Equipment for the Beginner DJ

Originally published on ZeeshanHoodbhoy.net

When looking for starter equipment to begin DJing, it’s important to determine what you’re looking to use the equipment for. Are you looking to become involved in more casual DJing at house parties? If so, you can get away without an intensive arsenal of equipment and instead focus on putting your efforts into finding respectable computer and controller setups. Looking to pursue a DJ career where you’ll be performing at clubs and more high-profile venues? You’ll want to consider spending more money on equipment such as turntables and mixers to offer high-quality audio and gain practical and professional experience.

Below is a guide on what DJ equipment you’ll want to look into before getting started.

Computers and Interfaces

In terms of computers, you are free to use your own laptop if you already have one. With free software like Virtual DJ, you can use your computer to choose from libraries of digital music online. If you have a larger budget, you can look into software packages that come with DJ hardware or purchase professional DJ software separately.

Even if you’re using your own computer, you might want to consider investing in audio interfaces. Interfaces such as Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 are able to convert recordings into digital audio and also send digital audio to your venue’s sound system.

Controllers

While it’s possible to perform crossfading and other matches on your laptop’s keyboard, if you want more tactile control with knobs and faders, consider looking into controllers. The Traktor Kontrol S2 is a portable controller that’s compatible with Mac and PC and includes DJ software.

Turntables and CDJs

Turntables offer tactile control over audio files with scratches and other effects. Tables like Numark TT250USBs offer professional options for direct-drive turntables and also offer the option for converting analog records to digital files via computer USB connections. While turntables are tactile, some prove impractical to tote around and limit music selection due to their use of vinyls.

An alternative to a turntable is a CDJ setup. CDJs are digital decks similar to vinyl, but use CDs or a USB stick to provide easy navigation in accessing digital files with the same tactile control as turntables. Setups like Gemini CDJ-700 offer tactile control for audio along with easy-to-navigate touch-screen displays and additional customizable functions.

Mixers

Mixers provide control over audio sound and effects. The DJM-350 is an entry-level mixer that provides customizable controls and offers USB storage for optimal set organization and navigation.

Headphones

DJ headphones are crucial as they isolate and replicate audio sounds like you would be hearing them in the club. Headphones like Pioneer HDJ-2000MK2 isolate sound and separate deep bass and crisp treble frequencies to appropriately monitor feedback in clubs.

Avicii’s Impact on EDM

Avicii_@_London_tentparty-e1526578415794The world was in shock when news broke on April 20th that Swedish DJ Avicii had died. Just 28 years old, the EDM hero passed away in Muscat, Oman, leaving music fans around the world reeling. As one of the most popular DJs in the world, Avicii inspired countless up-and-coming artists and helped bring EDM into the spotlight. Let’s take a look at how this incredible musician shaped the industry.

Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, rose to fame incredibly quickly, barely out of his teens when he began headlining shows. His big break came in 2011, with the insane success of his song “Levels.” The song remains one of the genre’s biggest crossover hits of all time, proving equally successful at EDM festivals as on mainstream radio. It was especially popular in America, making Avicii one of the first EDM acts to really make a name for himself in the country. DJs are often faceless names behind popular songs, but Avicii became a celebrity in his own right, selling out shows and living like a real rock star.

Avicii’s popularity was not unfounded, however. He possessed talent in spades and took risks that paid off for both him and the EDM industry. Constantly innovating, his catalogue of hits includes tracks with influences from pop, soul, rock, and dozens of other genres of music. Avicii truly changed the game when he released his runaway hit “Wake Me Up” in 2013, which fused EDM and country – something no other DJ had attempted before.

Although the track was divisive among critics, it showed Avicii’s ingenuity and commitment to breaking the EDM mold when so many DJs were pumping out music that all sounded the same. The last LP released before his death continues this departure from the typical, exploring new folktronica styles.

With his incredible success, Bergling made sure to give back. He donated millions of dollars to charity over the course of his career, including Feeding America. He also used his creativity to benefit the less fortunate, directing two music videos designed to show the negative effects of gang violence and human trafficking. He knew that he had a powerful voice and was committed to using it for good, even within an industry known for partying. To put it simply – Avicii was truly a good guy and will surely be missed.

The Best Bang for Your Buck: Music Streaming Platforms

Products like the Amazon EchoGoogle Home, and Apple HomePod have changed the way we listen to our favorite music, with more accessibility and convenience. As music streaming continues to become one of the most popular ways to listen to today’s musicians and artists, several platforms are fighting for relevancy in our increasingly digital world.

