SPECIAL: Fake It Til You Make It

What’s harder? Learning the skills to be a competent DJ or becoming famous? We explore the tactics DJ’s use to get ahead in the game and discuss the ethical questions involved. Check out the related “Topic of the Week.

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16 comments

  1. Man, despite it being quite the buzz kill, haha, this was a nice discussion. 

    I think a good way to HELP to avoid having a remix contest turn into a popularity contest is to have the administration staff behind the contest rename every song generically, like “Remix 3 of 12,” which would encourage poeple to listen to all of the remixes before deciding instead of people just picking familiar remixers and downloading those particular remixes only. 

    • Very good point.  There are ways to do things right.  

    • I second this into being a good point. Back in the early 2000s’ when I use to participate in the Acid Planet remix contests, much like Beatports contests now, having famous and up and coming Artists who allow you to have a go at remixing their tracks, I believe each and every remix was submitted to the judges with long number codes attached to them, which in fact linked them to the remixer, but the judges at the point of judging only knew the remixers by numbers, therefore no bias, no favoritism was implemented when it came time to announce 1st, 2cd and 3rd place winners. I’m not sure if that’s how they do it nowadays over there, but back then it seemed to work! 

      I think all contests would reap the benefits of honesty and non bias if done in this manner. In today’s world of the ever expanding DJ and Remixer, there are so many good quality DJs/Artists and Remixers that are often overlooked by the masses just because most feel it is safer and easier to just stick with the tried and true respectful Remixers and Remixes they know best. This is stated many times right here on this site as well. And as a general rule, it is often the big names Producing the biggest and most famous remixes and songs on the charts, but overlooked within that bunch every now and then are countless no- name DJs/Artists and Remixers we never heard of, and they may just be the one that has that off the chart sounding remix we were looking for, yet we never get to hear because of time restraints and the ratio of so many no names versus the handful of reputable names we know work. Is it fair? No, but it seems for most DJs, this is how we get by. On the same token, if the likes of a David Guetta type DJ happens to pick up a no name Artist/Remixers track and start to play it at his festivals and gigs, we would be besides ourselves in saying we could of just as well have taken credit for being the first to debut and break a new up and coming Artist if we were the ones to roll the dice and chance playing it when no one else was!

      If anyones interested, online thru You Tube there is a Michael Cretu(the man/Musician behind Enigma)interview from back in 1990 when he started the Enigma project. Years earlier he sang Euro Pop type music and on the side Produced his wifes Euro Pop music under her name Sandra Cretu. None the less, how many in the U.S. have even heard of their solo careers prior to Enigma? Probably not many. At the time(1990) in Europe he felt the radio was over-saturated with boy band pop music, and people were falling in love with the visuals(the looks of the guys/girls within the bands) and in return for fans falling for “heartthrobs” they automatically began to fall in love with their music.) But one must ask his or herself, are they really falling in love with the music, or are they falling in love with the music as a byproduct of all the visuals they are in love with. Think of every screaming girl that went crazy when they saw N Sync, or even take it back to the Beatles or Michael Jackson. People tend to fall in love with the full package, the essence of what is popular to others, become popular to themselves as well, because it is Pop culture, and most want to ride that bandwagon.

      This is what really ties into your comment about giving aliases to remixes to shroud their identity. Knowing all of this, Michael Cretu wanted to do similar pop music but in a more mysterious way, he wanted the music to be the forefront of his new music project, Enigma. He wanted to see if he could actually become popular as Michael Cretu, without the public knowing he was Michael Cretu. So he flipped the script on us all, and created a world of speculation thru videos of Monks and mystical happenings to redirect the publics’ interest on not the artist, but the music, and it worked. In other words, by concealing the real names much as you would do in a remix contest, the person judging the contest, or in this case, judging Enigma, the only thing the public could fall back on in determining if they like it or not, would be solely based on the music itself, not the popularity or lack of popularity of the Artist/Remixer. By knowing upfront who it is responsible for a certain remix or song could automatically mar the song from the get go and not even get a chance to be listened to based on ones opinion of if or if they do or dont like that particular Artist/Remixer. The point here is that, as Micael Cretu, he couldnt have a succesful career, but as the myserious Enigma he was able to become succsesful, and whats furthur amusing is that the same people who didnt like himas Michael Cretu, couldnt  stop loving Enigma! What does that tell you? That half of the world seems to base thier opinions on music based on an astists popularity and not soley based on the music, which is what you should be enjoying in the first place out on the dancefloor. Your dancing to the music because you like it, your not dancing to the person.

