The Mixtape and the DJ: The Future of Popular Music
Few people remember the days of the iconic mixtape, where you filled a cassette of music to give to a friend or that special someone. Mixtapes were a way to take the music you loved and arrange it in a way that spoke to someone else. Mixtapes were a way for a listener to carefully contemplated the way a combination of songs flowed and interacted. Today, the art of recording music to a cassette is largely outdated, but the modern way of listening to music is, in many ways, a mixtape in and of itself.
One form of the modern day mixtape, lies in the popularity of mix music artists or DJ’s. These artists take the art of a mixtape to the next level, by exploring different combinations of tones, pitches, and beats, to create a sound that appeals all types of music listeners.
DJ Universe is a supreme luxury music DJ based out of New York City. He is an appreciator of jazz, dance music, and has a wealth of knowledge in the history of music. In our interview with DJ Universe, he spoke of the art of mixing music and how when he mixes his music he listens for songs that share similar themes or story lines,
“[The making of a mix] involves listing to lots of different music and arranging it how I want people to feel. For example, if I am making a mix based around the idea of how men need to love women better, I choose songs from both male and female artists. I choose songs about falling in love, being in love, and heartbreak. Then I arrange those songs based on pitch and tone to create a storyline.”
If one wants to be successful in mixing music, it requires knowing what people want to hear and listen to. “Music is like eating and food,” said DJ Universe, “the reason you eat is because you are hungry. The reason you listen to music is because you want to dance.” People come to music as a way to escape their daily troubles, to let loose and let their body dance, both internally and externally. What people want today is an accessible way to dance and relate to music. Music and dance are a part of our genetic makeup, it pulls on our emotions and animal instincts.
The success of music lies in its ability to tap into that emotionality and instinctual need to dance. That is why artists like Beyonce, Michael Jackson, and Prince are so successful, because their music transcends age, culture, and, to put it simply, our need to dance.
Where does that lead us then? And what is the future of modern music? DJ Universe believes that it lies in websites like Soundcloud or Bandcamp, where artists can share their music for free. The only way for artists to succeed is for their music to be heard, and these websites offer a way for artists to market themselves and make themselves heard. Soundcloud allows artists to see who is downloading, where they are downloading, and how many times their album has been downloaded. This knowledge allows artists to further tailor how they market themselves, and in turn boosting their popularity and success. “If you make music that people can dance to, then you will have a successful album,” continues DJ Universe, “but if you make music that has no empathy toward dance, then you will not have a successful album.”
The future of commercial success in the music business lies in the artists ability to appeal to the masses. Although there are certain niches for all genres of music, the money and fame lies within dance music, and music that goes across cultural boundaries.
What are your thoughts on the evolution of popular music? How do you mix your own music? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @whatsthesich