Thursday, July 12, 2012

The New Twitter.DJ Richie Hawtin Explains

Richie Hawtin came by the office the other week to chat with Ean about life, DJing and amongst other things, the latest updates to Twitter DJ.  Building on his   “straight-to-Twitter” DJ broadcasting service, Twitter.DJ is a beta web portal that allows users to follow live performers, view their tracklists, listen to tracks, and see other performers around them. Check out the exclusive video interview inside…

 
What do think   immediately dislike the artist? Let us know in the comments section.  

DO YOU WANT A Great DJ Name! How To Pick ?

ronically, most of us pick our DJ name on a lark before thinking anything will ever come of it, and then after are stuck with largely accidental results. Whether you are picking your DJ identity for the first time, or re-branding an older moniker, this article aims to help you make an important decision easier. In usual DJ SCHOOL LEBANON style, we get into the science of DJ names, branding, and provide facts; not just fluffy suggestions.

REAL NAME VS. NOM DE PLUME

Why should you pick a fake DJ stage name or moniker in the first place, why not a real name? It’s an interesting balance – a “fake” DJ name allows you to craft an identity around the actual word itself. Skrillex, for example, has an edgy sense about his name – and it almost comes off as onomatopoeia of the sound of his music.

In the business world, coming up with a company name often has a similar dilemma: do you name your company something descriptive “Mike’s Racing Tires” or something more abstract and suggestive like “Racerz”? In a 2008 piece on Mashable about naming startups, Nina Beckhardt, president of The Naming Group, an agency whose employees have crafted names for Walmart, Target and Puma, notes:
“There’s a spectrum from descriptive names which speak directly to a product benefit or attribute, to empty vessel names, where it doesn’t mean anything about the product that we’re talking about.”
As DJs, it’s important to remember that you have the same choices. Three, to be precise: 
  • Descriptive: Suggests or describes the type of DJ you are
  • Factual:  Your real name
  • Abstract:  Non-English words and hybrids are common
Abstract offers the most potential from a branding and flexibility standpoint, which we will cover more later. 
In the DJ Mag 2011 list of the top 100 most popular DJs, we see plenty of both types of DJ names. 42 of the DJs on the list use their real birth names (or a shortened version), while 58 of them use a unique name. In the top 10, only three DJs use their real names: David Guetta, Armin van Buuren, and Markus Schulz.
There is no hard science that we’ve found that tells us which style is more appealing to potential fans, so you may have to go with your gut here.

DJ SEO

The number one thing (in terms of promotion and securing your identity) to consider when picking a name is how it will show up on a search engine. Is it unique? Can you actually own it? Will people hear it and then easily be able to Google it? As discussed in our recent article on the current state of online DJ promotion, you would ideally have control of all of the major DJ outlets with your DJ name as your username. Has anyone else taken them? Here is a good checklist to follow when considering a name:
  • Is the .com domain available?
  • Is the Facebook custom URL available?
  • Is the Twitter handle available?
  • What are the top organic search results for that name?
  • Are there any other DJs listed under that name?
That last point is important. If someone else is using the same DJ name and you become successful with it, there’s a chance that they could come back and try to sue you for confusing the public. Their argument would go something like this:
Since our names are similar, my fans confused you for me – I should be rich and famous! 
The most surefire way to avoid this problem is by conducting a simple Google search, and then if you are really serious, a trademark search.
Trademarking your DJ name is going the extra mile from a legal perspective. This isn’t always simple, and the process that you’ll need to follow in the US with the United States Patent and Trademark Office can be tricky. While every situation is different, and we’re not lawyers nor can we give legal advice, we found this helpful comment from Pamela Koslyn, a Hollywood Business Attorney, in an Avvo discussion on artist trademarks:
TM rights are acquired by use, and maybe your use of providing musical services pre-dated the use by others (…) Recording artists often register their performing name for those services, and the USPTO will do a search of others registered under the same or similar name, to prevent competitors from confusing consumers, which is the USPTO’s mission.
There are 2 kinds of TMs, word and stylized marks (Editor’s note: a stylized mark means that the physical appearance of the mark is what is unique about it, like a logo). Words marks are easier to get but harder to enforce against the use by others. Stylized marks are harder to get but easier to enforce. Which one you may want really depends on what rights you’ve already acquired by use in whatever type of TM you’ve been using until now.
(…) About 1/2 of all TM application are denied, and the fees are non-refundable, and you may want to TM your name for entertainment services, for CDs and DVDs, for clothing, and for online retail, each of which will cost you $325. I don’t know whether TMs are rejected because the applicants try to DIY, but it can only help your chances if you hire a lawyer.