  2. DJing
    is at an all time low. Here are a few shady tactics I’ve seen recently. Obviously being famous or acting like you’re famous is getting easier and being chosen more often than ever.

    I’ve
    seen someone use one of DJ Spryte’s Stay mixtapes as his own demo. This guy
    just took out the drops and put in his own and used it like it was his. Even
    put it on soundcloud as his own. People caught on and tons of emails were sent
    to dj’s and promoter’s across the nation to warn people about this guy. Spryte
    and his management were baffled by the whole thing.

     

    There’s
    another dude who was on an MTV show a while back and now books clubs as a MTV
    DJ claiming to do casting calls. Fake casting calls to draw a crowd… and then
    he got to guest DJ at the clubs that were hosting the “casting call”. The same
    guy posts horrible ustream videos of quite possibly the worst DJing ever. Saw
    another post he put up that said “excuse you bitch… google me DJ
    *********” the first person to comment was a local radio personality and
    it said “I just googled you and didn’t see anything” that comment
    quickly got deleted.

     

    Another
    thing is people have been posting tons of comments on soundcloud like the old
    myspace spam but its worse cause they’ll say stuff like “awesome song!”
    “this is sweet can you give me some feedback on mine?” and you think
    its genuine until you go to their page and see that they have posted the same
    thing hundreds of times on other pages. 
    It’s like should I leave up the fake comment that say they like my
    bootleg or should I be a douche and say “fuck you did you even listen to
    my song???”

     

    I’m
    just glad that I came up at the right time when record pools still existed and
    I learned from other djs proper etiquette, cause I’m sure if I just bought a
    controller and was hungry for my first gigs I’d be a douche too.

     

    Emailing
    remixreport some of the hilarious screen shots for all this now. GREAT TOPIC!
     

  3. don’t forget about DJ’s, and big name DJ’s at that, playing premixed sets. i’ve seen it first hand. no excuse for that, ever. people are paying good money to come see you & you’re fakin your way through a DJ set, pretending to twiddle the knobs, or scratch or crossfade… pathetic. even if you’re more well known as a producer than a DJ, do that. do a “live” PA with ableton or something. don’t fake your way through a “DJ” set, it’s insulting. or DJ’s/ “producers” who change one little thing in a remix or mashup, or edit or whatever & then put their name on it like they did all the hard work. if all you’ve done to a track is add an 8 bar intro, it’s not a remix! seen that too, DJ’s taking the credit for others work & not coming clean about what they actually did to the track. gettin big uped in their comments & not admitting all they’ve done is add a 4 beat loop to the intro. sad state of affairs my friends… seems popularity, sync buttons & jumping around on stage has overshadowed technical merit & actual skill. 

  4. It is sad that this all is taking place, but mostly because of the uneven playing field. If I had $10,000 to buy copies of an album I released, it would probably be MUCH harder for me to resist the temptation than from where I sit now… but my honest reply to all this is I wouldn’t consider doing any of the mentioned things. In my eyes, I’ve been dying to spend one year going to all the major music festivals and conventions, like A3C, WMC, SXSW, NXNE, and a few others. If I had the means/money to do that, I feel like it would be so much more rewarding long term to meet people, build genuine fans, and get your name out there in a person to person way, even if it takes longer and more effort. 

    If you have the financial backing to fast forward through the process, you’ll get the status, but you are also kicking people in the dick along the way. Everyone in the spotlight may look great on TV and blogs, but I’m sure all the hate mail, angry phone calls, and booing crowd members won’t go away when your 15 minutes is up. I may be an idealist, but there is a lot of negativity in the world, so I don’t see any reason to add to that. I want to have a clean conscious at the end of my career, and a position at the top of the charts isn’t worth giving up my morals. 

  5. Similar to what JD and Spring mention, regarding making it honestly versus faking it by having a Ghostwriter and or Ghost Producer do the work for you,, it feels kind of good having built the ladder yourself, then climbing each rung yourself, so when you finally reach the top, you have a nice list(resume) of your accomplishments along the way which most likely contributed to your ultimate goal that you have finally achieved at the top! I couldnt agree more with them on this one!

