So with Naam 2015 finishing up recently, DJs are starting to decide what new goodies they might set their eyes on for their next purchase while others are considering how some of the announcements will affect them but honestly, while there was some key announcements and reveals at this years Naam, overall there was nothing really and truely ground breaking, just a lot of re-inventing of current technology and minor improvements. There is no new feature to revolutionise the way DJs operate, and honestly there hasnt been one for awhile, however with a lot of the new technology that is on the horizon, I think we will see the next revolution happen in the next few years. So this is my thoughts/predictions for what we might see, but before I go into those, lets take a look at the previous big moments in Music history to give us an idea of the things I’m talking about.
Firstly music is music, its something that fundamentally wont change. Music we experience primarily thru listening, thou we can ‘feel’ it and we can ‘experience’ it, these are secondary to the fact that music needs to be listened too to experience it properly (I know with deaf people its another issue, so I am keeping this general here) So while we can add other components to music like visual or social, at its core, music is something listened to, and that is not something you can change. The biggest changes in music history have really come from the different ways people listen to music
So with this in mind, lets have a look at the history of music ‘technology’
1. Music notation (the first big music revolution) – music represented in written format, allowed people to recreate tunes
2. Recorded music (the second big music revolution) – allowed people to record sound to be listened to at a later time
3. Telephones – allowed sound to be shared across great distances
4. Radio – sound and music being shared over radio waves removing the need for having a physical copy of the music (eg a vinyl recording)
5. Tape – the change from vibration based recordings to storing music infomation as magnetic infomation, reducing the size required to store a lot of sound
6. The Walkman – portable music in a smaller user friendly size (sure boomboxes could also come under this category, but it was the smaller size that counts here)
7. Digital (the third big music revolution) – This changed everything, being able to store music as digital infomation rather than analogue, this was a huge stepping stone in not only the musical world but in the world in general
8. CDs – before now, music was often played especially by djs on vinyl, tapes were often over-looked as a medium for DJs because of their impracticality for live performances and music manipulation. CDs changed the way we consumed music once again. CDs allowed people to burn their own CDs, unlike the vinyl era when printing vinyl was extremely expensive, being able to burn CDs from the comfort of home changed the way we listened to music, no longer being bound to listening to a whole album, people could burn their own compliations. Also CDs not only reduced the size of recorded music but also preceded the inovations to come with CD players made for DJs allowing them to manipulate music in ways not previously possible with the pinnacle of this technology being the CDJ
9. MP3 – As with CDs before paving the way for the creation of tools to be able to manipulate music live from a digital perspective, mp3 allowed music to be stored in sizes smaller than previously seen, this was important because comupters at the time were limited with disc space (both at home and online storing) and internet transfers of music was limited to slow dial up connections at expensive costs. Mp3 allowed the explosion of music sharing and also at the same time, Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) started sprining up allowing the average person access to the tools to manipulate and produce their own music without the need for expensive studios. Mention must go to napster for starting up the music piracy era which rocked the music industry again in the way people obtain their music
10. Streaming – The change from the traditional TV and radio broadcasting of music, streaming bought the option to the digital world, allowing content to be shared in real time to people across the globe. With streaming also came the reduced sizes in media while still maintaining quality (Youtube being the big one here, but now we have multiple options for streaming)
11. DVS systems – While this is a mere combination of the technology before it, it is a combination that has opened up the DJ industry and allowed it to truely expand. From Serato to Rekordbox and many inbetween, these systems allow music to be played and manipulated using a laptop controlled by different control surfaces or the removal of a computer completely and only needing a hard drive has changed the way DJs work and think. With thousands of songs now being able to be stored on a device no bigger than an eraser, music is more accessible than ever before. Also DVS systems have allowed for portable DJ options from small midi controllers to mobile/tablet DJ options being more than just viable
And thus we come to point where we currently are in the DJ world, while we have come a long way, the next step I think is where things really get interesting, so lets take a look at what could be on the horizon…
Google glass & Microsofts holo lens
While the technology is still bulky, once it slims down, I can see this as being a viable interface for DJs, imagine having waveforms in your heads up display, or track search using a holo representation of your record box, browsing songs with a swipe of a finger and loading them the same way. We have already seen some touch screen implementation of DJ technology, but it still doesnt quite replace the need to be able to feel what you are doing, however the extra add on esp with holo technology could lead to some really exciting creations and inovations. Or the reverse could also happen, we already have silent discos, imagine the crowd also having holo lens and recreating the whole club environment and expeirence, even allowing the dj to have direct feed back with the crowd via things like holo statuses above peoples heads (just like nightclub city) or you could totally redecorate the club environment digitally (just like in psycho pass)
Holograms – Singers back from the dead or performing at mulitple locations simultaneously
So we already had holo pac, how about creating a dj show filled with holographic singers and performers controlled by the dj, the concept isnt as far off as the technology develops further. Or even have a DJ streamed at multiple locations via hologram
Virtual Reality – How about a virtual club
So we already know virtual reality is charging foward and is set to be the next big evoulton in technology, this could lead to virtual clubs, we already have things like livestreaming creating a kind of virtual club feel, virtual hangouts and livestream chat parties etc, the next step would of course be people being able to virtually go to a concert or club and share in the experience.
As far as virtual reality goes, I still think the big eventual step will be full imersion VR (ala Sword Art or Matrix) which would not only change the club world but also the world as we know it. When technology reaches this state thou, things will be vastly different than they are now. But at the current state, being able to wear something like Oculus rift and have yourself emerged inside a club isn’t as unbelievable as it once was
Voice commands vs gesture controls
While voice command software is nothing new, it hasnt taken off as much as people would hope, I think the reason for that is there is a lot of people out there who dont feel comfortable using thier voice, plain and simple, its a common personality trait, also using voice control in the DJ world, well yeah, its just totally impractical given the loud environment we work in, however, gesture control is a totally different story esp given that big name DJs use gestures all the time to control the crowd. While touch screens are flaunted in clubs, they are merely the begining of the posibillities, things like the Nod – buetooth gesture control ring or Mota Smart Ring can be used to track your gestures (or even technology like Xbox Kinect to track the whole area behind the DJ booth), imagine linking the motion of raising your arms to an audio effect, while seemingly simple, this is something that hasnt really been explored mostly because of the lag and unpredictable nature of wireless connections esp in a live performance environment, however, as wirless techonlogy becomes more stable and reliable, things like gesture control can become much more practical, imagine standing back from the DJ Booth or doing a Steve Aoki in front of the corwd and using a ring or watch to trigger the effect and controlling it using your hands away from the booth. It can make for some great crowd interactions and show possibilities. While the technology is there, the reliablitly is yet to catch up.
Carrying on with the wireless connection advancements that are surely to happen and once they do make it more stable, it also opens up the use of things like Ownphones/Earin – new earphone designs that can be worn as in ears and are totally wireless. Removing the need for cables is a big thing in the DJ world because we are often surrounded by the mess of cables everywhere connecting all the various parts and pieces, a switch into wireless connectivity is a wish of many DJs to help clean up the booths
There will of course be many other advances to come out that will make DJs lives easier, things from smart luggage to smaller PCs, use of mobile systems to fully replace the need for a PC, touch screens, smarter controls, better sound quality, increased storage space etc. While all these advancements will be good for the DJ world, they are hardly revolutionary, merely things to make life easier. I truely believe the next big revolution that will hit the DJn world is virtual reality with the precursors to it being holographic and heads up display technology paving the way. Thoughts?