Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Club Etiquette: The DJ

Ah yes we've reached the 3rd and final installment in the MGG2SL chronicles for Club Etiquette. Now we shall sit and explain in further detail what the DJ does for club on Second Life®.

For this article, it was very difficult to pick just ONE DJ to consult since as an SL® DJ myself I know quite a few. I decided to ask Rosie Barthlemess, the DJ Manager of Lounge of Dreams since she's been as much of an influence on me as I have upon her.

So let's talk DJing...

The first, and most obvious job for any DJ is to play live music for a location. To play that music you need 4 basic items:

1) Music
2) Microphone
3) Digital Player
4) Stream

Music is the easy part since most aspiring DJs already have a decent library to start with. As far as getting new songs? Most folks use Limewire since it's fast and has a very broad network, though you don't have to be limited to using that. Also, be willing to expand your musical genres. Rosie suggests, "There's a lot to be said for versatility. I think it will open some doors for you as a DJ if you're able to accommodate not only the venue in which you're playing, but the varied tastes of a crowd if you're somewhere with no specific format. And, by paying attention to different genres -- even if they aren't your favorite kind of music -- you can increase your knowledge of those other genres, and sort of keep track of what's popular." You should also have your download program open during your sets if possible so that you can get patrons' requests played as quickly as possible.

Quick requests = better tips

Oh and before I move onto the next topic...

BACK UP YOUR MUSIC!!! I've seen too many DJs who've had their hard drives crash and their hard earned libraries deleted. I hate to be a hardass about this, but you don't back up your music then you're just asking for trouble.

A microphone is also a must since you have to talk to your audience. You don't have to spend a fortune on one, however. A decent $15-30 mic should do fine as long as your voice is crystal clear when you talk. Most lower priced gaming headsets are perfect for this... and if you already are using Voice Chat, then you have a double benefit.

Now here comes the tough one... the music player. Unless you plan to be serious about it... there's no reason spend a bunch of money on a digital player, right? If you want to just 'try it out' and deal with the basics, then Winamp is your bag. In fact some DJs still use Winamp because it's just much easier to manage. If you do want to take the next step, you can download SAM (Spacial Audio MediaCast) which has many more options to make your DJ show unique. You can download a free copy to try out and tweak, but Spacial Audio did the sneaky thing of throwing in an automated voiceover every 5 minutes that "reminds" you buy the full version.. and yes it -can- be heard by everyone else hearing your stream. You're better off paying for it in the long run or *cough*finding a crack code*cough* to use instead. Be warned, though... there's a BIG difference between SAM Broadcaster... and SAM Party DJ. Learn more about SAM here.

Finally... you gotta have a stream to play your stuff on, right? Now in -most- cases a club will provide a stream for the DJ already. In some rare occasions (like for store openings or private parties) the DJ will have to provide his or her own. Which is the best? Well most folks I know use SHOUTcast, but there's dozens of stream providers out there to choose from. Prices and payment plans vary, but do shop around and look for things like bandwidth and internet security. If you plan to DJ for established clubs, then you probably don't have to worry about getting your own stream. If you're a more freelance DJ, then mentioning that you have your own stream will be a big boost to getting you gigs.

Now beyond those four things, there is some other details you should keep in mind.

Just like with Hosting and Dancing, NEVER beg for tips. You can kindly remind folks where your tipjar is ('cause tipjars on SL® can be anything from teddy bears to coffins & so often patrons get confused) "...but as soon as people feel like they're being pressured for their money, they'll leave. I think begging for tips is unbecoming, definitely," sez Rosie.

Last but certainly not least, you need to learn how to feel the crowd. Rosie suggests on the topic of how often to speak on the microphone, "...if you ask five DJs, you'll get five different answers. I vary, anywhere between every 3-5 songs, to once an hour, to every 30 minutes or so. I really find it depends on the crowd, how many 'announcements' you have to make, things like that. If I'm with a group of 3-5 people and I've just spoken on the mic, and then suddenly 10 people come in, I might break back in after one or two songs just to introduce myself and offer requests, if I don't do it in chat. But, if it's a core group of people and the dynamic of the group hasn't changed much, I won't talk as much. But I think talking on the mic adds a personal element, and I think letting people know you're live and paying attention to what they want is a benefit." Also don't forget that dressing up for the event you're DJing at shows that you care not only about the club and all the other staff members' hard work, but also helps the patrons get a better idea what the event is. After the host and the dancers, they look to YOU for information from how you look to how to talk on the microphone.

Okay this ended up being the longest of the three posts, but in truth there's a LOT to DJing that goes on behind the scenes which makes it just as tough as Hosting and Dancing. I give a great deal of thanks to Rosie B for her input and hope that this 3-part series has given you all a bigger view of what club employees on Second Life® do to keep YOU entertained.


Rosie Barthelmess said...

Yay! Thank you, and thanks for the lovely afternoon. I'm proud to be a part of your series. :)

Jim said...

Covered all the bases Guen, +1 as always. +1 to Rosie too.

How about customer request etiquette?
Don't request a band/song that was just played. Great for you that you love the song/band but not everyone where you are at feels the same way..they may have just got done thinking to themselves "Thank god that is over."

