Ask the DJ: Does the way you listen to music effect your perception of it? [Article]
At one time, most people listened to music out of a radio or boombox, but in 2011 you could argue many of us experience music in a more secluded way (i.e. iPods, headphones, blog-surfing). On the other hand, those socially inclined have been in clubs or parties and had experiences to music. How does the setting and method of hearing music effect a listeners perception of a song? Does it effect it at all? Can clicking a song on a music blog resonate similar to sitting on a corner with the radio on? Let’s ask the DJs.
Does how you listen really matter? Boombox? iPod? Club?
DJ Wristpect (Toronto)
I feel the way we experience music has completely changed. It used to be the DJ or selector (either in club or on radio) who was the gatekeeper and primary influencer for new music. The masses would be exposed to this new music via radio mix shows and in nightclub settings and thus people were forced to listen to the entire record/song and relied on those mediums (radio/club) to hear new music. Nowadays, the general public is in a position to seek out and listen to new and/or exclusive music themselves (mainly due to the internet). This is both a good and bad thing; on a positive note it has allowed individuals to browse and seek out musical tastes and genres that gain their attention/interest. Furthermore, online distribution has made it feasible for an unknown artist who does not have a budget or record label behind them to put out their own recordings and attain attention virally. The negative connotation attached to this new form of ‘music processing’ is that there is simply too much ‘noise’ across all the channels and mediums. People’s attention spans are at an all-time low and the concept of being “the first to have music” or “break music” is almost non-existent, as almost everyone has the same access to music as everyone else.
“People’s attention spans are at an all-time low and the concept of being “the first to have music” or “break music” is almost non-existent, as almost everyone has the same access to music as everyone else.” – Wristpect
DJ Dames Nellas (Toronto)
This is a question that I don’t get asked to often, but I find myself explaining the scenario to people on a regular basis. In 2011 people are so quick to say “Aww that song is garbage” and in the hip hop community they are more often then not referring to a Rick Ross or Waka Flocka type of record. My response to them is “It might be garbage in your bathroom while taking a shower, but I saw you in the club two days ago with a bottle in your hand singing all the lyrics!”
The point I’m trying to make is you need to experience the music in the environment it was intended to be heard in.” – Dames Nellas
The point I’m trying to make is you need to experience the music in the environment it was intended to be heard in. So obviously club records feel the best in the club, because it was made for a club atmosphere. The same goes for all the other records out there. Some records can be heard off a blog site and still make your head knock. Like “Otis” is an example of a song that can be heard anywhere at anytime and it will resonate with people. I think people are feeling that record largely because of the reputation Jay & Kanye made for themselves. Personally, I have heard way better records from the two, however as a DJ I understand why people like it.
DJ Mel Boogie (Toronto):
Clicking on a button in the confines of your home doesn’t always give good music a chance to truly shine. A track can sound completely different on a laptop or ear phones versus hearing it in a club, with surround sound, heavy bass and a proper sound system.
DJ She (Vancouver)
I think music is meant to resonate with people in which ever way it is applicable to the person. Whether it’s a some of inspiration or that song that gets you hype for a play-off game. I do think music should be experienced with other people whether it’s on the corner with a boombox or at a concert, etc. Music is like food, in a sense. It is meant to be shared.
“Music is like food, in a sense. It is meant to be shared.” – DJ She
DJ Lissa Monet (Toronto)
That’s something I’ve been struggling with for a few years now. 10-15 years ago, radio was king. Don’t get me wrong, it still is but now just for commercial music and priority major label artists. I think with the emergence of music websites and music blogs, the underground artist has a chance to get their music to the masses but as some of us know, there are some obstacles that come with getting your music to the most popular blog or website.
