It’s 2001, and the DJ world is still in the realm of 1200s and vinyl for all.
I don’t know where you were when you saw the first online mumblings of the CDJ-1000. I was sat in the corner of an open-plan office in my IT job watching an unglossy video of the unit being scratched with.
Boom. The DJ world was picked up by the scruff of the neck, vigorously shaken, and dropped to the floor. It was the first real mic drop of the new digital age.
And this week, Pioneer DJ announced a partnership with Tribe XR that brings VR control of Pioneer DJ virtual hardware using local of streamed music.
The stark reality
Let me spell that out another way — pre CDJ, DJing was owning expensive hardware, a vast vinyl collection, and lugging it to and from a probably local gig.
Now, just twenty years later, you can effectively DJ anywhere in the world, without hardware, and renting music. The chances are that you could, in theory at least, DJ at a festival from your toilet. “In full flow” suddenly has a different meaning.
Now, you don’t need to own hardware. Or buy music. Or leave your house. DJing has now become entirely virtual. The age of the Cloud DJ has begun.
The end of DJing?
Despite reactionary claims, CDJs didn’t kill DJing, nor did DVS, controllers, sync buttons, or mobile devices. They all exist happily together. Use what works for you, even if that means sitting in your toilet with a VR headset and your pants around your ankles.
As long as you and your audience are happy, does it really matter?
It’s fair to say that despite numerous practical advantages, DJing in VR isn’t likely to take over from flesh and blood DJs standing in front of a crowd. If it follows the path of other alleged industry killers before it, some will use it to great effect and co-exist in the big DJ tech melting pot.
We mustn’t rule out the as yet unknown impact of COVID either. Will DJs be happy to travel? Will the audience? Will VR DJing be a big part of the next wave of clubbing?
I have no idea. It could be a cool experience. Let us not forget that if this experience is available to the next wave of clubbers and is their norm (like streaming music), it may well be bigger than any of us imagine. Life is all about experiences, real or virtual.
I do, however, see a few practical uses for such technology outside of your VR toilet rave.
Product development — being able to don a headset and play with various design iterations of potential products is massive. It won’t replace hands on a physical prototype, but it does offer a new way to finely tune layouts, and as the technology advances, even more. A world of DJs would contribute remotely and virtually to product design.
Marketing — more people are shopping online these days, so the role of marketing materials matters more than ever, as does the voice of the media. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could put on your goggles and have a play at home?
Retail — I’m sure we’ve all seen movies set in a dystopian future where virtual assistant intrude on your privacy while you interact with a hologram. But instead of real units in shops, virtual units of everything, even non-stocked items, could be available to play with.
I know this is all rather far fetched and will obviously never happen. Oh wait… imagine the DJ world the day before the CDJ-1000 launched, and see how far we have come in just twenty years.
See? Anything can happen. And will.
You might not like or ever use it. But ignore advances in DJ tech at your peril.