This week, I spontaneously did something, I haven’t done before:
I was a virtual DJ for a dance scene in a different city in a different country!
A short email request
Last Wednesday, I received a short email by Jordi from the Swing Maniacs in Barcelona, if I would like to be their DJ at their event “SM Classic Swing Jam!” in the evening of the same day.
Yes, of course, that sounds like fun!
Well, the point is, I was not in Barcelona, so how did I do it?
Setting up the hardware
To be a virtual DJ you need two tools installed on your computer
I reckon, everybody has installed Skype nowadays. With Skype you can use your webcam, so that both sides can see each other and use the chat interface at the same time (when you don’t want/need to/should talk).
With the software TeamViewer, you’re able to take control of any computer. You type in an ID and a password you get from the other side and you’re on.
Right after my gig confirmation, I installed TeamViewer on my MacBook Pro. It’s free for private use.
How it worked
The 1 1/2 hour DJ set was scheduled for 22.30h. 15 minutes before, Jordi called me on Skype and the call was on until the end of the set. In this way, I was able to see the dance floor (their webcam was directed to it) and hear the music, and they could see me sitting in front of my laptop projected onto the wall (see photo above).
At the same time, I established a connection with TeamViewer to their computer located in the dance studio in Barcelona. Jordi sent me the necessary ID and password via Skype. Now, I was able to see their computer screen on my computer.
In the afternoon, we agreed, that I will use Spotify to DJ.
On my computer, I used iTunes to find the songs I wanted to play and then I used their computer to find the songs on their Spotify and drag-and-dropped it in a prepared playlist. The main reason why I used iTunes on my computer was because I could search by bpm (beats per minute).
While DJ’ing, switch of the mic on Skype, therefore no typing sounds and any other disturbing noise from your side will be heard on the dancefloor.
Differences between in-house and virtual DJ’ing
Lack of feeling the crowd
Although I could see the crowd and hear my DJ set on my screen, the image and sound quality through Skype were quite poor. Nevertheless, everything worked pretty well, unless one sudden music stop.
“Feel the crowd” is in my eyes one of the main tasks of a Swing DJ (see “14 Tips To Become A (Better) Swing DJ“). Even if image and sound quality would be better, you’re still in front of a computer.
This fact was the most difficult part about being a virtual DJ.
The dancers were applauding from time to time. However, I never really got a feeling for the crowd. I just relied on my music taste and hoped, they are going to like it as well.
Limited access to music
Another “problem” was the music library itself. Since we used Spotify, I couldn’t play all the songs I wanted, because some of them are not available on Spotify. Additionally, there is also a difference in the availability between Spotify Spain and Spotify Switzerland.
Would I do it again?
It was great fun and it’s just amazing what’s possible nowadays due to technology.
Yes, I would do it again, just because I love these kind of experiments!
What do you think about virtual DJ’ing?
I would love read your thoughts in the comment section below:
- What do you think about virtual DJ’ing, would you do it?
- If you have done it already, what were your experiences?