So, I have always been aware of two types of deejays.
(1) One is the kind who hosts a radio show and talks between music, reads promotional announcements, etc.
(2) The other is the kind who plays music live. The deejay at a dance club or social event or live performance might play other people’s recordings or use a variety of technologies to create modifications of other people’s recordings or original works, either as a back up to vocalists (like rappers) or as a standalone performance.
If I call the first kind of deejay a “radio deejay,” what would I use as a catchall term for the second kind of deejay?
I spent a good deal of my 20’s and 30’s going to clubs to hear various DJ’s play and we always just called them “DJ’s”. If the conversation ever turned to a specific one on the radio, then we would call them “radio DJ” or “Drive-time shock jock DJ” or even the “KBBL DJ’s”. So I wasn’t trying to be dismissive in my first post (not entirely, anyway), just that it was always just “DJ”.
Yes, there are still tons of wedding DJs scraping by. But even the lowest levels of club DJs are making good money, and many, many lower level club/concert DJs earn more each year that the most well-compensated radio DJs.
“EDM” (electronic dance music) is a catchall term for the music played by DJs at festivals and very high-end clubs in places like Las Vegas. A top DJ can make a million dollars a night at some venues/events, in addition to what they make producing and remixing other people’s songs.
Is there a further distinction between the guy who plays music at your wedding and the guy who plays EDM at a rave? Or the guy who scratches records in hip hop?
The reason I ask is because I’ve always thought of disc jockeying as less creative than what actual musicians do. Their creativity ends after they’ve picked out the playlist, and most radio deejays don’t even do that anymore, a computer does it to maximize ad revenue.
But people like Cut Chemist and Deadmau5 seem to be real musicians. And I don’t even know how much EDM music is created on a synthesizer or computer versus samples cut from another record. Not all electronic musicians are DJs, right? Or are they?
Why do all these different pursuits have the same job title? Is it because they don’t actually play an instrument, but just “press play”? I suppose they all evolved from the basic “guy playing records” role?
From my limited experience as the second type of DJ, the term I’ve most seen is mobile DJ. And, yes, producer for those that make the music a DJ might play. Many can be both and it can be a hard distinction to make for some DJs that mix elements of many songs together into something new and sort of unique but not unfamiliar.