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More than the slot machines
September 25, 2013 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Gawker has some revelatory excerpts from a new New Yorker article [behind paywall] digging into the extraordinarily high-profit world of the EDM DJ in Vegas nightclubs.

EDM Magazine Intermix's take on the article is less enthusiastic.
posted by Potomac Avenue (172 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was going to snark about the quality of their music but then I realised it's pretty much just because I'm insanely jealous. It's not like good and bad dance music are that different from each other anyway, when you get down to it.

(On the other hand, I think it's totally justified to resent someone for getting far more money than anyone has ever needed to get. Especially in a line of work like that.)
posted by Drexen at 8:42 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh look, it's hell, a complete description of hell. Now when people ask what hell is like, we can link them to this article.
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 AM on September 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


Vibe dining
posted by The Whelk at 8:44 AM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's not like good and bad dance music are that different from each other anyway, when you get down to it.

Did you have to start a fight in the very first comment?
posted by mkb at 8:46 AM on September 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


♫W♫H♫AT?♫♫
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:47 AM on September 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


"We need someone to comment on how the DJ scene is lacking in musicianship. What musician with authority can we interview to support this?"
"How about will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas?"
"I don't think you understand what..."
"TOO LATE HE'S ON HIS WAY"

and that's how that happened
posted by griphus at 8:47 AM on September 25, 2013 [53 favorites]


On the other hand, Will.i.am knows what a musical bar is, that's for damn sure.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:49 AM on September 25, 2013


So, bottle service, it still exists and it's a thing apparently to siphon off excess cash from people with literally money to burn and no sense.

Doesn't the continued existence of bottle service negate the idea that people are rational economic actors or the free market makes sense?
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 AM on September 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also I wanted to work this into the post somehow but could not: this story seems like the perfect kick off point to a Stefan movie.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:50 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not like good and bad dance music are that different from each other anyway, when you get down to it.

/Record scratch.
posted by Artw at 8:51 AM on September 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'm not sure there's enough money in this world to make me live in Vegas.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:52 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


(Hey, just to be clear, there's loads of dance music I love! Come on though, you know it's true.. :P )
posted by Drexen at 8:55 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm about the last person to champion capitalism, but isn't this exactly how it should work? The clubs make obscene amounts of money, which is plain to anybody looking at the crowds and the price of drinks. The people are drawn by "what they want to hear," which is what guys like Afrojack and Calvin Harris are expert at providing (note the verb). So you have to give them a pretty nice cut to attract them, or somebody else will.

What, exactly, is the problem here? You don't like the music? It's not your scene (or mine). But it sure doesn't sound any more debauched than just about any other buckets-of-money scene in the world.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:55 AM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Doesn't the continued existence of bottle service negate the idea that people are rational economic actors or the free market makes sense?

Bottle service exists on the same morbid plane of existence as Making It Rain. It's wrong, and it's sadistic and self-destructive at the same time, and for both of those reasons it feels so good. It plays perfectly into the weird sexual dynamics of being undeservedly wealthy, (or feeling like you are because you are poor but won some money).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:57 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


The writing is terrible:
hat the vast majority of the capital—social, cultural and actual—generated by E.D.M. is enjoyed by white (and almost entirely straight, from what we can tell) men is an affront to house music's roots among gay blacks and Latinos in poor neighborhoods.
How could "House Music's Roots" be affronted. Its not even a living thing. Its a way we think about House music.

Oh Gawker. . .
posted by Ironmouth at 8:58 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only thing I can think that compares to it are those dominatrixes who demand insanely high sums to do nothing - the act of deliberately throwing your money away is it self the sexual act.
posted by The Whelk at 8:59 AM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also, this is from the NYer article: To determine how much profit the Wynn could pay a d.j. and still turn a profit, [managers] [Sean] Christie and [Jesse] Waits used a formula that included everything from the number of a d.j.’s Instagram followers to the weather forecast.

I don't understand why that is as ridiculous as they're framing it to be. A lot of people use Instagram as a social network and you can absolutely determine the relative size of someone's fanbase if they're a devoted Instagram user. If the weather sucks, less people are going to show up to your club. This isn't exactly tea leaves and the I Ching.
posted by griphus at 8:59 AM on September 25, 2013 [9 favorites]




"Afrojack chose to stay at the Wynn where, according to the piece, he makes $150,000 per show, even though Hakkasan was offering $250,000 per gig and more of them."

you know i was thinking the other day how funny it would be if the whole world blew up
posted by boo_radley at 9:02 AM on September 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


In the Goldberg Variations article, the author examines the music as a machine:
There's nothing sentimental about a machine, and:

A poem is a small (or large) machine made out of words. When I say there's nothing sentimental about a poem, I mean that there can be no part that is redundant.

[William Carlos] Williams is not saying he does not want to move you. He wants every word in the poem to work, to function. A machine produces something; it has a plan, a desired effect.
These Vegas DJs are exactly like Bach, in the sense that they're experts at creating efficient sonic machines. The only difference is that these apparently make you want to buy alcohol instead of, I dunno, understand an inner truth.
posted by modernserf at 9:05 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jeez. I'm usually overcome with existential sadness when I get dragged to a garden-variety nightclub. I can't imagine this scene.
posted by naju at 9:06 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Afrojack cocked his head. “What’s ‘bars’?”


'Bars' are always called 'measures' in American English. Also, quite an interesting booze/music crossover for both words.
posted by colie at 9:06 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why that is as ridiculous as they're framing it to be.

The New Yorker writer doesn't seem, on my reading, to be holding this up to ridicule; in fact, he goes on to say that despite this formula "luck is a factor"--which suggests that he reads the formula as a rational attempt to minimize exposure to "luck."
posted by yoink at 9:08 AM on September 25, 2013


'Bars' are always called 'measures' in American English.

Not in music circles, they are called both, and more often in song-writing they are called bars. Like really really commonly. Therefore: Afrojack doesn't know much about the traditional process of songwriting (whether he knows anything at all about it I'll leave to someone who knows more about his music.)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:10 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


And they never do anything COOL with their vast sums of totally unnecessary money - EVER. Sure you get a "I bought a mountain lol" from time to time but then it's just hanging out and pretending to live in a yurt. C'mon ON MAN you've made more money in a day then most people will ever see in thier LIFETIMES - Let's do some shit, let's rent out a theater just to read the phonebook out loud! Let's stage an opera with all real jewels and silk! Let's buy a forest and move all the anchro-syndicists to live off the land and build elf-like tree houses cause that is something that should exist! Lets breed a race of glow in the dark mice that are bright enough to read by! LET'S PUT ON AN ACTUAL FUCKING BALL, LIKE WITH COSTUMES. Lets build an Iron man suit! LET'S GO TO THE MOON, OURSELVES, FOR FUNISES.

Jesus people it's not that hard to have an imagination. Total wastes of fortunes these fuckers.
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 AM on September 25, 2013 [37 favorites]


'Bars' are always called 'measures' in American English. Also, quite an interesting booze/music crossover for both words.

Not in the bands I've been in.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:11 AM on September 25, 2013


Aw bless. This superstar/bankable DJ thing already happened in about 1995 (Carl Cox was on about $150000 for big gigs back then). Didn't last. DJs just aren't worth that much. It's interesting to see how faithfully EDM is paralleling the commercial development of dance music in the rest of the world though.
posted by greatbiglizard at 9:12 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's put menacing obelisks in random national parks and see how long it takes anyone to notice!
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 AM on September 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


LET'S PUT ON AN ACTUAL FUCKING BALL, LIKE WITH COSTUMES. Lets build an Iron man suit! LET'S GO TO THE MOON, OURSELVES, FOR FUNISES.

Jesus people it's not that hard to have an imagination. Total wastes of fortunes these fuckers.


the problem is that they don't have enough money yet, as income inequality grows they will... or rather you will, and they might throw a bitcoin at you afterwards.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:15 AM on September 25, 2013


And another thing, is anybody else fed up with how much athletes make these days??
posted by skewed at 9:15 AM on September 25, 2013


The New Yorker writer doesn't seem, on my reading, to be holding this up to ridicule

Certainly you're not implying that the good people at Gawker took the excerpt wholly out of context and re-framed it to fit the thesis of their article. I will not sit here and listen to such baseless accusations of the editorial policy of this august font of journalism.
posted by griphus at 9:15 AM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


greatbiglizard: "Aw bless. This superstar/bankable DJ thing already happened in about 1995 (Carl Cox was on about $150000 for big gigs back then). Didn't last. DJs just aren't worth that much. It's interesting to see how faithfully EDM is paralleling the commercial development of dance music in the rest of the world though."

Are you saying Skrillex isn't worth his scratch?

is that still a thing djs do
posted by boo_radley at 9:20 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nope, particularly not at nightclubs. They hit play.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:20 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a general rule assume any discussion of money in an article like this is exaggerated.
posted by JPD at 9:21 AM on September 25, 2013


Who is this... Gatsby?
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a general rule assume any discussion of money in an article like this is exaggerated.

I have personally witnessed like 6k bottle drops in relatively minor clubs so I have no trouble believing this.
posted by The Whelk at 9:25 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Any Vegas Mefites on here?

Would you be willing to agree to kill me if I ever cross the city limits in exchange for a piece of my estate?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:26 AM on September 25, 2013


more often in song-writing they are called bars

OK, I guess you don't get people talking about '12-measure blues'. My mistake. In 'serious' music analysis I think 'measure' is preferred, since it fits with 'metre' and 'hypermeasure' better and is a more accurate description rather than 'bar' which comes from the black line.

Perhaps Afrojack, fresh from preparing a voice-leading graph of the motifs in a Sibelius symphony, was expressing his scorn for the journalist's casual use of music vocabulary.
posted by colie at 9:26 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have personally witnessed like 6k bottle drops in relatively minor clubs so I have no trouble believing this.

Its not the 6K part I don't believe. Its the "multiple 500k spenders a night" I don't believe.
posted by JPD at 9:28 AM on September 25, 2013


Are you saying Skrillex isn't worth his scratch?

Right now he is, because 50,000 people will pay $20 a pop to hear him throw angry metal bees into a leaf mulcher but once the market diffuses a bit promoters will realise they can use club branding to persuade 50,000 people to pay $20 to listen to their mate Brian use Traktor. That won't last either.
posted by greatbiglizard at 9:29 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not like good and bad dance music are that different from each other anyway, when you get down to it.

If it's not good, nobody's gonna get down to it, man.
posted by The World Famous at 9:31 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Vibe dining


Not to be confused with Larry Flynt's Sybian Fusion Bistro
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:32 AM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Right now he is, because 50,000 people will pay $20 a pop to hear him throw angry metal bees into a leaf mulcher . . .

So. . . same as in town?
posted by The Bellman at 9:32 AM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


50,000 people will pay $20 a pop to hear him throw angry metal bees into a leaf mulcher...

