Harmony Central Forums
Announcement
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Play live, DJ, KJ or combination - what's the wave of the future? (was Gig Salad WTH)

Collapse



X
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Play live, DJ, KJ or combination - what's the wave of the future? (was Gig Salad WTH)

    In the "Gig Salad WTH?" thread we talked about the Karaoke Jocks who buy tracks and sing along to them, some pretending to play instruments, some playing along, and some not even pretending. I wondered if I should join them since most of the crowd doesn't seem to know the difference.

    Terry Allan Hall pointed out that I would know the difference, and he is correct.

    Here is my response..........

    Yes, I'd know the difference, which is why so far I've resisted going that route.

    Doing the songs in our best key, extending the arrangements of popular dance songs to 4 or so minutes, allowing room for my soloing on guitar, sax, wind synth or whatever, having no background vocals but sequencing those parts on synth, and sometimes even changing the rhythm of the song are things I like to do. This to me makes our music personal, more fun to play with, more satisfying for me, and I think better.

    But because I sequence my own tracks, I have to learn parts and practice them until they are good enough to record; drums, bass, keyboards, strings, back vocals, etc. It's not the work involved (it's not work, it's just what I do), it takes time to learn a new song. So if we get a dozen requests from regular customers in a night, it's going to take a few weeks to learn them all.

    On the other hand, the Karaoke Jocks can learn a dozen songs a week, no work involved, no time lag. So the audience can get their requests played often by the next night.

    I know a guy that sings and plays keyboard but subscribes to some 'in the cloud' DJ/KJ service with many thousands of songs in their catalog. If he doesn't know it, he can KJ it if he knows the song, or DJ it and either play along or pretend to. He tells me I work too hard. I tell him I know but I like it that way.

    So I am thinking, am I putting myself at a competitive disadvantage here? It doesn't seem like it now, but what if next year I all of a sudden find that the KJs own the market? What if people have gotten used to hearing all the songs they request and the word gets out that we don't know enough songs?

    When computers first came out, other musicians told me I was going to put musicians out of work with those machines. I told them I was putting myself to work with them, and eventually many of those musicians bought the Band-in-a-Box styles that I write and sell on-line. I was ahead of the market. He and a few other KJs work the same clubs that we do.

    If the KJs become the next wave, I don't want to be left out of the market. I'm getting old now, and I remember when I started playing, out of work horn players would say, "The big bands are going to make a comeback." Well they never did.

    Last weekend we were the final act in a big 3 day Spring Fling. We were in the main tent, and during our show they gave away the grand prizes so the tent was packed, and we were the headliners. Before we started I walked around the festival. I saw KJs and KJs who also played instruments to the purchased tracks as the majority of the acts there. The single who went on before us was an excellent singer and a better guitarist than I am (I'm better than most other sax players, but merely adequate on guitar). The audience didn't seem to mind the background singers and track guitar solos. Probably didn't notice the difference. Walked to the tent next door and a guy and gal are doing straight karaoke, pretending to play keyboards. Almost everybody I saw was playing to Karaoke tracks.

    In addition, there are a couple of songs we cannot cover, so we DJ them, "Cupid Shuffle" and "Blurred Lines". It seems the older widows like to line dance, and these two songs are popular with them. We can do "Electric Slide", "Boot Scoot", "Achy Breaky" and a number of others, but these two have too many voices to cover and try as I might, I haven't been able to come up with a backing track that competes with the recording. The overlapping voices just seem essential and don't make it on a synth sound. So we DJ and I play guitar along with them. Would a Karaoke track be better than DJ-ing it?

    So I'm right now caught in the dilemma, I really like doing my own tracks and having the music personal. But am I going to get a surprise squeeze out of the market in a year or two and be like the old guys who used to yearn for the return of the big bands? You know, "Live music is going to come back".

    Perhaps I need to do a little bit of both, what do you think?

    Notes
    Bob "Notes" Norton
    Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
    Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
    The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

  • #2
    I think you should do whatever makes you happy. For the record most people do not care if an artist makes their own backing tracks or buys them they are still tracks. There will always be people in the audience who hate tracks, or would rather have them so they can dance. The majority want to see someone up there having fun and being entertaining.

