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Are we obsessed with DJs?
by Andrew Duke

Are we becoming obsessed with DJs? Check out the cover of the nearest dance music magazine and you'll see that the answer to that question seems increasingly to be positive. The faces smiling back at you, vinyl in hand, are no longer the music makers, but the turntable technicians.

With turntables outselling guitars in some countries, the call to the world's youth seems to be stronger than ever to "be a DJ". The DJ is no longer merely the person who plays the records on the radio or at the club or party, but has become the focus of attention; and this is downright scary.

Why? Quite simply, DJs have the power to make or break music and are increasingly abusing this position. Think about it for a moment. How often do you hear a song in the mix on the radio or Internet and never find out what it was because the DJ didn't mention a tracklisting or backannounce any of the material played? "When you play it, say it" was the sticker making the rounds on 12"s a couple of years back, and for good reason. Once the artist have recorded and released their material, they've got no control over what the DJ does with it. The radio DJ can get on the mic with "You're in the mix with DJ So-and-so", but you'll never find out what tracks are being played.

This happens all the time, and DJs who do it should be ashamed. Often you'll hear the excuse, "I'm playing tracks on wax that the Average Joe or Joanne will never be buying anyway cos they're into Cds, not vinyl". Bull. Dance and electronic music CD compilations outsell albums from artists solely because of club and radio play. If people don't know what they're hearing, they're never going to be able to go out and buy it.

The same goes for mixtapes and DJ charts. DJs at clubs and parties almost never announce the tracks they play, but Top Tens and mixtapes are a representation of what's in the crate. How many DJs actually include a tracklisting with a mixtape? While some are sticklers about it, most don't bother. Whether out of sheer laziness or the worry other turntablists are going to check the list and bite their style, when DJs don't credit their tracks the artists suffer. The DJ gets a booking, makes some fans, scores a quick buck, but without a tracklisting the artists played get squat. Most artists appreciate being played out on a mixtape because it gets their material out to the ears of those most likely to buy it--music lovers and other DJs. Skip the tracklisting and you might as well be bootlegging.

If you love the music enough to play it out and chart it, give a little back to the artist. Show some respect and you'll continue to have plenty of quality tunes to thrown down the next time you're on the 1200s. Play DJ Superstar and you'll put these artists out of business. And then we'll be stuck with DJ-produced tracks that sound good only over a massive sound system.