Man that's a steal. I paid twice as much to watch Einstürzende Neubauten do that and I didn't even get to dance.
posted by griphus at 9:33 AM on September 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


I despise DeadMau5 in particular. All these expensive, amazing modular synths and he uses them to make crap that sounds like Garageband presets.
posted by naju at 9:33 AM on September 25, 2013


I have personally witnessed like 6k bottle drops.

Back in the days when I used to go clubbing, *nobody* drank alcohol. People even resented spending a quid on a bottle of water.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:34 AM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I despise DeadMau5 in particular.

Serious question because I'm old and I keep seeing that name: Is it pronounced with a "five" or like what the cat brings home?
posted by The Bellman at 9:34 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


greatbiglizard: "Are you saying Skrillex isn't worth his scratch?

Right now he is, because 50,000 people will pay $20 a pop to hear him throw angry metal bees into a leaf mulcher but once the market diffuses a bit promoters will realise they can use club branding to persuade 50,000 people to pay $20 to listen to their mate Brian use Traktor. That won't last either.
"

IT WAS A PUN OR 'A PLAY ON WORDS' THANK YOU
posted by boo_radley at 9:36 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Deadmouse.
posted by naju at 9:36 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


LET'S PUT ON AN ACTUAL FUCKING BALL, LIKE WITH COSTUMES.

YES YES like that one dude who did the Titanic party and sank a real boat in his own private lake
posted by elizardbits at 9:37 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


That the vast majority of the capital—social, cultural and actual—generated by E.D.M. is enjoyed by white (and almost entirely straight, from what we can tell) men is an affront to house music's roots among gay blacks and Latinos in poor neighborhoods.

Is this just like something that now has to be thrown into every article about music liked by white people, or what
posted by downing street memo at 9:39 AM on September 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Jesus people it's not that hard to have an imagination. Total wastes of fortunes these fuckers.

I have determined through rigorous observation and experimentation that it is actually impossible to get rich if you have even a small amount of imagination. What shall I do with my massive fortune and even more massive yacht? I know, I will BUILD A BIGGER YACHT.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:40 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a 20+ year vet of going to dance clubs, anything that serves as a magnet to keep these awful people away from the good clubs (where they will invariably obnoxiously request SHM and AVICII etc) is fine by me.
Let them choke on their $400 bottle of Grey Goose and pretend to "party like rock stars" (because youre always hearing about Mick and Keith drinking lukewarm vodka crans while hitting on drunk bachelorette parties) and bounce arrhythmically while they wait for "sikkk drops" to "woo" to.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:41 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


IT WAS A PUN OR 'A PLAY ON WORDS' THANK YOU

yeah - but I ignored that cos I wanted to sound all weary and knowing about dance music.
posted by greatbiglizard at 9:41 AM on September 25, 2013


Also, I agree that the bad people who like the bad music are bad, and I am good, both because I like good music and dislike the bad music and the bad people
posted by downing street memo at 9:42 AM on September 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


someone has hit dsm with the shibe ray
posted by elizardbits at 9:43 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drop the beat, Francis
posted by kmz at 9:43 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


YES YES like that one dude who did the Titanic party and sank a real boat in his own private lake

Color coded rooms! Rooms with just one person blindfolded and screaming in latin! A room with floating robot fish! A ballroom flooded to create an indoor pond filled with huge Koi we've bred to be hot pink!
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


This guy!
posted by griphus at 9:46 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Bars' are always called 'measures' in American English."

If you think in bars (or measures), you are not going to get EDM. You have to think instead in terms of the grid.
posted by Ardiril at 9:47 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The grid? Well there you go then, Afrojack was probably talking about that.
posted by colie at 9:49 AM on September 25, 2013


This guy!

The hottest new club is Prince Prospero's castle! It. has. everything! Aristocrats, color coded rooms, the wailing of peasants outside, costumes, dancing, the stretch of burning corpses in the distance, Death HIMSELF-
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 AM on September 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


downing street memo: "That the vast majority of the capital—social, cultural and actual—generated by E.D.M. is enjoyed by white (and almost entirely straight, from what we can tell) men is an affront to house music's roots among gay blacks and Latinos in poor neighborhoods.

Is this just like something that now has to be thrown into every article about music liked by white people, or what
"

No, I don't believe so! I understand that this is a matter of grave importance to you, however, and so it may be helpful to email John Cook, Gawker's editor (john@gawker.com) so you can get a bead on their policy in this regard. Do report back with your findings, thanks!
posted by invitapriore at 9:51 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't forget the vast room with a floor ankle-deep in styrofoam packing peanuts BUT there is a swimming pool in there somewhere, ALSO covered in inches of packing peanuts.

Folks just disappear into the floor!
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:52 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I despise DeadMau5 in particular. All these expensive, amazing modular synths and he uses them to make crap that sounds like Garageband presets.

Well that's just the modular synth dilemma: they don't make it any easier to produce "good" sounds, just unpleasant ones. The Buchla stuff in particular have oscillators that excel at producing inharmonic FM clanging, and modules for generating harsh digital noise/randomness e.g. the awesomely named "Source of Uncertainty." But you can't really make commercial music with that.

So you end up with synth nerds complaining that deadmau5 is just wasting all that awesome gear; yet when they hear someone using them as intended, they say "sounds like a banjo."

I'll bet you anything that deadmau5 has all that modular stuff because he can afford it and he likes fucking around with patch cables when he's not working on a club banger.

Anyways someone needs to give The Whelk money.
posted by modernserf at 9:54 AM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


the room where everything is made out of transparent silly puddy!
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


YES YES like that one dude who did the Titanic party and sank a real boat in his own private lake

There was that dot con millionaire dude who had his ridiculous fantasy theme wedding in a forest... That sounded kind of grim though.
posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on September 25, 2013


Is this just like something that now has to be thrown into every article about music liked by white people, or what

It's true, it's true! We're so lame!
posted by cmfletcher at 9:55 AM on September 25, 2013


The Whelk: "I have personally witnessed like 6k bottle drops in relatively minor clubs so I have no trouble believing this."

so how much does a regular beer or cape cod or w/e cost at one of these places?
posted by boo_radley at 9:56 AM on September 25, 2013


The last time I went to a Happenin' Night Club was in 2004 and they charged $10 (effectively $11 or $12 depending on how one tips) for a 24 oz Heineken.
posted by griphus at 9:58 AM on September 25, 2013


so how much does a regular beer or cape cod or w/e cost at one of these places?


I paid (as I recall) $14 for a Heinekken at Ceasar's Pure back in 2008.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:58 AM on September 25, 2013


I've only been to one club in Vegas. I think it was called Pure. My boss recommended it, he was young and rich so I figured he would know. Work sent me out there by myself for a conference.

I was already pretty drunk but I got the cheapest bottle of champagne they had, by myself. They lured me up on to some VIP area up at the front of the main room. They became visibly concerned after I killed the bottle and started ordering vodka tonics and stumbling around the VIP area. I had about 4 bouncers following me. I didn't notice the music at all. The barteneder told me she was working the next night too, and asked me to come back. I was too hung over though. I guess I would go back if they paid me 150k.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:58 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


is there a young who has a more recent pricing?

(sorry griph, you know I still love you)
posted by boo_radley at 9:58 AM on September 25, 2013


If you think in bars (or measures), you are not going to get EDM. You have to think instead in terms of the grid.

I'm not sure what you mean by "in terms of the grid," but I wonder if there's maybe just a terminology issue going on here, as opposed to some fundamental "you can't get EDM unless" thing. I say that because I come from a traditional music education using measures, then playing Jazz, rock, and other genres that refer to measures as "bars." I think in bars/measures. And I "get" EDM well enough to do a certain amount of professional EDM songwriting and production that I'm told is good enough for an audience to go wild for.
posted by The World Famous at 9:58 AM on September 25, 2013


10 bucks for a beer sounds about right. Well drinks where like 15+
posted by The Whelk at 10:01 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


EDM doesn't subscribe to your boring Western ideas of notation, man. It's like Carnatic music. For most students it takes a lifetime of patient practice before you can even ATTEMPT a drop.
posted by naju at 10:01 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Banks, Hydrogen Sonata.

...the final treatise on what you do with infinite money.
posted by aramaic at 10:04 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Music that is not notated has no bars and no barlines. But all EDM and western music has a pulse, from which the brain infers a metre. Hence measures are experienced to some extent intuitively.

No doubt Afrojack's software also shows him the bar lines whether he likes them or not.
posted by colie at 10:05 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Which came first, the shitty music or the shitty drugs?"
-Henry Rollins on EDM
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:05 AM on September 25, 2013


Open up a DAW sequencer, and you will see the grid. Zoom in and more columns materialize for greater granularity and individual events. Zoom out and events converge into blocks. Drag and drop at will.
posted by Ardiril at 10:06 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am pleased that this is happening in Vegas, because it hopefully keeps these nozzles far, far away from my favorite clubs. And none of these jokers is getting past Sven. Granted, it's not guaranteed that I can either, but good dance music is safe for the time being.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:08 AM on September 25, 2013


btw, grid events can include lighting, fog machines, and alerting the waitress for another bottle of water.
posted by Ardiril at 10:11 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Open up a DAW sequencer

I'm out of here
posted by colie at 10:11 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


D'aww Sequencer
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:12 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Open up a DAW sequencer, and you will see the grid. Zoom in and more columns materialize for greater granularity and individual events. Zoom out and events converge into blocks. Drag and drop at will.

I and some of the biggest EDM artists in the world make our EDM in Pro Tools, which calls each one-measure block in that grid a "bar." If a DJ doesn't know what the word "bars" means when talking about music production in a DAW, odds are he's not the guy who produced the music he's spinning.
posted by The World Famous at 10:20 AM on September 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I first stumbled across the concept of the grid from session musicians complaining about having to play to it, rather than pushing the beat or playing behind it. They can't play with that kind of feel for modern music production, because today's producers take real-world music events and make 'slices' that fit into the grid's slots.
posted by Ardiril at 10:22 AM on September 25, 2013


Are they not quantizing stuff to a varying beat any more?
posted by colie at 10:30 AM on September 25, 2013


naju: "I despise DeadMau5 in particular."

I actually have a lot of respect for deadmau5, because he's got a pretty decent and unfiltered public persona that hasn't really changed much from the days before his genre got popular and he became famous. He certainly doesn't do much to hide the fact that he's a huge nerd.

In particular, his short blog post 'we all hit play' on the realities of "Live" EDM performances is pretty much required reading in the context of this article.
posted by schmod at 10:31 AM on September 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Dead Mao 5 are my favorite commie-bop band.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:43 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I first stumbled across the concept of the grid from session musicians complaining about having to play to it, rather than pushing the beat or playing behind it. They can't play with that kind of feel for modern music production, because today's producers take real-world music events and make 'slices' that fit into the grid's slots.

