Today Native Instruments released a free update to their flagship DJ software, TRAKTOR PRO 3.
The update, dubbed “The Harmonic Mixing Update,” is designed to help users mix in key and make their sets more musical – choosing tracks that share compatible keys, and using key changes as a way to creatively program their sets.… Read More Native Instruments Releases Traktor Pro 3
Numark has announced the introduction of its new Scratch mixer, a 24-bit two-channel mixer that redefines what you can do with an affordable 2-channel scratch mixer. The Numark Scratch offers a versatile array of features with powerful simplicity unheard of in this category of affordable mixer: Six direct access software FX buttons deliver quick access […]
Pioneer has announced it is partnering with Dubset Media to upload, clear, and distribute your mixes right from its iOS DJ-mix recording app, DJM-REC. Now, DJs can go from live set to instant legal distribution in a matter of minutes, for the first time. The process feels frictionless, though it’s built on two innovative platforms […]
Transparent CDJs? We can top that. Meet the CDMDJ: a custom edition Pioneer CDJ so limited, none will be made.
If you missed it, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art (ah, I spent some good times there) will be showing Virgil Abloh’s Pioneer’s CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-900NXS2. And they’re… well, normal CDJs, except they’re see-through. Supposedly, staring at them while you play is meant to give you a “different sound while DJing. And perhaps a new way for music technology and human interaction to equal a different result.” (I tried wearing transparent plastic clothes once; that for sure got a different result.)
They also let you “go beyond the music” – uh, presumably to cigarette burns on the DJ booth underneath or something. Is this art? Well it definitely isn’t crass commercialism in a major art institution taking up space when independent and radical voices in the art world lack a platform – I mean, that would be ridiculous.
This is definitely art, though, from our friend Vincent “Instagram Sucks” Neumann and Techno: the Gathering. May you play it well:
But it all got me fantastizing about what I’d do with my own special edition CDJ. And… I’m not even sure I’m still joking about this. Behold: the CDMDJ. It’s a game changer.
High-fidelity or the highway. Built-in MOD support. MP3 compatibility removed, FLAC lossless support exclusively for digital audio, plus MOD file format, Amiga and Atari emulation, and native internal SID chip for chip music playback.
Play four decks – or only one. Single deck mode allows you to mix on a single deck by queuing and mixing a second track onboard, with variable crossfader curves and a switch to apply the pitch fader to crossfade (labeled Confusion Mode).
How much more black can it be? Vantablack paint absorbs nearly all light (up to 99.96% of visible light at 663 nm perpendicular, to be exact).
No labels – no n00bs. All labels are printed, but in fully light-absorbing Vantablack lettering on Vantablack background and backlit using antilight from an alternate dimension which is immediately absorbed into the Vantablack ink.
Noir display. Monochromatic OLED or optional e-ink display substituted for standard display.
Waveforms are for the past. Waveforms shown in spectral mode only, or as direct binary stream (Computer Operator Mode) or backwards Kanji characters (Matrix Mode).
This sync button will actually hurt you. Standard sync button is available but has been electrified with shock technology licensed exclusively from PainStation, optimized for “reconditioning” beginning DJs or “satisfying” masochists / providing more alertness in late night / afterhours gigs.
The haptic-est. Pitch platters have been motorized, and overclocked beyond safety limits, which can produce smoothies and margaritas using optional blender attachment.
Professional ins and outs, designed for producers. I/O has been outfitted with MIDI DIN in/out/thru, custom circuitry converting Pioneer’s sync techology to MIDI clock, DIN Sync, CV/gate, and for some reason MPE.
Expressive DJing. Platters add pressure sensitivity, transmitted as channel aftertouch.
Go further with your music. Pitch range can be adjusted to 1/1000 – 1000x range via custom firmware.
Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Electromagnetically shielded smuggling compartments modeled on The Millennium Falcon, for safe transport across borders of … uh … you know, like, music stuff
STEMS. We’re sorry. Support for STEMS files, which we didn’t want but Native Instruments made us do it. This is unsupported on the CDJ user interface, though; rooted access to the firmware is necessary to mix individual stems via command line interface and recompiling the firmware.