    I get lots of compliments these days on the way I been using looping creatively, then I will have someone ask about how I recorded my back tracks (I am looping live!!)


    So basically if you find a track you like thats already made why not use it? I really don't think anyone in the audience cares if one makes their track or not.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thats not to say the audience is not listening. Biggest mistake a musician can make is going on with a gig thinking noone notices or is listening. Breeds complacency.

      Comment


      • #4
        The ability to have more songs easily available is an obvious advantage in situations where taking requests helps pay the bills. But of course you don't want the quality of your act to suffer. If the pre-made tracks sound good, then no reason not to go that route. No one in the audience is going to giving you extra points for rolling your own.

        The solution might be to do a bit of both: use pre-made tracks for quick requests and if they turn out to be songs you want to keep, then you can create better tracks to your own liking.
        ______________

        Comment


        • #5
          Oh, I know they are listening, but I also know they listen like an audience, not like a musician. If they listened like musicians, I'd be playing a different kind of music.

          The question is, how critically are they listening and do they care or even notice if the backing tracks are yours or purchased? Does the presence of backing vocals that aren't your voice tell them your cheating?

          You said, "I think you should do whatever makes you happy. For the record most people do not care if an artist makes their own backing tracks or buys them they are still tracks." and I think that's the key.

          What makes me happy? Being blessed to be able to make a living doing music and nothing but music. Making a living doing what I would do for free.

          Playing for a living does involve some compromises. Every song I want to learn is not going to be appropriate, and songs that I wouldn't pick to learn should be learned to satisfy the wants and needs of the audience. But I still get to play music.

          Thanks for your insights fingerpicker. Anyone else?

          Notes
          Last edited by Notes_Norton; 03-31-2014, 12:21 PM. Reason: Typo
          Bob "Notes" Norton
          Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
          Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
          The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

          Comment


          • #6
            Guido61, I'm thinking along those lines right now. the feedback helps me make that decision.

            Notes
            Bob "Notes" Norton
            Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
            Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
            The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

            Comment


            • #7
              I have to believe sooner or later someone will get wise to the fact that the DJ is a live juke box, and the KJs are the radio with lesser vocals. Digital jukebox services using cloud based files are coming, and this will hurt a huge segment of the DJ market when customers can drop in a few quarters for the song they want.
              "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

              Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
              "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

              Comment


              • #8
                I know of a local duo that's been using kar. tracks for a few years and they're working quite a bit. Am I the only person in the audience that doesn't like hearing guitar parts that the guitarist isn't playing? Maybe.

                I added a few background tracks last year that aren't karaoke, but they were available on the internet. I only use one of them (they're all blues progressions) and it sounds obvious to me that the production is different than the rest of my songs. But it was an easy way to add another song.

                I agree that if the tracks are customized to fit your instrumentation then why not use them for some songs? I like creating unique arrangements of some songs, but it may not be important with others. I have a couple of medleys that no one else does for example. Also a couple of songs with false endings that make for a good show.

                My question: Notes, since you use BIAB, doesn't that make sequencing fast compared to playing, recording and tweaking each instrument track? Now I'm thinking I should put together more medleys. It takes longer, but nobody else is doing it.
                BD

                Comment


                • #9
                  Okay Notes, this is a fascinating subject to me and I'll tell you why. Last night I spent about four hours, maybe five, just cleaning up a few midi tracks. Changing a few intros, leveling out some bass notes, fixing a tempo change at the end of I Feel Good, and so on. I got to thinking, that I have over 300 midi tunes that I have either created myself or have rebuilt from the ground up. Typical time for each song is four hous, plus probably another four hours for rewrites, key changes, rearrangements and such. That's 2400 hours or 60 forty hour work weeks. In the last fifteen, or maybe twenty years I have devoted over a year of my life to sequencing!!! That doesn't even include the 75+ band and female singer tunes I did, way back when. I also did not include the amount of time for two format conversions I did a few years back.

                  Flash forward to a friend of mine, who a year or so ago, aquired (not sure how) a bunch of MP3 backing tracks. He is an excellent horn player, with a bunch of really good CD's out. Anyway, in no time he's gigging around as a solo entertainer. The tracks sound fine, and as he's a solo horn player, it's obvious to everyone that he's playing to tracks, but no one seems to care. In fact, he just did a gig where this singer hired him, instead of his regular six piece band!