The grid is made up of bars. Playing "on the grid" is a shorthand expression referring to playing with timing the lines up the player's rhythm with the exact beat marks on the grid that delineate each beat and each measure/bar. Those "slices" are recordings that fit on the grid. A loop might be one bar long, two bars, and so on. A "bar" and "the grid" are two different things.

Are they not quantizing stuff to a varying beat any more?

In EDM or in general? More often than not in EDM, it's a steady house tempo. But there's plenty of dragging beats and loops off the grid for different feels, etc. And when you get away from straight-up dance music, you start getting people quantizing to a varying beat.
posted by The World Famous at 10:45 AM on September 25, 2013


Heh. I lived in Las Vegas from 2006 to 2011. I actually ran a club night on Friday nights on the Strip at a club called "Krave" for a little over a year and a half. It was the only goth/industrial/alternative dance night anywhere near the strip. Then the recession happened and we got booted for a totally different style of music, but one where the club could run itself much more like the mainstream clubs did. Which was really sad. Then they brought it back with a different promoter (who was basically paying the club to be there), and even though my best friend was one of the main DJ's, it just fucking sucked, because they tried to run it much more like the standard vegas club.

One thing to be very aware of, especially in regards to all of these high end and very expensive/"exclusive" night clubs. There are no regulars. The average amount of time a customer spends in the club is between 1 to 2 hours, while the club itself will open it's doors at 11PM (or there abouts) and run until 4 or 5 AM (on weekends, some would be open until 9AM). This is Vegas, there is no last call. But here's the really fun part about all of these clubs. They are known as "grift joints" by anyone who actually lives in vegas. The management and the bouncers want you to come in, spend all your money, and get out so the next sucker can come in and do the same thing. The staff is basically there to push alcohol sales on you and try to get you to buy the bottle service, but what they generally fail to tell you is that when you get a table and bottle service, a lot of times they are "renting" you that table by the hour. And if you didn't pay for a table, don't even think about trying to stand next to one or lean on one, or but your drink down there, as it will likely disappear before you go to pick it up again.

They are seriously riding on a completely fabricated image of exclusivity and glamor that if you've ever been into any of those spaces after hours would make you want to vomit. The lighting and the layout of the clubs are almost always designed to hide just how beat the fuck up they are. They get more foot traffic than some parts of the gaming floor, and they are open almost every single night. The cleaning crews have to come through every day and attempt to clean the floors and the furniture (because when you push 1000 people through a room and pump them full of alcohol, you get lots and lots of spilled alcohol and vomit and other bodily fluids ON EVERYTHING).

Also, the bouncers.

You never go to one of these clubs to see a DJ perform, unless you are really really really into them. But even then, you aren't going to hear their prime live-mixed performances. At best, you might hear them pull a few nifty tricks and drop a few b-side tracks that you wouldn't hear at a music festival, but if they have to pull a full night (which they never do), they aren't going to give you "the show", they're going to just keep the music pumping, trying to 'make the party happen', which, quite frankly, if you have any love of the art of DJ'ing or the art of a well crafted DJ set, you will be massively disappointed. Oh, and don't get me started on the way that the lesser known DJ's who fill in the rest of the time behave. There's a reason you've never heard of them. Mostly it's because they are badly imitating the worst aspects of the major DJ's. But it's also because they completely believe in the cult of the DJ. They've been fed this lie that the DJ is the product, and they do everything they can to create this image of themselves as modeled after their idol DJ's, but they never even bother to learn anything beyond the basics of how to use Serato (or Traktor). 2 decks and _maybe_ they know how to use a few effects. A few actually get into using the Live Bridge and trying to add their own beats to some tracks, but their limited knowledge of production or fucking leveling makes their mixes sound about as good as two cars with massive car stereos trying to play over each other.

Oh, and let's get to that wonderful thing about sound. These clubs have some really, really, really nice audio gear. I mean, like, million dollar plus just on speakers. Another million on amps. But then what do they do? No cross-over, no EQ (or a shitty 4 band if you are lucky), and they slap a shitty ass limiter/compressor on the main outs from the board (if they actually bother with a sound board. A lot of times the DJ mixer runs straight into the amp distribution, which = FUCK). And then they just put the master volume all the way up. So you now have this massively over powered audio system with no tuning (or they tune it to an empty room, which = no idea what they are thinking, let alone if they can still hear anything below 100 dB), and if they bothered to hire a sound guy, he's probably also the guy they hired to set up the lighting (more on that later). So you walk by these clubs and you can feel the bass from several hundred feet away. If you are actually in the clubs, you NEED to drink, in order to dull your senses enough to stand the amount of sonic energy being pushed through the air. Oh, and don't ever go in there without ear plugs. If you can get away with those industrial ear protection, that's even better. Otherwise you are going to walk out with tinnitus, and possibly some inner organ bruising. Yes, people have "accidentally" ruptured ear drums when they go to 'shout out' on the microphone and kicked off feedback at 120 dB.

Now, I am pretty sure that these high end clubs will scoff at all these stories. They'd never let those happen in their clubs. Yeah, right. If you don't set up the systems to properly prevent this from happening, they will happen. Especially if your talent is as boneheaded as most talent is (they know everything about writing music and playing it, but ask them to adjust their levels and all they do is turn everything up). Almost all of them rely on the sound system they are hooked into to be under very strict control, but a lot of times, that just isn't the case.

I wont even go in to the kinds of crowds that go to vegas to party at the clubs there. It really is a world that is marketed to people with more money than sense, who feel that just by having money, they are entitled to hang out with big name talent and movie stars and pro athletes. It can be a fascinating world to observe, but also quite alien and a little bit sickening to see just how much some peoples personalities and behavior is completely and utterly dictated by the marketing and horrible parts of our culture. They live an utterly unexamined life, centered entirely around themselves being the stars of every facet of their existence (at least that is what you will come away with when observing them in these types of environments. Who knows, they may all be philosophy writers and have wonderful insights on the struggles of modern man. Though more than likely they are the same buffoons who believe they are liberal but think that poor people are poor because they did something wrong or are inferior. Clinton Democrats, if you will. No, scratch that, most of them are full on Bush was the greatest president, whoo).

Sigh. I live in Las Vegas way too long. I watch the club scene there evolve from good promoters, working independently from the clubs and trying to bring as much variety and talent to the table as they could, to the rise of the business school grad, with a trust fund supporting them, working as managers at multi-million dollar "ultra-lounges" signing up the biggest names they could find to be resident DJ's, completely shutting out anyone who had any kind of local following. These clubs are not for the locals. They are entirely for tourists. People who don't live there.

But, yeah, that's my view of anything related to this. I find it funny when any journalist tries to cover this beat. They never bother interviewing the bouncers, or the bartenders. You want to get some good info, or at least much more entertaining stories, you go to the people who have the best view of the action. Those men and women will tell you about just how bad the clientelle is, or who they kicked out for bringing a freezer bag of cocaine into the club and then spilling it in the DJ booth (I shit you not. I had to take apart a CDJ-800 and clean out the contacts). This shit? Yeah, this is a puff piece trying to sell the "Vegas Club Experience" to more idiots who think this is the scene for them. It's always funny to see people who go to clubs think that they are the ones making the scene happen. They aren't. They're the marks. The suckers. The one whose sole purpose is to show up and fork over their cash to stand around in the noise and fawn over whatever celebrity happens to be in town that week.

I'm going to stop now before this goes on, and on, and on, like the fucking same 4/4 kick beat that is the only thing that vegas house DJ's know how to mix and oh my god would it hurt to put a little 12/8 in there, or maybe something with ANYTHING BUT AN AMEN BREAK.
posted by daq at 10:56 AM on September 25, 2013 [66 favorites]


I love electronic dance music but this money is obscene. And it's sad that the money is going to people who, for the most part, aren't actually writing music, but simply putting together other people's music.

> I and some of the biggest EDM artists in the world make our EDM in Pro Tools,

Weird choice for making dance music! Why ProTools? That's a really great program - but much more for engineering and mastering, surely? I mean, if you suddenly want to drop in a track you know you have somewhere, and didn't plan to do it in advance? how do you accomplish it?

Ableton Live, a program I have complained about here many times before as being unsuitable for composing music, seems to be the vehicle of choice for doing dance music amongst a lot of artists I see (and I also see people using Logic and DP sometimes). And Ableton is very good for grid-oriented music - if I were making dance music and didn't hate Live so much by now, I'd use it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:02 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Imma drop some some loops on my grid now BRB

*middle-aged guitar man gets whole new vocabulary*
posted by colie at 11:06 AM on September 25, 2013


Is there a program suitable for composing music? Even Finale comes with more strictures than conveniences.
posted by invitapriore at 11:06 AM on September 25, 2013


Finale is a scoring program, not a composition program!

Digital Performer is what professionals I know use for film music. Lots of pure composers I know use Logic, though I don't quite get it (but I don't quite get the program fully).

I used to use Opcode Vision, which worked quite well for me back in the day.

I'm really not that picky. The trouble is that Live is relentlessly hostile to so many common compositional features - but also really really doesn't handle MIDI properly (I reported a serious bug, what, five years ago now? and it STILL isn't fixed! It's a bug that has more or less stopped my compositional career entirely, I realized a month or two ago...) The idea that your MIDI performance might include things that aren't note ons is completely foreign to Ableton, and will always be so.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:11 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Pure composer == writing music for its own sake, not for movies or video games.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:12 AM on September 25, 2013


the club in my town that has bottle service charges like $5 or $6 for a miller lite bottle. everywhere else it's like $2 or $3 at most.

they also don't have well/rail liquors. Absolut and Stoli were the low end vodka, no Bankers or generic stuff like that. (which is fine, i don't drink that anyways, but just saying for context)

bottle of low end Moet is like $150 i think. Grey Goose is like $225?

I haven't bought any but I've seen the menu.

So I can only imagine that increase on those costs in a place like Vegas.
posted by sio42 at 11:16 AM on September 25, 2013


lupus_yonderboy: "Finale is a scoring program, not a composition program!"

That was kind of my point, in that I don't know of any music program that explicitly has composition as its main goal. Even with something like Live, which is designed to act in part as a performance environment, I feel like a lot of the actual generation of musical content is either improvisatory or occurs before the actual time of recording. I may just be projecting my sense of how the process works for me onto the tools, though.
posted by invitapriore at 11:17 AM on September 25, 2013


> in that I don't know of any music program that explicitly has composition as its main goal.

I did mention Digital Performer, and one of its primary markets is people scoring music for films and video, and composers in general.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:25 AM on September 25, 2013


lupus_yonderboy:
Live has evolved a whole lot, but is still a very hybrid DAW, with a strong emphasis on live performance.
Protools is entirely for engineering and mastering, and no one is using it for performance. If they are, they are crazy (but probably in a good way). A whole lot of EDM is written in FruityLoops. A whole lot of Dubstep is written in Acid (yes, still). But a lot of stuff gets tracked out in Live, simply because a lot of performers want the flexibility of pre-crafting their sets but being able to do effect holds and loops with the original elements. They also tend to use a lot of trigger pads (like the APC40 or similar devices). But when people talk about using Protools, they are entirely talking about studio writing, not live performance, let alone DJ'ing. The 3 major DJ software suites are Serato, Traktor, and Virtual DJ (yes, that piece of dreck). Almost every major club has a Rane mixer with the built in Serato interface, so DJ's come in with a laptop and simply plug in to the existing hardware.

