A Spanish club promoter and booking agency, WIP, apparently posted on its Facebook page that is was ‘banning Traktor’ from the clubs and events it promotes. (In case you did not know, Traktor is a hugely popular DJ controller software/hardware system as used by, well, everyone really).
Although it seems Facebook post has now been deleted or removed, comment and opinion on the statement has been passionate and divided. WIP’s main bone of contention was that ‘we’re fed up with the general laziness shown by 99% of “artists” that we’ve seen and heard playing Traktor.’ Many have waded in against this statement, arguing the dynamic performance and ‘controllerism’ potential of software such as Traktor, Serato and Ableton to the ‘DJ’ artist.
Now, to be fair, they also cite the technical problems and time needed for inexperienced Traktor users to get set up and change over, but the jist of the post seems to be they don’t consider turntablists/DJ’s who use Traktor to be ‘artists’. Which reminds me of a similar artist vs machine argument. From 1982.
In May of that year, the London chapter of the Musicians Union passed a motion passed a motion urging the union as a whole to ban the use synthesisers and drum machines in both recordings and for use in gigs. The catalyst for the motion, even though synths had been featuring on records for a decade previously, was a recent UK tour of Britain by Barry Manilow. Apparently Mr Copacobana used synthesisers instead of an orchestra to reproduce his live strings parts. The London MU saw this as a threat to their livelihood and hence motioned the ban.
Of course the motion was dismissed and here we are, with gigs today routinely running on 48 tracks of Pro Tools or Ableton. And with bag loads of ‘real’ musicians – brass, reed and strings sections, backing singers as well as keyboard players, all being paid and wowing the crowds.
Which brings me to my point. WIP cite “large number of “suggestions” (aka complaints) from our public every time a Traktor “artist” fails to deliver.” But blaming the technology isn’t going get string players more work (the MU case) or stop people from not enjoying a show (the WIP view). As Dan White at DJTechTools says, “why not instead make sure that the artist puts on great shows? A little bit of research can go a long way, and that’s something that a connected agency and clever event promoter should have a responsibility to do”.