DARRAN BRUCE: THE MIND BEHIND THE DJ SESSIONS STREAMING SITE – DJ MAGMX
Hi Darran, thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at DJ Mag Mexico. We are really big fans of the site!
Thank you for having me here today. It’s really an honor to be talking with you today
So how did you come up with the idea to create THE DJ SESSIONS and how long have you been running the site for?
The idea to create The DJ Sessions came to me at Winter Music Conference 2009. I was there with a friend of mine and he was telling me about this opportunity that he had to live stream a DJ set. At the time I was working in broadcast television as an Executive Producer with my shows on the NBC affiliates and also podcasting so the idea of actually doing something live and online was very intriguing to me.
When I got back home from the conference I started mulling the idea around within our local nightlife community with a friend of mine Alex Eagleton from Clubvibes.com and over the next few months I talked with local DJs and nightclubs about doing a live streaming show at their events.
Then one night and mid October 2009 my friend Alex called me up and said “I’m coming over and we are doing The DJ Sessions”. He showed up to my house around 8 p.m. with two bottles of wine and his laptop, I set my cameras up, and we started the live stream up and that was the first ever episode of The DJ Sessions which we called the “Vino Sessions”.
After the first hour of the show I got up to go to the bathroom and I took my headsets off and realized it was completely silent in my apartment. I thought that I’d been in a nightclub for the first hour of the show. When we finished the show that night I decided to move it from my living room to my bedroom a.k.a. the “new” ITV Live Studios and The DJ Sessions was born…but the best was yet to come.
A few months later I had the opportunity to have Dave Dresden come and do an interview and play a set on the show. I had interviewed Dave at Winter Music Conference 2009 earlier that year and when I found out he was coming to Seattle to do a show I reached out to his PR agent Sara Cooper and asked if he’d be interested to do an interview and play a set. We had about 12 to 15 people in my apartment that night and when I saw the enthusiasm that Dave had performing on the show and the people dancing in my apartment I knew I was onto something… that was almost 13 years ago and we haven’t stopped since. You can check out that episode here….it was the early days so readers please be forgiving hahahah.
Since then we have over 2,200 episodes featuring DJs from all over the world including our resident DJs, have multiple different spinoffs of the series (Mobile Sessions, Silent Concert Sessions, Virtual Sessions, Brunch Sessions, and more in the works) and we show no signs of stopping heading into producing 85 to 150 hours of content a month….but we can talk about that a bit later.
What new changes are coming to the site in 2022?
The DJ Sessions website first launched in 2013 and I dubbed it version one. We were hosting the show on my previous website itvnw.com. I did a lot of searching, found a unique template for it, and set it up. It was basic to say the least but it suited our needs for what we wanted to do. Interestingly enough you can go back and look at it using the Wayback Machine and see us at our humble beginnings.
Version 2 of the website came around 2018 and I put a lot of work into it and was proud of it for a few years until one day, early 2021, one of our resident DJs, Avian Invasion, called me up and said “Hey… what’s up with the website?” At that moment I knew something needed to be done moving forward after all we were a Twitch “Featured Partner” now and we better look the part.
So in early 2021 I embarked on version three of The DJ sessions website and after about three and a half months of 40, sometimes 80, hours of work a week and a team of five Developers we launched version 3.0 of The DJ Sessions website. This site has many features superior to those on the previous two, the top feature being that it is mobile-friendly and fast.
It has also had a major overhaul to the TDJS Resident pages, the search engine to find specific episodes, events calendar, and our news page. My favorite addition was to finally have a functioning Gallery page showing all the behind-the-scenes photos going all the way back to 2009 when we first started the show. It does need to be updated to 2022 though highlighting all the times we have made it into the “Top Ten” on Twitch.
Right now we are in version 3.2 of the website and we still have some “rabbits pull out of the hat” over the next year or two plus redesign/rebrand plans every 3 to 4 years.
What are your plans for 2022? Apart from developing the website, what other plans do you have for expansion?
When I plan I don’t plan for the current year, I plan for the next five to ten, sometimes even 15 years. We just launched our version one of the TDJS Mobile App in the Apple and Google Play stores and we are excited that that is there. This gives us the opportunity to send push notifications when we go live to all of our members, subscribers and fans of the show.
