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Diplo performs at Hyde Beach in Miami on March 23, 2018. (Credit: Dylan Rives/World Red Eye)
Since 1823, Oxford University’s historic debate society, the Oxford Union, has hosted numerous high profile speakers. From Winston Churchill to Albert Einstein to Michael Jackson, the list is full of influential people who’ve helped shape the world.
In May, Oxford added Diplo to the list. “I never imagined my career would take me somewhere like this,” the 40-year-old DJ/producer said at the beginning of his speech.
During the hour-long conversation, Diplo gave a speech about his career and participated in a Q&A session with the audience. He discussed how traveling abroad influenced the development of his career, his thoughts on the current hip-hop scene, the lack of female representation in the DJ world, among many other topics.
On how he stays passionate about DJing:“I found a way to regulate my life so I can get work done and do shows. And I’m actually really lucky that I love it. … The randomness of my career and the eclecticness of what I DJ makes it easy to do different things. I never plan a DJ set. I have so many different projects I can pull from to play. It might be the pop songs [or] it might be something underground I just created. I think when people come see me play they’re going to expect to be surprised. So I’ve been really lucky that I never get bored.”
On the younger generation of rappers:“It’s fascinating to see how, if you look at the top charts on Spotify or Apple Music, the top 20 charts [are] gonna have 19 rap songs by young kids that are between 15 and 20 years old. And I think that’s an amazing shift because the audience wants that. They’re reaching people directly. And I feel like hip-hop always had the chance to be that music that reaches directly, but there was always a guard by the labels, by the radio, and now we don’t need any of that. You just go straight to SoundCloud or Spotify, and you’re reaching an audience. So I love that. I love the rebelliousness of and the anarchist qualities of these young guys who were on the last EP I just produced.”
On how an aspiring songwriter can get his attention:“I listen to as much music as I possibly can, but now you have to be something crazy. I’ve lived in [Los Angeles] for so long, and there’s such a songwriter-y world there where the songs are the same. They’re just dressed up differently, and I’m so bored. … But I’ve always been the kind of guy that’s been on the outside, trying to do something different. And it’s never been easy for me to write a simple song or pop music. And I think you have to be really exciting. I don’t have an ear for pop that much. I have more of an ear for craziness, and I can help you figure out how to make that work. … [So] just be different because we have so much of the same happening right now in the music scene that I think that if you push yourself to be as crazy as possible it’s gonna be your only hope to succeed.”
Watch the interview below.
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DJ Tessa performs at the LA Food Bowl. (Credit: Matthew Withers)
In an industry that is still predominantly run by men, Tessa Young a.k.a. DJ Tessa is pushing boundaries for female DJs. While DJing in Los Angeles in the early 2010s, the Reno, Nevada native noticed that booking agencies had few women on their rosters. With years of DJ experience, connections, and a paralegal background, Tessa launched Prism DJs, an all-female agency.
Launched in 2015, Prism books DJs for mostly mobile gigs such as corporate events, weddings, and other special and private events. The agency currently has 23 DJs on its roster, including Annalyze, ShanLynn, MissNINJA, and Frazier Davis. As the female DJ movement continues to rise, we caught up with Tessa to discuss Prism DJs, the challenges of running an all-female agency, what she looks for when signing new talent, and more.
Why do you think there is such a low number of women represented by DJ agencies?
I think there are just more male DJs than female DJs in general, so it was never going to be equal based on the ratio. But now, in a time when mixing and production lessons are more accessible, less intimidating, and our male counterparts are more supportive, I see more women genuinely interested in music production and DJing. In turn, more women will be added to these rosters eventually. We all need to make it a priority to level up creatively and skill-wise if we want to play on the same field.
How does Prism differ from other agencies?
Our DJs are talented, vetted, and have several years of experience. Also, I make it a priority to protect Prism’s DJs by being transparent, ensuring timely payments, handling riders, logistics, and securing, and enforcing contracts.