You may have noticed that finding an easy to remember, one-word DJ name that’s not taken might be a challenge. That leads most DJs to start using longer names and multiple words – but will this hurt you?
Looking again at the DJ Mag list to see if the popular players have any trends in name length, the data tips a bit more heavily towards names with two or more words in them, with 68 of the names on the list being more than one word.
Only a few of the names on the list have fewer than three syllables – Deadmau5, Skrillex, Felguk, Arty and Axwell are quick names to say, but it doesn’t seem to offer any particular advantage over the other longer to pronounce names that make up most of the entire list.

THE SOUND OF A NAME

 Is there a link between what names sound like and how well they perform? Is there a social bias against certain names? In his infamous book “Freakanomics“, economist Steven Levitt suggested that people subconsciously pick up on cues in the sound of a name and form bias for that person. Could the same be true for DJ names?

We looked into this a few years back and did find some patterns in the top 10 DJs list of 2010
  • TIËSTO
  • ARMIN VAN BUUREN
  • DAVID GUETTA
  • ATB
  • DEADMAU5
  • PAUL VAN DYK
  • FERRY CORSTEN
  • CARL COX
  • BENNY BENASSI
With the notable exception of Benassi, not a single DJ in the top 10 has a name that ends with an “E” sound (like you hear in the word “crazy”). Instead they all end with a lower O sound that is produced from the back of the throat. Expand that search to the top 50 and only two more DJs are an exception, making up 6% of the group. While this example is hardly a solid scientific study- there may be something to the sound of DJ names as well and it’s worth further analysis.
More recently, Steven Levitte pointed out an interesting study on his Freakanomics blog that suggests people with easy to pronounce names tend to rise higher in organizations.
 “Studies 1–3 demonstrate that people form more positive impressions of easy-to-pronounce names than of difficult-to-pronounce names.”
Even with all the marketing fads over the last 100 years, one method of communication seems to be consistently better than any other form of advertisement: word of mouth. When a fan loves your music and tells someone else about it, the chances of your sound going viral is very strong. Help things along by making it really easy for fans to remember your name and tell others about you.

Should you call yourself DJ So And So? Many people do – and this certainly is a solid way of identifying what you do. Unfortunately, that could very well be a bad thing.
Only one person in the top 100 has “DJ” in their official name (DJ Feel). Sure, we are all not trying to land top 100 slots but that’s a strong indicator that it is certainly not required.  Branding yourself as exclusively a DJ could also be a really shortsighted move.

THE BRAND IDENTITY

 

I know you just care about the music, but let’s face facts: if you succeed, your DJ name will become a brand, and it will have a lot of value. Brands can be much more valuable if they are flexible and well crafted, so here are a few things to think about:
1. Name Flexibility: Don’t pigeonhole yourself!
2. Brand Fit: Does your name fit the style and vibe?
3. Visual Appeal:  People are going to see your name, most likely in written form (hopefully in lights) – so how will it look as a logo? What will that convey?
  • Big Tip: Try mocking up a flier with your photo and the potential name and party you would like to play. Does it fit? 
The most important thing to remember here is brand flexibility. If you start off as “DJ AfroRhythm” and then three years in decide to move into becoming a techno producer, your options will be very limited. I was recently reading Richard Branson’s biography and he put it best:
“When considering names, Slipped Disc was one of the favorite suggestions… Looking back at the various uses to which we’ve since put the Virgin name, I think we made the right decision. I’m not sure that Slipped Disc Airways would have had quite the same appeal”
Brand fit is a bit more subjective, and in some ways contradicts flexibility but it’s still important. Certain names will fit in a Genre and scene, providing a better opportunity for success. Skratchcr8zy, for example is probably not the best name for minimal techno artist – or any artist for that matter. The flier trick is a good one once again.

VARIATIONS ON A THEME

 Coming up with something from scratch is tough – so start with something you like or already know, and try modifying it.

