real DJ’s salary, stealing gigs that should be reserved for real DJ’s, or by creating an image that the way music should be played on a grand scale is not that important, the effect can be seen in the decline of real DJ’s abandoning their craft. Real DJ’s are quickly becoming endangered, and ME’s are the direct cause of that. Because of ME’s, touchtone music players are quickly popping up in bars and clubs all over the world as well. To see this, one must put themselves in the shoes of a bar owner or manager as they read this. If you are a bar owner or manager that is paying an ME $100/night or more to play random song after random song, why NOT get a touchtone music player on your wall? Why pay someone with no mixing capabilities that much money every night when you can just install a touchtone music player on the wall and it will do the exact same thing? Plus, it has the added bonus creating extra revenue for you as well, because your bar patrons actually have to put their own money into the player to pay for the music that will be played throughout your club. You wouldn’t have to worry about any ME’s, DJ’s, live bands, or any other kinds of music entertainment, AND you’d be able to keep an extra $100 or so every week! Plus, this awesome music device will generate extra money for you. It is definitely an investment that will pay for itself in no time. But on behalf of the real DJ’s out on the market, a touchtone music player (or an ME for that matter) can’t read the crowd at your establishment and play the music accordingly. A touchtone music player (or an ME for that matter) can’t mix music or generate a seamless musicflow. Only a real DJ can do that….
Here at J.A.M. Masters, we feel that you (as the ultimate fun-loving partygoer or even a club owner/manager) deserve nothing but the best, which is why we thoroughly screen our DJ's that we work with and weed out any and all ME's. Your hard work over a very long week should be rewarded at a club where you can unwind to the music seamlessly played, wonderfully mixed, and brilliantly transitioned by a real DJ, not an ME. An ME has the limited skills to keep the club that you go to on a long list of places where you or any partygoer would like to go during a given weekend. However, a real DJ can put that same club that you go to on the “top” of that long list or even make that club the only place that you and your friends will ever want to go to, therefore squashing that list altogether! Please keep in mind that only a real DJ plays a vital part in keeping partygoers such as you and your friends, rocking to the tunes in that one club the entire night. Also keep in mind that only a real DJ (especially a J.A.M. Masters one) can keep you and the party rocking crowd coming back to that same club week after week after week.
So in conclusion, the next time that you are in the club trying to get your groove on and have the need to feel that Party Vibe Flow and you hear a series of trainwrecks or senseless music interruptions, go up to the DJ and ask him to start mixing the music better. Hopefully it’s a real DJ (who may have been temporarily off focus because he was trying something new and unorthodox) who realizes what he did and he’ll get back to work and restore that PVF with no harm done. But on the other hand, if that same DJ keeps up with those irritating habits, chances are that it’s an ME who shouldn’t be playing in a major club setting until they have developed some real DJ skills. Kindly inform the bar owner/manager that they need to get a real DJ who can keep the party flowing. Hopefully the bar owner/manager will see your point and act accordingly. After all, it’s all about you and the good time you deserve to have when you go out and spend your hard-earned money at a club. On that note, take care, drink responsibly, and get home safe.