In the days before the Internet, the DJ was the go-to person for people looking for “the” song or songs by a mystery artist or a well-known artist with a hard-to-find new or old recording. The DJ was the authority when it came to sharing new music with the masses, whether at a party, club or even on the radio. If someone needed a new “mix” tape or CD to listen to while jogging or driving, a DJ was a foot in the door as a friend or acquaintance to get good music or just find out which artist was doing what. The DJ was always the one who seemed to buy or get the most music tracks, even if they weren’t all to his taste. It was sort of the DJ’s responsibility to have the music he needed to entertain crowds of all kinds. If you think back to the early hip-hop block parties in New York, the DJ served up tunes from all genres, and as long as the beat was funky, people would dance without the songs having to be on mainstream radio to entertain the crowd. People trusted the DJ to provide them with cool, fresh sounds and take them on a journey where they might discover music they had never heard or had no access to.
With the internet and Free MP3 Downloads and music piracy, virtually any song is available to anyone with an internet connection and a hard drive to store it on. The average person can build a huge mp3 music collection that is as big or even bigger than the DJs themselves. The Internet has replaced the DJ as the place to go to find music. Instead of people needing the DJ to get the mixtapes or CDs, they can just download and burn as many different playlists as they want. In some cases, events that used to have a live DJ have opted to use an iPod connected to a sound system instead.
The current state of the music business challenges DJs to continue proving their value to audiences and even Internet users. One of the best ways DJs can prove their value and skills is by creating remixes of songs that give people a different perspective on the DJ’s abilities, moving more in the direction of an artist than a mere music provider. DJs can also become music producers, using their love of great songs to help artists create new great songs. Mash-up mixes have also become popular, enhancing the DJ mixes/song mixes of the past. The DJ should no longer rely on being needed as a mobile jukebox and/or sound system provider, but instead try to offer deeper musical services that are unique to them. They should focus on their personality and qualities that cannot be replaced by technology alone. This will keep the deejay relevant in the future as the music industry as a whole continues to change.
The Internet offers many advantages to deejays and makes it easier for them to collect large libraries of music, just as it does for non-deejays. The popularity of Internet radio allows deejays to play their mix shows and club shows outside of their local area and distribute their own mixes worldwide. This is especially helpful for deejays in specialized/underground genres, as they can grab booking far away after being heard on an Internet radio mix show or on a social networking site with musician options.