Won’t somebody please think of when the DJ can go to the toilet? The 3 minute extended mix phenomenon explained

Friend Within caused a combination of surprise and dismay when he posted on his Twitter feed the other day that he was now being sent records that were less than 3 minutes long.

People keep asking why this is happening more and more. I’ve written in the past about how this is to do with wider trends about music getting shorter. PRS For Music ran the results of a study in 2019 which confirmed the average pop song was 73 seconds shorter than in 1998.

In the past, radio restrictions and the limited room available on a 7″ vinyl record meant records had to be between 3 and 5 minutes long. Those restrictions no longer apply, but songs have still got shorter. I’m certain that streaming is responsible for much of this trend.

But in the case of dance music? I don’t think that’s the sole reason for all these DJ unfriendly mixes popping up. I think it’s basically the resurgence of a past problem, only in a different context.

I frequently remember encountering DJs complaining about records being hard to mix into in the early 90s. This wasn’t because the records weren’t long enough, however. It was because many of them were made by producers who didn’t really understand what DJs were looking for in those early days.

This is why in those first few years of house, it wasn’t unusual for tracks to start with a piano or something like that. Great for starting a set with, great for just throwing into a set with no real mixing – but terrible for DJs who prided themselves on smooth mixing and transitions.

Years ago, there was a disconnect between producers and DJs. You could make enough money from one without needing to get involved in the other. Hence why it took producers some time to start understanding that many DJs needed something to work with on each side of the track.

I believe there’s a disconnect there today as well, only this isn’t to do with money. In years gone by, in order to hear dance music, you had to go to clubs. You had to go to record shops and buy the vinyl. You would undoubtedly hear some on commercial radio, but this was only a thin slice of a big pie.

These days, it’s all much more simple. You can hear the latest dance music online. Spotify has it. Beatport has it. Traxsource has it. iTunes has it. It’s easy to find. Paradoxically, it’s harder than ever to get a hit record, but never easier to give it a try.

Many of the people that want to make records, therefore, don’t especially have clubs in mind when making records. They’re thinking more about streaming services, radio and so on. This is the context they’re operating in – hence why we’re ending up with records where even the extended mix comes up to barely 3 minutes.

So the clock has basically gone back to the beginning – only for different reasons to the past.

Am I right, or am I taking nonsense?

Have DJs never heard of maps? Now Judge Jules announces UK tour with no destinations in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

Oh dear. Not only has Judge Jules misplaced all his vinyl and turntables – as previously reported on Friday. It now seems that he has mislaid his map of Britain too.

Not to be outdone by Fatboy Slim – who managed to announce a UK tour that forgot to include Northern Ireland in it – Judge Jules has now gone one better. He’s announced a UK tour that manages to exclude Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.

Perhaps Judge Jules could use the money he got from selling all his vinyl to invest in a map?

The vast majority of labels absolutely suck! Scott Diaz slams record labels who aren’t doing their jobs

House and garage don Scott Diaz has panned record labels for failing to do their jobs properly. Taking to Twitter, he pointed out that only two record labels have sent him statements in the past 15 months – amidst of a backdrop of a pandemic.

He also mentioned that for nearly every release he’s involved with, he creates more social media content, video and such than the label themselves do.

Speaking with my producer head on, I’m lucky when it comes to the first point. Both 3rd Way Recordings and Disco Balls Records – the labels that I appear on most frequently – send out statements at regular intervals, so I have no complaints whatsoever about that.

Oddly enough though, I wrote an opinion piece on a similar subject last night. The role of record labels in this ecosystem needs to change – I honestly believe that if it doesn’t, we’re going to end up with the system collapsing. And then where are we all?

Probably on Bandcamp trying to do everything ourselves.

What would Laura Gavoor make of Derrick May now?

If this name doesn’t immediately ring any bells, that’s alright. It didn’t for me until recently either. But this was the 1990s, and it was a lot harder to find out about the management of artists and labels back then.

Laura Gavoor was a pioneer, it’s no exaggeration to say. She ran Derrick May’s Transmat Records in the early 1990s. And according to a promoter and historian – now there’s a combination of jobs you don’t see every day – Adriel Thornton…

“There was a time when if you wanted to book anyone from Dertoit, you had to go through Laura. And you had better come in with a strong offer and be ready to deal. She was fair, but she was tough. That’s what made her invaluable to techno’s development as something world-class.”

Her role in the development and promotion of Detroit techno is not to be underestimated. She was promoting the use of email as a method of communication to spread the music in an era where magazines were still publishing articles about how the internet would amount to nothing.

She knew that a genre which was only possible thanks to advances in technology would need to use further advances in technology to, well, advance further. The fax machine, very much in vogue in the 90s, was only going to get you so far.

Sadly, she was cut down in her prime. She died of a brain aneurysm in 2002 at the age of 44. Her legacy is one that she and everyone who knew her can be truly proud of.

And yet, one question does keep coming to mind. According to this article courtesy of Red Bull, her mother was sexually assaulted by a white supremacist in 1969. The episode is said to have been critical in shaping the woman she was to become.