    Personally I dont judge an Artist/DJs work soley based upon having hundreds of thousands of followers or fans, especially not in todays day and age of skwed media numbers. Numbers are definitely a good gauge of how your doing if you are in fact acquiring them honestly, however the internet is littered with amazing talent yet to be discovered with low count plays/views based on no one hearing of them, and because someone who is surfing by takes a look at those low number counts on a particular song/remix or video, they may in return opt to pass on listening or viewing it, especially if the title isn’t catchy, or the music or video isn’t from a well established popular Artist/DJ.  In theory, if that same Artist/DJ was able to have 3 million plays or views versus 30 plays or views, the curiosity of one may be sparked into seeing what the hype is about, and if enough people engage in the curiosity of a no name with mega high numbers, that person can  become an internet sensation over night if he or she hasn’t already, but I was just using the 3 million number as a hypothetical. Here is a clear, prime example I thought of while writing this, to define and back up what it is I’m trying to articulate:

    Take the cup stacking girl Skrillex samples in Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, found in this link   http://youtu.be/j54yGxuk0yo   While viewing it, take a glance at the amount of views she has now. This video is from a skilled and talented girl where she says, “Yes Oh my gosh” because she beat out her own record in 7 seconds of cup stacking. She never once would think in a million years that her excited outburst would ever be a now highly recognized snippet in someones song! That video has over 3 million views now due to the fact, as time went on, people gained curiosity about who this girl on Skrillexs’ track was about. You Tube was the site he was scouring when he came across the cup stacking girls video and decided it to be an appropriate sample to go along with his transition of the Nice Sprite melodic portion into the evil dubstep monster portion.

    My point? Prior to Skrillex using her voice off the You Tube channel, the girl may have had maybe a couple of hundred views from friends, people arriving at her channel by accident, and fellow cup stackers who enjoyed watching her amazing skills. After Skrillex uses her as a sample, she jumps up to over 3 million views in no time. 

    Ask yourself this, did SHE make it? or did SHE fake it? In other words did she fake her now popular status because she used the back of Skrillex to gain popularity? or did she earn the right to have over 3 million views upon her intense skill of cup stacking that I’m sure took years and years of steady practice to achieve? I cant answer that for anyone but myself, and my answer is she most definitely made it on her own and was most deserving of each and every one of those 3 million views. Its not her fault that without Skrillex she couldn’t get many views, she just didnt have the right exposure beforehand and lack of curiosity into what she was doing led to low numbers prior to  her song debut, and with the help of Skrillex exploiting her talents indirectly she was able to get the exposure she well deserved. In this case it was all about marketing. Having the right people being able to market your skill, although its not quite the same as her having her own agent spreading the word on her behalf, Skrillexs’ indirect, yet simiular fashion had a part in getting this girl some exposure.

    My question……since that same video existed prior to Skrillex making her internationally famous, are her skills now that much better in the same video because Skrillex set off her Pop status? Of course not. Anyone who watches that video today in amazement of her skills, should have acknowledged those same skills before Skrillex made her popular thru his song. Why did she not have 3 million views before she was featured in the song? Ask these questions to anyone, and most will come back and tell you one or two things. The obvious answer is, “Well I didn’t even know she existed, I didn’t even know there was such a skill sport such as cup stacking!” These are examples of everyday people with extraordinary amazing skills that get stuck in the rut of just doing what they do, posting it because they want their peers to see what they can do, and every now and then a video like this one goes viral and becomes an Internet sensation. 

    • haha ‘oh my gosh,’ that girl is one profoundly bad ass cup stacker…and I thought i had quick hands.  Imagine what she could do scratching a turntable!  Nice comedic relief to all of this serious talk

  6. JD, we go back… Ive been seeing this for years! I remember back in the day I got bumped from a DJ gig by a DJ saying he DJed on Jamn 94.5. At the time I knew and was close friends with all the DJs and knew it wasn’t true. He had banners and everything saying he was a 94.5 DJ. Smh. More recently a similar situation happened but at this time I was actually Djin & working on the station. A promoter & DJ was advertising that Jamn 94.5 was gonna be at their club and he was gonna be broadcasting a live set from the club. Smh. I could never get with the fake it til you make it. Never lied about my accomplishments. I actually have the reverse problem. I don’t promote them enough. Cant stand when i see people lying about what they are doing. I don’t even want to stoop to that level because if I ever got caught in that lie I would feel like an ass. And to me, once a DJ lies (or over exaggerates) about one thing, it kills their credibility for me. Still tryna get Val out to Shrine. One day. lol

