Working the turntables

Only within the last five years has the electronic dance music (EDM) scene exploded. What was once underground has slowly fused into popular culture.

Much of the credit can be taken by the rise of technology, the new opportunity to create and share music among friends and world wide. With this comes a host of new talents, particularly in the availability of upcoming DJs and music producers.

“Today, dance music has become so massively mainstream, artists are all making songs with DJs. The Doors and Skrillex, Madonna and Avicii, Rihanna and Calvin Harris,” said Laurier student Matt Burk, the host of Electric Dance Music of Radio Laurier.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of EDM, the road to becoming a well-known DJ has its fair share of obstacles.

As any rookie would know, the fundamental skill to learning how to DJ requires the ability to match beats.

However, with online music sharing sites at a premium, to truly become a quality DJ, the talent to match bars, phrases and harmonics becomes essential.

“Don’t expect yourself to become internationally recognized unless you have the full package,” said Burk. “Most importantly, you need to know how to promote yourself. It doesn’t matter how good you are if nobody is listening.”

Social networking has become a primary tool for aspiring DJs in creating awareness for their music, proving to be an efficient way to get word out about their music, social media is removing the middle-man music label and is reaching the public directly.

The internet has become a weapon in maximizing exposure, allowing anyone from anywhere to promote themselves and their music.

Time commitment is a crucial component in developing a DJ’s sound and brand, a novelty most often overlooked.

“I’ve been DJing for two years now. I practice every day and I’m still not the best DJ I know. It takes a ton of dedication, far more than people would think,” said Burk.         “I couldn’t tell you the number of nights I stay at home working on music while everyone else is out having fun — I put in around 20 hours a week, mostly in collecting and mixing music.”

Despite the independent role that an aspiring DJ must take on to get noticed and heard, the rewards to be reaped are worth it.

“From a promotional and production point of view, production companies make more money hiring a superstar DJ over a big rock band.

Rock bands need highly expensive individualized equipment, specialized speaker equipment, roadies and trailers — not to mention there are usually four or five members to pay.         All a DJ needs is a memory stick for music and the venue itself,” said Burk, then raising the question, “Which sounds more profitable for a production company?”

Venues such as Beta in Waterloo provide a medium for which many successful DJs entertain their fans, often selling out their tickets well in advance. Regardless, the uprising trend of EDM doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

“Never have I found subject matter [EDM] as potent in creating bonds between people. You meet someone who also listens to dance music and right away you find yourself a new friend—it’s an unbreakable instant connection for all electronic music listeners,” revealed Burk, whose Thursday night radio show has a loyal following of listeners.

Without a doubt, EDM has become an open field of creativity, revolutionizing the way that music is created and enjoyed.

This helps explain the explosion of up and coming DJs on both a local and worldwide platform, each finding a way to stand out amongst each other. “Electronic music is the future of music”.

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