Prophetic. Dave Smith / Sequential filter, high pass only, with adjustable FM.
Fast like MiG, or VW Golf or something. Afterburners, Turbocharged direct injection.
Autograph edition – so you know it’s good. In honor of the Editor-in-chief-for-Life-of-CDM, the unit says Peter Kirn Signature Edition in really huge letters. Maybe. It’s Vantablack on Vantablack so based on my sources it EITHER says Peter Kirn Signature Edition or Peter Kirn is a Penis, with a little drawing of a penis, but I can’t be sure because the lettering of course doesn’t reflect light. Really, either way you know it has my name on it, which is really a sign of quality assurance or something.
Availability and pricing unknown, or check Behringer social media for a series of polls asking what they should do with their own version; pricing for CDM edition expected to be in the low six figures.
Prototypes will be shown – where else? – at Berlin’s iconic Berghain/Panorama Bar. Berghain asks all visitors to please obey its strict photography policy, so when you can’t find any photo evidence of this, you can’t say it didn’t happen, can you?
Note: CDMDJ is not real.
Nothing is real.
Wer mit Ungeheuern kämpft, mag zusehn, dass er nicht dabei zum Ungeheuer wird. Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.
* Note: in place of a manual, you get collected quotes of Friedrich Nietzsche.
As for the hoodie that says I LOVE TECHNO in big letters and costs nearly two grand, I think I actually am staring into the abyss. I got nothing.
Pioneer and Beatport this week announced new streaming offerings for DJs. And then lots of people kind of freaked out. Let’s see what’s actually going on, if any of it is useful to DJs and music lovers, and what we should or shouldn’t worry about.
Artists, labels, and DJs are understandably on edge about digital music subscriptions – and thoughtless DJing. Independent music makers tend not to see any useful revenue or fan acquisition from streaming. So the fear is that a move to the kinds of pricing on Spotify, Amazon, and Apple services would be devastating.
And, well – that’s totally right, you obviously should be afraid of those things if you’re making music. Forget even getting rich – if big services take over, just getting heard could become an expensive endeavor, a trend we’ve already begun to see.
So I talked to Beatport to get some clarity on what they’re doing. We’re fortunate now that the person doing artist and label relations for Beatport is Heiko Hoffmann, who has an enormous resume in the trenches of the German electronic underground, including some 17 years under his belt as editor of Groove, which has had about as much a reputation as any German-language rag when it comes to credibility.
Beatport LINK: fifteen bucks a month, but aimed at beginners – 128k only. Use it for previews if you’re a serious Beatport user, recommend it to your friends bugging you about how they should start DJing, and otherwise don’t worry about it.
Beatport CLOUD: five bucks a month, gives you sync for your Beatport collection. Included in the other stuff here and – saves you losing your Beatport purchases and gives you previews. 128k only. Will work with Rekordbox in the fall, but you’ll want to pay extra for extra features (or stick with your existing download approach).
Beatport LINK PRO: the real news – but it’s not here yet. Works with Rekordbox, costs 40-60 bucks, but isn’t entirely unlimited. Won’t destroy music (uh, not saying something else won’t, but this won’t). The first sign of real streaming DJs – but the companies catering to serious DJs aren’t going to give away the farm the way Apple and Spotify have. In fact, if there’s any problem here, it’s that no one will buy this – but that’s Beatport’s problem, not yours (as it should be).
WeDJ streaming is for beginners, not Pioneer pros
This first point is probably the most important. Beatport (and SoundCloud) have each created a subscription offering that works exclusively with Pioneer’s WeDJ mobile DJ tool. That is, neither of these works with Rekordbox – not yet.
Just in case there’s any doubt, Pioneer has literally made the dominant product image photo some people DJing in their kitchen. So there you go: Rekordbox and and CDJ and TORAIZ equals nightclub, WeDJ equals countertop next to a pan of fajitas.
So yeah, SoundCloud streaming is now in a DJ app. And Beatport is offering its catalog of tracks for US$14.99 a month for the beta, which is a pretty phenomenally low price – and one that would rightfully scare labels and artists.
