DJ Of The Future
Following up on yesterday's post, I came across a thoughtful piece on the implications of the netlabel phenomenon at O'Reilly Radar:
When recording was invented, performers complained that the recording technology captured all their technical flaws and none of their charisma, and the infernal devices would put them out of business. Recordings created a new class of musician, people who sounded great on vinyl/tape/CD even if they had the stage presence of a wet fish and their live shows sucked. Now we see the value of a recorded piece of music heading to zero and that same class of hot picking wet fish is complaining because increasingly the only way to make money out of music is to perform live (which they suck at, remember).This is an interesting point, but it is less pertinent to the world of electronic music, where many producers never perform at all (in their capacity as producer, of course a lot might DJ). Especially with dance music, producers frequently don't intend to sell their records directly to their audience anyway -- they sell to a kind of middleman, the DJ, who then plays the music for the audience.
How will netlabels and online distribution alter this equation? One netlabel, Thinner/Autoplate, is already distibuting their releases packaged with Traktor metadata (a popular DJ software made by Native Instruments), so that all the songs are instantly ready to be mixed up in Traktor with no prepping necessary. Even more significantly, the newest version of Traktor is fully integrated with the Beatport Digital Download Network, which means that any DJ with a internet connection can purchase tracks (in an iTunes-like manner) from within the DJ software application, even if he or she is in the middle of a set. With this in mind, and considering the research I was reading about yesterday into annotatable audio, it only seems a matter of time before your DJ software will be clever enough to automatically download tracks to match the one you've got playing.
So it seems that the dance music distribution model has the least to lose and the most to gain from this change, since relatively few records are sold in the first place. If anything, it has the potential to put the music in the hands of a much larger number of people. I'll let you know when I figure out exactly how this translates in to a paycheck...