the end of the arms race

One of the underrated affects of the “digital revolution” in DJing is that it has broken the arms race for new music. That is to say, there is no longer any point in playing The Newest And Most Exclusive Tunes because they’re not exclusive any more.

To make the point, here’s how things used to work, in the days of vinyl. Someone like Breeder would write a huge track and give it to a few select DJs – Sasha, John Digweed, etc. Those DJs would play the track out for some period of time, usually several months, after which the track would be released on the back of the hype generated from its DJ play.

Then, your local record store might only order two copies – only you and someone else might be able to get a copy. The track might never get pressed again, leaving anyone who missed out to forage on HTFR and eBay for a used copy…and by then the track’s been played out 100 times by the people who bought it.
The upshot of all that is that there used to be a distinct benefit to sourcing the newest music as fast as you could, because it used to be in highly, highly limited supply. But not any more. Here’s an example of how things work now:

When “Waters Of Nazareth”, by Justice, started floating around, I could not for the life of me find a way to buy it, on vinyl or on digital. And I had a Halloween gig coming up that the track would be perfect for. What to do, what to do? Answer: pull it off of Soulseek, play it at the show, and ask my local record store to order it for me.

Another example is the James Holden remix of Madonna’s ‘Get Together’ – they were coming out on a hard-to-order CD with a ton of remixes I didn’t want at all. Solution? Download the remix, buy a digital copy of A Break In The Clouds from the Border Community website, and then delete A Break In The Clouds. I ended up giving Holden and his label about $5.00, more than they would have made from a sale of the remix, AND I got the track sooner.

Essentially, music is no longer constricted by time. If you’ve heard it, you can probably find it. This means that you don’t have to worry about the flavor of the month, or about that hot new joint that you’re only buying because it’s new. You can find and play what you really, really love, and nothing else.

(I should add that piracy sucks – if you grab stuff from SoulSeek or torrents or whatever, it is your responsibility to pay the artist, promptly. If you don’t, you’re pretty much a horrible person.)