By Tanya Huang
Disc jockeys are the new rock stars, and their mixes are the new hit singles. Digital technology is revolutionizing the way music is heard, played and produced. Producers no longer need to be instrumentally inclined to be a musician—just a little tech savvy.
Up-and-coming artists aren’t the only ones experimenting with digital music software. The big league stars are also hopping on the bandwagon, from Britney Spears to Rihanna to the Black Eyed Peas. But amateur artists simply use laptops to emulate what the stars produce in the studio.
Tim Ortiz, the founder and CEO of local promotion company eventvibe.com, became the pioneer of promoters with the advent of the interactive website, completely reinventing the nightlife industry in San Diego. He says new computer software programs have eased the barriers of entry for music producers, allowing young producers to create songs from their laptops for a fraction of the price spent by the Top 40 producers and artists.
Young dubstep revolutionary Skrillex, 33, hailed as the Metallica of electronic music, used such software and is now an international superstar in the ranks with heavyweight DJs like Deadmau5 and Benny Benassi.
Ortiz says the innovative music programs have automated the more mundane tasks of creating music, allowing for more creative focus from the artist.
“These programs have changed the underlying neurological structure of the artist’s brain,” he said. “One’s ability to keep up with this relentless technological pace is based on a person’s ability to absorb and effectively navigate this vortex of information.”
More than a decade ago, amid the burst of the dot com bubble, Ortiz utilized the advantages of the Internet to advance his business by creating an online network offering club-goers insider access to the nightlife of various communities. Now other event promotion companies have taken to the Web and social media to build their repertoire and maintain a fan base.
“(The) speed of the delivery of information has changed the fans’ response time and things are moving along at an ever-accelerated pace,” Ortiz said. “Access to the fans and the ability to influence them online is a very fluid environment with no conventional structure.”
Music is their drug
And the fans love this new techno trend, becoming self-proclaimed promoters themselves. The fan approval is apparent in the record-breaking attendance at events such as Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival and Identity Festival. Concerts are no longer just a single band or artist performing on one main stage. Electronic dance music is celebrated with festivals boasting multiple LED-enhanced stages, carnival rides, food vendors and hundreds of dancers and performers.
Eventvibe has produced sold-out music festivals featuring groundbreaking world-class artists like Deadmau5 and Tiësto at San Diego’s finest venues. Ortiz says the reason behind the success of DJs is technology, which brings welcomed business to bars and clubs.
Nicole Novak, the general manager and booking coordinator at North Park hotspot U-31, says there wasn’t much of a market for electronic dance music in San Diego until recently. But now that the culture has gained momentum with more and more must-see DJs, business is booming.
As the talent buyer for one of North Park’s most popular venues, Novak spends many working hours scouting for happening new artists. U-31 hosts local bands on some nights, but the real moneymakers are the electronic dance music DJs, which conveniently make her job easier.
Hosting a band requires Novak to be present for a sound check, hire a sound technician, and rent stage extensions, mic stands and amps—the works. She says hiring a band is definitely more laborious and the crowd’s energy level is not quite the same compared to house music nights. The club is built for electronica—“it’s plug and play.”
Nicole Novak, the general manager and booking coordinator at popular hotspot U-31, talks about the recent evolution of nightclub music. (Last photo courtesy of Jeff Corrigan)
Livin’ the digitaLife
The growing popularity and convenient mobility of electronic music have prompted trendy bars and clubs to book more local DJs. San Diego electronic music producer Kevin Kredell has been studying and practicing various genres of music on all instruments since childhood. Although these instruments inspire new creative talent, all he really needs to produce his latest tracks is his laptop.
Electronic dance music producer Kevin Kredell says EDM culture is growing and improving the sounds of all types of music. (Photos courtesy of Jeremy Wassink)
And the beat goes on
No matter who the artist, Ortiz says his job gets easier with the increased availability of information, but concurrently gets more difficult with the increased amount of information. He predicts technology will stimulate more change in the next decade than has been seen in the last century. And in order to keep up with the rapidly increasing amount of information available, he says the next step may be to increase the amount of information the brain absorbs.
“Maybe somebody is going to figure out how to hook us in, directly from the brain, wirelessly—no screens, no keyboards, more efficiency—direct access to a fluid and universal consciousness,” Ortiz said.