The days of the DJ walking into a club with 4 cases of vinyl are almost completely over. For one thing, half the booths are not isolated well enough to use vinyl, as a lot of them sit on top of a bunch of subs, which rattles the fuck out of the booth at high volume, causing massive needle slip issues for anyone attempting to do that. If they're smart, they have their own gear with proper deck isolation padding, but for the most part, a good majority have switched to just using vinyl for control decks, and even then, half the time they aren't actually using those for actual timecode, just for the visual of "2 turntables and a mixer" imagery to fool the audience into thinking they are actually skilled at using turntables.

Also, if you go on the Las Vegas craigslist, you will see hundreds of really expensive and really nice DJ rigs for sale, because people will move to vegas with the dream of getting their start as a major big time DJ, but never make the connections to get into any of the clubs to actually build a rep. One of the funniest things I've seen in the evolution of the EDM music scene is the odd correlation between the number of facebook friends a DJ has versus their actual talent. Some of the biggest and most often booked local DJ's suck worse that iTunes DJ at mixing, yet they have 1000 facebook friends. Some of the most talented and best that I've ever heard had 3, and generally didn't engage in social networking stuff, because they were much more focused on actually making music, or actually being good at DJ'ing. I'm not saying that every DJ who has thousands of followers on social media suck, but unless they were already famous for being a great DJ (like Oakenfold, or Tiesto, or even DeadMau5), almost everyone trying to make it as a DJ spends more time trying to get more and more social media followers than actually DJ'ing or making music. And that's one of the saddest parts of the whole thing. The style is completely overwhelming any kind of substance. And it makes everything worse, especially for the audience.

But it will keep on marching along, because there is capital behind the marketing and the image. They aren't selling music, they're selling a lifestyle. The only message is the image, and feeding the egos of their patrons. You've never seen something fall apart so fast as the club scene in las vegas when people stop frivolously throwing money away on enhancing their own egos. 2007-8 was a prime example of this. Almost every single club in Las Vegas shut down and got new management. Every single one threw gobs of money into re-marketing towards the demographics that would come in and spend money.

There are no venues in Las Vegas for local musicians. None. The few that try and start up ultimately fail, because to survive in Las Vegas, you have to make money right out of the gate. And that just doesn't foster any kind of local scene building.

Bleah, I'm going to go rant on my livejournal or something.
Yes, living in Las Vegas and being around this stuff burnt me out massively.
posted by daq at 11:25 AM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


There are no venues in Las Vegas for local musicians.

DOUBLE DOWN SUCKA (not really this kind of music but I gotta plug the punkest bar on earth)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:29 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Potomac Avenue:
Double Down ≠ live music venue, though I have seen quite a few bands there.

I also spend WAY too much time there until 7AM after DJ'ing at my other clubs.
Bit of advice: NEVER EVER DRINK THE ASS JUICE.

They also used to run a bunch of really awesome video collage loops on their televisions instead of crap from cable like every other bar in vegas. The owners also opened a really awesome tiki bar called Frankie's, which I also spent way too much time in.

Some times I miss those places. Then I remember the rest of the city, and I am very, very, very happy to have moved.
posted by daq at 11:34 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ha, I been to Double Down in Vegas and New York

I actually walked there in Vegas, its like in a fucking strip mall by the edge of town. Don't try to walk there. Bartender's name was something like Mungo.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:35 AM on September 25, 2013


Bit of advice: NEVER EVER DRINK THE ASS JUICE.

I would not have thought this would need to be said.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:35 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Weird choice for making dance music! Why ProTools? That's a really great program - but much more for engineering and mastering, surely? I mean, if you suddenly want to drop in a track you know you have somewhere, and didn't plan to do it in advance? how do you accomplish it?

I'm not talking about what's used in a live DJ set onstage, but what's used when actually creating the music in the first place. I'm not a DJ. I'm a writer/producer/engineer.
posted by The World Famous at 11:41 AM on September 25, 2013


> Live has evolved a whole lot, but is still a very hybrid DAW, with a strong emphasis on live performance.

Actually, the reason I hate Live is because it's not so good for real "live performances" where you might do something unpredictable. It's great for putting together loops on the fly, absolutely, but even things like "I've just decided my next song is going to be this one"(*) aren't possible because you can't have two documents open at once - still, after all these years.

The other thing that's deeply frustrating is that you'd want to use Max For Live to do the fancy stuff - but if you try to do anything complex it's unreliable, by which I mean that it crashes. And I'm not talking about "crashing because I have internal feedback or something else bad" - I mean crashes that I can experience just by running a program for a while and doing nothing, crashes even where I've instrumented the program so I'm sure it's doing the right thing.

I have experience well over a thousand crashes with Max For Live. Support tried hard, but was not successful. The breaking point was when they came out with the most-recent version of Max. Support said I should try it - and told me that the earlier Javascript in M4L that I'd been using was single threaded(!!!) and that if I were talking to it from multiple threads, then crashes would be inevitable - but you have NO control over which thread is calling your code if you're doing anything at all fancy.

I gave up at that point. I don't regret it - note that they released Live 9 on November 23 of last year, and just in the last week or two released a fix for the serious instabilities in Max For Live introduced by Live 9 so if I'd kept with it they'd not only have not fixed my issues (I suspect) but I'd have run into new issues if I'd gotten Live 9 at any time in the first year it was out.

> Protools is entirely for engineering and mastering, and no one is using it for performance.

Right, that's why I was wondering why someone in the thread above was using it for EDM!

--

(* - unless the song is already pre-recorded as an mp3, but then it isn't really a performance...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:43 AM on September 25, 2013


My husband and I used to watch this terrible show (Rehab) because we accidentally watched an episode and it was like watching a soul-crushing car crash, except with bikinis and stuff. So of course we had to watch every episode we could find.

Everyone was horrible: the backstabbing waitresses, the bartenders squabbling over tips, the awful tourists, but the worst -- the absolute WORST -- was the douchecanoe manager of the place. So many violations of labor law and basic human decency. And he hated managing the pool party -- his pride and joy was the awful nightclub.

The amount of money people would drop on VIP service was staggering.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:43 AM on September 25, 2013


[Pro Tools]

> I'm not a DJ. I'm a writer/producer/engineer.

I understand the producer/engineer part - that's what I've used it for - but it seems like a strange choice for writing new material as it doesn't really have any tools for composition... I hear the MIDI is pretty OK these days, but not great.

Checking their site, ProTools seems marketed toward production, so I'm curious as to why you picked it for composition?

But really, tools aren't that important unless they get in your way. ProTools' MIDI isn't very strong, but it doesn't have the terrible MIDI bugs that made me give up Ableton. I'd be pretty happy writing music in ProTools, if that's all I had. I've had complaints about some of ProTools in the past, but it's a rock-solid program with features that are well-thought-out and "just work" - it's pretty amazing.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:48 AM on September 25, 2013


Right, that's why I was wondering why someone in the thread above was using it for EDM!

Sigh. EDM doesn't just materialize out of the ether, ready to cue up next in a set.
posted by The World Famous at 11:49 AM on September 25, 2013


> EDM doesn't just materialize out of the ether, ready to cue up next in a set.

Of course I get that. I'm a player and a composer and an engineer, but not a DJ...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:51 AM on September 25, 2013


And I should add (sorry for the fragmentary posts) that I'm not at all criticizing your choice of DAW(*). I am, however, in the market for a new one and thus I'm curious as to people's choices, particularly if those choices are successful.

(* - Unless it's Ableton Live in which case you probably eat kittens for breakfast. ;-))
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:52 AM on September 25, 2013


Checking their site, ProTools seems marketed aimed toward production, so I'm curious as to why you picked it for composition?

I'm not sure I understand the question. When you say "composition," what do you mean? I am capable of reading and writing music notation, but I never do it unless I'm writing for a studio musician or something - which I haven't done in a really long time.

ProTools' MIDI isn't very strong

Huh. That hasn't been my experience. But I fully support people using whatever tools they like for what they're doing. My biggest beef with Pro Tools is that everything is too expensive and the plug-ins are a constant wallet drain unless you're willing to just not keep up with upgrades - which works fine, except when I'm working with other people and want to just send them instrument tracks, rather than audio.

And I should add (sorry for the fragmentary posts) that I'm not at all criticizing your choice of DAW. I am, however, in the market for a new one and thus I'm curious as to people's choices, particularly if those choices are successful.

All my EDM producer friends are constantly talking about maybe switching to Logic at some point because of the plug-in and upgrade cost issues, but so far they haven't done it. The big label studios all seem to be running Pro Tools, so being really good and really fast with Pro Tools is a huge asset if you're sending sessions back and forth with big pop producers and that sort of thing.

I think it's largely a question of collaboration. If the people I'm sending sessions to are using Pro Tools, I better be using Pro Tools. And once I'm good and fast producing in Pro Tools, it's a big effort to switch to something else and have some period of time where I'm no longer fast, no longer know the shortcuts, etc.

That said, I really don't know what you mean when you say Pro Tools' MIDI is weak. What is weak about it?
posted by The World Famous at 11:56 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


*munching on a kitten head* You could always try FruityLoops :P

/joke

It's actually pretty interesting to see just how electronic music has evolved over the years, from a production stand point. Back in the 90's I used Digital Performer as a MIDI tracker to trigger my 4 MIDI instruments (2 keyboards, a drum machine, and an MC-505). That was pretty awesome, but never reliable enough for live performance.

I then spent many years not writing music but just DJ'ing. First from CD's, then I got bitten by the 4 deck bug and started using Traktor. Haven't looked back, for performance, and with the new Remix Decks (which essentially puts 4 bank multi-track loop sampler in one of your deck slots), I've been working furiously to map my MIDI controllers so I can actually use Traktor to perform live remixing. Sadly, it has really come down to TOO MANY FUCKING BUTTONS.

But yeah.
I actually wrote an album with my roommate back in Las Vegas just using Fruityloops. It's pretty simple to work with once you get the hang of it, and we'd just dump out the individual tracks as wave files, load them in to Logic or Audition for mastering (didn't want to bother with ProTools at the time, even though I'd been providing support for several musicians/engineers who used it extensively for years).

One of the worst things to try and do is use Protools or Logic or Audition without having any clue about studio recording/engineering. So many bad mistakes get made by producers who have never learned how to logic and what those programs are emulating. Some people can read the manual and figure it out pretty good, but a lot of times they'll end up with some really weird mixes because they aren't using the tools the way they were intended (and sometimes that is actually an awesome thing, as you end up with side-chained vocal kicks).

