The day Native Instruments released the Traktor software, the art of DJing died for many.
Traktor included the SYNC function that automatically beatmatches multiple trackâs BPMs. Although it is not the panacea that many claim it to be âthereâs a huge difference between using SYNC and using it wellâ, for the amateur itâs a way to initialise their DJ careers without the constraints of learning to beatmatch by ear. The countless hours, days, months or even years it takes to learn it is no longer a skill that needs to be dominated to be a DJ. Having a computer with Traktor and enough courage to be on a stage in front of an audience is more than you need nowadays. Many were not happy.
When we decided to launch the Conductr module to control Traktor on the iPad we knew that the international DJ community was divided into SYNC supporters and detractors but, we werenât aware of how vicious the attacks in social media could get.
At Conductr we work hard to innovate in musical technology and we believe firmly that it is positive that mediums and devices for music production improve progressively. Overall, the most important thing is that the technology doesnât get in the way but instead helps artists to develop and express their creativity better. So, here is our two cents about why SYNC is a good thing.
1. The medium is not the message.
You are in a DJ booth to rock the crowd, not to impress other DJs. You have to make people dance. Thatâs your job as a DJ. So itâs not about the tools that you use but about how you use them. Technology and technique are a means to an end. Besides, letâs be clear: most people donât give a shit about how or what you do in the DJ booth. Which brings us toâŠ
2. A well done beatmatch by ear doesnât make a good session.
DJing is not only about beatmatching, just like playing guitar is not only about fitting dozens of notes into a single measure at light speed. A virtuoso guitar player without a good song is useless. Same happens with DJing: It doesnât matter how good you are at beatmatching, backspinning, beat juggling or EQing. If you donât play the right tunes at the right time, you suck. On the other hand, a great DJ can not be that great technically speaking but have that sixth sense that turns a mix into something memorable.
Djing is mainly about dancefloor psychology, which means getting to know the crowd, what they want, how and when they want it, how high they are and what they are on. The same people in a club can have different vibes from one night to the next, depending on multiple factors. A good DJ has to feel it and ride the vibe otherwise, his set wonât work. No technique nor software function can help you to achieve that.
3. âOld schoolâ meansâŠ well, âoldâ.
It happened when CDs replaced vinyl and itâs happening now with digital files replacing CDs. Every generation wants to be the ultimate keeper of realness. âOld schoolâ trained DJs seem to have a kind of moral superiority. It is very common to think about them as ârealâ or âbetterâ DJs, as the media and the veteran DJs themselves have insisted so much on that idea. That is straight up plain bullshit. You are DJing today to an audience made primarily of young people. Forget about the past. Look into the future.