Steve Angello from the Swedish House Mafia was recently recorded on a video during his live performance with Swedish House Mafia showing him to just pressing the play button on his laptop when he switched songs.
Calvin Harris defended the Steve Angello and others who just ‘press play’ by saying ‘’I think it’s not a problem.’’ Speaking to the BBC Newsbeat site, he went on to say “In the club you want to hear a produced piece of music, you want to hear the bass, you want to hear it as good as it can sound.’’
However, is it okay for the DJ’s who get paid a large sum of money per show to do this? With live music events becoming a luxury as our wallets become thinner due to the economical difficulties we all face, is it okay for DJ’s to not play live especially if ticket prices are forever soaring?
The hot topic of ‘’button pushing’’ has been reignited amongst the DJ world. DJ’s have been debating it for years already, whether it’s among professionals or amateurs. It’s not only been Calvin Harris who have stepped forward to support the idea of ‘’button pushing.’’
Canadian DJ Deadmau5 was also criticised for admitting ‘’we all hit play,’’ on his blog. ‘’ I think given about 1 hour of instruction, anyone with minimal knowledge of Ableton and music tech in general could do what I’m doing at a Deadmau5 concert.’’ He went on to admit ‘’for ‘unhooked sets, I just roll up with a laptop and a midi controller and ‘select tracks’ and hit a spacebar.’’
He did reveal a reason as to why he just presses play during a live show by saying ‘’so that’s my “live” show. And that’s as “live” as I can comfortably get it (for now anyway).’’ But Deadmau5 wanted to clarify at the end of his blog post that ‘’my “skills” and other producers skills shine where it needs to shine.’’
He ended with ‘’you know what makes the EDM show the crazy amazing show that it is? You guys do, the fans, the people who came to appreciate the music, the lights, and all the other people who came.’’
DJ’s such as Deadmau5 pre-record their live set to avoid the embarrassment of mistakes, which is understandable from the performer’s point of view.
But Michael Gillet, the Vice President of Communications and Media at the university’s student union told me that ‘’it all depends on how the DJ set has been advertised. Most people would be expecting a live set though rather than a recorded one.’’
The University’s nightlife hotspot The Forum prides itself on booking the biggest acts such as Labrinth, DJ Fresh and Example. Students like those who present and DJ on the university radio station, Crush Radio, were outraged to learn about the hidden reality.
Sam Kelly, a student and one of the Crush DJ’s, said ‘’It’s completely not okay for DJ’s to play pre-recorded sets. It requires much more skill and technique on the fly.’’ He went on to say ‘’The Most important skill of a DJ is not to drop bass, or mix fabulously well, it’s to be able to read an audience; tune in with them and play music they want to hear.’’
When asked about if mistakes were an issue and that was perhaps why DJ’s preferred to pre-record, Sam went on to say ‘’Mistakes, if anything, are a good thing. It shows to the audience that the performance is live and creates a connection to the DJ that he’s human as well.’’
Another student DJ, Matyas Koloh, said ‘’I’d say a DJ should mix live on the show especially if their show is focused around that genre of music or focused on a mix.’’
Other students who pay to see these artists live also share the same feeling than the DJ’s. David Brophy, an English student, said ‘’I think it’s just like a full band playing live. They do it, so why don’t the DJ’s.’’ However, he empathised with the artists and suggested that ‘’when bands play live it may go wrong, so I can understand why they’d pre-record their sets anyway.’’
Ever wondered how much these artists like Deadmau5 get paid during a live show? The recent release of the Forbes Rich list reveals a shocking truth. The top ten DJ’s list had Tiesto on top, earning a whopping $22 (£14) million last year. Second to Tiesto was Skrillex, who earned $15 (£9.7) million with Swedish House Mafia third, earning $14 ($9) million.
If you break that down, it becomes $250,000 per DJ slot for the top earning artist. With each gig being roughly three hours in length, Tiesto almost earns $85,000 per hour during a live show. The whole of the top ten DJ list earned more than $7 (£4.5) million in a calendar year. Those above also shared the list with Steve Aoki, DJ Pauly D from the US reality show Jersey Shore and Avicii.
After hearing how much some of the world’s top DJ’s are being paid Chris Grange, a student, told me that ‘’I don’t want to spend all the money on their shows if they turn up with a laptop and just plug it in. I want to see some skill. I enjoy going to these gigs by people like Calvin Harris and DJ Fresh and I have never thought they don’t perform live. It makes me feel like it’s a waste of my money, and I don’t have a lot being a student!’’
The debate is not likely to settle down and simmer in the distant future. Whenever it involves money though, especially those who are paying to see the DJ’s live, there will always be heated debate and frustration revolving the money they get from a live show.
Whilst it’s clear to see why DJ’s such as Deadmau5 pre-record their live sets, it is even more understandable why there is always uproar from those who earn their wage and use it buying tickets to these DJ’s live events. Even when the DJ’s just turn up and press play, but walk away struggling to put their wallet into their pockets.