Q&A: Scratch DJ Academy exec Rob Principe wants to pump up the volume in NYC
Rob Principe, 39, is co-founder and CEO of the Scratch DJ Academy in NoHo, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and co-author of "On the Record: The Scratch DJ Academy Guide." He lives in the Flatiron District with his wife, Nikki, a conference planner, their son Ray, 7 and daughter, Drew, 3.
What would you most like to see changed in NYC?
More sanctioned music in public places -- a unified public performance series across the city. Places like Union Square Park and Columbus Circle are so underutilized as music spaces! I know there are permit and noise issues, but I'm sure there is a way to navigate them. We could showcase all the amazing performance artists in NYC and make amazing musical experiences.
Where would the money come from?
The cost would be relatively low. I'm sure a lot of musicians or DJs would perform for free, just for the exposure.
People kvetch now about having to listen to the music leaking out of earbuds on the subway. You want to broadcast more music?
I would love background music in the MTA transit system! If we program the right kind of intelligent, cross generational music, it would probably improve people's moods. I would have some kind of soothing ambient music with low BPMs (beats per minute) for rush hour, like Hotel Costes, or maybe some pop like Jason Mratz or John Mayer, and something more high energy for weekends. Different people could take turns programming it and could share their own genres and tastes but we could also feature NYC artists. It would be risky, but it's worth a test: That's all I'm saying.
It seems like everyone plays at being a DJ in the digital age, but fewer people know how to play instruments and read music, or even understand music's fundamentals.
I understand what you're saying. I played the recorder in third grade. I carried it around in a little sock.
It's sad that all the arts programs have taken such dramatic cuts and kids are getting a lot less in music instruction. I will tell you this: Real djs are producers, and the best producers are musicians. They know how to play instruments. If you truly love music, you should get your hands on some instruments and learn how to play them. But the bright side is that any 8-year-old in their pajamas can produce music these days. My son wants to take dj lessons now: He likes pop and reggae.
So what clubs are doing the most interesting things with djed music now?
The Santos Party House downtown is very small, but has phenomenal djs playing very creative sets. Marquee just reopened - it's always good. And I like Avenue. It's always a great time with great music and amazing talent.
What do you know about NYC that no one else does?
That on any weekend, there are 1,000 DJs playing throughout the city. Some may be playing for free. Others may be getting tens of thousands of dollars. The average is probably between $500 and $1,500.
Might DJing be a fad?
Absolutely not. DJing has been around for generations. The democratization of music will em