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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Pauly D is Making The Best of His 15 Minutes
Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The news that DJ Pauly D is getting his own reality show focusing on his career behind the turntables has Jersey Shore fans cheering, and quite a few DJs sighing. That’s not a sigh of relief of seeing one of their own get recognition and earn a huge national platform to essentially advertise himself on a weekly basis. No, that’s a sigh of reluctant acceptance of the importance of celebrity.

That being said, Pauly D needs to be commended for his ability to create an image for himself, putting that image out there for the world to see, and marketing it all into, at the very least, a short term career.

Earlier this summer controversy surrounded Pauly D within the DJ community when he landed on the America’s Best DJ 2010 ballot. Z-Trip, who won the honor in 2009, was especially irked, taking to Twitter to type his concerns that stardom was beginning to eclipse skills. In the end the honor was taken home by the very highly regarded DJ Qbert, but Z-Trip wasn’t wrong in his assessment of society, we live in a Paris Hilton - Kim Kardashian ruled entertainment world where people are far more interested in fame than talent.

It’s hard to be mad at Pauly D for his fame, though. His working of every possible angle is exactly what any musician has to do to make it. Although nobody wants to hear it, the music industry has never been about being great, it’s been about being good enough and then working your butt off to find a way in. Great musicians will shine regardless of the industry. Case in point, anyone who is interested in DJing can easily reel off the names Krush, Shadow, RJD2, Mike Relm, and the aforementioned Z-Trip and Qbert.

Pauly D has a quality none of those artists have, though, he’s a reality TV star. In 2010, however, that doesn’t mean as much as it used to. It’s certainly no guarantee of notoriety past the lifespan of the show. Look at The Real World. Can you name any of the people who were on it three seasons ago? If you can it’s probably because they went on to do various Real World - Road Rules challenges. Reality TV fame isn’t just fleeting, it’s show-encapsulated. Once the show is over so is the fame. This is why Pauly D is smart to work Jersey Shore for all it’s worth.

It wasn’t too long ago DJ Jazzy Jeff gained extra fame from TV, albeit not reality TV, when he was on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Even that kind of fame doesn’t last long, though. It’s akin to a fad, and unless one has the skills, which has never been an issue with Jazzy Jeff, the audience a DJ gains through non-DJ related fame quickly disperses and moves on to the next big thing.

Right now Pauly D is more celebrity than DJ, he just happens to know how to work the turntables well enough to get booked. By working his Jersey Shore fame he’s probably making more per gig now than 95% of the DJs out there, regardless of whether or not those DJs are more skilled than he is (for the record, I’ve never seen him spin, so I can’t speak on his skills). If he were to mix poorly the vast majority of his crowd probably wouldn’t even notice. They’re not there for the music, or to hear a great DJ rock, they’re there because it’s Pauly D behind the ones and twos.

For all the good Jersey Shore, and his upcoming spin-off show, do for his notoriety, however, they’re not helping him with his craft, which is why he should be concerned about the potentially short lifespan of his career. On a recent episode of Jersey Shore he mentioned that he hadn’t touched the turntables in a month. Most of the DJs I know practice at least a couple of times per week, and that’s in addition to their gigs. This is why one can understand why DJs weren’t too happy with Pauly D’s ascent to being mentioned amongst the top DJs in the country.

A native of Rhode Island, his number of Twitter followers is more than one third of the entire population of his home state. Clearly he’s doing something right, and although it may be cliche to say most DJs would bend over backwards to get those kind of numbers, it’s Pauly D’s bending over backwards that got them for him.

That’s really the long and the short of it, and not just for DJs, but for all musicians; how much are you willing to bend over backwards? How far are you willing to go, and what are you willing to do to develop a fan base? How many DJs out there would honestly have given up their bookings to live in the Jersey Shore house, work in a t-shirt store, (and then, in Miami, a gelato shop) and potentially embarrass themselves on national TV on a weekly basis? Pauly D was, which is why we shouldn’t be mad at him for turning the show into something much bigger for himself.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

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