So, what on earth would she make of Derrick May, a man who has been accused by at least 18 different women of sexual assault and worse? We obviously cannot ask Gavoor herself, so we will never truly know.

All that I can state with confidence is that in all the articles written at the time of her death which I’ve been able to obtain, Juan Atkins left a number of tributes. I can find a few from Kevin Saunderson too.

Derrick May? Not a single word.

Where DO the pirates get their music from?

Here’s a scenario for you. You’ve just spent days, weeks, possibly even months creating a new release. It’s been sent to a record label, and now it’s finally available for people to buy.

Great. Except you’ve discovered that it’s also up on the pirates websites, meaning that people can just go there and download your latest without paying a penny for it.

It’s happened to me quite a few times. So how are they getting hold of all this music? The average pirate site usually has almost all the releases you’d see on the likes of Traxsource or Beatport. Are they buying them legally themselves and then uploading them to file sharing sites?

The answer is almost certainly not. Some of the pirates in the early days might have done so, but that sort of mentality has long gone. Back in the days of blog house, such content was usually mixed in with other things – the pirates now offer no such pretences.

So let’s have a look at the process of getting a song released on the digital stores. The process can vary slightly from store to store, but they typically follow something very similar. It’s also worth pointing out from the outset that most retailers will not deal with artists directly in this process – it must be done through a distributor.

The label submits the song to the distributor, providing all the necessary metadata and cover art in the process. The distributor then sends them on to the stores, who duly put them on preorder if instructed to do so, then release them.

Somewhere in this process, the files end up in the hands of the pirates. Unless most of the record labels out there are part of some conspiracy where they’re deliberately leaking their records, that rules out the labels. And why would the likes of Traxsource hand over the product to pirates and reduce their own sales?

This leaves the distributors. There is no suggestion whatsoever on my part here that the distributors are engaged in widespread collusion with Internet pirates. If this was true, it would have been exposed long ago – not even our useless, supine dance music press could sit on that information.

In the absence of anything else, that leaves me thinking that the pirates must be taking advantage of a weak point in security somewhere in the chain. This is where the trail in my own enquiries on the subject goes cold.

Answers on this subject aren’t easy to come across either. Goodness knows I’m trying, but it feels like there’s someone out there who doesn’t want the truth to come out!

So, do you know what’s going on? Leave a comment below, or if you’d prefer to speak privately, simply send me an email through my Contact page. Anonymity is guaranteed.

Derrick May: “It would hurt people to see Transmat disappear”

I’ll be coming back to the subject of Derrick May later this week. I’m rather busy with a few remixes right now, and I need to get them finished. So for now, here’s this.

Some years ago, Derrick May gave an interview to Red Bull. It was an interesting one, and I intend to dissect it more as soon as I have time. But here’s a whopper that’s worthy of noting.

For context, he was talking about the financial hit that his label and agency took in regards to a festival that took place in Detroit…

“We’re not going to let Transmat fall, but I did have some rough calls. It’s very much a part of the institution of electronic music, and I will not let it fall, because it would be a travesty. I think, for a lot of people who believe in electronic music, to see a label like that just disappear would hurt.”

Oh dear. I wonder what he makes of his manager Patricia Altisent (who hates it when her email address is published, apparently) doing precisely that?

Derrick May has a friend. And that’s not the only surprise…

Today, it’s not Derrick May who’s being an arsehole. Well, he no doubt is, just as he has been every day for at least the past 35 years. But today, it’s one of his friends who’s going to sit in the ducking stool on his behalf.

Meet Patricia Altisent. She is currently Derrick May’s manager. She is also his former girlfriend. The two were in a relationship for some six years, so it’s safe to say she’s got to know May.

Curiously however, she doesn’t want you to know that she manages Derrick May. The recently rebranded Transmat Agency has a nice little profile up about her ladyship. It makes no mention of her friend and one time boyfriend.

Last week, she got her Zurich based solicitors to send another threatening email over to Michael James, the journalist who originally got the ball going on the allegations that still enwreathe May now.

Head over to his page if you fancy reading the “confidential” email. He covers this in great detail. There is one matter, however, that I’d like to pick up on.

Altisent’s solicitor is most indignant about the fact that “on his Facebook page, [James] has even published the email address of our client”. In which case, they might want to get in touch with the bailout receiving, plague rave profiteering Resident Advisor.

They have a page for an artist called Iva, whom Altisent represents. What do you see at the bottom of the picture? Click it and zoom right in…

Yep, it’s Patricia Altisent’s email address. Get your solicitors on the phone, Patricia!

It’s chest not cricket

I’m glad I’m a man sometimes. I don’t have to put up with half the stick that women get. No one ever makes comments about my appearance whenever I post about my latest release. It simply doesn’t happen.

Women on the other hand? I saw this example on the Belfast Telegraph’s Facebook page…

One of the first comments underneath the article? This charming little thing.

A masterclass in how to be an absolute twat, ladies and gentlemen!