Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sonic Reducer

Last night, I had the most fun anyone can have with their clothes on. I was the DJ for about two and a half hours at my favourite club in Second Life, the Velvet. The regular Tuesday DJ, the beautiful Qualsha Nordberg, is taking a break for a bit, so club owner Pushbutton Skolnik (Push) is having "rotating DJs" on Tuesday nights. Having ripped just about enough music, and having equipped myself with the right software, I got in touch with Push on Sunday to ask if she had any slots available. When she said, how about Tuesday, I just about plotzed.

I frantically ripped even more music. I found a cross-fade plug-in for the Winamp player. I made sure I'd be able to connect properly to the Velvet SHOUTcast server. See, streaming music into Second Life is easy, except when it's not. As with any electronic process, there are numerous things that can go wrong—not quite the right software, a firewall in the way, a mistake in the port number. But once I had overcome a few glitches, I was as ready as I was going to be.

People have their own peculiar collections of music, and I'm no exception. I would love to own everything that people want to hear—at least of songs that I like—but you don't want all DJs to be alike, playing the same music, right? So even though I want more stuff, my collection is what it is, and I'm not sorry about that. Before going onto the web to get more, what I have available includes some classic rock (more '60s than '70s), a bunch of old school punk, various bits of '80s new wave, a generous helping of '90s grunge, bands from Boston you might never have heard of, and enough Canadian content—"CanCon," as we say up here—to keep the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission happy.

(And this is not counting the reggae and Cajun that I might rip when I get a chance, or the folk, jazz, and classical that will probably remain on the shelf—not much demand to dance to Carmina Burana, eh?)

Push set a punk theme for the contest, so even though I wasn't constrained to play only punk rock, I did want to skew in that direction. That reduced the available tracks a bit! As well, some of what I have just doesn't fit the Velvet, at least not when Push is listening. So I didn't segue into INXS's "Bitter Tears" or "Beds Are Burning" by Midnight Oil. Some other time, some other venue! I got a bit of grief for playing Soundgarden—the consensus was that guitarist Kim Thayil is punk, but vocalist Chris Cornell is not—but in general people were kind and generous and supportive, and showed the love to my tip jar.

If anyone thinks DJing is easy, let me disabuse you of that notion. It's possible to put an entire set together in advance, but I find it better to be at least somewhat spontaneous. I want to see how people are responding to what I'm playing, and make adjustments if necessary. Staying only a song or two ahead also lets me accommodate whichever requests I can fulfill. So being a DJ is not a relaxing thing! I've seen Barely Schlegal pull down more than two grand in tips, and let me tell you, he's earning every Linden penny.

By the end of the night, I was exhausted, but I can't wait to do it again! I've already made three improvements—a better cross-fade plug-in, a plug-in that sends song information to the server (didn't know I needed that, and I hope it works), and a compressor/limiter plug-in, which I certainly hope works with SHOUTcast, because it's way better than having to adjust the volume for different source material.

Big thanks to ComradeX Munson, who told me about the basics of getting set up. More thanks to Merik Drebin, who patiently let me test my connection repeatedly with her SHOUTcast server (you can hear Merik streaming, and maybe me too at some point, at the Anarchy Club). Thanks to Push for letting me lose my SL DJ virginity at her club and for being generally supportive. Thanks to Jasper Haifisch, one of the regular Velvet DJs, for his kind words and support all night. And as always, thanks to Patrice, who believes in me.


Bailey Toland said...

Oh very cool! Hope I'll be able to see (or rather hear) you DJ, wish the timezones worked together better, but who knows, maybe I'll get to be ther some day

Anonymous said...

Jasper is a creep; beware.

Véronique Lalonde said...

I could delete your comment, "anonymous," and I might still, but for now I'll just say that I don't know Jasper well but in all my dealings with him he has been a gentleman. If what you say really had any worth, I have to think you wouldn't hide behind an anonymous posting.