                  So I've been asking myself, am I working smart or stupid? Does anyone care that I've put hours into picking the perfect tempo for a song, or that I've removed all the cheesy parts and just stripped it down to bass and drums, that I've added extra length to appease the dancers, that I sequence drums the way a drummer would play? Sometimes it's hard enough just working with the "stigma" of tracks, but lately I too have been wondering if I'm going far enough. I mean if I have no street cred because I use sequences, why beat myself up? Maybe I should join the race to the bottom, and go all the way - buy a sled and get there faster...

                  If you see me at the next gig with my iPod and a Mackie SRM150, instead of my NX55P and LS720 sub, you'll know the answer.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hmmm EDIT doesn't seem to be working, guess I'll need to find spell check, or learn to spell levelling.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by daddymack View Post
                      I have to believe sooner or later someone will get wise to the fact that the DJ is a live juke box, and the KJs are the radio with lesser vocals. Digital jukebox services using cloud based files are coming, and this will hurt a huge segment of the DJ market when customers can drop in a few quarters for the song they want.
                      And to add, have you listened to some of these systems they are putting in? They are almost comparable to a standard double sub double top typical dj rig.

                      And regarding KJ, the club in town here has karaoke nite and you just go up to jukebox, punch your name in, pick your song and your in the list that's on the screen on who singing now, next and so forth. This also takes away a live KJ to que, index, announce and also eliminates a biased kj (that sings 18 songs in a row) that does not let people sing that they don't like. Obviously it's hooked up to wifi and pulling the tracks down live too meaning large library.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Bob Dey says (quote isn't working either) "My question: Notes, since you use BIAB, doesn't that make sequencing fast compared to playing, recording and tweaking each instrument track? Now I'm thinking I should put together more medleys. It takes longer, but nobody else is doing it."

                        BiaB only does so much. IMHO it's a great practice product, but not really ready for prime time. I use it for some of the "mule work" like comps buried in the mix, harmonizing horn lines, etc., but the output of BiaB is rather generic - as all auto-accompaniment programs should be. Pop/Rock/Country genres have always been dominated by weak songs with very clever and specific arrangements. Those signature background licks are an essential part of many songs, as are the kicks, call and response parts, and so on. Here is how I do it: http://www.nortonmusic.com/backing_tracks.html - I'm very picky about my arrangements. Perhaps that's a problem.
                        Shaster says "So I've been asking myself, am I working smart or stupid? Does anyone care that I've put hours into picking the perfect tempo for a song, or that I've removed all the cheesy parts and just stripped it down to bass and drums, that I've added extra length to appease the dancers, that I sequence drums the way a drummer would play?"

                        This is exactly what I'm going through. I've always cared about the product, but am I caring too much? Is it a quantity vs. quantity thing, and is quantity the way to go? I'm really fighting it, because I love to make the sequences sound as good as I can make them. It might take an entire day for me to learn a song, difficult ones more, simple ones less. But if the local KJ has 20,000 songs as opposed to my 550 and can field just about any request the audience can throw at him/her, is he/she serving the audience better than I am?
                        The people singing and not playing instruments are starting to play some of the gigs we regularly play in. We're still gigging there as well, but I don't know if I'm seeing the writing on the wall or not.

                        As a musician, multi-instrumentalist, and arranger, I'm very proud of what I do. For all my life I've been in bands that tried to do the best we can with our skills. It's not easy to think about making a compromise.

                        On the other hand, those who adapt are those who survive. I've always been a survivor. When I started playing, we had no monitors and used the house PA (usually a Bogen 35W amp with 5" ceiling speakers." Later our own PA with an echoplex and echo-rec. Then when amps got big, we bought "Super Beatle and other monster amps. During the psychedelic era when nobody wanted to hear saxophones, I learned how to play bass well. I did Disco when it was popular. I learned to sequence and be a duo when music got downsized. And so on.

                        When I went to writing my own backing tracks, it was a musical compromise. All the ideas were mine, and there was no other bass player, no other drummer, no other keyboard player who would play something I hadn't thought of and surprise me. But the compromise was necessary to keep working. When Leilani and I quit the 5 piece group and started our duo, we were pulling in the same money for the two of us as the 5 piece band had been reduced to.