We have also launched her first two TDJS Nightclubs in VR on AltSpace called “Entry” and “Beta”. We will additionally be launching to multiple platforms over the course of 2022. The reason we called our first night club “Beta” is because it is literally in the beta form of production. We plan to be launching version 1 and we are already working on version 2 and version 3 and our own Oculus app where we can have up to 50,000+ concurrent users in one instance of our own world.
We are also working to develop AR and XR environments that will be implemented at our silent concert and Silent Festival events where we can have up to seven DJ booths playing on the same stage at the same time with over 2000+ attendees. Oh I might add that we can also stream each of those stages live via our new website. We have literally created the first round trip experience where people can be listening to a stage on site, tell their friends about it via social media, their friends can while on the site select another stage to watch, then let their friend know who is on site at the Silent Concerts/Festival what channel they are watching, and then that person can switch to that channel and they can have a shared experience anywhere in the world. This also works from our mobile app and our VR nightclubs.
In addition to all this we also have plans to start booking national/international artists and launch a label somewhere around Q1 2023. Also the addition all satellite sites and other key geographic locations around the world where will have on the ground reporting from a wide array of hosts and hostesses had the major music conferences and events
Like I said 5 to 10, if not 15 years out is how far ahead we are planning our expansion.
Do you think DJs should be rewarded and recognised for what they play and produce and not how many followers they have on social media?
DJs and producers have been playing and making music well before social media ever came into play. I remember being a kid and having to go to the local record store to find the flyers for the raves we were going to go to. There were no websites, no Google, no cell phones (I had one, the “Zack Morris”), or anything we could go to other than going to the events and networking there to find out where the next week’s events were going to be. This was 1992…for me anyways.
I remember when I went live for the first time with The DJ Sessions and I was able to share those videos directly to Facebook and notify people in the Facebook groups that we were live streaming. That did a lot for our reach in the early years and without social media it probably would have been hard for us to get discovered.
When it comes to DJ’s being rewarded and recognized for what they play and produce, that should always be at the core of the mission the DJ/producer is going after and doing what makes them happy. I have done hundreds upon hundreds of interviews from some of the world’s top known producers/DJs and the same reiterations keep coming up over and over again in regards to social media. Most look at social media as another task they have to complete in order to stay relevant within the world. Some are active and some are not, some see it as a curse and some see it as a blessing but all of them understand the importance of it.
I currently have discussions with DJs, my resident team included, about raising their “net worth” or “net value” in order to stand out and get booked and social media unfortunately is one of those parameters that nowadays you have to have in order to stand out. It isn’t all about the numbers though it really comes down to making sure that if you use social media as a networking tool engage with your fans and post compelling content that people are going to want to share that will help to raise the overall awareness about your brand and therefore is one part of the equation that can help you get more bookings, get more collaborations, and essentially get your name out there.
I have talked about the idea of coming up with some sort of DJ “net worth/value” calculator that could take in all sorts of data and apply it regionally, even down to the city level, of what someone should get paid or what someone is worth for years. There are some tools out there to help when trying to figure out what the pay rate should be based on past shows, for touring artists, and I’m not saying that some DJ’s are overrated and their bookings are based on their socials but I can say those, on average, that use the socials to promote and engage with their fans have a higher pay grade that those that don’t and if it came down to booking someone I would want to know what kind of “influence” they had before making a decision. There are a lot of factors to consider…maybe it should be all three; what they play, what they produce, and now how much social influence they have.
You have helped promote a lot of new emerging talent, what artists do you think will breakthrough next?
Since the inception of The DJ Sessions we have always maintained an “open door” policy. That means if you’re a DJ and you want to come and have some fun and you want to play with a group of DJs and be a part of something that is going to grow then you are welcome to come and be a part of the DJ sessions. Once we get to know that DJ a bit more and they show that they have an enthusiasm to work on the show with us we will then offer them a resident position on the series. It has been at the core mission statement of The DJ sessions to work with DJs of all levels whether it is somebody that’s brand new and doesn’t own any gear or somebody who is a seasoned veteran and has been doing this for 30 plus years so it is hard to say what artist do we think we will breakthrough next.
Earlier I mentioned that we will be launching our label as early as Q3 2023. I can’t wait to start taking submissions and going through that with our team and launching artists from all over the world in all different kinds of genres. Like I also said earlier our website was designed from the ground up to do that with its own store and live player built-in as well. We are always planning for the future here at The DJ Sessions…a future that leaves a legacy.