But it’s important this is in WeDJ as far as DJing. Pioneer aren’t planning on endangering their business ecosystem in Rekordbox, higher-end controllers, and standalone hardware like the CDJ. They’re trying to attract the beginners in the hopes that some of those people will expand the high end market down the road.
By the same token, it’d be incredibly short-sighted if Beatport were to give up on customers paying a hundred bucks a month or so on downloads just to chase growth. Instead, Beatport will split its offerings into a consumer/beginner product (LINK for WeDJ) and two products for serious DJs (LINK Pro and Beatport CLOUD).
And there’s reason to believe that what disrupts the consumer/beginner side might not make ripples when it comes to pros – as we’ve been there already. Spotify is in Algoriddim’s djay. It’s actually a really solid product. But the djay user base doesn’t impact what people use in the clubs, where the CDJ (or sometimes Serato or TRAKTOR) reign supreme. So if streaming in DJ software were going to crash the download market, you could argue it would have happened already.
That’s still a precarious situation, so let’s break down the different Beatport options, both to see how they’ll impact music makers’ business – and whether they’re something you might want to use yourself.
Ce n’est pas un CDJ.
Beatport LINK – the beginner one
First, that consumer service – yeah, it’s fifteen bucks a month and includes the Beatport catalog. But it’s quality-limited and works only in the WeDJ app (and with the fairly toy-like new DDJ-200 controller, which I’ll look at separately).
Who’s it for? “The Beginner DJs that are just starting out will have millions of tracks to practice and play with,” says Heiko. “Previously, a lot of this market would have been lost to piracy. The bit rate is 128kbs AAC and is not meant for public performance.”
But us serious Beatport users might want to mess around with it, too – it’s a place you can audition new tracks for a fairly low monthly fee. “It’s like having a record shop in your home,” says Heiko.
Just don’t think Beatport are making this their new subscription offering. If you think fifteen bucks a month for everything Beatport is a terrible business idea, don’t worry – Beatport agree. “This is the first of our Beatport LINK products,” says Heiko. “This is not a ‘Spotify for dance music.’ It’s a streaming service for DJs and makes Beatport’s extensive electronic music catalog available to stream audio into the WeDJ app.” And yeah, Spotify want more money for that, which is good – because you want more money charged for that as a producer or label. But before we get to that, let’s talk about the locker, the other thing available now:
WeDJ – a mobile gateway drug for DJs, or so Pioneer hopes. (NI and Algoriddim did it first; let’s see who does it better.)
Beatport CLOUD – the locker/sync one
Okay, so streaming may be destroying music but … you’ve probably still sometimes wanted to have access to digital downloads you’ve bought without having to worry about hard drive management or drive and laptop failures. And there’s the “locker” concept.
Some folks will remember that Beatport bought the major “locker” service for digital music – when it acquired Pulselocker. [link to our friends at DJ TechTools]
Beatport CLOUD is the sync/locker making a comeback, with €/$ 4.99 a month fee and no obligation or contract. It’s also included free in LINK – so for me, for instance, since I hate promos and like to dig for my own music even as press and DJ, I’m seriously thinking of the fifteen bucks to get full streaming previews, mixing in WeDJ, and CLOUD.
There are some other features here, too:
Re-download anything, unlimited. I heard from a friend – let’s call him Pietro Kerning – that maybe a stupid amount of music he’d (uh, or “she’d”) bought on Beatport was now scattered across a random assortment of hard drives. I would never do such a thing, because I organize everything immaculately in all aspects of my life in a manner becoming a true professional, but now this “friend” will easily be able to grab music anywhere in the event of that last-minute DJ gig.
By the same token you can:
Filter all your existing music in a cloud library. Not that I need to, perfectly organized individual, but you slobs need this, of course.
Needle-drop full previews. Hear 120 seconds from anywhere in a track – for better informed purchases. (Frankly, this makes me calmer as a label owner, even – I would totally rather you hear more of our music.)
There should be some obvious bad news here – this only works with Beatport purchased music. You can’t upload music the way some sync/locker services have worked in the past. But I think given the current legal landscape, if you want that, set up your own backup server.
What I like about this, at least, is that this store isn’t losing stuff you’ve bought from them. I think other download sites should consider something similar. (Bandcamp does a nice job in this respect – and of course it’s the store I use the most when not using Beatport.)
