David Guetta has been DJing for 20 years, but his star has truly risen in the last couple of years, through his own albums and production work on artists including the Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna.
He was on-stage for a keynote interview at MidemNet today with entrepreneur Gilles Babinet – who is chairman MXP4, the company that is working on Facebook games for Guetta.
Guetta was one of the first DJs in France to play house music, which he says “changed my life… house music was a revolution for the music, but also in a way socially, because it opened lots of people’s minds.” Partly because it started in gay clubs, and as it grew, brought the gay and straight communities together.
“This is the strength of a music that was not created as a format or with the help of record companies,” said Guetta. Since then, of course, he has made his own albums as well as DJing.
“When I make beats, first it’s a very exciting moment when I play the track for the very first time,” he said. “I will make a beat on the plane or in a hotel room, and play it, and then see the reaction of the people. Very often you will see me playing in a club and taking a pen and a piece of paper, and writing down ‘the bridge is too long…'”
And that filters into his dealings with his label too: when he suggests which song should be the single, it’s based on direct feedback from fans at his many DJ gigs. “Most artists go to the studio and just pray that it’s going to work,” he said, pointing out that he effectively has a 10,000-strong focus group every day or two.
Guetta also said that he loves collaboration, and isn’t ashamed to call fellow musicians up to come and work with him, “when they can do a better job than me”.
Guetta also praised the democratisation of music thanks to technology, although he stressed that computers can’t have the original ideas – “the creator is still the creator” – but they can help people turn ideas into tunes even if they’re not a trained musician.
“Today every kid can make music, and that’s fantastic. It’s about ideas, creativity, and not about being first the most incredible virtuoso. It’s not about being picked by a record company… I really believe kids can come out of nowhere, and don’t need the money or an incredible musical knowledge to make it. It’s way more democratic now.”
Guetta said he’s trying to work with younger people in a collaboration sense. Meanwhile, he’s building a huge fanbase on Facebook, with more than 15 million fans on the social network – up from two million this time last year. How?
“First is the content. From the beginning, I had the chance to be with a team that is very into technology, and into net culture,” he said. “We give a lot of content… Now when you go on Facebook, and because we give so much content and people love it, every time they click ‘Like’ they become part of the community.”
Guetta also tweets himself, although his team help him with the Facebook. And he was keen to point out just how tight a team that is.
“When it comes to music marketing, my bookings, my management… the whole everything, because we have a publishing company, my deal with my record company is a licensing deal so we deliver a finished product. There’s probably only six or seven people around me! But nobody works for me… it’s our project.”
Guetta also said that all the music in his DJ sets – bar his own – are from unsigned artists. Which – unsurprisingly – led to one audience member leaping up to present him with a CD of their own track.