While I have but the vaguest passing interest in console gaming these days (the iPad Pro is a worthy replacement for my gaming needs), I still like to keep abreast of the new hardware releases, especially as it saturates my social media timelines.
I am a PlayStation guy, so my attention gravitated towards the new PS5 release. And then I saw this image:
And the second I saw that I thought that’s an acquired taste that doesn’t exactly fit in my house (shallow but we all do it), but immediately after that my mind jumped to the recent CDJ-3000 release, and the storm… nay light breeze in a teacup about being called a CDJ but not having a CD drive. It never ceases to amaze me what people will get offended at these days.
My first reaction was to mock up a pastiche of the PS5 image and have a CDJ complete with CD drive that could play pretty much everything except vinyl and 8 track, and a matching digital version that only worked with streaming media. So I did. Obviously I did. Because that’s how I roll.
And then I pondered… given that gaming is clearly edging towards a media-free future, is it possible that DJing will do the same?
tap tap tap TAAAPPP!
Bugger me — there it was again, the disturbance in the DJ force, where a million angry readers collectively engaged caps lock and hammered inall manner of variants from reasoned discussion all the way to death threats, but essentially saying “no”. But bear with me, because as a prediction it has legs.
DJs of a particular age are used to physical media. Be it the venerable vinyl or CD, round bits of plastic have made the DJ world go round since the need for hep cats to cut a rug to the platters that matter from the popular beat combos of the day.
The digital age however saw media kicked to the kerb in favour of files on laptops and USB drives. The same digital age also saw music delivery change with the introduction of streaming services, which are now proliferating our software and standalone hardware at an alarming rate.
Now we may still be getting to grips with the transitions from physical things we put on or in our DJ stuff, things have moved on to the point where you can just turn up at a gig with no music whatsoever.
A media free now-generation
The next generation of DJs was born and lives in a world where streaming is the norm. Be it Netflix, Xbox Live, or Spotify, the concept of buying something physical is an alien concept to an increasing number of people. They want it now wherever they are, and can pretty much command all the world’s media ever to their pockets instantly.
So it makes perfect sense that as DJs, they’ll just expect that their DJ devices will be able to do the same, and not want any kind of extra devices to be able to DJ. After all, why should it be any different to the rest of their lives?
“Sorry grandpa — what do you mean when you say files on a USB?”
Oh sure, you’ll no doubt be able to roll out of a lengthy list of valid reasons why streaming for DJs is a festering pile of shite littered with “real DJs”, reliability, quality, and all the other reasons why existing DJs can’t get down with not having at least a physical file on a drive in their possession.
But times change. Just 20 years ago, vinyl purists were apoplectic with mouth-foaming rage at the concept of CDs being seen in the booth. And now the same DJs are routinely hooking up a laptop to use DVS or plugging their rekordbox USBs into the CDJs in the same booth.
So why shouldn’t it be a natural progression for the booth to become a streaming-only zone? Or for mobile DJs to only have USBs as an emergency backup? Will DJ gear become streaming first dumb terminals with a large window into the subscriptions services only?
I’me picturing the irony of some hand-wringing DJs clutching onto USB drives at the very thought of only being able to stream when previously they fought in the vinyl-only trenches.
But here’s the thing(s)
DJing will never be only one thing, just like streaming will ever be the only thing. Despite a succession of alleged vinyl killers, turntables and vinyl are still very much… things. CDs are definitely on their way to being a legacy niche format, albeit it still used. And the pace at which standalone is marching forward means that laptops won’t be as ubiquitous as they have been.
So DJing is a broad church — not lurching exclusively en masse from the latest hotness to the next but is a veritable melting pot of tech across many genres and age groups. Something new comes along and gets absorbed by those that like it, and ignored by those that don’t, and endlessly railed against by a few who cannot abide their pure vision of DJing to be besmirched by such nonsense.
Interesting side note — a few polls I’ve read show that only around 30-35% plan to buy the digital-only version. I suspect PS4 owners will want to keep on playing their old disks on a new machine, but those that have already immersed themselves in the digital won’t care about such things.
RUBBING MY CRYSTAL BALL
My prediction is that in time, streaming-only technology will appear, but alongside other units, not instead of. The technology and services exist for this to be made today. I feel like it’s an entry-level thing that targets the very generation for whom streaming is the norm rather than aiming at an age group used to physical media and files.
Streaming will however be available across the board for all to use — or not as is your preference. But choice is a good thing, and nobody is forcing you to use it. Yet.