                        So is playing to backing tracks or a cloud based karaoke system the next compromise?

                        As you can tell, I'm fighting this, but if it's the way to be a survivor, I'll end up going that way.

                        Has quantity become more important than quantity. Is playing 10,000 songs adequately better than playing 500 songs extremely well? And I mean better for the audience, not the musician.

                        Notes
                        Bob "Notes" Norton
                        Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                        Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                        The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It's more important to have the right songs in my view. There are DJs that advertise they have a million songs, but how many of those never get played? I have over 400 songs as a solo act, but I mostly stick to the top 100 songs that are most requested or just work best at the places I play. I understand reinventiing yourself and chaning with the times, but if feel it's better to be unique as long as there's a market for one's uniqueness. What can you do to entertain that others don't do? Should your business model be to do what most other acts are doing or do something different and better?

                          I came up with a simple idea to compete with karaoke years ago, but I never implemented it because it would work much better with a duo. It has to do with audience participation. But maybe that's another topic.
                          BD

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bob Dey View Post
                            It's more important to have the right songs in my view. There are DJs that advertise they have a million songs, but how many of those never get played? I have over 400 songs as a solo act, but I mostly stick to the top 100 songs that are most requested or just work best at the places I play. I understand reinventiing yourself and chaning with the times, but if feel it's better to be unique as long as there's a market for one's uniqueness. What can you do to entertain that others don't do? Should your business model be to do what most other acts are doing or do something different and better?

                            .
                            Perhaps the inherent flaw in giving the people "what they want" is that so many people have horrible taste and will eventually want the worst stuff you have - if you give it to them.

                            I know of two solo entertainers that book themselves as Blues artists. They dress in a similar fashion to Dr. John - actually one of them even sounds a bit like Dr. John. These two guys work a fair bit, and the venues know exactly what they're getting. They've carved out a niche and don't have to deviate from it.

                            On the flip side, while I might be known as the Blues, Jazz, Motown guy in my circle, I'm also known as the guy who can do Top Forty and dance stuff. This is dangerous territory, because now I start competing with other folks for the finish line at the bottom of the hill.

                            Case in point.... I did a gig last weekend that was supposed to be Blues and such, but the agent warned me that depending on the crowd, I might have to switch to other material. Sure enough, a large group of folks, average age around 45 years, were in attendance. The staff was quite excited that they actually had people in the place, and I was instructed to work with the crowd. And what did the crowd want? They wanted ballroom dance material, specifically in the Salsa, Merengue vein. So I did my best, but it was tough... they were very picky, it couldn't be just any ballroom groove.

                            To top it off, the only music the upscale hotel lounge seemed to have was Drake, who was talking about slapping some women who were in his employ. The crowd (and manager) kept asking if I had any music that I could play in the breaks, because the hotel's was inappropriate. At that point, I should have put down my guitar, hooked up to the hotel's wifi and just started playing Youtube. But then again, have I worked all these years on my craft to play DJ - I hope not.

                            Comment


                            • #15

                              Originally posted by Shaster View Post

                              Perhaps the inherent flaw in giving the people "what they want" is that so many people have horrible taste and will eventually want the worst stuff you have - if you give it to them.

                              I know of two solo entertainers that book themselves as Blues artists. They dress in a similar fashion to Dr. John - actually one of them even sounds a bit like Dr. John. These two guys work a fair bit, and the venues know exactly what they're getting. They've carved out a niche and don't have to deviate from it.

                              ...

                              Case in point.... I did a gig last weekend that was supposed to be Blues and such, but the agent warned me that depending on the crowd, I might have to switch to other material. Sure enough, a large group of folks, average age around 45 years, were in attendance. The staff was quite excited that they actually had people in the place, and I was instructed to work with the crowd. And what did the crowd want? They wanted ballroom dance material, specifically in the Salsa, Merengue vein. So I did my best, but it was tough... they were very picky, it couldn't be just any ballroom groove.
                              The one thing worse than an audience that doesn't want what you play: an audience that wants what you don't play.
                              All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

                              Comment













                              Working...
                              X