As far as who will be the artist to breakthrough next…well that’s anyone’s guess. It could be the kid next door doing a TikTok video or an 85 year old grandmother rocking the decks. We would welcome them all on the series and join a great team.
I would like to take a moment thank the current TDJS Resident DJ team who are already in their own right ready to breakthrough; High Season, DJ Disco Vinnie, DJ_Spitfire, Zona, Tripdubb, Synergy, DJ Dangerish, LUZI TUDOR, DA33L€, Avian Invasion, CHRIS138, Orion, Justin Murta, Machine Logic, and Serjey Andre Kul for their continued support and for putting up with all my Discord messages, haha. With an “open door” policy it truly means everything gets shared with them. We are a team and communication is one of our strongest assets and is the heart of our individual and team successes that keeps the beats going.
Now there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel regarding the pandemic with shows and festivals slowly starting up again, how do you think the music industry will progress moving forwards? Do you see any new trends or music styles?
After writing the “playbook” on how to do safe events in early 2020 using our Silent Concert technology it really put things into perspective for us as an event coordinator/planning company. Having to get creative and still stay in business at a time when most in the industry were shut down and/or going out of business was no daunting task and when we showed our “playbook” to our state, county, city, and local organizations it was applauded but of course they couldn’t give it the official green light. This kept our, and our fans, spirits up and allowed us to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I believe the music industry will come back with a newfound vigor and appreciation for certain technologies such as live streaming, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), even crossover reality (XR), and of course silent disco/concert technology. Watching the “Boom” of live streams and podcasters happen over the last two years was like watching an egg hatch that you’ve been sitting on for a long time, in our case 15 years.
I know that we will see more in the rise of pay-per-view events and individual artists setting up their own online/virtual reality events and NFT’s. We are super excited about that last one and that will be the trend to watch follow for the future…actually don’t watch…get on those now!!!
As far as music style goes the landscape is always changing. I remember when there was just house and techno music and now I can’t even count how many different genres or styles there are out there. The one thing that I I’m excited to see and explore is what is going to be able to happen with sound creation, music creation in a virtual environment where you can literally have sounds “bouncing” around the room or “moving” in different places and have visual experiences combined with sound that will truly be beyond the mind’s eye… and ears for that matter.
What’s been your favorite ever Interview?
When you look back over the last 13 years and even before that and all the interviews that I have done or that have been done on the show, picking one is a really hard thing to do. I often ask DJ’s when they come on the series what has been your most memorable show you have ever performed. they of course hesitate for a while and being asked this question time and time again I can understand how hard it is for them to answer that question. That being said…there is one story that I have that I will never forget.
There was once this time in 2013 when I had an interview with a DJ on a Sunday afternoon but it was the previous Friday night when the whole series of events started. I saw a post online asking if anyone had DJ gear for an afterparty. I answered the post and let the person know that I had gear to use as long as I got to come to the afterparty. They agreed and that night I was at one of the best parties I had ever been to at that time. Unbeknownst to me in the moments of fun that I was having, I approached the DJ that was playing and said “Wow you’re phenomenal and thank you for playing this party, I’m having a great time”…without knowing who he was.
I went home the next morning, got some rest, and the following day went to my studio to do my show. When the DJ showed up to do his set we both looked at each other and paused for a moment like we had known each other for a long time then out of the DJ’s mouth can the words “Hey it’s you from Friday night at the afterparty you look like you were having a good time.” and I said “Oh my gosh it’s you from the afterparty on Friday night. That was a bad ass set.” That DJ that came by that day was none other than Anthony Attalla. And the memory of that experience, the interview and the sets he played that weekend will forever be burned into my memory. It has one of my favorite songs ever in the mix by Hot Since 82..”Hit and Run”. You can watch it here.
That story aside…every single interview and episode comes from the heart and being able to combine my passion for video production and my love of electronic music with others is my favorite thing to do. There is so much that goes on in the background as well like maintaining servers, building VR nightclubs, design, socials, website maintenance, PR, scheduling, sponsorships, etc, etc…basically running a business that makes every component, every day, every hour, every minute my favorite…but the interviews and TDJS Exclusive “Guest Mixes” are my “Favorite favorites”. It’s when I get to take a break and dance a bit.
If you could interview anyone, who would it be?
The whole world. I mean everybody in the electronic music world. We really want to work with everyone from new emerging talent to some of the biggest names in the industry. It is at the core mission statement of The DJ Sessions. It always has been and will always be designed and made accessible for the independent unknown artist being able to give them a platform to get exposure and help their career.