Alter your own name: This is a common road for many DJs that feel great about their name, but tweak it a little for a more original look.
Alter a famous name or brand: We’ve seen a lot of this recently in the electronic music scene, using a familiar name and switching it around. Two successful examples of this are Mord Fustang and Com Truise, but there are plenty of other clever ways to call back to a name that people already have associations with. (Disclaimer: some brands and famous folk are likely to try sue the pants off of successful DJs that capitalize off of their name, so make sure that your name has a significant level of uniqueness to it to avoid legal action!) 

FOCUS GROUPS: FRIEND-SOURCING A NAME

 ftentimes, our self image isn’t always consistent with the way the outside world sees us. Ideally your name would be consistent and authentic to the way your fans (and potential fans) see you and your music. Authenticity is incredibly important in a world crowded by fake companies selling over-hyped products that contain no real value. If your self image is a rockstar batboy but your real personality is a nerdy introvert then “BillySlash!” probably won’t last long.

Ask your friends what they’d call you, and think back to nicknames (only the good ones) that those close bestowed on you in earlier days. After the options are whittled down to the best choices, run them past your closest friends and ask them things like:
  • How does this name make you feel?
  • Does this name fit me?
  • What kind of music do you think of when you hear this name?
  • How would you spell my DJ name?
If any option scores high on all marks, odds are that it’s a solid candidate. Come back a few days later and see if they remember the name you told them. If it sticks, you might have a winner.

DIG DEEP

Some of the best names come from important references or very personal points of interest in totally unrelated places. For example,”The Doors” comes from “The Doors Of Perception”, a famous book by Aldous Huxley that inspired Jim Morrison (and myself!)
Don’t be afraid to get abstract. Forget all about what you expect a DJ to be called and go towards things that inspire you and contributed to who you are today. At the end of the day, there still is no one single formula for a great song, and we’re confident that the same holds true for a great DJ name.
What names of DJs do you find yourselves taking a liking to before even hearing their tracks? What names make you immediately dislike the artist? Let us know in the comments section. 

 

Algoriddim Vjay for iPad ( Review)

The life of a VJ just doesn’t have the highs and lows of a DJ’s –  a VJ didn’t save anyone’s life last night, but nor are any morose British pop stars calling for them to be hanged. But what happens when a company known for designing a simple but respectable DJ application builds a VJing app designed for DJs? That’s what Algoriddim’s done with Vjay – read on for our complete review.
App Name: Algoriddim Vjay
Price: $9.99 for a limited time, then $19.99
System Requirements: Apple iPad 2 or iPad 3
Available: Now
Comes with: Small media collection of music videos and visual loops
Compatible Accessories: Griffin DJ Cable for headphone cueing ($19.99), Numark iDj Live controller ($99.95), and Apple Digital AV Adapter ($39, HDMI), VGA Adapter ($29), and Composite AV Cable ($39) for fullscreen video output.
The Good: Smooth performance with a surprising amount of creative versatility. Clean, efficient interface makes good use of the space on hand without cramping the screen. Live recording from the camera or the Vjay main output can be captured and fed into a deck. Audio cueing and video output available with optional accessories. Wireless Airplay output to AppleTV is also an option.
The Bad: Limited audio mixing features make a public performance including audio a sketchy proposition. Some playback glitches on the iPad 2 when really taxing the available real-time features. No option for precluding either the audio or video from the effects. 1080HD footage is not supported.
The Bottom Line: This a fun, powerful version 1 VJing app that offers as much or more to the user as any DJing iPad app.  Vjay could realistically be used (for visuals only) in a real-life professional performance setting.

HOW IT WORKS

 With Vjay, Algoriddim presents a clean and elegant interface worthy of the overall iPad aesthetic. Two video decks on either side bookend the master output screen in the middle, which is expandable to full screen. The accompanying crossfader has six selectable mix settings: traditional Blend, and some somewhat cheesy visual crossfades: Cube, Swap, Grid, Mosaic, and Push.

 With the Settings button in the middle of the screen, you can separate the audio and video onto two crossfaders, or use a single one for both audio and video. You can drag the crossfaders with a finger, or tap on a spot within the crossfader throw to jump to the middle crossfader setting; the crossfader then will snap back to where it was when you release your finger—a nice touch. Touching the arrows on either side of the crossfader starts a gradual auto transition.

