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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 07:13 GMT 08:13 UK
Digital Citizens: The DIY DJs
By Darren Waters
BBC News entertainment reporter

MP3 is in and vinyl is out
All this week the BBC News website is speaking to people whose creativity has been transformed in the digital age.

From blogging to podcasting, millions of ordinary people are becoming writers, journalists, broadcasters and film-makers thanks to increasingly affordable and accessible tools.

Raj Panjwani and Charlie Gower were among the first people to buy an Apple iPod when they first appeared on the market.

It transformed the way they enjoyed music as individuals, but the pair, who run a research firm together, realised that MP3 players could also transform music in the public arena.

Everyone gets a chance to be a DJ for a night
"We wanted to do something where people could come and share music," explained Mr Gower.

"The concept of sharing music was getting bigger and bigger at that time."

The pair hit upon the idea of encouraging friends to bring their MP3 players to their local bar in London and give everyone the chance of being a DJ for the night.

"The concept was that this was something anyone could. Music and DJ-ing are very elitist.

'Share music'

Mr Gower said: "We wanted everybody to get involved, play music to each other and essentially share music. It wouldn't be about just the DJ playing to the crowd."

Mr Panjwani added: "It is the crowd playing to the crowd. We started doing it and people started really liking it."

In 2003 the pair set up Nowax, an organisation that would encourage people to share their music at live events via MP3 players.

Two years later and Nowax events have been held in Japan, USA, Austria and 10 different cities in the UK.

There is no charge for the service, which includes instructions for how to host a Nowax party, and graphics for posters and flyers to advertise the event.

"We let people play three tracks. But they play their tracks alternately against someone else," said Mr Panjwani.


"It's like an old hip hop style battle. It becomes an engaging organic thing. Someone plays a track then someone can react to that," added Mr Gower.

"A lot of people have an expectation that it will be like a club night, with dance music, but invariably it is never really like that," said Mr Panjwani, adding: "The music goes all over the place."

A list of the music played at each Nowax party is posted on a dedicated website.

A typical evening can mix hardcore dance music, Ska music from the 1970s, rock, pop and soul.

The types of music played can vary enormously
Mr Gower said: "People are getting exposed to a lot more music because of MP3 players. A lot of them hold 10,000 songs and that is a lot of albums.

"You hardly ever find people who just have 60s music or one genre. You'll find people have sweet little folk songs as well as some brutal Aphex Twin."

When it works it is very communal, said Mr Panjwani.

"You can really see people's personalities come through.

"When we have done nights in bars, when there is no dancing, people will purposefully try and throw in something that is obscure or slightly jarring."

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