A little over a decade ago, according to Grammy-winning rock/hip-hop/folk artist Beck in his 1996 smash hit "Where It's At," all an aspiring DJ needed was "two turntables and a microphone." Not so anymore.
Fast forward to 2007, when today's up-and-coming spin artists no longer rely on turntables and a mixer, but on a whole arsenal of equipment, computers and software. With the advent of digital music and the creation of new genres in DJing, training new recruits is becoming increasingly more difficult and infinitely more expensive.
Enter DubSpot -- the New York City-based, virtual one-stop shop for aspiring DJ's, VJ's and electronic music producers. Think "School of Rock" with a spin.
DubSpot, which launched in December 2006, offers a variety of classes ranging in subjects like mixing, scratching, and even video and visual training. "DJing is one of those things, it becomes your life," said DubSpot DJ Neil Armstrong in an interview with ABC News. "It comes from hip-hop. You had someone like Grandmaster Flash who put it down in its most current form using two turntables and a mixer with a cue, but now there is rock, house, trance, hip-hop."
Whether you're a first timer or a DJ booth regular, DubSpot caters to each individual's skill set with beginner classes on beat matching and how to baby scratch to advanced courses covering dance floor psychology and how to execute seamless cross-genre transitions.
"It's not as easy as it seems," said DubSpot owner Dan Giove of DJing. "DJing is actually an art."
Whether in the pursuit of a lifelong passion, an interest in learning a new skill, or the desire to establish contacts in the music or DJing industry, students flock to DubSpot for many different reasons. "I own turntables," said Marcos Pantoja, a DubSpot regular. "But I didn't understand what I was doing until I came to this class and started listening to the instructor. It's very helpful."
Perhaps what is most interesting about DubSpot is not its DJ school, but rather the DS14 collective that supports it. DS14 is the partnership of instructors, DJ's, producers, musicians, promoters, nightclub owners, record label professionals, equipment manufacturers and music enthusiasts working together to build and maintain DubSpot as a cutting-edge facility.
With packages ranging from $395 for a three-week course to $1,795 for a five-month intensive electronic music production seminar, DubSpot classes are not exactly cheap. But the owners hope the uniqueness of its courses and the range of its instructors will attract both casual, fun-seeking electronic music enthusiasts as well as more focused, career-driven pupils.
DubSpot's Web site advertises that in their first three weeks novices will learn how to use DJ equipment -- such as two Technics 1210 turntables and a Digidesign Mbox audio interface -- how to blend two records, how to scratch and get an introduction to Serato Scratch Live, DJ software. Most importantly novices will pick their DJ call sign. More advanced packages claim to help DJ's fine-tune their skills and mixes, allow them to record and produce a 30-60 minute demo, and even suggest that, after completing the DubSpot course, DJ's will get gigs at New York hotspots right off the bat.
However, Rich Thomas, talent recruiter for Marquee, one of New York City's premier nightclubs, is not as confident. When asked whether he would hire a DJ fresh out of DubSpot he said, "Probably not."
"If you're looking to learn how to DJ I think the school is a great start, but don't expect to be the resident DJ at a hot club upon graduation. You would probably need to work kids' birthdays, or be an opener for a DJ for quite some time, and then try to go out on your own and spin a whole night at a club," said Thomas.
DubSpot certainly is helping to bring DJing into the mainstream and, as a result, infusing the creative base with new talent and sound. "I've always loved music and admired the DJ's that are at clubs and really wanted to learn how to do it," said DubSpot student Regine Beasha. "Music has a really special power. To be able to control a crowd and really influence people through music, it's an amazing power."