Article | Onlythebeat

Is Avicii a DJ?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Daniel Taibleson


[funky_box style="red"] Update: I originally wrote this article in January of 2012 about Avicii's House For Hunger Tour stop in Seattle and it was posted on a different website that has since shut down. I have reposted it here because it is about much more than just Avicii [/funky_box] Tim Bergling’s concert in Seattle last Wednesday raised more questions about him than it answered. Currently rated #6 on the DJ Mag Top 100 2012 poll under the alias Avicii, Tim has obviously been one of the most successful PRODUCERS in the past year and a half. Yet my skepticism has continued to grow over the past year about his skills on the decks and I have to admit I went into the show with a slightly negative outlook. And this is where things start to get fuzzy (static-y? get the point). People have different ideas about what constitutes success, a good show, a high-ranking on the DJ Mag Top 100 poll, or being Steve Aoki and taking 3 years to put out a record but getting to pop Champagne all over the audience and throw cakes in people's faces (yes, I am jealous, God Bless America). BUT, I think it’s time we have a little conversation about when and where credit is due, and how we give it.

The Most Complex Musical Composition Known To Man

does-avicii-make-his-own-music Electronic Dance Music, and in my opinion, specifically Trance music, is a contemporary form of classical music. It is the most intellectually advanced level of music composition. Producers, using computer programs/software, are allowed more precise control over the sounds they create than other forms of sound composition created used in different genres of music. They have the ability to achieve absolute precision on every beat, something even Yoyo Ma can't do all the time.  For some reason, people have an extremely hard time understanding the difference between a DJ and Producer. Let’s set the record straight continuing to use the analogy of EDM and classical music. Think of a DJ as a conductor, and a Producer as a composer. Both are extremely different, yet both are extremely important and respected, both their own art, that can only be mastered after years of practice and dedication.

Avicii Levels - Live From The Show

Ok quick, now think back to the DJ Mag Top 100 Poll…Avicii is ranked as the 6th best DJ in the world. I had a great time at the concert. He played the bangers that he PRODUCED, and definitely had the crowd going wild. All in all It was an awesome experience to see him live. But funny things started happening as the night went on. My buddy who was home on winter break from Wisconsin turned to me and said, “back in Wisco Avicii made the crowd jump around!” A reference to the House of Pain song “Jump Around.” Next thing you know, it was playing. The more people I talked to, the more I started to hear people mention that they felt like they had heard similar sets from him on podcasts or other various live recordings. And I have to throw this out there; he played a dubstep remix at the end of his set that totally threw off the mood. I hate it when DJ's end their sets with tracks that don't fit their brand. If I just went on an amazing two hour uplifting Trance journey, I want to walk away on a high note, buzzing, like I'm walking on air. Ending a Trance/Progressive/Electro set with Dubstep is a no-no.

Producers = Composers | DJ's = Conductors


How come you know the name Mozart, but you can’t tell me the name of the conductor of the New York Philharmonic? Obviously because Composer’s are more famous than conductors. DJ's are a dime a dozen. There are DJ’s at every club. And I guarantee you right now there are kids sitting in their rooms who have better mash-up skills than Avicii. But they'll never be world famous. The real art, the thing people can’t do, is the thing that Avicii is truly amazing at, the actual creation of original music. The final product. No one can take that away from him. No doubt about it Avicii has a god given talent for creating sounds that makes millions of people happy. I’m one of them, and I will always remember the way I felt the first time I heard “My Feelings For You,” I lost my mind! And Avicii will always remain one of my favorite producers. The truth is, we need both. With so much competition to be successful, only the best of the best and the most talented develop into world-class DJ’s AND producers. We need people who succeed in one discipline to raise the bar for the others. We need producers who are obsessed with creating unique and original sounds, but we also need DJ’s with the intangibles to deliver an unpredictable, energetic, and mind-blowing mashup performance. After all, a DJ’s real job is to read a crowd. Avicii didn’t do one mash-up the entire night.



Nothing pisses me off more than hearing someone call EDM “Techno”. It’s ignorant. I want to share EDM with the world. I want everyone to feel the same way I feel about it, to love it. But people can’t love what they don’t know or don’t understand. There is huge lack of knowledge surrounding the music and culture that we, as EDM enthusiasts, appreciate so dearly. It’s our responsibility to help set the record straight, to educate people correctly, the first time. It was frustrating to see so many people at the concert who didn’t know which songs where Avicii originals and which ones weren’t. There will always be people who choose to live in the bliss of ignorance, and that’s okay. But I am not okay with the lack of respect we give to the right people, and the inflation of respect we give to the wrong people; who then turn a profit because of it. It’s such an easy problem to solve, and just like everything else in life, it starts with self-education. Only The Beat  is really just a class on Bangers at the University of EDM. And we loveeee teaching it. The only difference, is you never graduate, and that's a good thing. does-avicii-make-his-own-music

*2013 AMA Award.

I’m not going hard on DJ Mag because their institution has been become the measuring stick of success for EDM artists, after all it’s the people who vote, and the people who are uneducated. So, is Avicii really the 6th best DJ in the world? No. Even he has admitted in interviews that he started as a producer and had to pick up DJing (because you have to get booked at gigs to make money, duh). Is he one of the top 10 producers, perhaps. Would I recommend you see his next show in your town? Absolutely.