From a club perspective I feel like it totally makes it difficult for the DJ because there’s so much music being released from different online media outlets at a time. It’s hard to keep up with everything that comes out each day (DJs still need to practice, handle business, promote events, wipe their asses, etc). So when someone approaches the DJ booth with a song request from a mixtape that came out the day of, depending on the DJ or the artist, we may have it and we may play it, but the rest of the people at the club may not know it. Sometimes when people come to me with requests for songs that I know are not well known just yet, I ask “Is this a personal request, or is this a song you feel the whole club will rock to?” Nine times out of ten it’s a personal request and nine times out of ten I’ll play their request and one or two people out of 200 people know what I’m playing. Sometimes it works and a new song is now broken in, but sometimes it doesn’t and I have to work on rebuilding the vibe of the party again and that person who made the request gets ignored for the rest of the night. [Laughing]
“It’s hard to keep up with everything that comes out each day (DJs still need to practice, handle business, promote events, wipe their asses, etc)” – DJ Lissa Monet
Jay Swing (Vancouver)
I think the biggest difference with the way we all experience music is that there is just so much out there from any given artist. Before the age of the internet and blogs, an artist or label would release a 12 inch with an A-side and a B-side and those were the records you had from that artist to listen to. Sometimes they would remix it and give you another version, but for the most part you would only have a couple of songs to take in. Now, there is just so much out there before somebody drops an album (including the album itself a lot of the times) its hard to focus on just one record. When Biggie first came out you had “Juicy” and “Unbelievable” to rock with. “Juicy” was for the radio and “Unbelievable” was for the streets. Those records were everywhere! Now, its too much. Everybody has a mixtape and loads of leaked songs so its hard to just focus on a few records. Its good for the fans I suppose, but I think it can be bad for an artist because you don’t really get every DJ focused on one record. It makes it harder to break records and it makes it hard to create anthems. With that said, artists releasing albums for free on the internet is dope, don’t get me wrong. Its just that sometimes it’s over kill.
“Now, there is just so much out there before somebody drops an album (including the album itself a lot of the times) its hard to focus on just one record.” – Jay Swing
DJ Kemo (Vancouver)
I definitely think that hearing music amongst peers in a social gathering definitely influences the perception of a song. I say that because when I’m abroad at a disco/club and hear a song, then see the peoples reactions it instantly affects my judgement on whether I dig that song or not. Sometimes I would hear the same song on my laptop at home off of Youtube and feel nothing.
“I definitely think that hearing music amongst peers in a social gathering definitely influences the perception of a song.” – DJ Kemo
DJ Supa G Swift (Vancouver)
I think no matter where you are music can resonate with you. Sure, the atmosphere adds to the music and if you are chilling on the corner having a good time and listening to some good music that music is gonna enhance that good time you are having but when I hear a dope new track on a blog it gets me excited. Music hits you internally, it evokes emotions so if you are feeling a track and the quality of the sound is good, I don’t think it matters where you are.
“I think no matter where you are music can resonate with you.” – Supa G Swift
DJ Coco Fresh (Vancouver)
To me the way people experience music varies from person to person and the era you grew up in. I can be at a club and the DJ could play a track I’ve never heard and it could change my whole night from bad to good or vice versa. It depends on what era you grew up in. For the younger generation, clicking on a song on a music blog might give them the same feeling as sitting in the corner listening to the radio. For the older generation, you wouldn’t get that feeling. For me, I grew up in the era when the best DJ’s in the city all had radio shows and radio actually played good music. So for me to click on a song on a blog wouldn’t be the same as me sitting in the corner listening to the radio because the stuff on the radio now is all starting to sound the same and the stuff I find on blogs 9 out 10 times are better than the radio.
“It depends on what era you grew up in. For the younger generation, clicking on a song on a music blog might give them the same feeling as sitting in the corner listening to the radio.” – DJ Coco Fresh
DJ Miss M (Vancouver)
Personally, if I like the track it doesn’t matter where it is coming from. A great song, whether heard on the radio or accidentally found on the net will generate a positive experience for me.
DJ K-Rec (Vancouver)
I think the manner in which we experience music definitely effects our perception of it. Back when I was really getting into hip hop most of the ways I heard about new music was either through friends sharing it with me, going to record stores and having the cats who worked/shop there put me on to new stuff or listening to underground radio shows such as The Krispy Biskit and Straight Goods.
To me, music being so widely available through blogs and places like that is a double edged sword. On one hand it makes it easy to always be up on the new stuff and to find that new song your looking for, but on the other it makes music more disposable and less of a commodity. When it was harder to hear that song you loved you would invest more interest and time into being able to hear that song.
“I think the manner in which we experience music definitely effects our perception of it.” – DJ K-Rec