There has however been certain talks of getting a certain special someone on the show for a number of years and that gentleman’s name is Carl Cox. I do have his PR contact information in my Rolodex since it is the same person that connected me with Dave Dresden all those years ago and we’re just waiting for the right time to contact him unless you read this article first Carl and he decides to get a hold of us. Carl we’re down anytime you are.
We are looking to also expand our host base into other countries around the world to be able to do on-site interviews in Europe and Asia over the course of 2022 to handle all the requests that we have coming in. If you are interested in getting on The DJ Sessions feel free to go to a website and send us an email or your PR representative/Agent reach out to us.
Tell us all about your great success with Twitch? How did you get into the top10 music channels?
The success really didn’t come with joining Twitch. When we were approached, we had already been doing the show laying the groundwork for nine years. The honor was that which instantly recognized our brand and made us one of the first live streaming “Featured Partnered” DJ streams and that was an honor in itself. Within a few months of onboarding us they took one of our live streams and put it to the front page of Twitch where we had over 2,700 concurrent viewers with 55,000+ views in 2 hours. That definitely lit a spark under my assand I knew it was “go time”.
If you look at our history from 2018 to 2020 you don’t see much action on our channel and the reason for that is because we were in no position financially nor was our brand ready to launch. We didn’t even have a functioning website and our socials were not dialed in.
It wasn’t until late 2019 with a version two of our website in hand that I actually decided to re-approach Twitch to go to the front page again. This time there was a new team in place and they quickly discussed with me the legalities of running the type of show we had created. The biggest thing being the music licensing for shows. So I spent the first few months of 2020 taking care of everything and making sure we were ready to go to launch our brand… you can only guess what happened next but I’m sure you don’t have to.
With the explosion of everyone having to be at home and every entertainment event, venue, club, festival being shut down the massive migration of people moving from in real world events to online events was huge. My phone, my email, and my socials we’re literally blowing up and in the first five months of 2020 I did nothing but take a step back and focus on educating people about copyright law and how to set up their live streaming platforms. One of the other core mission statements of The DJ Sessions that goes back to my days of my broadcast television series ITV was that I always would share 98% of the information that I had acquired with others to help them succeed in the entertainment industry. It has always been the greatest pleasure to help others achieve their goals and dreams. I actually had to dial that back to 97% in 2020 because I can’t give away all the secrets.
There are a number of reasons for our successes on Twitch. One of those is something that I brought with me from the broadcast television world. It’s one word and was easier to make happen pre-2020. That word is “syndication”. Having your show listed on multiple websites that get traffic visitors and people watching your show definitely has led to an increase and a bump in our numbers being active online and having a publishing team that can also help has been one of our strong points. Having an 11,000+ subscriber list and mobile app is a bonus as well. With the push of a button we can get 100’s to 1000’s of viewers to the site to watch our shows instantly.
Knowing where and when to publish a link is everything now for exponential growth in the streaming world. “Hint hint” here for you struggling streamers…Think about places where you can post that have thousands, if not tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people seeing your link. Socials are great but there are much far better places to post than social media that can get you results but you have to do the work and build your name in those communities. That also takes time and as the saying goes “If you’re not willing to put in the time you don’t deserve the dime.” I think I just made that up, haha
But the real thing that makes our show special is the diversity of talent we bring on to it. Our TDJS Resident DJ’s really hold it down and it always helps to have a big name, or two, or 12, or 100+ to help support. Everyone I have met has been so kind and supportive of what we do and I owe so many thanks to everyone that has helped out with the series in the past. We really wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that and we are looking to bring even more shows.
I’d also like to take a moment and give a shout outs to Luke (International PR/Artist Relations), Kevin (Artist Relations/Booking Coordinator), Sarah (North America PR/Newsletter), Venesa (VR/AR/XR Dev), the web dev and app teams, my friends, and my Mom and Dad for all their support.
Thanks again for taking the time to speak to us today, you have a lot of love and support from Mexico!
Thank you so much for having us on DJ Mag Mexico. We look forward to being on the ground and talking with you in person in the near future. Don’t forget you can check us out on Twitch, Instagram, Twitter, FB, and TikTok. Get our app, check out VR Nightclubs, and of course The DJ Sessions website.
Original article first appeared on DJ MAGMX – DARRAN BRUCE: THE MIND BEHIND THE DJ SESSIONS STREAMING SITE