What’s Spotify’s Role in the Future of DJing?

Spotify has been toying with integration into DJ software/hardware combinations for a little while now, but thus far, this integration has existed on the fringe.

Many DJs are, understandably, skeptical of using a subscription-based streaming music service in a DJ context. But there are undeniable benefits, especially for people who take a lot of requests or play a lot of weddings.

The latest development is that you can use Spotify as your music source for playing on top-of-the-line Pioneer decks (including the club standard CDJ-2000), which is certain to make a few more people raise an eyebrow.

DJay Pro 1.1 = Spotify on CDJs

While still nowhere near the market share boasted by Traktor or Serato, Algoriddim’s djay Pro still ranks as one of the more popular DJ apps out there.

Part of the reason for this success is their focus on integration. Their integration with Mac OS gains them stability and performance, their integration with iTunes gives easy access to a managed library (a la Traktor), their integration with hardware means that the software is compatible with a handful of popular controllers right out of the box, and their integration with Spotify opens the DJ up to a massive cloud library of music.

The newest announcement from the company addresses their integration with Pioneer CDJs… meaning that for the first time, one can access and play Spotify’s music straight from the club-standard gear.

Algoriddim djay Pro CDJ integration
CDJ/XDJ integration with Spotify

Waveforms, title, cue points, slip mode, pitch bend, looping, key lock, scratching, and music library access are all claimed to work as expected and will work with 320Kbps quality… quite impressive for a streaming platform.

Spotify Caveats

Time will tell how good Spotify integration with DJ hardware/software will get, and how well it works with djay Pro specifically. But here are a few things that, at the time of this writing, you should be aware of regarding using Spotify as a music source for DJing.

Firstly, there is the issue that this is a streaming service, and that adds a level of discomfort and uncertainty to a live situation. As far as I’m aware, there still aren’t any apps which access an “offline” (saved to local storage) Spotify library. And an offline library defeats one of the huge benefits of Spotify integration – being able to pull just about any request out of your ass.

Availability is another concern… nobody is interested in getting the dreaded “not available in your country” message in a live setting. These tracks still show up in a search.

There’s also the issue of familiarity. Personally, I’m a fan of a smaller, better maintained, personal library of killer material. Using a service like Spotify opens up a whole lot of access to music, which is great, but also adds a random element to your DJing that everyone may not appreciate.

For example, as a Spotify user, I’ve often accidentally chosen the clean version of a song instead of the original… with no real indication that it was edited. I can imagine that the reverse scenario might not be a good thing… say, at a school dance.

Is Spotify Serious?

Okay, that heading is a bit of a double entendre… let me explain.

Is Spotify serious about getting involved in the DJ market? Or is this a case of simply adding value (features) where they can in order to increase their market share a bit? Before, I would have considered it to be more of an afterthought. But targeting CDJs seems to be a pretty big statement.

Is Spotify serious enough of a music platform to be taken seriously by professional DJs? It’s a target that’s easy to scoff at. But don’t forget that once upon a time, so was Final Scratch, the original CDJ, the all-in-one controller, and the pitch fader on your turntable.

All-in-all, it’s going to be just like anything else that happens in the world of DJing and technology; there are going to be people that use it well, people that use it poorly, and even more people that complain about it.

I’d be lying if I said that there hasn’t been an occasional scenario when having access to Spotify would have been nice (especially at some of my lounge/patio gigs where it’s a little different than playing a “techno night” somewhere). I certainly wouldn’t want to be married to it as my only source, but having the ability doesn’t seem like it could be a bad thing to me.

What are your thoughts? Is Spotify on to something? Will they ever step up and attempt integration with bigger fish like Native Instruments and Rane? Post up those comments!