    • So true Jules.  You’d think it would be obvious to people, that a DJ faking their on the radio, isn’t on the radio.  I guess those people don’t listen to the radio much…   Val will show up at Shrine when DJ’s stop faking it.  lol – JD

  7. very good post guys.

    this is a conversation i been having a lot lately, specially will people who are kind of new to the scene.

    we all know times have change, and things keep on changing, some will complain and stay behind, other will adapt and move on. out of the ones that move on some do it right, and some will just work the system, which is the problem we have nowadays. working the system.

    the way i see it is that you have to keep up with the times, im not a fan of mass marketing and playing the popularity games, but in this day and age, you have to. simple as that.

    what i have come to realize is that all that image/front that you can put up as a dj will get you so far. You can invest in publicity, marketing, promo videos, etc. but in the end if you can’t back it up, it can only get you so far. what im getting at here is that there needs to be a balance. yes do your promotion, hype yourself up (like you said, to draw your crowd, but dont over do it) , get people to know you, build your fan base, but be ready to step up to the plate and live up to your reputation.

    i guess i say this cuz it worked in my part. i did a “dj competition” (kinda like a thre3style,party rocking based, not DMC) and out of 40+ djs, got 2nd place, at first yeah it was a popularity contest but as the rounds kept going, your abilities as a dj came to play, so the dudes bringing mad people who couldnt step up, ended up being  eliminated. i was fairly new to miami at the time, and i knew this was going to be a chance for me to grow, so i used it to my benefit. i didnt sit there and bitch about how i been djing for 10 years and deserve this, and since in TX i was doing that i need to be given certain recognition.

    (sorry for the drag) to kind of sum this up, i dont believe in fake it till you make it, or abusing certain angles, but i do think that as djs we need to keep up with the pace. promote/,market yourself the best way you can, yeah u need to invest in building your brand, dont over do it, but look at what you can do to move on, be innovative and let people know what makes yourself YOU and not just another dj.

  8. Great topic you guys. As a young DJ who’s just starting off, I find the caution of ‘fake it till you make it,’ coming from REAL experienced DJs in the field very valuable.

    As a DJ who’s starting off in the business, I see a lot of DJs popular on campus that always get booked, but they don’t actually make mixes, they just download other DJs mixes online and play them during the venues with the DJ drops removed. A lot of them don’t even try to put the effort to fake it. A lot of DJs just come in with just their laptop, plug the PA into the audio out, let the pre-mixed set that’s not even their own play, and just spend the entire night waving their arms around like a monkey. Even as a young DJ still learning the craft, it’s pretty insulting to see the art treated like that.

  9. I just wanted to share an email blast from one of the record labels that send out their “mixshow priorities” and “play me! play me! play me!” tracks so they can get mediabase spins.  I will say before you read on, it is good working with these people because like you were saying before, what you actually get from it sometimes are custom dubplates and drops from these artists, however, we don’t know them, never will they even recognize my name ever again, buuuut it does help us as djs play their tracks more.

    Anyway, wanted to share this because this is the first time I’ve seen (or atleast noticed) their “Disclaimer”

    RECORD LABEL: Nu World Era Music Group/eOne Music —
    >>>CURRENT MIXSHOW PRIORITIES<<<:
    -DRIICKY GRAHAM "SNAP BACKS & TATTOOS" ***eOne Music***
    -DJ DRAMA "WE IN THIS BITCH" ***eOne Music***
    -AKON FT. FRENCH MONTANA“HURT SOMEBODY” *SRC/UNIVERSAL*
    -SCHOOLBOY Q FT. A$AP ROCKY “HANDS ON THE WHEEL” *I.G.A&M*
    -L.E.P. BOGUS BOYS FT. RICK ROSS "KUSH & LEATHER"
     *INFARED MUSIC*
    -8BALL & MJG FT. BIG KRIT "WE BUY GOLD" ***eOne Music*** 
    DISCLAIMER:DJ'S PLEASE LISTEN TO MUSIC FILES BEFORE AIRPLAY***
    Now I'm not sure if their disclaimer is for the fact that MAYBE they didnt send the clean music version, want to make sure the file is there and as a whole, or what the case may be, because honestly, I'm prrrrettty sure they dont want us to listen to it and go, OH! Yes…NOOOOW i'll play this song because this actually SUCKS but I'm going to play it! SMH.  Good post on this subject though guys, i find your videos interesting and what you discuss is def something a lot of us are communicating about, DOING (unfortunately/fortunately), or thinking about.  Keep it up.

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