What are some of the unique skills required for being a mobile DJ versus a club or festival DJ?
Being a mobile DJ is definitely more labor intensive if you are setting up and breaking down your own gear. If there is a technical problem, you need to know how to fix it yourself. As a mobile DJ, especially for weddings and dance parties, the DJ needs to know how to read a crowd and select accordingly, be aware of energy levels, have knowledge of many genres, and span generations of music. Club and festival DJs might have the luxury of playing their own produced tracks or a curated set. Sometimes they get their own on-site audio technicians that standby to handle technical difficulties for them. They can have more freedom to play what they want or what they specialize in, rather than a mobile DJ that caters to the crowd.
Prism DJs at Serato’s studio in Los Angeles. (Source: Instagram)
What is the biggest challenge of running an all-female DJ agency?
The Los Angeles market is very competitive, whether you are male or female. There are so many amazing DJ options. In this social media-driven world we now live in, we need to market ourselves more sophisticatedly and creatively. Just being titled a “female DJ” or “female DJ agency” does not ensure work.
What do you look for when adding new talent to your roster?
I look for several things: above-average mixing skills, exceptional selection, vast knowledge of music genres, professionalism, and a positive attitude. I prefer that the DJs can jump on any gear with ease, including turntables, CDJs, controllers, and various mixers. DJs must also have more than two years of experience playing regularly in public. In the age of social media, it is also important for the DJ to have a good online image because clients are doing their own research to make sure that their DJ choice is a good brand match for their event.
What are your plans for the company and where do you see it going?
Prism DJs is still growing as an agency and brand, so I am continuing to work diligently on that. In the very near future, I would like Prism DJs to get more involved with the community and offer workshops to young, aspiring female DJs. Other than that, we’ll just see where this takes us!
Do you have any advice for someone who’s looking to start a DJ agency ?
If you have good eyes and ears for talent, along with marketing, management, and administrative skills, then you have all the necessary elements required for a successful agency. Go for it!
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Eric Hamilton performs with Diplo. (Source: Eric Hamilton)
In March, Diplo launched a channel on SiriusXM called Diplo’s Revolution. It made sense: over the past six years, the Mad Decent founder’s weekly Diplo and Friends program on BBC Radio 1Xtra has become one of the most popular and influential mix shows in the world. It has earned that reputation by focusing on booking a diverse range of forward-thinking guest DJs.
Now, with his own station at the world’s largest radio company, Diplo has expanded his taste-making empire. Diplo’s Revolution boasts a diverse lineup of hosts including Armin van Buuren, Oliver Heldens, Destructo, GTA, and Party Favor, all of whom are influencers in their own right. Major Lazer members Walshy Fire and Jillionaire also have shows.
Like any project, there are key people behind the scenes who make it possible. In the case of Diplo’s Revolution, it’s the channel’s 34-year-old Program Director, Eric Hamilton. Born in Long Beach and raised in Riverside, Hamilton cut his teeth DJing in Los Angeles in the 2000s. In 2012, with no prior radio experience, he began producing a syndicated show on iHeartRadio for his friend Dillon Francis. After proving himself on air, Dillon’s manager, Kevin Kusatsu, who also manages Diplo, asked Hamilton to get involved with Diplo and Friends. The show had been on the air for only a year and hadn’t reached its potential.
Since then, Hamilton has served as the executive producer of Diplo and Friends, helping book guests, produce mixes, and guide the show’s direction. (Hamilton was Diplo’s assistant for part of that time.) Hamilton has also been involved with Major Lazer: he occasionally fills in for Jillionaire at shows and is the executive producer of Lazer Sound, the group’s program on Apple Music’s Beats 1 station.
Given the success of Diplo and Friends and his close relationship with Diplo, Hamilton was an obvious choice to be program director of Diplo’s Revolution. We recently spoke with him to learn more about his role and how the station operates.
How did Diplo’s Revolution come about?