If you are at a club that plays a specific type of music, and you KNOW it, do NOT request something that is a polar opposite. Maybe this is just personal pet peeves, but if the DJ is cranking Cradle of Filth..you should prolly not be requesting Bryan Adams...

One last one since I am on a roll..the DJ is not your personal jukebox. Go ahead and feel free to make a couple requests, but 5 or more in a two hour event at a public place...not so much.

Of course there are always exceptions, but I think these 3 things are what I've heard the most complaints about from DJs


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the extra imput, Jim!

I knew the post was getting a bit on the long side and I had already covered requests & club theme to a degree in the overall club etiquette post a while back.

Oh and I looked back at Rosie's shirt she's wearing in the photo and -finally- caught the Spinal Tap reference! LOL

Thank you Rosie for being you, and of course for being there for such a fun afternoon. :-)

Anonymous said...

Really good article on Club Etiquette, but I would like to chime in on a few things:

1) Getting music through limewire is highly illegal. The RIAA are still looking for people who use limewire and other P2P software to gather music. As well by obtaining music in this manner your never guaranteed great quality. I would highly suggest going either through iTunes or Amazon MP3, yes it does cost some money but you are always guaranteed quality music, and it's much easier to gather music from it rather than a bandwidth hog like limewire.
2) If you are looking for free independent music, you may want to check out iodapromonet
3) YES! I cannot stress how not backing up my music has hurt me in the past!
4) There's really little difference between Winamp and SAM Broadcaster if you use it a certain way. I would highly recommend looking through the Winamp Plugin's to see what you can use to help mimic some of the SAM Broadcaster capabilities.
5) The last thing I would add, is before performing, perform a mic test! :-D

Cecille said...

Thanks for the 'club etiquette: the dj' post :( Unfortunately I missed one little thing ... sure there are dj's who TALK. But I rather do the talking through my music, I'm a MIX dj playing dance/house/electronic.

My tip to the MIX dj's - study your music library. Knowledge of your songs is very important and of course practice mixing as much as possible! Learn how to sync those songs XD *brrrr* My ears start to bleed when I hear people messing up the sync.

And if you're not a 'talking' DJ, don't call yourself a DJ when you simply play a tracklist in winamp. That's not art, that's stupid *growl*

Xiomara Mendes said...

I wouldn't recommend using iTunes to download music since the files are encrypted and may not stream if you use, say, Shoutcast. A good service I've found is Alltunes (formerly allofmp3.com), which is cheap, legal, and is not encrypted. Depending on what style of music one spins, emusic is a good resource as well.

I'm going to co-sign on Jim's comment when he said "If you are at a club that plays a specific type of music, and you KNOW it, do NOT request something that is a polar opposite." I think after about 5-7 songs in a set, you can get a feel for what type of music the DJ is going to play. I purposely avoid clubs that don't normally play the type of music I spin (soul/funk/hip hop) but I've gotten some out of left field requests in the past. As far as I'm concerned, if what I'm playing is not your taste, you're not under any obligation to stay. I certainly wouldn't go to Sanctuary Rock and demand they start playing Stevie Wonder!

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for the additions and suggestions! I knew I was forgetting a few things (like other places to download music).

Yus I know Limewire isn't 'legal' per se but it is one of the most popular places to get music quickly for requests.

I've always said that it's only illegal if you distribute the music. I may get my music from others who distribute, but once it hits my hardrives it doesn't go back out.

I may do a Patron post later but we'll see. :-)

Amanda Shinji said...

Being more of a club orientated DJ, I don't actually use a mic at all, I'm usually too busy mixing the tracks live with pro DJ software. SAM and Winamp are fine if you want to pre-load a bunch of tracks into your set and talk over them, but thats more akin to a radio DJ as opposed to those of us who mix 100% live, no gaps, everything beatmatched and synced... The club DJ.

Personally, I don't take requests, never have, never will. People know what I play, they know my styles, the genres I cover and my announcements inworld also reflect this, so they already know what to expect when they TP into my location.

Music isn't the be all and end all of DJing though. You might have the latest cutting edge, hot of the press promos etc. but if you don't know how to mix the tracks or in what order to play them, you'll fail to entertain the crowd. I've had this argument with live musicians in RL and SL who claim that us DJs aren't as skilled as they are, forgetting that a lot of us decent club DJs also produce our own music and remixes (I do) etc. making us musicians as well. The DJ is there to entertain the crowd, to take them on a journey, so playing a fast banging track and following it directly with a slow ballad is a massive no no etc. It's not just what you play, it's when you play it.

I really don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but there is a huge difference between the Playlist DJ and the Club DJ and personally, I'm proud to be one of the latter.

Anonymous said...

Ok so what is the etiquette on tips for DJ's. I mean if I'm tipping every DJ i come across I will be broke before no time. I would like to know amount and frequency of tips.

Amanda Shinji said...

There is no etiquette on tipping us, if you like what we do and want to tip a DJ then go ahead, if you don't, no one is going to stand over you with an iron bar, beating you until you pony up the dough.

There are no hard and fast rules. Until very recently, I used to ask people that if they wanted to tip, they paid the charity donation kiosk in my club, but that'll all stop now due to my recent split with that charity and their sims. However, it raised money for the charity and it also made me feel appreciated that people liked what I did.

Anonymous said...

where would one get such an item as the sam crack code?