Increasing Complexity: Help or Hindrance?

December 4, 2016 by Stu Chisholm

W hen I began my DJ career in 1979, things were much harder. In the realm of media, vinyl records were heavy and bulky, and both records and cassette tapes presented many technical problems. Those included: how one could cue a particular song on a tape; keeping dust and dirt off of the grooves of a record; mechanical shocks from bouncy dance floors that could cause the record to skip; cue burn (the damage to vinyl caused by back-cueing); and so on.175-16-17

Even when CDs became the norm, eliminating most of those issues, they had a few of their own. Early CD players didn’t have pitch controls, and they, too, could skip if mechanically jostled. Error correction was abysmal, so a dust particle could ruin your day. Yet that 4-foot-high hand cart with 350 lbs of vinyl records became a more svelte 1.5-foot, 200 lbs of CD cases with tenfold the amount of music. Many DJs carried their library around in binders, making their music stash look like a true “library.”


Today, I bring more than twice that amount of music, all as MP3 files, and all on a small hard drive that fits in my shirt pocket. The bulk and weight are a thing of the past, which my aging back appreciates! SanDisk recently revealed a 1 TB SD card, which means that a library the size of my current one will fit on media the size of a postage stamp. All good, right?

Well… not so fast. You see, other things were easier than they are now, because we’ve introduced a lot of figurative “middlemen”—things that get between the music and our audience. For instance, you had to rip that huge CD library to a digital file format. For a large library, that can take tremendous time! When I first did this, I had five computers running more than eight hours a day and it took about several weeks.

Read the rest of this article and all of the Mobile Beat Pure Digital Monthly October Issue by going to

Stu Chisholm Stu Chisholm (58 Posts)

Stu Chisholm had been collecting music since he was about eight years old and began his DJ career in 1979. After much hard work, trial-and-error, and a stint at the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts, he studied the DJ arts with famous Michigan broadcaster, Bill Henning, at a local college. Stu interned at Detroit’s rock powerhouse, WRIF. To his radio and mobile work Stu later added club gigs at Detroit’s best venues, and voiceover work. He has shared his extensive DJ experience through his Mobile Beat columns, as a seminar speaker and through his book, “The Complete Disc Jockey: A Comprehensive Manual for the Professional DJ,” released in 2008.

Filed Under: 2016, Mobile DJ Business