Renee Brodeur, who manages Wes [Diplo] at TMWRK, brought the opportunity up in March 2017 and worked incredibly hard on getting the deal done to make it happen.
What does your role entail?
I help go through music with SiriusXM’s team and pick out stuff that plays in the rotation. I also reach out to people to do mixes or shows.
What do you look for when booking guest DJs?
If there’s someone that’s up and coming and making great new music, I’ll try to reach out to them to see if they want to play any of it in a mix. For the most part, if someone wants to do a mix, they should have it coincide with a release. Or if they’ve got a tour, show or something that they want to shine a light on, I try to have them pinpoint the date, so there’s a lot of buzz.
How much freedom do you have?
We have a lot of freedom. When this station started, I sent SiriusXM a folder of like 500 songs to play, and they were all really impressed with the music.
Do you have a favorite host so far?
GTA’s show is one of my favorites because it’s exactly what the station is about. It’s called Death to Genres, and that’s pretty much the vibe of the station. I’m probably one of their biggest fans because those guys have been making really dope club stuff for so long, but it still works today. Those guys get it. I feel like that’s something that’s always going to be constant with Diplo’s Revolution. It’s going to have people on there that are making really dope stuff, and if they have the time and want to do a show, then I’m going to give them the opportunity.
Eric Hamilton performs with Major Lazer. (Source: Eric Hamilton)
Some SiriusXM subscribers are unhappy that Diplo’s Revolution replaced Electric Area. What do you tell them?
We like house, trance, and all different types of music. That’s what this station is about. It’s not just one thing. Some people are mad because they think it’s one thing. But a lot of the stuff they think is not there is still there and they got to give it a chance. We’re at a point in the music world that people like variety. Look at festivals. Imagine going to Ultra Music Festival and hearing the same music on every stage. People don’t want to hear the same thing all the time. The station has variety, and it’s like going to a festival with different stages. That’s where music is right now. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, though. People want to do shows on the station because they like the idea and what we’re doing. It’s been really cool to get words of encouragement from other DJs and producers in the music world.
Does it ever get stressful working on three different radio projects?
I have someone that helps me from time to time, but it can be stressful trying to maintain the creative energy and make people want to come back. That’s the one thing I’m always focusing on: making something that’s cool and makes sense to the masses, so they want to come back. Radio is radio. It’s all kind of the same, but I don’t want one show to be better than the other. I want everything to be top notch.
Out of the three platforms that you work with (Apple Music, BBC Radio, and SiriusXM), do you have a favorite?
I like SiriusXM more because we don’t have to censor anything. That’s one of my pet peeves. SiriusXM is the only place where stuff isn’t censored. I wish Apple Music’s Beats 1 was uncensored. I wish it had more freedom of speech.
What’s your favorite part about working in radio?
Getting new music before anyone. Working with Wes, you get to hear a lot of stuff first. You’re at the forefront of what’s going to be happening next. It’s like being in the now before the now happens. It’s also cool to be able to meet people that you’re a fan of. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people that I looked up to when I was younger and see a lot of places that I never thought I’d see.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from working with Diplo?
I’ve definitely gotten the work ethic from him. He’s always on the grind, constantly coming up with new everything. Look at his production list; there’s no boundaries. It’s like you conquer something, but there’s more to be conquered. It’s a never-ending hustle. He’s been an inspiration. That’s why I was really psyched to work with him. He’s helped me improve and keep me on my grind and constantly be on the lookout for what’s cool and what’s happening and what needs to be shown to people and presented in the music world.
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YouTube has added more information to the song credits on official and fan-uploaded videos that contain music.
Right now, if you click “show more” in a video’s description, you might see info about the songs in the clip. It could include the performer(s), songwriter(s) and any record label(s) and publisher(s) involved, as well as links to official artist channels and music videos.
According to Billboard, “[YouTube] said the new feature is driven by its Content ID system, which finds and monetizes user-uploaded videos for rights owners, and is aided by existing partnerships with labels, publishers and rights societies.”