The new Beatport cloud.
Beatport LINK Pro – what’s coming
There are very few cases where someone says, “hey, good news – this will be expensive.” But music right now is a special case. And it’s good news that Beatport is launching a more expensive service.
For labels and artists, it means a serious chance to stay alive. (I mean, even for a label doing a tiny amount of download sales, this can mean that little bit of cash to pay the mastering engineer and the person who did the design for the cover, or to host a showcase in your local club.)
For serious users using that service, it means a higher quality way of getting music than other subscription services – and that you support the people who make the music you love, so they keep using it.
Or, at least, that’s the hope.
What Beatport is offering at the “pro” tiers does more and costs more. Just like Pioneer doesn’t want you to stop buying CDJs just because they have a cheap controller and app, Beatport doesn’t want you to stop spending money for music just because they have a subscription for that controller and app. Heiko explains:
With the upcoming Pioneer rekordbox integration, Beatport will roll out two new plans – Beatport LINK Pro and Beatport LINK Pro+ – with an offline locker and 256kbps AAC audio quality (which is equivalent to 320kbps MP3, but you’re the expert here). This will be club ready, but will be aimed at DJs who take their laptops to clubs, for now. They will cost €39,99/month and €59,99/month depending on how many tracks you can put in the offline locker (50 and 100 respectively).
You’ll get streaming inside Rekordbox with the basic LINK, too – but only at 128k. So it’ll work for previewing and trying out mixes, but the idea is you’ll still pay more for higher quality. (And of course that also still means paying more to work with CDJs, which is also a big deal.)
And yeah, Beatport agree with me. “We think streaming for professional DJ use should be priced higher,” says Heiko. “And we also need to be sure that this is not biting into the indie labels and artists (and therefore also Beatport’s own) revenues,” he says.
What Heiko doesn’t say is that this could increase spending, but I think it actually could. Looking at my own purchase habits and talking to others, a lot of times you look back and spend $100 for a big gig, but then lapse a few months. A subscription fee might actually encourage you to spend more and keep your catalog up to date gig to gig.
It’s also fair to hope this could be good for under-the-radar labels and artists even relative to the status quo. If serious DJs are locked into subscription plans, they might well take a chance on lesser known labels and artists since they’re already paying. I don’t want to be overly optimistic, though – a lot of this will be down to how Beatport handles its editorial offerings and UX on the site as this subscription grows. That means it’s good someone like Heiko is handling relations, though, as I expect he’ll be hearing from us.
Really, one very plausible scenario is that streaming DJing doesn’t catch on initially because it’s more expensive – and people in the DJ world may stick to downloads. A lot of that in turn depends on things like how 5G rolls out worldwide (which right now involves a major battle between the US government and Chinese hardware vendor Huawei, among other things), plus how Pioneer deals with a “Streaming CDJ.”
The point is, you shouldn’t have to worry about any of that. And there’s no rush – smart companies like Beatport will charge sustainable amounts of money for subscriptions and move slowly. The thing to be afraid of is if Apple or Spotify rush out a DJ product and, like, destroy independent music. If they try it, we should fight back.
Will labels and artists benefit?
If it sounds like I’m trying to be a cheerleader for Beatport, I’m really not. If you look at the top charts in genres, a lot of Beatport is, frankly, dreck – even with great editorial teams trying to guide consumers to good stuff. And centralization in general has a poor track record when it comes to underground music.
No, what I am biased toward is products that are real, shipping, and based on serious economics. So much as I’m interested in radical ideas for decentralizing music distribution, I think those services have yet to prove their feasibility.
And I think it’s fair to give Beatport some credit for being a business that’s real, based on actual revenue that’s shared between labels and artists. It may mean little to your speedcore goth neo-Baroque label (BLACK HYPERACID LEIPZIG INDUSTRIES, obviously – please let’s make that). But Beatport really is a cornerstone for a lot of the people making dance music now, on a unique scale.
The vision for LINK seems to be solid when it comes to revenue. Heiko again:
LINK will provide an additional revenue source to the labels and artists. The people who are buying downloads on Beatport are doing so because they want to DJ/perform with them. LINK is not there to replace that.
