Can Everybody be a DJ?
Already making plenty of noise in the marketplace is a new concept called Playlist, which exists both as a club and as an online music competition (see www.ipod- dj.com for details on how to enter and what you can win).
Playlist is attracting attention for several reasons. First, as a part of what some are calling "iPod Culture," Playlist is helping disseminate music to a wide audience. And second, many of us just love the Warholian idea of a bunch of people showing up at a club to be a DJ for 15 minutes of fame.
So far, the Playlist club is only in London, but you can expect them to go global soon because this concept takes social networking and marries it to a party context. And who doesn't like a nice loud party?
Briefly, here's the rundown on the two forms of this new phenomenon:
You arrive with your favorite 15-minutes of music on an iPod or other digital music player, sign-up (first come, first served) and you play your songs through the club's sound system.
Or you sign up to be a judge of the quarter-hour sets.
The best DJs win extra set time and prizes.
Or you just drop by the club and dance.
Anyone can register at the Web site and send a 15- minute playlist for judging. Again, there are prizes for the best set. Playlist does not yet feature streaming, downloading or Internet radio broadcasts, but you can bet that these are coming soon.
A BEHIND-THE-SCENES CHAT.
I spoke with Playlist's co-creator, Jonny Evans, who is excited by the unpredictability of his new venture. "What will happen at Playlist? That's just it. We don't know what will happen." Evans is happy to let the audience take control. "We can't say what the music will be, except that it will be diverse. We think it'll appeal to people with broad musical taste, a sense of humor and the desire to have fun. We also think we'll attract artists and musicians, who will want to explore the creative potential of the whole idea."
Evans sees the Playlist concept as inevitable. "I think music is about to enter a new boom time. It's going to be very interesting, because digital downloads (legal and peer-to-peer) have reinvigorated interest in music, and I think the most recent US album sales and downloads figures from SoundScan show this. This also encourages a sense of diversity in the music-loving audience. We think this is going to mean people want the unexpected. And this is why we think the Playlist idea is an idea that reflects its time."
The current consolidation of major media across the globe is somewhat counter-balanced by the Playlist concept. As Evans notes, "In the case of radio, for example, commercial radio playlists are designed to appeal to a particular demographic, which musician and music tsar Feargal Sharkey describes as 'Teenage girls,' as this group statistically buys the most music. And that's not good for music. We think we live at a point in time when digital diversity will propel music sales beyond anything ever seen before. And we really, really like the idea of harnessing a personal technology such as the iPod in a way that transforms it into a collective, social activity such as Playlist."
There is a philosophical element in the way Evans describes the culture surrounding Playlist. "Music is at once a deeply personal activity and a deeply social activity, both for players and listeners. I think music is tribal glue. And it's a truism, isn't it, that whenever music marries new technology it sees economic benefit that is good for companies, artists and all involved in the entertainment ecosystem," he states, pointing to the sales figures of firms involved in sheet music, juke boxes, 33rpm vinyl, and clubs, not to mention CDs.
"Playlist is all about the music, not the genre," Evans says. As their manifesto states: "The principle is simple: if you want to share your music, just turn up, sign in and play out. If you want to judge other people's music, turn up, sign up and speak out. If you simply want to party, just turn up, tune in, dance it out."
In the planning stages for months, Playlist is now launching down the block and in cyberspace near you. Everyone can participate, and everyone can be a DJ, at least fifteen minutes at a time.
The G-Man's music can be found many places: iTunes, www.delvianrecords.com, www.gmanmusic.com, and in many iPods.
The G-Man is on iTunes and at www.gmanmusic.com