Q: I'm told that I'm not a real DJ because I use software and/or don't use vinyl/CDJ's, or because I use VirtualDJ instead of another DJ software package.
When performing a gig, or when discussing DJ'ing general, either in person or on-line on the Internet in forums, you might be told that you are not a real DJ or you are "cheating" by using DJ software such as VirtualDJ instead of using vinyl record decks, CDJ's or another DJ software package.
First of all, any person who plays pre-recorded music to an audience is a real DJ regardless of what equipment they use or whether they manually beat match or scratch. It doesn't matter whether you use vinyl turntables, CDJ's, DJ software or even an iPod! In addition to this if you play music to an audience and get paid to do so, then not only are you a real DJ, you are also a Professional (Pro) DJ too.
Second, the only people who care about what equipment and/or software that you are using are usually other DJ's or wannabe DJ's. Most of your audience couldn't care less what equipment you are using or how you are mixing the music. All they care about is having a good time and hearing music that they like and can dance to.
You may also be accused of "cheating" by using DJ software or specifically VirtualDJ. This is usually because of the presence of automatic beat matching features such as the SYNC button and/or automix.
However, these are just tools at your disposal to make the mundane task of matching two songs together quicker and easier, so that you can concentrate on more important matters. Just because these features are there doesn't mean that you have to use them. Many 'Pro' CD players include BPM counters and even SYNC buttons on some recent models including the latest Pioneer CDJ's that can just as easily be used to "cheat". There are also CD DJ's who will purchase or make pre-mixed CD's at home, then play them at their gig while pretending to mix in each song.
As above, most of your audience couldn't care less whether you manually beat match each song or use the SYNC button to accomplish the same task.
NOTE: Sync is a common and standard feature in most DJ software nowadays. Many other DJ software packages also have their own equivalent of automix.
Manual beat matching is a skill that almost anyone can learn and master with practise and excessive scratching can be very annoying for your audience who are trying to dance to the song.
Reading the crowd to be able to select and play the right song at the right time is a considerably more important DJ skill and is much harder to accomplish. A DJ who lacks this skill will be just as unpopular with their audience regardless of whether they manually beat match, press SYNC or even use automix to run their entire gig. The automatic features in VirtualDJ can't magically make a bad DJ a good DJ. Likewise, purchasing CDJ's or other high-end equipment will not instantly make a bad DJ any better. Only practise and experience will turn a bad DJ into a good one.
Of course, manual beat matching can be much more fun and rewarding, and many DJ's who use VirtualDJ will choose to do this rather than use SYNC and automix. The auto features can even be effectively disabled by using a custom skin without them and/or changing the mappings of buttons for these functions on your MIDI controller.
You will find that most of the other DJ's who accuse you of cheating or not being a real DJ will be accusing you of this at your paying gig on a Friday or Saturday night while they are drinking at the bar. You should ask them why if they are such a good DJ that they are not at their own gig. You will find that most don't have one and are simply bedroom or wannabe DJ.
You will also come across DJ's who are set in their ways and are not prepared to move with the times and technological changes. They look down on anyone who does not do things their way and would much rather lug heavy crates of vinyl or boxes of CD's around than a laptop and controller that can accomplish the same task with a greater selection of music and the ability to play music videos too.
You should ignore and not worry about such comments about not being a real DJ or "cheating". You should use the equipment and software of your OWN CHOICE that works best for YOU.
When you get comments like this, take a look at the dance floor. Are the people at your gig having a good time? This is all that matters and is the most important aspect of DJ'ing.
Also, bear in mind that when DJ CD players first came out, vinyl DJ's accused CD DJ's of "cheating" and not being "real" DJ's.