Choosing the right music streaming service for you is entirely based on preference, though prices do vary. For example, Mac users will often side with Apple Music due to the familiarity and convenience. Others may be more inclined to try Spotify or Pandora. Regardless, the amount of music that will be at your fingertips is almost unfathomable. The following are some of the best music streaming platforms to take advantage of.

Prime Music

Amazon’s streaming platform, which is included with Amazon Prime, is just $10.99 a month, or $99.99 for the year, and gives you access to over 2 millions songs without ads. Additionally, you can listen offline or through your Amazon Echo. Prime comes with thousands of curated playlists and stations suited for specific genres and moods as well. Users can also upload songs from a persona library of theirs to the Amazon Cloud.

One of the few complaints Prime users have is the limited music selection. While 2 millions songs certainly sounds like a lot, it pales in comparison to many of the other popular streaming platforms.

Apple Music

As mentioned before, Apple users and general fans of this company will almost certainly enjoy Apple Music, which is just $9.99 per month, or $14.99 per month on their family plan, capable of having up to 6 people. It boasts over 40 million artists, songs, and podcasts, and is even available for Android devices you not have an iPhone or iOS device. Beats 1 is another perk that comes with Apple Music. This free, online radio station is handled by actual DJs.

This platform’s navigation tools is often met with criticism when comparing it to other streaming services. For users more comfortable with Spotify or Pandora, Apple Music’s search options may come with a bit of a learning curve.

Spotify

Arguably one of the most popular streaming platforms today, Spotify is a free streaming service, but without pay comes a barrage of ads in between every two or three songs. For just $9.99 a month, these ads will be removed. Spotify has over 30 million songs to choose from, and is a great way to create and share playlists with friends, or listen to live sessions from time to time.

Aside from the ads, a few other cons that come with Spotify are the limited mobile functionality, and the confusing process of uploading your own songs to a library or playlist.

Tidal

A streaming platform that has recently grown in popularity, Tidal is great for music lovers who want to hear the best possible quality music, and lots of it. For just $9.99 per month (or $19.99 per month for Hi-Res audio), users have access to over 46 million songs and just under 200,000 videos. It’s often seen as an awesome medium for rap and R&B artists as well.

That being said, a common complaint is the $20 monthly fee, which is steep compared to other platforms. The high quality can also slow down mobile devices due to its data usage.

In conclusion, if you are looking to change things up with your music streaming services, try any of the platforms mentioned above. You may be surprised with what you like.

Originally posted on ZeeshanHoodbhoy.net

Musicians and Artists to Watch in 2018

Now that 2017 has come to a close and the 60th Annual Grammy Awards are less than a month away, one cannot help but wonder which musicians and artists are poised to have a breakout year in 2018. Across all genres, up-and-coming artists are making themselves known in an attempt to reach stardom. Below are just a few of many who could potentially have a big year in the music world.

Daniel Caesar

Much like Chance the Rapper, Daniel Caesar has slowly been rising in the R&B ranks through his DIY mentality and soulful sound. Though he started gaining traction back in 2014, Caesar has been touring relentlessly to spread the word of his classical sound reminiscent of mid-20th century soul. His newest album Freudian was just released back in August of 2017, so expect to see him gain some notoriety in 2018.

CyHi The Prynce

Appearing on four different Kanye West albums, CyHi is perhaps best known for his ghostwriting abilities, much of which were dedicated to G.O.O.D. Music. His latest album No Dope on Sundays features some of the hottest names in rap right now, and is sure to take off in 2018 since its release this past November. ScHoolboy Q, Kanye West, and Travis Scott are just some of the many big names to voice their lyrics on CyHi’s album, so he shouldn’t need much help finding success with the newest of his projects.

Phoebe Bridgers

This Los Angeles-based country-folk singer could fall under a variety of genres, but her perfect blend of folk and pop sound is expected to garner some well deserved attention in the new year. Phoebe Bridgers is the embodiment of emotionalism in an age where that seems to be fading. Her soft voice and deep lyrics bode well with her current fanbase, which could grow exponentially in the next year or two.

Kelela

Kelela geniusly blends electronic and modern R&B in her latest record Take Me Apart which was released this past October. Combine that with her extensive collaborative efforts with names like Solange, Gorillaz, and Teengirl Fantasy, and Kelela is certain to have a breakout year.

Jaden Smith

A name that almost everyone knows thanks in part to his acting career and his father (Will), Jaden Smith has been active in the music industry for a number of years now, but his latest album SYRE could project his name even more. He was featured on Childish Gambino’s EP Kauai back in 2014 which may have helped music fans all over the world take his sound more seriously, but his latest work is good enough to spawn a whole new generation of admirers. Since its release in November of 2017, Jaden Smith’s debut album is almost guaranteed to generate buzz around the industry in the next 12 months.