Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"So what do you do?"

Many times I get asked what I do for a job. For the most part, I'm a temp. But people ask me what I do, aside from being a temp.

As many of you will guess, I tell people I'm a DJ. However...I've started thinking about what it is I do. The more I think about it, "DJ" doesn't quite cover it. It's more of a matter of being an expert in social science.

Follow along with me in your bo....umm...heh...just follow the train of thought here...there might be a quiz later.

DJs are, by our very nature, people watchers. We observe and record, mentally, the behaviour patterns in people in large crowds. Much like someone that goes to a mall food court and watches everyone around them, we do very much the same thing. We can look at the crowd, and immediately class people into certain categories. Scene kids, hardcore, poseurs, n00bs...even if we don't give consciously names or labels to them, we all do it. It's part of the science. Yes, in some cases, we are perpetuating the stereotypes we loathe...but we all do it.

The other part of this science is within the music itself. More specifically, the effect it has upon the crowd, and said categorized denizens. We play music we think the crowd will enjoy. This is the basis of our profession: mood creation and/or manipulation. Our job is to create a mood for our "lab rats" to experience. We also have the power to change that mood at a whim, sometimes for the sole reason to see what the crowd will do. This, in turn, changes the behaviour of the subjects. As we change the mood, we take note of the style of music we played to change that behaviour, and we can either maintain that mood, or shift it ever so slightly.

This does, in a sense, make us scientists. We conduct aural experiments on a large test subject group, and mentally record the results, remembering the effect a certain song or beat had on the test group, knowing the general effect that will have on the crowd. And depending on the crowd, you may end up with a different reaction to the previous playlist, thus giving you a whole new set of results. Even if you change the mood up, causing a good number of the test group to leave the floor, you have reached a result. Most will go back to what they know will work to gain their attention once more, and bring them back to the floor, letting you start the experiment anew.

For some of you, this might not come as a surprise at all. For me, this became a revelation one night while spinning an event. And much like the realization that becoming a DJ will change forever how you listen to music, putting everything into scientific terms changes how I look at what it is I do.

So for the DJs that might be reading this...the next time someone asks what you do, telling them you're a social scientist might not be too far from the truth...

Good luck on your experiments.

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