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No Dancers Spared: Has live streaming turned into another pandemic?

How do you feel about the Orwellian algorithm of live streaming?

  • Arthur Kovacs
  • 6 July 2020

Mixmag Asia reluctantly welcomes Arthur Kovacs and his pessimistic, blunt and sardonic view of the modern dance floor and everyone in it. From dancers to DJs, no one is safe from his line of sight, not even himself. He’s a has-been DJ, a failed promoter, a long-time clubber and an armchair anarchist, and he’s also old, disgruntled, and bitter; constantly complaining at everything; an old man raver yelling at the sky. When he’s not moaning about something, he’s usually busy browsing through your social media posts, trying to find the next thing to complain about. So if you see him writing so much heat, and you start to cry each time you read… just scroll on by.

As Asia pokes its head out of our protective lockdown shell, most of you are probably licking your lips at the thought of returning to the dancefloor. Some of you probably can’t wait for the old normal, while the rest just want our jobs back. Well, Old Man DJ here can’t fucking wait for the DJ live stream nonsense to stop.

Throughout the entire pandemic, when others were praying to their nonexistent deity for a cure, I was busy wishing for herd immunity from another DJ livestream. The phenomenon of going live was more infectious than the virus itself; the livestream was the pandemic. When publications such as Forbes, BBC and NY Times reported on the surge of DJ livestreams, it ceased to have any street cred. But in fact, it never had any to begin with.

When live streaming became a thing during the mid-2010s and local DJs would go live during their bar gigs with the phone aimed away from the empty venue, it wasn’t cool nor endearing then. The more the video focused on the DJ pretending to have a good time, the more you know it’s an empty bar with crickets on the dance floor behind the camera.

But today’s surge of live streams pointed out one thing: the worryingly high number of DJs who either, don’t know how to set up a soundcard for live streaming, or don’t understand the importance of it. I thought this current generation gave a lot of credence to being generalists? No longer are you expected to be a DJ who plays music but you should also produce, be able to code, do a bit of photoshop, understand macroeconomics and the Three-Sector model, and have had an internship at CERN. I’m not expecting anyone to be an electronic dance music polymath, but it is apparent many of you don’t know how to even connect a few RCA cables together and livestream properly through a soundcard. Most of the livestreams I saw sounded like it was recorded through a potato. Even Bob Sinclair's early broadcasts were done via a vegetable.

Let’s suppose you have successfully set up a livestream (not with a root vegetable) and everything is sonically perfect. The next hurdle you face is Mark Zuckerbeg’s incessant efforts in taking you down because you played a track that samples a chorus which was in a song originally released on Warner Brothers. Notified by a rather Orwellian algorithm, Zuckerberg’s Copyright SS Army are now furiously notifying you of the breach of copyright (ironic that the original Nazi Schutzstaffel’s motto was, "Meine Ehre heißt Treue / My Honour is LOYALTY”), and now your video ceases to exist… like it should have been anyway.

Maybe your three seconds of online fame amongst the four people who tuned in made the big label corporations lose masses of income. Or maybe Mark Zuckerberg should put more effort in policing Trump’s fake news rather than to send the Copyright SS Army on live streaming DJs, no matter how annoying I find them.

But DJs aren’t daft, we discovered Twitch. I’m not sure who was Moses, but we definitely made the exodus from Facebook and wandered into the Twitch wilderness. Sadly, Twitch for DJs was not the same land of plenty for gamers and THOTs looking to make some money. Twitch was barren and desolate for DJs. There were barely any viewers who joined the platform specifically to listen to DJs, but we all flooded there anyway. After a couple of weeks, Twitch reflected real life: there were more DJs on the platform than there were viewers. Every Twitch feed I saw broadcasted by regional DJs on my newsfeed had less viewers than their actual real-life gigs.

Twitch then went on to suffer the same fate as Facebook; the Copyright SS Army joined us on Twitch and no longer were we free in this barren land. Thank fuck anyway, no one wanted to see it in the first place.

If the problem isn’t with setting up a soundcard, nor getting around Facebook’s copyright algorithm, nor the lack of social media activity on Twitch, you’re still faced with the problem of everyone else doing the same thing as you. During the lockdown, we should have put time in sorting out our messy Rekordbox playlists, backing up our hard drives, or finish off that EP. But instead, a lot of us missed the glory of being a DJ and “just wanted to share my love and passion with other people” ad-fucking-nauseam.

I’m glad bars and clubs are opening up so my newsfeed can be free of these low budget livestreams. In fact, I would much rather attend the DJ’s actual real-life gig in person. And in fact, I would even prefer to watch my parents have squelchy sex than to be subjected to another DJ livestream recorded through a potato ever again.

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