DMC + Digital Vinyl Systems: ‘Why It’s A Good Move’ by DJ Shiftee

Written by 2x DMC Champion and Dubspot Instructor DJ Shiftee

DMC and Rane Serato recently announced a partnership for 2011 that will allow Serato and other DVS (i.e. TRAKTOR SCRATCH PRO, whoop whoop!) into the hallowed grounds of the most prestigious DJ competition in the world: the DMC World DJ Championships. Read DMC’s full press release on their website HERE.

As the title of this post indicates, I think this decision is good one. Here’s why:

1. New vinyl is too difficult and expensive to find.

Record stores around the world are closing left and right. Those that are still open have raised their prices and maintain limited supplies. Gone are the days of being able to hear a new song and walk into your local record store confident that you will find it. So, unless you want all DMC sets to be late 90′s hip hop with no musical progression, here are the options:

i. Order online. Here we are talking shipping costs, delays in arrival, and uncertainty about quality. And that’s only if vinyl of the song actually exists, which it most likely does not!

ii. Press your own record. The challenges in this case are numerous. For an ideal result, you should (I love lists):

- create a high-quality, seamless file or set of files in an audio program, in which you must understand how to edit, bounce, and optimize for vinyl reproduction.
- test your set in a DVS like Serato or Traktor, so you must use DVS ANYWAY to fine tune your set. In fact, a large percentage of DMC World DJ’s practice their sets on DVS once completed, so they don’t wear out their show vinyl.
- find a competent dubplate/vinyl manufacturer, which can produce records that sound good and don’t skip. NOT EASY and NOT CHEAP.

[Cool video showing how vinyl records are made]

2. Digital DJing and DJing are now practically synonymous.

I love vinyl. I love the sound and the feel of vinyl. In my book (Shiftee’s Book by DJ Shiftee,) nothing is better in terms of fidelity and touch. I highly encourage every new DJ to begin learning how to DJ on vinyl (we actually reinforce this at Dubspot by beginning our introductory instruction on vinyl). However, the vast majority of professional working DJ’s, ESPECIALLY hip hop DJ’s, use a laptop in their sets. Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Baambaataa, A-Trak, DJ Premier, DJ Scratch, Kid Capri? They all use laptops/DVS. Jazzy Jeff, Diplo, Neil Armstrong, the Beat Junkies? Serato. Richie Hawtin, Rusko, Craze, Klever, Josh Wink, Carl Cox? Traktor. The worlds premiere DJ competition has a responsibility to be aware of and move with the world’s premiere DJ’s.

3. We will see a tremendous influx of new talent.

New DJ’s don’t start on vinyl. Most probably will never even use a real vinyl record. DVS, all-in-one controllers, and MIDI solutions are now the first stop for a beginning DJ. This might be sad to hear, but it’s a reality.

What this means is that there has been very little new talent in DMC over the past 5 or so years. It’s always the same people year after year, or veterans returning for a comeback or a last hurrah. Just go to your local, national, or even international DMC heat. Same people. What has made DMC particularly great over the years has been the amount of talent in the competition. This specifically is what made the scene so strong. I remember even in 2002, 2003, there’d always be some new person everyone was talking about. “Oh, have you seen DJ New yet! He/she is illlllllll!!” Now it’s “Oh, I hear DJ Former Champion might come back. Wouldn’t that be cool?”

I predict that opening DMC up to DVS will create the same surge (maybe not right away) in new talent we saw throughout the 90′s and early 2000′s. Heck, I recently judged a local battle in Fort Worth, Texas that allowed Serato/Traktor and had 30-40 contestants. 30-40 contestants in a local battle! There weren’t even that many entrants for this year’s DMC USA Supremacy battle. Believe it or not, every DMC regional 10 years ago had this many contestants. The trend isn’t just in America. It’s worldwide. Each countries number of entrants has declined significantly (as far as I’ve seen and been told by other DJ’s). What’s missing? New DJ’s with new ideas.

4. This is what the DJ’s want.

It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize this move by DMC. Of course, there are some battlers against this decision, but as far as I’ve seen, they are in the minority. Most DJ’s, the DJ’s that are in the scene and around it, want this to happen. And so do I!


The actual implementation of the rule remains to be seen. Naturally the landscape has changed considerably. I myself don’t know exactly which rules will be in place and how the inclusion of DVS will happen. Here are a few things I do know though (Lists FTW):

-The DMC Battle for World Supremacy will remain all vinyl.
-Vinyl can still be used in the DMC. You don’t have to use Serato/Traktor, it’s just an option.
-Any DVS can be used: Serato, Traktor, Mixvibes, Torque, etc.

The issue is almost one of nostalgia vs. practicality. We can long for the past and the way things used to be, but the reality of the present is what matters now. I’m very excited to see what this decision will mean for the DMC as well as for the development of new and creative routines. In fact, I’m getting a few ideas myself just typing this! Hmmmmmmmmm…..

With Love,

  • Another Nail in the Coffin for Vinyl as DMC Goes Digital | Digital DJ Tips
  • 10/25/2010

[...] After weeks of “will they, won’t they”, venerable DJ mix organisation DMC has finally announced that it will allow digital DJs into the DMC World DJ Championships, as reported by DJ Shiftee over on the Dubspot blog. [...]

  • empolo
  • 10/25/2010

With the alleged shelving of the Technics brand of tables, will other manufacturers be far behind? Will the DMC then start allowing controllers? Watch the howling really kick in if that ever happens.

On that note, is the KS4 worthy of one day being allowed at the DMC?