The music begins and a wedding couple takes to the dance floor.
Their closest family and friends watch as two people dance together for the very first time as a married couple. It is picture perfect and emotionally beautiful.
Moments later, this newly married couple are surrounded by their closest friends and family, dancing and singing away to their favourite songs. The celebration of marriage has once again begun. The energy is incredible. The party continues late into the night.
The dance music is mixed to perfection, giving no one time to consider if they are staying up for the next song or sitting down. Over and over again, before they know it, the next song has begun and they just can’t sit still. Everyone is having too much fun to think about anything else. The party is unstoppable.
The energy of the music ascends and descends in perfect rhythm for the party, as if orchestrated by the ultimate DJ. It feels like a DJ that knows the musical tastes of each and every guest, how those tastes cross over with each other, what their mood is like and what music they tapped their foot to during dinner.
When the night ultimately comes to a close, the guests heap praise on their newly married friends for throwing the greatest party. Everyone’s feet are sore from dancing and the girls tossed their heels off long ago. What an amazing night. I wish you could have been there.
Isn’t it amazing to think what can be accomplished without a DJ?
The as-yet-unamed technology, responsible in large part for the success of this party, is a form of artificial intelligence combined with the power of data collection and analysis from machine learning (for the difference between AI and Machine Learning, read this). With the use of cameras and software, the mix of music for the dance floor was as close to perfect as is humanly possible. Actually, scratch that (pardon the pun), it was better than is humanly possible.
The cameras were setup around the room, with a focus on the front of the room, near the head table and dance floor. From the moment guests began arriving, the DJ software was analyzing the live video from the cameras, carefully measuring the physical movements of the guests (foot tapping, shoulder movements, width of smiles on faces, etc.) in response to the music it was playing. Using the collected data as rapidly as it was being analyzed, the music genre and style was continually adjusted in real time, to match what the guests reacted too.
When it came time to dance, data from cocktail and dinner hour was used to evaluate what a possible ratio of one type of music to another might be used for the dance portion of the evening.
In addition to the cameras (which continued delivering real time data for instant analysis all night long) the software also used data from the numerous other events it had DJed (48,482 events, as of that night, to be more specific). The software knew, for instance, that following up song XYZ with the tune ABC, based on a crowd of 25 – 45 year olds in this region of Philadelphia will, at this time of day, work with exactly 98.7% certainty. Conversely, it also knows, with staggering precision, which specific songs are less likely to work.
While the number of events this software has worked at might surprise you, considering that it is working at thousands of events around the world each and every weekend, it doesn’t really take long to gather massive amounts of data. With the software still running on version 1.0, having only been out for around a year, the data, as large as it is, would still be considered young. It won’t take long to have the musical data of over 1 million events.
With every event, the number of hands shooting up in the air, the amount of movement on the dance floor and the overall success to the songs, based on the specific event type they were being used for is being tallied and stored for the benefit of all future events this software will be employed.
Other features of this software include having the wedding couple enter in each guests name and email address so that the software can run automatic guests searches through Spotify or Apple Music. As publicly shared playlists are discovered, it will have a better understanding of what music those who love music most, are into enjoying.
And let me remind you, we’re still on software version 1.0. Ideas have been brainstormed for 2.0 but have yet to be fully developed.
The question of software like this (that I simply made up for this blog post) taking over the world of mobile and club DJs is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.
If you think I’m a quack, it only takes looking to the many other examples of industry icons that refused to acknowledge what the future might look like, to have a change of heart. Names like Kodak and Blockbuster Video come to mind.
Taking a listen to the Kevin Kelly interview that inspired this post or to Elon Musk discussing the use of camera technology on Tesla cars (watch from the 13:59 mark) might also help you understand what I am talking about.
Industry specific types of artificial intelligence (not like Skynet from Terminator or what happened in the Matrix) and machine learning will be the greatest disruptor of human lives in many generations. As Kevin Kelly said in the afore linked interview, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the biggest thing since electricity.”
If you think the world of mobile DJing won’t be affected by AI, you are delusional.
How will you future-proof yourself against the computer collected, analyzed and managed data that no human will ever be able to compete with? None of us will win the data argument against a computer. Ever.
I don’t know who will build the software I described earlier (I’m probably too late to file for a patent on the idea right?!), but someone will. Serato, the much beloved music software for many of us, has already started down the road of automating well mixed music to the consumer with its app, Serato Pyro. That is only the beginning.
This will be, as we currently know it, the end of the DJ. Like with everything else out there, we must adapt, if we are to remain relevant, as mobile DJs.
Begin, if you have not already, to work on your human skills. The soft skills. Your crowd interaction skills. Your MC skills. Your creative skills.
Future-proof yourself, before the future decides for you.
EDIT: I discovered a remarkable TED Talk video shortly after publishing this piece, on the capability of computer/camera capability (For, maybe, reading the physical movements of a room full of dancing people?). If you don’t have 8 minutes to watch the entire thing, just watch from the 3 to 6 minute mark. Amazing stuff!!!
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