Prominent music industry figures have praised the move.
“Songwriters are essential to the success of the music industry, but too often their critical role gets overlooked,” Sony/ATV Music chairman and CEO Martin Bandier said in a statement. “It is why I have long called for all online music services to properly acknowledge their contribution by displaying writer credits. This move by YouTube is an important step forward to deliver that goal and one which Sony/ATV welcomes.”
Elton John added that songwriters are the “heart and the soul of songs, so it’s wonderful seeing them get the credit they deserve. There is so much more we can do to establish a better situation for music creators and this is great step forward.”
The credits arrive as YouTube prepares to introduce its new subscription streaming service.
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SoundSwitch. (Source: Facebook)
Denon DJ has acquired lighting software and hardware company, SoundSwitch. Released in 2016, SoundSwitch enables DJs to integrate custom and automated lighting into their DJ set. The product is currently compatible with Serato DJ and Virtual DJ 8.“SoundSwitch is a fantastic addition to the Denon DJ portfolio of pro-level DJ performance products,” said Jack O’Donnell, CEO of Denon DJ in the press release. “The SoundSwitch software will continue to bring even more creative options to our DJ customers’ gigs and shows, bringing a more exciting and vibrant experience of lighting, visuals and sound.”
Zak Meyers, CEO of SoundSwitch added:“Becoming part of the Denon DJ team is a great outcome. With Denon DJ’s support, SoundSwitch will be able to further expand on its vision in both the software and hardware fields at pace. The SoundSwitch team is excited to explore the synergies between the two companies and develop the next generation of lighting products alongside Denon DJ’s impressive hardware.”
Check out Denon DJ’s Facebook page for more info.
Related: SoundSwitch 1.2 Released
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Maluma at Billboard’s Latin Music Conference at The Venetian in Las Vegas on April 25, 2018. (Credit: Nicole Pereira)
Latin music’s popularity is at an all-time high thanks in part to artists like Bad Bunny, Maluma, and Pitbull. They, along with other Latin stars, have topped charts and sold out shows in record numbers all over the world over the past year.
Now, they’ve all gathered together in Las Vegas for the 29th annual Billboard Latin Music Week. The event, which ends Thursday night with the 2018 Billboard Latin Music Awards, began Monday with a three-day conference.
Among the festivities at the conference was a series of individual Q&A and panel interviews with the top artists, producers, and executives in the game. Topics included a look back at the past year, how collaborations came together, and future projects.
We put together some of the best Q&As below, most of which were conducted in Spanish. The list includes interviews by the aforementioned Bad Bunny, Maluma, and Pitbull as well as Ozuna, Maná, and songwriter Descemer Bueno.
Watch them below.
Iconic Songwriter Descemer Bueno
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Dave Fogg (Credit: DMahoney Photo)
If you DJ or party in Las Vegas on a regular basis, chances are you’ve been to an event that Dave Fogg has booked or performed at. Originally a DJ, Fogg got his start as a talent buyer for Club RA at Luxor in the late ’90s. (RA was the first venue in Vegas to book dance music artists.) From there, Fogg went on to book for clubs at casinos like Hard Rock, Station, and Palms. He’s seen the scene go through various transformations as both a buyer and a DJ.
Now, Fogg is pushing boundaries as a buyer at Drai’s popular Beachclub and After Hours venues. The Beachclub’s lineup boasts cutting-edge acts like A-Trak, Showtek, MK, TroyBoi, Henry Fong, 4B, Sak Noel, Ape Drums, and Stooki Sounds.
With the return of pool season in Vegas, we spoke with Fogg about his process for finding and booking new talent.
What do you look for when searching for talent?
Relevance is probably the most important, whether it’s a new, up-and-coming artist or an older, established one. There’s also the early buzz surrounding artists and their release schedules. If you’re a working DJ, you have the advantage of getting that information ahead of everyone else. Lastly, I like to book artists that are friends and collaborators with artists who have residencies at the other nightclubs. This is a nice layer because you can get them to show up and hang out, even if it’s against the wishes of some bitter club GMs.