 The red Record button in the center is also a useful touch. With it you can record the output of your video mixes and save them to the iPad’s Camera Roll, where you can then load them back into a video deck if you like, all on the fly while the A/V clips are rolling.

Another way to add content on the fly is to record live video from the iPad’s camera. On each video deck, a film icon opens up the video library, where you can choose the videos packaged with Vjay, videos in the iPad media library, or videos in the Camera Roll. Choose the Camera Roll, and then touch the camera icon to open the camera window. You can then record a video, and add it to the Camera Roll or add it immediately to the video deck.


 If a video has audio on it, you’ll see the audio waveform above the video screen, and Vjay analyzes the audio’s BPM. The BPM detection was accurate for tracks with really obvious tempos, but not always spot on for complex poly-rhythmic material. There is a High-Precision Analysis BPM detection mode you can turn on in the settings, but it does require more processing power.

You can add any audio from the iPad’s iTunes library to a video, and associate that song with a certain video for quick loading later. You can also set a single cue point within the audio waveform, and then the cue button will return to that point or to the very beginning if no cue point is set.

 A/V MANIPULATION

In Vjay, any effect, EQ, loop, or other type of manipulation applies to both the audio and the video. Starting with the upper corners of the screen, you have four effects available, a slider for effect tweaking, and a loop setting with 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, and 4 Beat settings.


Then on each video deck screen, a hand icon button opens additional settings: an X/Y pad for effect and filter manipulation, playback effects, a mixer with EQ and track gain, and a BPM screen for tempo manipulation.
Under the BPM screen, you have a ±25% tempo bar, ±Bend buttons, and a Sync button. For tracks with well-defined tempo, the Sync button was accurate in syncing up the beats of the audio tracks, however, it doesn’t automatically detect and sync to a down beat, so you have to try to finesse that. You can also tap within the waveform to move around, and the playback will remain synced.
Playback controls include Reverse, Slowmo, and two speeds of Slice, which are tempo-synced stutters. All these effects turn on while you press the buttons, and turn off when you release them. What’s nice is that you can use all the playback effects simultaneously.
The X/Y FX screen lets you manipulate one of the four main effects Kaoss Pad-style. Horizontal motion controls the effect parameter, and vertical motion controls the amount of highpass or lowpass filter.
Here’s how the four main effects and EQ affect both the audio and video:
Strobe
• Applies a tempo-synced white flash to the video.
• Applies a tempo-synced volume up/down pulse to the audio.
• The effect variable controls the speed of the Strobe.
Crush
• Adds pixelation to the video
• Adds a bit-crusher/downsampling effect to the audio.
• The effect variable controls the amount of Crush.
Fisheye
• Adds a bouncing fisheye lens layer over the video.
• Adds a tempo synced LFO phaser (or flanger) to the audio.
• The effect variable controls the size of the fisheye on the video and the speed of the LFO on the audio.
Twirl
• Adds a twisting visual vortex to the video.
• Adds a tempo synced LFO flanger (or phaser) to the audio.
• The effect variable controls the size of the Twirl on the video and the speed of the LFO on the audio.
EQ
• The three-band EQ faders control the levels of blue, green, and red in the video.
• The three-band EQ controls the levels of low, mid, and high frequencies in the audio, as normal.

 PERFORMANCE

Vjay requires an iPad 2 or 3; I tested it on a 16GB iPad 2, freshly rebooted and not running other apps.
Overall, the user experience felt ridiculously smooth and quite intuitive. An instruction manual was hardly necessary, but there are links to Tips & Tricks and Algoriddim’s support site within the settings menu. All the promised features performed as advertised, and the app seems to only be limited by the necessary restraints imposed by what’s possible with the iPad’s computing resources.

The only times I experienced glitches in playback was when I was taxing the iPad’s power considerably. While running two video clips, two songs, one effect, and with the Recording window open, playback paused for a split second when I took a screenshot. Also, when running in the same scenario, there were two slight glitches when beginning and then ending a live video recording to slot into one of the decks.
If you’re using Vjay to run only visuals, you’ll be able to take advantage of the videos, effects, and live recording features without any playback errors. We expect Algoriddim will continue to optimize the app to make full-load audio and video mixing rock solid as well.