Oh, and The World Famous, if I remember correctly, you can actually set up Logic to utilize the Protools shortcuts. I seem to recall something about during the initial setup, you can opt somehow to have it use the Protools keyboard mappings instead of their own, but that may not be true anymore (this was like in Logic 7 or something).
posted by daq at 12:06 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Slightly confusing coincidence.

The "Vegas Nightclubs" link goes to the Las Vegas Weekly, one of the two glossy weeklies available free here in Vegas.

The article in the last link, "EDM's Magazine InTheMix..." (not Intermix) has, in its title, the name of the other weekly, Vegas Seven:

The New Yorker goes to Vegas: Seven key takeaways

I read these things almost every week and have been wondering about the whole EDM club scene for some time.

Thanks for this...

posted by mmrtnt at 12:07 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doesn't the continued existence of bottle service negate the idea that people are rational economic actors or the free market makes sense?

I'm fairly certain that bottle service stands as an exemplar of the free market in all its horrid glory. Where there's a demand to be filled, there's a profit to be made, and all that.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:08 PM on September 25, 2013


One of our local DJ's who's really a mainstay of Madison posted a link to this complaining about the change that's taken place in electronic music this past decade and how it's strayed so far from the roots. He did defend deadmau5 (something I would never do), but for the most part he thinks modern "EDM" is bullshit.

He's going to be opening for The Orb at a show soon :)

Shit, anybody notice in the Eells article that even that little shitstain in dubstep, Skrillex, admits that he doesn't really do anything musical, but that he's just making what sells. He knows he's a fake bullshit sellout and admits it openly.

I also really really really have a problem with "EDM" as a genre. The fuck does that even mean?

That's like dumping Rock, Country, Flamenco and Blues all in one genre called "GBM" (Guitar Based Music). It means absofuckinlutely nothing.

But I guess we used to say the same thing about "electronica" back in the day.

Even so - I think there was still an attachment to the roots, so yeah, you had Sasha and Oakenfold and Moby, but they really did have roots in the scenes they were part of, they had ties to the old school... But these young guys... Ugh.
posted by symbioid at 12:10 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Skrillex
posted by Strass at 12:12 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


> Pro Tools' MIDI is weak. What is weak about it?

Part of this is historical for me - when I did most of my work in ProTools, there was no MIDI at all. And there might have been changes since the last time I was using it - where the MIDI was fine and solid but not fancy, but then how would I know? I was just mastering something and didn't use the MIDI at all.

But consider, for example, generating MIDI from the program.

For example, Live does have the nice feature that you can take an audio drum track and automatically change it into a series of samples attached to MIDI notes. If you play the MIDI as is, you get the same track - but then you can play the sounds in a different order or at different times.

Live and Logic I believe both have the ability to scramble events within a MIDI track on-the-fly - either randomly or according to a pattern - sort of like an arpeggiator applied to a MIDI track. This can be really useful for developing a theme you already have.

More important to me, Logic and I think DP let you make decisions about how the flow of the song goes by sending MIDI commands into them - jump to a new section on the fly or just trigger a subsequence based on MIDI commands. That's actually pretty useful for composition, when I'm experimenting with different sections and subsections. DP also lets you package "things inside things inside things" really neatly and trigger those, which is nice for building up complex things hierarchically from tiny building blocks. Not sure if this is in PT or not.

As I said, some of this could have been added to PT since I used it but a cursory glance at their feature list didn't show it.

None of these features is super-essential, but all nice to have.

And none of these indicate any disrespect to PT, which is a fantastic program.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:13 PM on September 25, 2013


schmod: "naju: "I actually have a lot of respect for deadmau5.... In particular, his short blog post 'we all hit play' on the realities of "Live" EDM performances is pretty much required reading in the context of this article."

Is that the one where he tries to justify his bullshit stardom persona by saying that "hey everyone just pretends"? Because that's bullshit and a pure lie. Anybody worth their salt would never claim such a thing. Go to an Autechre show. Go to a Squarepusher show. Shit, even classic DJs are doing more than "playing a record", and to make such a claim is a stain on the whole scene.

And that's exactly why I can't stand him... He doesn't even know about what he speaks.
posted by symbioid at 12:14 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, if you've never seen the Chick-tract parody called Trance Cracker, I highly recommend you check it out. It does reference a whole shit ton of stuff that most people who are "into" EDM have never even heard of (like references to The KLF, and some of the fucking funniest take downs of some of the "top #1 DJ's").

They also rip on people who only associate certain songs with certain DJ's, as if the DJ wrote the song, etc...
posted by daq at 12:18 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I despise DeadMau5 in particular.

The photos in that link look like the props from every cheesy TV sci-fi show I ever saw as a kid from "Star Trek" to "Time Tunnel"

posted by mmrtnt at 12:19 PM on September 25, 2013


As I said, some of this could have been added to PT since I used it but a cursory glance at their feature list didn't show it.

It has been, but not necessarily in exactly the way it works in Live or Logic.
posted by The World Famous at 12:21 PM on September 25, 2013


This thread has lit a fire under my ass to finally post this question, which I have been meaning to get around to for a while.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:26 PM on September 25, 2013


Oh, and I'll cut Deadmau5 some slack, simply because he never claimed to be the #1 most awesome thing in the scene. He has a schtick, and he created a following using that schtick, and as gimmicky as it may be, if there weren't people who wanted to had rockstar DJ's, there wouldn't be any scene for them to make gobs of money it.

And yes, I am a purist of the essentials of the origins of rave, as I grew up on it and took the pills and swallowed the lies (yes, I know that the who ethos of those older raves was bullshit, but I really, really, really wanted it to be something more than what it ended up being). And a lot of people really are idealists about what music and especially large music events should be about.

I think that's one of the reasons I really love the culture around Burning Man so much. It has it's failures, but most of the people involved really are trying to make something different. They really are trying to make art and new cultures, not just rehashing and reselling canned experiences for mass consumption. That, at least, is something.

And these articles really are the anti-thesis of anything even remotely similar to what EDM (yes, Electronic Dance Music, and it covers a very very very wide range of music, not just house and trance) was originally trying to be. I am always shocked and saddened to watch everything boil off the fun and joy and really amazing art that could be by putting a price tag and having a bottom line for everything that gets allowed to happen. So often, you really have to find someone with a lot of money and some sense of what could be a really amazing party for everyone involved, and just drop worrying about making money off of it. Sometimes, a really good party is a loss leader for everyone involved in producing it. Sometimes, you end up doing everything for free, because you want to be a part of creating something special and unique and fun, and not just someone getting a huge PA, some lights and having their drug dealer friends bring the "party supplies". You want it to elevate and enhance the lives of the people who come, not just be another excuse to go get drunk and try and hook up.

But, well, sometimes I think way too fucking much, and I'm getting way too fucking old.
posted by daq at 12:29 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, I feel you. You can never rave home again, you know?
posted by boo_radley at 12:32 PM on September 25, 2013


Also, the first EDM I ever listened to was KMFDM, Nitzer Ebb, and Front 242, followed closely by The KLF (which had massive crossover between the rave EDM scene and the goth/industrial dance scene).

When the impetus for the music is to create art, it is almost always good in some redeeming manner. When the impetus to create music is to make money, it almost always becomes a disposable, interchangeable, and forgettable noise. The definition of Pop music. And that, quite frankly, just makes me hate it even more.
posted by daq at 12:34 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't get past the concept of having bottle service at a dance club. I don't care how common it is, the two concepts just seem so mutually exclusive. But then again, I also have problems with clubs where everyone just watches the dj instead of actually dancing ... which has been the way most large straight clubs have felt to me for the past fifteen years.

Also, daq, thanks for the link to Trance Cracker. It's a classic, but I've never been able to remember who wrote it.

It's strange how something that is so, so close to sub-cultures I've loved (underground techno clubs in Detroit, house parties, raves, the gay circuit) could get everything about those cultures so very wrong. And yet make so much money doing it.

(and I have an extra measure of bitterness for all of our local clubs that tried to transform themselves into "Vegas-style" nightclubs. As if that were a good thing).
posted by kanewai at 12:50 PM on September 25, 2013


Put a donk on it!
posted by PenDevil at 12:53 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, the first EDM I ever listened to was KMFDM, Nitzer Ebb, and Front 242, followed closely by The KLF (which had massive crossover between the rave EDM scene and the goth/industrial dance scene).

Back then I think it was called EBM. LOL electronic subgenres.
posted by naju at 12:56 PM on September 25, 2013


kanewai: "large straight clubs"

Well there's your problem.
posted by Strass at 12:57 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


colie: “Music that is not notated has no bars and no barlines. But all EDM and western music has a pulse, from which the brain infers a metre. Hence measures are experienced to some extent intuitively.”

As a jazz musician, yeah, we don't write them down so much, but we usually call them "bars." I agree that that's the source of the nomenclature, though.
posted by koeselitz at 1:04 PM on September 25, 2013


naju,
Actually, the classification of EBM versus EDM was very interchangeable when a lot of the bands creating the music were first starting out. I believe it was Front 242 that coined the genre EBM, but that was to differentiate themselves from a lot of the more typical Techno, Electronica, and Trance music being produced at the time. There was a very clear differentiation between the scenes. One grew out of the post-punk and goth scenes, the other had roots very close to disco (yes, there is a clear line between modern EDM and disco).

While I can appreciate the differentiation at the time, today, it is very difficult to really keep them all separate. A lot of the better Tek-House music actually sounds more like really good hard-core and gabber music slowed down and crunched up, with a lot of heavy glitch influences.

But now we're just dancing about architecture, because really, when it comes down to it, it's whether or not the music resonates with your mental state, more than anything else.

Hell, I even love some of the more mainstream trance songs (like "He's A Pirate", by Tiesto, remixing the theme from Pirate's of the Caribbean), mainly because they follow a very good formula that moves the psyche. I don't care if it's by the great sellout Tiesto. I just care that it is really fun to dance to and you can work it into a good DJ set as a high point that gets a crowd moving and laughing and having a good time.

But other times, I really want a DJ who picks a really hard theme and just pushes that as far as they can go. To me, the mark of a true master of the craft is someone who actually takes the words (or music) of another artist and puts them in context with other artist with the same theme or tone to the music. What I hear when I listen to a lot of DJ's (especially the ones listed in these articles, but a lot of other big names as well) is a very Pop oriented music, with little to no actual message or meaning. I love a good Pop song about having a good time and enjoying a party, but frankly, there is so much more to music, and especially dance music that they really should try to explore. You really should be trying to find tracks that can take people from the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs through the course of a performance. Get in there with something angry and heavy and then transform the mood into one of melancholy and regret, but lead out to a feeling of elation and joy and enthrallment with THE MUSIC, not the DJ.