How do you find new acts?
Surprisingly, not through industry standards like Pollstar, but through record pools such as DJcity.
How do you determine how much to pay a DJ?
If you’re going off other venues in Vegas, then you’re screwed. Those inflated price points will never be a true indicator of value. I’m going off of what the venue can support, strategic booking on certain days of the year, and comparing with other cities with similar markets.
Does being a DJ influence you as a buyer and vice versa?
Almost all of my decisions are coming from a DJ point of view, never the other way around. It’s more about me playing someone’s track as a DJ and seeing firsthand how people react to their music. That then leads to me following up as a talent buyer and booking them. For many, it’s their first time in Las Vegas.
TroyBoi at Drai’s Beachclub on March 24. (Source: Drai’s Beachclub)
You’ve booked a ton of DJs over the years. Which ones have impressed you the most?
What is a common misconception about being a buyer?
That you have to go to Ibiza, ADE, SXSW, and all of the big festivals to “scout” for talent. It’s such a crock of sh#t. It’s honestly just an excuse for free vacations, and no worthwhile work will ever get done.
How do you feel about the current state of the Vegas scene?
I’d say it’s in a fairly stagnant state in some respects, meaning that the big clubs on the strip will not stop how they’re programming anytime soon. In other ways, the circle of music trends is becoming interesting.
Where do you think its headed?
We had EDM a few years ago, hip-hop last year, and currently there’s a return to electronic music, specifically the underground.
Follow Dave Fogg on Instagram.
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Dee Jay Silver at Rehab Beach Club in Las Vegas on July 4, 2016. (Credit: Key Lime Photo)
The Texas native will kick off his 2018 residency at Rehab Beach Club on Saturday and spin at Jewel and the Foundation Room in April. Those dates coincide with the Academy of Country Music Awards.
Las Vegas Weekly writes:
In addition to his residencies and role at DJcity, Silver holds it down as Jason Aldean’s tour DJ. He also has three original singles on the way, including a trap collab with Atlanta rapper Constantine.
Check out all of DJcity’s country club edits here.
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Diplo at Premier Nightclub in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Jan. 26, 2018. (Source: Facebook)
Before dropping his California EP on Friday, Diplo sat down with the popular No Jumper podcast for an in-depth interview. The conversation, which spanned one-and-a-half hours, covered a wide range of topics, like the current Las Vegas scene, the EDM bubble, and his most difficult DJ gig.
On Diplo’s hip-hop roots:“When I grew up, I loved hip-hop because I was obsessed with the graffiti. I was obsessed with the culture. … It sounds corny, but I was break dancing. I was doing graffiti. I was obsessed with the art side of it. … So I dug into the history. I watched this movie called Style Wars. I got into the history of old school hip-hop, like what it meant to be a DJ and I’m lucky that I learned that way. I’m obsessed with the old records, the old sounds, like what DJ Premier was doing all the way to like what the DJ are now.”
On Xan’s comment about 2Pac:“I grew up loving West Coast hip-hop. [Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride of the Pharcyde] is probably the album that made me wanna be a producer. … And then like Freestyle Fellowship, and then I got into like Snoop [Dogg] and [Dr.] Dre. … I wasn’t a big 2Pac fan, but then as a DJ I became a huge fan because [all of his music] worked. So I mean music just affects you differently, but people have the right to be fans and not fans of music.”
Watch the full convo below.
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Four Color Zack at Holy Ship! 10.0 on Jan. 7, 2018. (Credit: Rukes)
Among the topics discussed were the politics of DJing in Vegas. A fan of the show, Zack told the hosts that he values their inside perspective of the Vegas club scene. The conversation that ensues covers what it’s really like DJing in Sin City as well as some of the dos and don’ts of holding down a residency.