But I think for the reason I’ve already repeated – that the “serious” and “amateur”/wedding/beginner DJ gulf is real and not just a thing snobs talk about – LINK and WeDJ probably won’t disrupt label business, even that much to the positive. Look ahead to Rekordbox integration and the higher tiers. And yeah, I’m happy to spend the money, because I never get tired of listening to music – really.
And what if you don’t like this? Talk to your label and distributor. And really, you should be doing that anyway. Heiko explains:
Unlike other DSP’s, Beatport LINK has been conceived and developed in close cooperation with the labels and distributors on Beatport. Over the past year, new contracts were signed and all music used for LINK has been licensed by the right holders. However, if labels whose distributors have signed the new contract don’t want their catalog to be available for LINK they can opt out. But again: LINK is meant to provide an additional revenue source to the labels and artists.
Have a good weekend, and let us know if you have questions or comments. I’ll be looking at this for sure, as I think there isn’t enough perspective coming from serious producers who care about the details of technology.
Denon DJ has announced that it has released its new version 1.3.1 firmware update for the SC5000/M Prime media player and Engine Prime music management system. The new release unifies the feature set across all Prime Series hardware units and adds a significantly more powerful music preparation and performance workflow for DJs. Importing, editing and […]
Pioneer DJ has announced the DDJ-200, a smart DJ controller that is compatible with streaming services and the free WeDJ app for iPhone. Enter the world of DJing with the DDJ-200, our new smartphone and iPhone compatible smart DJ controller. Priced at just £139 the DDJ-200 makes it easy to start DJing with the help […]
Roland Corporation and BPM Supreme have announced a partnership that will include Serato x Roland TR-SYNC ‘READY’ tracks within BPM Supreme’s vast music library. Labeled ‘TR-READY’ tracks, each of these MP3 files is grid-verified by BPM Supreme’s in-house team of audio editors and quality assurance experts. “Bringing TR-READY tracks to BPM Supreme is a great […]
Roland has announced updates to its iconic TR-8, TR-8S, TR-08, and TR-09 drum machines, making them Serato DJ OSA-ready. This new functionality, named TR-SYNC, is now available as part of the latest Serato DJ Pro 2.1.1 update and allows DJs to effortlessly match the BPM of the TR drum machines with tracks playing on Serato […]
Many DJs still believe track lists and track IDs are proprietary information to be guarded … for some reason. But however defensible this position may have been in the past, opening up information matters now like never before.
The issue blew up again in the past 24 hours as The Black Madonna and other responded to Developer, the label chief for Modularz. Developer argued that people should “find their own gems” and he had no interest in sharing track listings or track IDs because he spent “hours” digging for tracks. He has since deleted those tweets (including one reply to me suggesting I go use Shazam), and didn’t respond to my request for comment. He did, however, leave up various retweets of people defending the position.
But this isn’t about Developer – and on the contrary, I’d rather he and others changed their minds. I totally agree with his learn to hunt idea. But what I don’t understand is why you’d brag about hiding tracks in the first place. So there’s clearly some disconnect here.
Some DJs I quite like keep doing … this every time someone asks for a damned track ID:
Noncompliant puts it succinctly:
I will always tell you track IDs on my sets because it's not my music to squander. I want you to buy the music so artists don't end up bitter & broke. I want you to book those artists, too. If not for the ppl making music, I would have nothing to play.
This is about producers. Electronic music is now flooded with new people DJing, new people making music, and new people becoming music fans. That should be a healthy combination, one that supports the people making music.
Making music involves a heck of a lot of vulnerability. A lot of artists are desperate just to be heard – not widely, to be heard and appreciated in some real way even once often means a lot. They fight depression and insecurity and day jobs and the need to do tax accounting to put music out there for an audience that often ignores them.