Someone linked an article that was an interview with HHH from the WWE, and even he gets this about his particular form of mass entertainment. You should never just push the level of excitement to just full throttle all the time. You lose your audience. You exhaust them and they lose interest and will start to drift away (or run away, depending on their sensabilities). You really have to know how to pace things, and make them engaging, with no real fear of losing them as long as you eventually pay off in the end. That's one of the things that I think a lot of artists and especially commercial artists have lost sight of. They are under constant pressure to always go after just one reward (usually something simple, like the current fad of "the drop", which has existed for way longer than people realize, but never fully understand until they listen to some Mahler at high volume). But the really remarkable artists (and I have to say, Trent Reznor has actually done this, but his timeline is way longer than most people are willing to sit through) have a huge canvas of emotional resonances that they can pull from. They aren't one note (or one drop) wonders, who can only write music about one superficial emotional state (happily in love, or happily high, or pick your simplistic attempt at portraying happiness; you can also sub in anger for a lot of metal or rock bands, always with the hate, never with the apathy, no real tonal shift away from some masculine archetype of hot and angry).

I try very hard to listen to the entire composition with music. From the instrumentation, to the lyrics (when I can understand them. I happen to suffer from the inability to understand a lot of words when they are sung, mostly because the rhythm and the cadence of a lot of songs ends up showing off the human voice as an instrument much more than conveying definition. But that's my own issue, and I deal with it), to the even the basic structure of the song itself (are they following the LOUD, quiet, LOUD model, or are they doing Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, reprise, or any of the myriad other standard song structures seen widely used, but rarely deviated from). I love Tool because they stray to very far from the common song structures, and get heralded for this, but it is so odd that they have to be the outlier (primus does this a lot as well, especially in their earlier albums). But this is a huge digression. I'm dancing about architecture, and it delights me to no end to do so.

But, yes, I am well aware of the self-classification wars of the late 80's and then the massive divergence of the subgenres through out the 90's and into the 00's. One of my favorite offshoots, Coldware, is getting a resurgence, and some of the best Future Pop artists from the 90's have just released new albums, which are actually quite good.

Also, the new Front Line Assembly is really, really funny, because they've taken their years of studio mastery and applied every trick that current mainstream pop producers are using and applied them to their new tracks. They compressed the hell out of a lot of instruments and even put in some subtle wubs and drops, and the results are astoundingly fun. And funny.
posted by daq at 1:24 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


re: bars

Well that's weird... if someone has an intuitive sense and is able to write software, learn a second or third language, heck, solve complex theoretical physics problems, all without a formal education we call them brilliant.

But if someone is able to craft music without that same formal education, especially if it's music we don't like/approve of... then it's called something completely different.

So is that an objective truth, or just some weird double standard you guys came up with right there?
posted by Blue_Villain at 1:26 PM on September 25, 2013


But if someone is able to craft music without that same formal education, especially if it's music we don't like/approve of... then it's called something completely different.

Wait. Who are we talking about here? Afrojack? Because the article says Afrojack hired Antony Preston to craft the music for him and that "working on" a song, for Afrojack, consists of standing next to a songwriter and saying things that reveal he doesn't have any idea how music is made.
posted by The World Famous at 1:33 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Blue_Villain,
Please go listen to some of the tracks by this "brilliant" DJ we are discussing. You might find that, um, it's not as brilliant as you might imagine.

And especially if you actually have any experience writing music or producing music with any of the software mentioned.

Even without a trained ear, you will note a lot of really bad mixing or over-produced effects. You may even find it to be really, really, simplistic in just basic song structure or musicality.

Then again, Beethoven's 9th is based on a children's song. So it might be that we are all highly critical of something that strikes us as, well, not at all that special, considering that the tools make it so very easy for anyone to produce, thus making the value of those products much more trivial.

I can totally love a track with just a person singing and ukelele, but if all they are doing is monotonously repeating the word "moo" through a vocoder and arhythmically strumming 2 strings at random, I think we all kind of view that is less talent and creative, at least from a musical standpoint.

However when my friend did that at the Double Down during one of the Punk Rock Bingo nights, the whole room was laughing and cheering. So, I guess context matters?
posted by daq at 1:33 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


So is that an objective truth, or just some weird double standard you guys came up with right there?

I think its just more surprising than anything that he hadn't picked up the term, since its so pervasive in music/DJ culture and tools. I would expect that many pop musicians, producers and DJs cannot read sheet music and never have to use it, but "bars" is so essential to performing music (including DJing) that one would think that you'd have to know about them.

You wouldn't expect an untrained writer to know how to diagram a sentence, but you'd at least expect them to know what a sentence is.
posted by modernserf at 1:36 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not just the ignorance of the term "bars" that's shocking, but that he apparently thinks of the music in terms of how many seconds a given portion of the song takes, such that a tempo change would completely throw him. I mean, sure, he's probably never played anything that wasn't between 126 and 130 bpm, but still, the "30-second-verse" thing, combined with "what's bars?" is simply shocking.
posted by The World Famous at 1:40 PM on September 25, 2013


But maybe it's a language barrier thing. What's the word for "bars" in Dutch? Maybe he knows that and the English just threw him?
posted by The World Famous at 1:42 PM on September 25, 2013


I have a feeling some of you guys would probably consider killing me to put me out of my misery if you saw what I'd been listening to most often in the past few months.
posted by wierdo at 1:46 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


daq: yes, there is a clear line between modern EDM and disco

The fact that you've pointed this out as if it's something of a surprise or some weird revelation is – to someone from Europe – really fucking weird. I mean, you can trace the whole evolution of house and techno back to gay NYC clubs of the 1970s (I made a post about the legendary Walter Gibbons here). I don't know whether it's a disconnect between American attitudes to the history of house and techno and British/European ones, but the 70s disco + mixing > Levan at the Paradise Garage > Ron Hardy at the Music Box in Chicago > Detroit teenagers folding in Kraftwerk > 90s Belgian/UK/German techno on R&S/Warp/Basic Channel &c &c is pretty much the standard/accepted/logical narrative.

Without getting into the merits or otherwise of what's now called, in the American press, EDM, it's so obviously a development that has arisen from the above narrative. And as someone else mentioned way, way upthread, it seems like it's, presently, catching up with the Superstar DJ phenomenon that so afflicted UK clubs in the late 90s. ("We can get Fatboy Slim for £100k!" "Ok, let's do it! "Or do we want Sasha and Digweed for £125k?" "Well, is it a big beat crowd or a prog trance one?" "Fuck, who cares. We'll sell tickets either way ...")
posted by Len at 1:49 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


What's EDM?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:52 PM on September 25, 2013


jeff-o-matic: What's EDM?

Something you need a Pioneer CDJ 600 to understand.
posted by Len at 1:54 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Entelligent Dance Music (disco for sentient, mobile tree-people)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:54 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, a whole shit ton of DJ's have zero musical background, but they are working with music that has a real structure, even if a lot of it is really simplistic.

One of the biggest gripes many musicians tend to have against a lot of EDM that is written by non-musicians is that while it is wonderful that they can create some really strange and interesting effects and do some quite fun little things, their ability to do more than one or two things that they accidentally learn quickly shines through in their later bodies of work.

And sure, a lot of that then comes down to "I've spent years and years studying and learning how to actually play an instrument and dedicated countless hours to making music and what do people want to throw money at? A fucking moron who learned how to press a few buttons". It is extremely frustrating, and yes, we all suffer from the Just World fallacy. Also, as noted, Afrojack isn't "writing" the music, he is working with a producer who is doing the writing, while Afrojack is at best providing source samples or saying "yeah, I like that beat". A whole lot of non-musical "producers" work this way, and it becomes very frustrating when they are lauded for their genius, when the reality is that a lot of their genius is accidental and/or incidental to the creation of music.

Again, it also shines through in the actual subject and emotional resonance of the music being produced. If all you are doing is writing "club bangers", you kind of lose the ability to have any real demonstrable utility if you were asked to, say, write a love ballad, or wanted to express an emotion other than "womp, womp, womp. whoo". And what's worse is that once someone writes a really catchy and fun "womp, womp, womp, whoo" track, you can't write anything anywhere near that, without being called a copycat, or worse, a musical plagiarist. And on top of that, you are apparently plagiarizing an idiot, which is a whole different level of soul crushing.

Yes, if comes from a sense of entitlement, and yes, it comes from a big part of "it's not fair", but really, it is also a major barrier for any artist to be able to work on music that they enjoy and not have to worry about getting squashed, or worse, having their own works plagiarized by these famous button mashers, who might hear your track, sample your lead or hook, and simply because they are more famous, and have a broader reach, their track is heralded as "original" and you get stuffed into the "wanna-be" box.

Music is not a meritocracy, and never will be.

That said, I know just how easy it is to put together a banger track. And I hate myself for it, because they can be really fun to play while DJ'ing and have people come up and ask what that awesome track was, and you can tell them "I wrote that". It's horrible, and when they say "I can give the people what they want", sadly, for the most part, what the people want is what these artists/DJ's/producers are providing. And they are sucking the life out of the arts by making it an entirely commercial venture, with no room for experimentation and risk taking.

You will never see the next GG Allin performing at Light.
And you will never see the next Aphex Twin performing at Pure.
But you will see the next rising DJ rockstar get paid ridiculous amounts of money to play what amounts to nursery rhymes musically for people who are too drunk to know the difference between a well produced and interesting piece of music and Skrillex's latest commecially successful product.
posted by daq at 1:55 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let me be clear: Producing a really good, original EDM track is really not easy and requires a ton of musical ability, instinct, and technical production and engineering ability. And the truly great EDM songs are examples of great songwriting, as well. I started trying to learn how to make EDM several years ago, having a background in music theory, instrumental performance, and studio production techniques, and even after several years of doing it, I'm floored by how far I have to go and by what amazing musicians the producers are with whom I have the honor of working occasionaly - I mean mind-bogglingly good songwriters, geniuses with melody. For anyone who has ever heard a great EDM track and thought "heh, I could do that," the answer is, sure, after a few years of working at it. Or you could use some cheesy app or something that just gives you all the loops and all you have to do is play around with it. But that's not what EDM producers are doing.
posted by The World Famous at 2:07 PM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Len,
You make a good point, but I did state that as there is this myth in America that disco died in 1979 or something (even with Saturday Night Fever and Staying Alive being major motion pictures of the early 80's). A lot of American culture ended up being divided up and strange pockets of isolated "mainstream" culture became the norm across a lot of the U.S.

I have gotten into a lot of arguments with fans of EDM about how it traces back to disco. They hate disco. They think disco is all about Donna Summers and the BeeGees. They know nothing of the roots of disco, or how "that disco beat" was originally called "4 on the floor", yet they will scream for a good hard trance song that kicks out that same "4 on the floor" beat like it's manna from heaven.

Also, the evolution of American Rave culture and European (and U.K.) Rave culture is very much like the evolution of Punk in New York and Punk in London. While they were happening at the same time, and the did cross pollinate extensively on the creative side of things, the fans and followers all came to it from a very different mindset and background.