WHAT’S IT GOOD FOR?

Let’s be clear about what we’re talking about when we say VJ. For many years, a VJ mixed visuals only, often in service to the sometimes chemically-enhanced ravers and clubbers zoning out to the DJ’s music. Eventually, technology caught up to allow turtablist-style DJing of music videos, clearing the way for the Jay E‘s of the world. Vjay lets you experiment with the latter, modern form of video DJing, but it’s just not sophisticated enough to take that type of performance live. For such a performance you need to have not only video features, but a full-fledged audio DJing feature set, and that’s understandably not possible now. Vjay is an entertaining and economical way to experiment with this type of video DJing if you already have an iPad 2 or 3.

A VJ to accompany a DJ is often a luxury, an afterthought, or non-existent, and as with DJing, the quality and/or originality of the source material means just as much or more than what you do with it. While there really isn’t an iPad DJ app that strikes me as appropriate for putting on a complete performance in a main stage setting, Vjay connected to a projector seems perfectly suitable for sprucing up a visually dull bar night or giving a house party some panache. It’s not nearly as powerful as the big VJ software programs like Modul8 and Arkaos, but it’s certainly less expensive and more portable than a VJ setup consisting of a laptop, software, and one or more controllers.

CONCLUSIONS

As a first release, Vjay offers smooth performance, and a hearty selection of features. It feels simple at first, but the feature set blossoms into a lot of creative possibility once you dig into it. I expect the bell & whistles to ring even louder as Algoriddim adds more effects and features, but you can’t fault them for holding back a bit to keep the app running smoothly on the limited iPad hardware. When it comes to apps that try to boil down a complicated task such as DJing into a single iPad screen, Vjay deserves your expendable App Store cash as much as any of them.
For more information on Vjay and to see it in use, visit Algoriddim’s site.
To purchase a copy and read user reviews, check out the App Store page

Live Streaming Your DJ Sets? Getting Started!

One of the fastest ways to get really good at DJing is to put yourself in situations where you’re expected to perform, and while playing gigs is the best way to get this type of practice in, streaming your sets is a great alternative. You can stream whenever you want,  invite your friends and fans to listen in, and you’re more likely to take your session seriously. In this article, we take a look at some of the best services on the web for quickly getting your sets live streaming for the world to hear.

BEFORE YOU STREAM: SETTING UP AUDIO

Being a digital DJ, you’ll have to make a few extra considerations when you’re setting up the audio routing for your stream. You want to send your master output to the streaming site – but for latency reasons, you shouldn’t use your stream as the “booth” monitor.

Our recommendation is that you set up your DJ workflow as normal, but find a way to send a master or record output back into your computer that you can select on your streaming site. If you’re using a controller like the Kontrol S4/S2 or the VCI-400 SE, use the second output on your controller for this. If you’re mixing externally, check the back of your DJ mixer to figure out what secondary options exist.
For a more advanced solution, you could use an internal audio routing program like Jack OSX to split the master output and cue outputs from your DJ application to send them to the streaming service and your cue channels, respectively.
Helpful Tip: Remember that outputs are controlled by their respective knobs, so if you get your levels set at the beginning of a stream and then find yourself turning up your master, you could very quickly start clipping in your stream. Keep an eye on your stream levels, and try turning up your speakers independently of your master. If you’re lucky enough to have a record out or booth out, use that instead, as those levels are independent from Master outputs.

MIXLR: OUR FAVORITE AUDIO STREAMING SITE

 Site: Mixlr (http://mixlr.com)

Cost: Free / Premium
Best Feature: Simple no-frills setup – the kind of site where your grandmother could easily figure out how to listen.
What’s Missing: We’d like to see a clever integration with Twitter.DJ, especially as there’s no tracklisting feature on the site.
Mixlr was launched back in 2010, but received a complete overhaul in design earlier this year. At first glance, the site already makes us rethink how we view web radio, with the above pictured dial showing the current livestreams on the site (the size of each section is relative to how many stations each genre has). Mixlr has just enough of a feature set to satisfy nearly every requirement we might want from an audio-only streaming service for free, without becoming overloaded with unnecessary clutter that plagues so many similar sites.