Total obscurity is toxic to expression. It robs makers of fans, and fans of experiencing something unique. And there’s a lot of music being condemned to that fate. Music streaming isn’t just lowering the value of music returned to creators; it’s raising the cost of getting your music heard – because it’s being consolidated in the hands of a few major companies (Apple, Google, Spotify) who then fix algorithms and channels based on mainstream tastes and inward-turning circles of machine learning. Meanwhile, independent journalism has dwindled, dominated by large corporate interests and pay-for-play schemes even at smaller sites and … okay, I’ll just stop. It’s not all bad, but there are some major challenges out there that can be devastating to some great music.
With streaming poised to take over DJ booths, far from defending the exclusivity of DJing, we are fighting against a possible future where most DJs select music based on algorithms and Instagram influencers. (There’s some better scenarios here, but some of them are indeed scary.)
But then that makes me utterly mystified why DJs would pick this moment to get precious about their playlists.
So, okay, let me address that crew now, even if it means I have to duck into a phone booth (kids, ask your parents) and change into my not-at-all-secret superhero identity – [Disney Marvel Studios presents] CAPTAIN OBVIOUS!
You don’t have to answer pests. I get it – there’s that person at a club who ought to be dancing who won’t leave you alone. I’m not talking about any of them; that’s fine to refuse them. And if your Facebook page or Instagram inbox is overflowing with requests, I get that, too. Don’t stress; you’re free to ignore them.
But don’t sell yourself short. Come on. What DJ has ever only made a mark only based on picking obscure secret weapons? You’re a good DJ (or you’re not, but then you really shouldn’t be arguing here). It’s about mixing and placement and edits and adjustment and reading the crowd and the narrative of the evening and the moment and … are you seriously arguing you’re giving away something if you tell someone the name of a track you liked? I’m sorry, I’m still mystified as to why I’m even having to write this, but here we are.
That said …
These tracks aren’t yours to protect. Okay, apart from if you made the track yourself, in which case this resistance is exceedingly weird, what the Hell are you doing? Someone made a track that you played and someone loves it. Don’t you owe it to the person who made that track to give them credit? And speaking of which –
Encouraging people to buy music is great. I found it especially odd that DJs were complaining about people going and buying $2 downloads. Uh… that’s not normally something labels and artists are opposed to having happen more often.
But you know, even apart from that:
We’re lucky to share our passion with other people, right? I talked to Noncompliant who talked about enjoying showing people record sleeves back in the day. Hell, I’ve had the most fun in the booth when people do ask me for IDs or I wind up striking up a conversation with a friend who’s playing. Sometimes those tracks are rare; sometimes they’re totally obvious but still lovable.
We’re living in scary times. The solution to protecting the value of the DJ is not to hide your tracks – because that will only accelerate a trend where music is unknowable and left to unseen forces, and those unseen forces are not benign. It ought to be a privilege to play other people’s music, not a burden to share the authorship of that music. And if DJs go and dig up rare and obscure sounds, nothing will illustrate that like letting people know.
No high tech solutions needed. There are plenty of interesting techie solutions to publishing playlists via Twitter or Pioneer’s servers or Richie Hawtin’s servers or Skynet or whatever, but I’ll leave that for another time.
You can show people record sleeves. You can hit the INFO button on a CDJ someone can see (thanks again to Noncompliant for both of those). You can tell someone or write them a note. You can share playlists manually on Facebook or Twitter or your website, as many people now do, and then you won’t get nagged.
But it’s not just me saying this. And this isn’t just “kids today” wanting all their information free so they can talk about it through fancy Snapchat filters while they eat Tide Pods. In fact, I’m totally biased as a producer first and an independent label and generally a pain in the ass. So here are some other people saying it, using fewer words because they’re not me.
it's just a track ID, babes, not the secret ingredient of Coca Cola or alchemy. get enough people in the club and someone will know it, get over yourself yeah xxx
I come from the early 90's midwest rave scene where we weren't afraid to throw hands when someone showed up at the party and acted like they were king shit of of turd mountain, slapping people at the party.
For the record, I drop into to the IOM page and try to help people sound out stiff they're looking for that I've played even if they don't have a recording because the more people that love and *ahem* develop this music, the better. Everyone starts somewhere.
Give 10 DJs the same crate/usb full of tunes. They'll all play differently, with their own style & sentiment. DJing is all collage & interpretation. It's not rocket science tho. You're not special because you have more money, or more access, or better internet search skills.