It's much like the difference between the understanding of Class in the U.K. versus the understanding of Class in America. In the U.K., there is still a practical caste system, and it divided the population into distinct groups and behavioral expectation models. In America, we're fed the lie of No-Class and no caste (though one is currently trying to develop, but that's a whole different subject/essay/encyclopedia), even though there were defacto class structures and behaviors. American's have forgotten what a caste system looks like. They have also forgotten about keeping their own history, or even actually bothering to learn about any history (mostly because our culture really hates history, because it tends to get in the way of selling things that happen to be linked to a dodgy history, or colonialism, or racism, or you name the things we've fucked up in America, we'd all just prefer to forget it and enjoy things ahistorically). So when I say things like "EDM comes from disco", to some people, that really is a revelation, and is a connection that they never bothered to make in their own heads before, even if they love current EDM music.

Also, just look at all the press about the latest Daft Punk album. So many critics and commentators are really, really, really excited to point out the "retro" aspects of the music. And honestly, if that's the only thing you can say about something, I think that is kind of telling about just how good the product really is. You might be able to write in the same style as Mozart, but can you actually do something new and unique with it. Or are you really just wheezing Mozarts juice.
posted by daq at 2:10 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you're curious about the real numbers behind these nightclubs and why shit like bottle service exists, Harvard Business Review did a 2009 study of Strategic Hospitalty Group, owners of clubs like Marquee in NYC and TAO in Vegas.

It breaks down the numbers pretty far, if you believe them.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:27 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey daq,

I think we're more in agreement than disagreement on the evolution of dance music of the past 40-ish years. That said, comparing the divergent evolution of US vs UK punk to UK/European rave culture to US rave culture seems a bit off, at least if we're looking at timeframes. UK and US punk happened – roughly – around the same time: Television, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Blondie, Talking Heads, The Ramones and what have you all emerging contemporaneously with The Clash, The Damned, Sex Pistols, etc.

I'm less up on US rave culture than on its UK equivalent, but Britain's rave culture was already a deeply entrenched thing – so much so that tabloid newspapers were running scare stories about it, and ecstasy – by 1988/89. And while I'm sure that there were plenty of American raves going by that point, in 88/89 it was a huge cultural force in the UK, to the extent that it had invaded the pop charts – Steve "Silk" Hurley's Jack Your Body was a UK number one back in 1987, and Kevin Saunderson, in the form of Inner City, got to number four with Good Life in 1988 – and proceeded to completely transform British pop music (not just British dance music).

Indeed, British rave culture was such a thing that by 1994 the government passed the Criminal Justice Act, which forbid the playing of (as defined by the act) "repetitive beats" in certain situations.

So yes, there was cross-pollination, but you're right in that "fans and followers all came to it from a very different mindset and background". I think that the UK's smaller population and geographical size accelerated the genre's evolution/spread so much that by maybe about '89, the US and the UK were completely different cases, and it took maybe until the late 90s for the US – with the help of Moby, The Prodigy and perhaps the Chemical Brothers & Fatboy Slim – to endure the same sort of shift in the charts/pop culture as the UK had by '89. (If this is too much of a derail, btw, I'll happily continue via MeMail.)
posted by Len at 2:43 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


PS: re: class and house/techno, there's a huge amount to be discussed on that subject regarding the UK: working class northerners vs. Thatcherite club promoter southerners; authenticity of industrial cities (Detroit/Manchester/Sheffield) which produced techno vs the glitz and surface of London clubs with door-pickers deciding your trainers weren't quite nice enough; the notion of the working classes getting glammed-up for a Saturday night (q.v. Saturday Night Fever's Brooklyn lotharios), who were the UK equivalent of what Michael Musto or James St James would call the "bridge and tunnel crowd", despite the fact that house and techno (and disco before them) emerged from working class and/or marginalised-by-the-elite cultures ...
posted by Len at 2:51 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Open up a DAW sequencer, and you will see the grid.

Break into the ENCOM facility through the Big Door, sneak past the security guard to Dr. Lora Baines' terminal, forge yourself a Group 6 access, and distract the Master Control Program with a few unsolvable problems. THEN you will see the Grid.
posted by MrBadExample at 2:56 PM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Man, that Harvard Business Review is really good and exemplifies much of my previous statements. I had forgotten to mention what a "Las Vegas Club Promoter" was versus what most people think of as a club/night promoter.

A lot of the clashes I ended up having with the club management was due to this.

In Las Vegas, the promoter is someone who does not work directly for the club, but has a large social circle and funnels business to the clubs, and these promoters get paid by the clubs to do this. Some of the ones just starting will do it for free, to "break in" to the business, but almost all of them get into the clubs for free, and get their own drinks comped, provided they actually bring in other customers. Frankly, this type of business really really really makes me angry.

And this is why I call all of these clubs "grift joints". These promoters are not inviting you to come to the club because they like you, or really want to hang out with you and think you are interesting individual. To them, you are a mark. You are a walking wallet who they can shepherd into the club and get "points" for themselves. The next time you are in Vegas, they probably won't even remember your name, unless you are solely looking at them to get you into the clubs they work for. And that, quite frankly, is just a sad state of affairs. Were I to find out that "my friend" in Las Vegas only wanted to talk to me to get me to go to the club so they could get paid, I'd feel like a complete chump. I really don't see why so many of the people who do fall for this aren't more annoyed by this. But, I guess, that is an alien world to me, with alien social expectations and a much more mercenary manner of operating through life.

I came to "club promotion" with the idea that, as a promoter, your job is to book the talent, do the advertising, manage the social media fan/group page for your night, and work with the club to make sure everything was working the way it was supposed to. If you did those things, you had a successful night, and you had people coming back every week, and you established a very reliable and steady income for your venue.

But that is very much at odds with the "promoter" model that the big clubs in Las Vegas want. I stopped saying I was a promoter once I learned about this practice, and now refer to the whole thing as "I ran a club night" versus, "I promoted a club night." One is a lot more work, and frankly, the whole "vegas promoter" scene just feels like something that lower aristocracy used to do in the late Victorian era, where they would make introductions for people because the only thing they had to trade on was a title and their connections to the high society patrons.

And I think that is really what bothers the fuck out of me. Raised on the lie of "no-class" divisions, and an egalitarian world view, this stratification and weird pomp and flailing of rich people with more money than sense just bugs the utter fuck out of me. Sure, go have a good time, but please, god, stop getting fleeced while you are doing it.
posted by daq at 3:03 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Len,
The underground techno/rave scene in the U.S. did grow right long side the U.K. one, which is one of the reasons why The KLF is actually known in the States, but reallistically, it never made it to the mainstream until the 90's, as you said. Our culture was fighting the Rap/Hip-Hop versus Rock'n'Roll Wars while New Wave and Post Punk was being ignored for Hair Metal and Adidas.

We also had the whole Country/Western Nashville versus Outlaw Country thing going on, so there was a huge variety of music being produced and consumed through out that entire time period (at least compared to today's very market focused mainstream music production machine).

I do believe that the U.K. and Euro scene was much more vibrant and dominant in the cultural aspects and influences, and the class divides of how people self-identified themselves based upon what music was acceptable for their class demographic is a very interesting study of identity politics. One day I'll make an FPP, and it will be a glorious encyclopedia of all of this, distilled into nice links and pretty layouts and lots of tags and a whole history section and, and, and..
who am I kidding, I think we've lost everyone else in our discussion because we've hardly left any room for dissenting opinions.

I would really love to hear someone defend these businesses and this presumed elite culture.

Frankly, I find it indefensible.
posted by daq at 3:10 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, just to throw it out there, It's All Gone Pete Tong is an amazing movie, for anyone interested in euro scene DJ's and the whole Superstar DJ cult and the world that surrounds it. Yes, it's fictional, but with all good fiction, there's something true to be learned from it, even if incidental.
posted by daq at 3:12 PM on September 25, 2013


> who am I kidding, I think we've lost everyone else in our discussion because we've hardly left any room for dissenting opinions.

There is little to disagree with, particularly if you like clubbing!

Your link for It's All Gone Pete Tong is snafued, btw.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:13 PM on September 25, 2013


fixed the link...
posted by daq at 3:16 PM on September 25, 2013


All I know is when I heard M|A|R|R|S - Pump up the Volume as an 11 year old kid in 1987, my mind was blown. I knew this was the future, it was so fresh, so... raw. It mixed everything, and that tribal vocal singing thing... oh god.

And that same year, there was one of those educational shows that discussed youth culture, but always trying to send "a message" and they talked about ecstasy and club culture (and the smiley faces, man, the smiley faces... coming to a kid fascinated by the hippies) and I knew my life would never be the same.

This was MY music.

EDM? Whatever the fuck it is. Ain't my music.

I find the discussion of class very interesting in this. If you think about what they were talking about in Detroit, Juan Atkins' No UFOs relating to P-Funks Mothership Connection, and afro-futurism - technology as escape from the brutal harsh terrors of urban life (or in my world, the dull boring life of a farm kid)...

The backmasking I was taught was in rock gave me a fascination with sound as subliminal and the mysteries of music. Psychedelic. Subtleties, small unique impressions of sound lurking in the shadows.

So Techno, House, IDM, Jungle/DnB, all these things were speaking some language. Oppressed urban cultures, gay culture, the nerds and geeks had control of sound in IDM, hip-hop and urban culture in the UK Jungle scene, and even, looking at 2-Step/Grime and how the evolved into Shitstep via "authentic" dub-step, the cultural appropriation of the message of the oppressed, to be commodified and repackaged, glistened up into just another scene that the elite snobs can spend money on...

Disco->House->ProgHouse/"Trance"
2-Step/Grim->Dubstep->Brostep
Jungle->DnB->Big Beat (?) (How did Big Beat evolve, anyways?)

Anyways, I am guilty of owning some Sasha and Oakenfold. I like old Daft Punk, and I liked Chemical Brothers. So I can't say I didn't buy into the hype at the time. Some of that was just because growing up you didn't have much exposure to much else. Though - honestly, MTV, for a brief period, had that little thing called Amp that exposed me to so much more than I probably ever would have known otherwise. I was where I saw the video for Autechre's One Bad Vilbel. That...

That was it, that was when I knew... Even more... More than M|A|R|R|S... This is where we were to go sonically. This was the future.

I wanted it to be big, I wanted it to be a cyber-future of psychedelic glitches.

Oh it got big alright, big like a mouse-head on some egotistical punk's head.

I have no idea where I was going with all this, and I guess that's ok, because I guess, that's sort of like this ride we're on with music. We don't know where it will lead. We'll have ups and downs and in the end, we just know that it will go on as it always has, the underground vs the overground.

I know where my heart lies.
posted by symbioid at 3:19 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Steely-eyed Missile Man: "Jesus people it's not that hard to have an imagination. Total wastes of fortunes these fuckers.

