The Art and History of DJ-Mixing
by Alex Cosper

See also:
How to Find a Wedding DJ

Electronic Music 1980s
Electronic Music 1990s
Electronic Music 2000s

The On Air Nightclub

The art of beat-mixing finally debuted as a nationally syndicated radio program called "Hot Mix" put together by Andrew Starr and Dave Rajput in 1986. It actually was launched on Phoenix top 40 station KOPA a year earlier, but after a format change, it migrated to the more popular cross-town hit station KZZP, programed by Guy Zapoleon. From there it went national and in a matter of a few years was played on over 175 stations across the country, typically on Saturday nights. The show lasted through the early 2000s before getting phased out through the layers of corporate consolidation in the radio industry.

Raves started in England in the early eighties and by the early nineties were huge underground festivals in major American cities. The all night private dance parties were held in big venues for thousands of people, playing high energy techno music. In the early nineties it seemed that rave music was poised to take over popular music or at least the alternative radio format but it never really happened, partly due to being overshadowed by the media frenzy of the Seattle rock scene.

There are now two main kinds of DJs who play for public crowds. One is the club DJ who mixes beats together to create a continuous flow of dance music. The other is the more traditional mobile DJ who plays for weddings and corporate events. The latter is more concerned about playing specific songs that the crowd wants to dance to whereas the club DJ is more concerned about continuous music flow and context than selection. Either way still works when done appropriately. The club DJ usually attracts a crowd that already knows and expects that the music will be treated with "beat mixing" and that a lot of the music will be more from the club scene than what's played on the radio.

The traditional wedding DJ is more mainstream and sticks with popular hits and has a completely different style of mixing songs. The mixer creates the feeling of a continuous hypnotic soundscape based mainly on electronic beat music while the traditional DJ creates a series of moments with a wider range of styles and eras.

In the 2000s a new style of mixing dance music emerged called "mash up." A mash up contains surprises from styles of music outside of the typical disco/electronic/r&B/hip hop club sound. A mash up sometimes includes vocals from rock songs laid over electronic beats of a more typical club song. Many club DJs even started to move away from beat mixing in the early 2000s, in an attempt to sound more unpredictable. The popularity of iTunes, the iPod and then the iPod Shuffle forced radio and clubs in general to come up with more unpredictable formats, as consumers became increasingly aware of how to program their own music.

The Art and History of DJ Mixing
How Early Disco Shaped Dance Music in the 70s
Disco's Influence on Pop Music
Transition to Electronic Dance Culture
Soundbites and Special Mixes
The On-Air Nightclub
The Secret to Beatmixing
Why DJs Still Use Turntables

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