 Once you’ve signed up for a free account, starting a stream from your DJ software is as simple as downloading a small application that lets you select an input source for your stream, checking your levels, and hitting start. Mixlr can automatically send out links to Twitter and Facebook, and when you’ve finished your live stream, saving the entire set is as simple as a click of a button.
Mixlr also gives you the option of streaming a set exclusively made up of Soundcloud tracks – and while this isn’t as useful from a DJ perspective, it could be a simple way to do a quick radio show of tracks that you’re digging right now or perhaps a roundup of tracks that you’ve released.
Mixlr’s core features are free, with unlimited streaming time and listeners, as well as  no ads, but if you decide to upgrade to the Premium account (£4.99/$7.75), you get higher quality audio streaming, and you can also download your saved sets or publish them directly to Soundcloud or Mixcloud.

SHOUTCAST AND ICECAST – BE AN INTERNET RADIO STAR

If you DJ on Virtual DJ Pro 8 or Traktor Pro 2, you’ll most likely have noticed that both of these programs have built in broadcasting abilities. These features are designed to hook into a larger internet radio station, usually run by a community of similar music tastes – and getting involved in an internet radio station is a great way to network and build a fanbase while regularly playing for strangers.

In Traktor and Virtual DJ, setting up your program for streaming is simple – just get the details from the station and plug them into the broadcasting settings! For Serato and Ableton, you’ll need to use an application like “Broadcast Using This Tool” to send your audio.
Obviously you won’t be starting off broadcasting straight to internet radio giant DI.FM, so instead check out some smaller but still significant stations like Purple Radio (DJTT Forum mod Photojojo is a regular contributor) or SSRadio.
You can also start your own internet radio station using a service like Listen To My Radio – but it doesn’t have the advantages of having a pre-existing audience who you can play to.

USTREAM – YOUR DJ SKILLS ON LIVE VIDEO

 Site: Ustream (http://www.ustream.tv/)

Cost: Free, Multiple Premium Levels
Best Feature: Quality video streaming – with free recording. Advanced desktop producer application with Screencast abilities.
What’s Missing:  Not ideal for audio-only streaming, ads are somewhat annoying.
We’d be remiss without mentioning the heavyweight giant in the streaming world, which is designed to allow users to stream audio and video. Ustream is well-known for being the leader of the pack in the video streaming world, having emerged over five years ago when online video was starting its heyday. While capable of doing audio-only streams, Ustream really shines if you’re feeling adventurous: this could be a great chance to take Ean’s tips for great DJ videos and try to apply some of them in a live situation.
As a DJ, video streaming makes a lot of sense when you’re doing something visually compelling. One of the great features that Ustream has is the ability to add a live screen capture as a video input. The only issue is that at some point, managing a video stream easily become too much to do while DJing at the same time. The best streams would ideally have someone else producing the video, making sure that at the moments where your hands are manipulating effects and playback, the audience gets to see both the video and screencapture.
Ustream also inserts fairly regular advertisements into broadcasts from free accounts – making it automatically inferior to Mixlr for any audio-only streamers. With the starter ad-free account coming in at $99/month, it’s not a very realistic purchase for most casual streaming DJs. There are tons of additional features that Ustream Pro offers – like multiple camera angles – but unless you’re hosting a regular livestreaming DJ show for more than a hundred users, it’s not quite worth it.
Ustream AlternativeLivestream offers a very similar feature set and broadcast style – if you’re looking to do complex video streaming, see a full comparison here.  

WHO DOES VIDEO STREAMING BEST? 

In the world of DJ video streams, there are a number of sites who do regular quality broadcasts of impressive DJs. We’re big fans of the BoilerRoom.tv streams, weekly sessions with some of the biggest DJs in the world, broadcasted live from clubs in Berlin, London, Los Angeles, and New York. Check out Richie Hawtin’s mix from the end of 2011 on Boiler Room below.

 
other folks who do great regular video streams include MixMag’s DJ Lab and Beatport’s Ustream channel.

WE DREAM OF INCREDIBLE TOOLS

While the tools listed here are great ways to get started streaming DJ sets, let’s imagine a tool built specifically for DJs who want to stream their sets – what would it do? What would the key features be? Would you pay money for it? Some of the most powerful and exciting ideas come out of discussions of current tools and how they could be improved, so let us know your thoughts down in the comment section.