I have determined through rigorous observation and experimentation that it is actually impossible to get rich if you have even a small amount of imagination. What shall I do with my massive fortune and even more massive yacht? I know, I will BUILD A BIGGER YACHT.
"

Forget that. I'm going to build a SPACE yacht. Dance parties in zero G, yo.
posted by Samizdata at 3:41 PM on September 25, 2013


potsmokinghippieoverlord: "My husband and I used to watch this terrible show (Rehab) because we accidentally watched an episode and it was like watching a soul-crushing car crash, except with bikinis and stuff. So of course we had to watch every episode we could find.

Everyone was horrible: the backstabbing waitresses, the bartenders squabbling over tips, the awful tourists, but the worst -- the absolute WORST -- was the douchecanoe manager of the place. So many violations of labor law and basic human decency. And he hated managing the pool party -- his pride and joy was the awful nightclub.

The amount of money people would drop on VIP service was staggering.
"

Never have seen it. Did drink an energy drink based on it on more than one occasion.
posted by Samizdata at 3:56 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know where my heart lies.

Hear hear. If everything is cyclical, that means IDM is coming back, right? I mean, it emerged partly as a reaction against juvenile aggressive dance music, if I'm thinking straight. So maybe we're due for something like that again.
posted by naju at 4:05 PM on September 25, 2013


What a Vegas promoter would never understand:

When you pay 30 40 50 75 dollars to go to a party you expect much more than when you just go out to a nightclub on a Saturday night.

A party is supposed to be a celebratory event.

The dancers should be made to feel like they're special. They're not just someone who paid their money, get 'em in, get 'em out. They should feel like: I'm in a special place. And I'm gonna have a fabulous time.

That's what a party should be about.


From Got 2B There: A History of the Circuit Parties (1999)
(at the one hour mark)

The 'circuit,' and maybe all dance parties, always had a tension between the idealists and the money-makers, but for awhile they seemed to be in balance, and they produced some amazing nights. It seems that 'EDM' has moved entirely towards the money-making side of the equation ... though I don't go out as much as I once did, so I do hope I'm wrong.
posted by kanewai at 4:38 PM on September 25, 2013


daq: The underground techno/rave scene in the U.S. did grow right long side the U.K. one, which is one of the reasons why The KLF is actually known in the States, but reallistically, it never made it to the mainstream until the 90's


Among the many reasons that I consider Bill Drummond a genius is that he and Jimi Cauty turned the KLF from a bedroom house outfit, started for not much more than shits and giggles, into one of the biggest bands on the planet (pop trivia: the KLF were apparently the biggest selling singles band in the world in 1991, beating out not just yer grunge upstarts like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but even the likes of Madonna and Michael Jackson).

My point being (and forgive me if this is old history/obvious knowledge to you) that in the UK, the KLF were never presented as being part of the underground; they were conceived and presented as being a mainstream pop act – albeit one which traded in an amped-up, hyper-excited version of this house music thing. Stadium House, Drummond called it (and he wasn't wrong). Yes, they drew from rave culture, Chicago House, Detroit techno, Robert Anton Wilson and a whole lot else, but – despite the fact that they had major credibility with the UK's traditionally insular and status-obsessed dance music community – they were a major commercial force and the kind of band who would happily appear on Top Of The Pops in laudably weird costumes, backing Tammy Wynette (to bring in the country element you mentioned) singing about ice cream vans.

When the KLF left the building, so to speak, in early 1992, they did so in spectacular fashion. They played a live show at the Brit Awards (the UK equivalent of the Grammys), in which Drummond, chomping a cigar and wearing a kilt, fronted a new version of the band. The new band consisted of him, Cauty, and thrash metal pioneers Extreme Noise Terror. They played two songs; Drummond pulled out a machine gun and fired blanks above the front row, and then they left.

They then dumped a dead sheep on the doorstep of the awards venue, with a message attached: "I died for you". And then they deleted their catalogue. And this being in the pre-web days, when a catalogue was deleted, it was truly deleted.

You won't see David Guetta or Deamau5 doing that anytime soon.
posted by Len at 6:05 PM on September 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


naju: "I know where my heart lies.

Hear hear. If everything is cyclical, that means IDM is coming back, right? I mean, it emerged partly as a reaction against juvenile aggressive dance music, if I'm thinking straight. So maybe we're due for something like that again.
"

Boards of Canada's Tomorrow's Harvest peaked at 7 on the UK Albums Charts (not "dance" or "electronic" straight up "albums") and hit 13 on the Billboard 200, FWIW.

That said, I looked at the charts and when half of them were "Now that's what I call Music" and other assorted crap, I didn't have too good a feeling on what this said about album's charting. I don't know if they gained new fans or not. The beautiful thing is they won't sell out, I don't think, so we don't have to worry about them doing anything that isn't straight up them. Has IDM ever been "big"? I mean, people have heard of Aphex Twin, but then again, how much of that is because of "STAR POWER" (i.e. Let's have a face and a wacky videos to go with it. I've heard him claim he hated that, and that was totally a Cunningham thing, but I think that's hogwash). I guess my point is - IDM hasn't really ever been "a thing" like EDM is.
posted by symbioid at 7:17 PM on September 25, 2013


re:afrojack and not knowing what a bar is. The dirty little secret of 'superstar djs' who also produce is that most of them have never actually produced a track and use ghost-writers. The ghost-writers are generally tremendously talented and musically savvy, even if the guy they're producing tracks for knows fuck-all about music.
posted by empath at 8:29 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


How did Big Beat evolve, anyways?

Big beat was actually closer to jacked up slightly sped up hip hop than drum'n'bass, although the rawer initial incarnation of it took a bit more from acid house and hardcore, with some of it having the same smoky lounge feeling of trip hop. Oh, and often a good bit of plain old rock'n'roll chucked in there for good measure.

The uncredited Chemical Brothers mix Brit Hop And Amyl House has a good mix of less well known big beat - well worth a listen!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:51 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, the trendy thing now is Deep House, which is kind of the opposite of all this bro-d up bullshit. If anyone remembers the old Sasha of 2002 or so, that's basically what it's turning into.

Here's a friend of mine's mix of it.
posted by empath at 11:56 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


And re: DJ's pay checks. In 2004, I can tell you from working with promoters that DJs like Oakenfold, Paul Van Dyk, and Tiesto were making around $50,000 a night in Washington, DC -- that was at a club with no bottle service or VIP tickets. Double that for New York or Miami. LA and Vegas are actually late-comers to the superstar DJ thing and have really inflated the price of booking DJs, along with the explosions of festivals. In 1999, when i first started going to clubs and DJing, EDM festivals were a strictly UK and Europe thing. You'd have big rock festivals that had an EDM tent, but that's it. Now there are literally dozens of them around the country. That's also really inflating the costs of booking big name djs. I mean there are are really only a few dozen guys pulling down that much cash and basically every city on earth wants to book them a few times a year. It's simple supply and demand, really.

It's not just the cost of booking DJs that have gone up, btw -- it's also the stage shows around them. When I first started going out, the big EDM club in town's DJ booth was on the top floor -- you couldn't even see the DJ from the main dance floor. It had a rack of lights and a big disco ball. If they splurged, they'd throw in some liquid nitrogen jets. Now you've got giant computerized LED screens, dancers, pyrotechnics, etc, etc. It's kind of out of control.

It's been really amazing to watch it change, actually -- in 2007, EDM was dead in the US. The rave act got passed, big parties got shut down, clubs went broke, booking fees dropped, then Skrillex, Swedish House Mafia and Deadmau5 caught on and suddenly it's the only thing that anyone listens to. This is basically the 5th wave of dance music, each bigger than the last: 1988 -- acid house, the original summer of love, 1992, was the advent of hardcore and the second sumer of love, then drum and bass and big beat in 1996, then trance in 1999, and finally dubstep and arena house music (or as I like to call it, Swedish House Mafia Bullshit) in the last wave that started around 2007 or so.

It's cresting right now, and in two years after a bunch of failed festivals and a wave of club closings, everyone will be wondering what killed dance music.

Meanwhile the underground will keep chugging along, innovating. Just like roaches.
posted by empath at 12:39 AM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is the EDM bubble about to burst?
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:56 AM on September 26, 2013


Some of you might recall the big Millenium parties in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s. In an odd commercial tie-in, one of them was used to film the big budget James Cameron film Strange Days. The music was great but then there were annoying guys on megaphones asking the party-goers to go to certain locations on the street and party like it was the last seconds of 1999, repeatedly. Also it was really disconcerting seeing the paid performers mixed in with the crowd - their outfits and dancing techniques (heretofore unseen combinations of professional Broadway type dancing and raving) really stuck out. LA Times article. I recently saw the movie for the first time but didn't spot me or my friends.
posted by exogenous at 5:08 AM on September 26, 2013


empath "Meanwhile the underground will keep chugging along, innovating"

This is the silver lining amongst all this bottle service (had to look that up. MENTAL) madness. People will continue to make amazing dance music they love and play it to people who also love it. It's a DIY culture where production and promotion are incredibly accessible to those who are interested and have something to contribute. Right now that means Forbes articles and Vegas megaclubs but that'll just inspire a bunch of people to put on a party THEY want to go to. And I hope I get to hear about it.
posted by greatbiglizard at 5:13 AM on September 26, 2013


This is the silver lining amongst all this bottle service (had to look that up. MENTAL)

Bottle service, as a concept, isn't terrible. If it's done reasonably, it's not even a rip off. At clubs where I've paid for it, here is the deal: First, there is a minimum per table, usually a few hundred dollars. A table seats from 6-8 people usually. So, lets say there's a thousand dollar minimum on an 8 person table. For that you $125/person you get:

Entry to the club (usually $40-$50 for general admission).
A reserved table.
No waiting in line to get in.
Your own waiter/waitress.
2-3 bottles of champagne or liquor.
All the mixers you can drink.
Access to 'vip' areas -- usually upstairs areas with fewer people and less noise, so you can relax a bit.

Believe me, if you have some extra money and a big group of people it can be well worth the money not having to wait outside in the cold for 40 minutes waiting to get through security, not having to wait 30 minutes to get a drink at the bar, etc, especially if you're not the kind of person that goes out clubbing every weekend.

Which isn't to say that it's not completely out of control in Vegas, but it's not an insane idea or waste of money in principle.

(I did, however, once get stuck with a $2000 bill after my stupid-ass friends let random people order bottles on our tab all night --- Lesson #1 about bottle service -- never, ever, ever put it on your credit card. Let some other sucker do it.)
posted by empath at 5:54 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Deep house is finally starting to take hold in the more freak/hippie/burner underground as well.

Thank fucking god.
posted by flaterik at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2013


And here is a set of that exact thing that I just adore: https://soundcloud.com/jasonbendo/tropical-oasis-2013-bendewish
posted by flaterik at 8:17 PM on September 26, 2013


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