NUGEN Audio has released version 1.5 of its MasterCheck Pro loudness, dynamics, and codec toolset. The update comes with enhancements embracing support for the Apple AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) iTunes Plus native OS X codec and also the PSR (Peak to Short-Term Loudness Ratio) measurement update to AES Engineering Brief 373. “I have to deliver […]
A.I.D.J.? The next-generation djay Pro 2 for Mac adds mixing and recommendations powered by machine learning – and more human-powered features, too.
When Big Data meets the DJ
The biggest break from how we’ve normally thought about DJ software comes in the form of automatic mixing and selection tools. One is powered by machine learning working with DJ sets, and one from data collected from listening (Spotify).
Automix AI is a new mixing technology. And hold on to your hats, folks, if the “sync” button was unnerving to you, this goes further.
When we say “A.I.,” we’re really talking machine learning – that is, “training” algorithms on large sets of data. In this case, that data comes from existing DJ sets. (Algoriddim tells CDM that was drawn from a variety of DJs, mostly in hip-hop and electronic genres.) Those sets were analyzed according to various sonic features, and the automixing applies those to your music. So this isn’t just about mixing two different techno tracks with mechanical efficiency – it’s meant to go further across different tempos and genres.
It’s also more than matching tempo. Automix AI will identify where the transition occurs, decide how long the fade should be, and apply filters and EQ. So, if you’ve ever listened to existing Automix features and how clumsy they are with starting and stopping tracks, this takes a different approach. Algoriddim explains to CDM:
The core of this tech is finding good start and end regions for transition between two songs, while also respecting the corresponding sound energies and choosing an appropriate transition accordingly (e.g. most likely EQ or short filter transition if you have two high energy parts of the song for the transition)
Then there’s “Morph” – which Algoriddim argue opens up new ways of mixing:
This actually goes beyond what a regular DJ can do with two hands. Morph not only syncs the songs but seamlessly ramps the changed tempo of the inactive deck to its regular speed as the transition progresses. E.g. in the past if you had a hip-hop song at say 95 BPM and an electronic track at 130 BPM, syncing the two and making a transition would leave the new track in an awkwardly rate changed state (even with time-stretching enabled). So as the transition starts, both songs (in this example) would be playing at 130 BPM but as we are doing a simultaneous tempo “crossfade”, the hip-hop track ends up being back at 95 BPM at the end of the transition. This ensures the tracks always play at their regular tempo and these types of mixes sound very natural, allowing for seamless cross-genre transitions.”
Also impressive: while you might think this sort of technology would be licensed externally, the whiz kids over at Algoriddim did all of this on their own, in-house.
On the Spotify integration side, and also related to automating DJing tasks, “Match” technology recommends music based on BPM, key, and music style. Existing Spotify users will be familiar with some of this recommendation engine already. Where it could be good for producers is, this means there’s an avenue by which your music gets exposed by algorithms. And that in turn is potentially good news, if you’re a producer whose music isn’t always charting the top of a genre on Beatport.
These “autopilot” features are all under your control, too: you can choose which parameters are used, choose your own tracks, switch it off at will – as you like. Or you can sit back and let djay Pro run in the background while you’re doing something else, if you want to let the machine do the DJing while you cook dinner, for instance.
Pro features, for humans
Okay, so at this point, djay Pro 2 may sound a bit like this:
But one of the disruptive things about Algoriddim’s approach to DJ software is, it has simultaneously challenged rivals both among entry level and casual users and more advanced users at the same time.
So, here’s the more “Pro” sounding side of this. Some of these are features that are either missing or not implemented quite the way we’d like in industry leaders like Serato and Traktor.
A new audio engine with master AU plug-ins. A rewrite of the engine now allows high-res waveforms, post-fader effects, higher-quality filters, plus the ability to add Audio Unit plug-ins as master output effects.
Integrated libraries. iTunes, Spotify, and music in the file system / Finder are now all integrated and can be viewed side-by-side.
Smart filters. Set up dynamic playlists sorted by BPM, key, date, genre, and other metadata. (Those columns are available in other tools, but here you get them dynamically, a bit like the ones in iTunes.)
Keyboard Shortcuts Editor. There’s a full editor for assigning individual features to custom shortcuts – which in turn can also map to custom hardware or the MacBook Pro Touch Bar.
CDJ and third-party hardware support. Whereas some other players make their own hardware or limit compatibility (or even require specific hardware just to launch, ahem), Algoriddim’s approach is more open. So they’re fully certified by Pioneer for CDJ compatibility, and they include 60 MIDI controllers in the box, and they have an extensive MIDI learn function.
More cueing and looping. Version 2 now has up to eight cue points and loops, with naming, per song. (I recently lauded Soda for adding this.) You can also now assign loop triggers to cue points.
Single deck mode for preparation. Okay, some (cough, again Serato) lock you into this view if you don’t have authorized hardware plugged in. But here, it’s designed specifically for the purpose of making set prep easier.
Accessibility. VoiceOver support makes djay Pro 2 work for vision-impaired users. We really need more commitment to this in the industry; it’s also been great to see this technology from Algoriddim showcased at Apple’s developer conference. If you’re using this (and hopefully CDM is working well with screen readers), do let us know.
And it does photos
Back to less club/pro features, the other breakthrough for casual users, weddings, and commercial gigs is photo integration. Drag and drop photos or albums onto the visual decks, and the software will make beat-matched slide shows.
The photo decks also work with existing, fairly powerful VJ features, which includes external output, effects, and the like. You can also adjust beat sync.
Plus a no-brainer price
The other thing that’s disruptive about djay Pro 2: price. It’s US$49.99, with an intro price of US$39.99, on the App Store.
You’ll need Spotify Premium for those features, of course, and macOS 10.11 or later is required.
The post djay Pro 2 brings algorithms and machine learning to DJing appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
NUGEN Audio has launched version 1.4 of its MasterCheck Pro plugin for optimizing your mixes for today’s music delivery services. The update adds FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and Opus encoding to the indispensable, award-winning loudness, dynamics, and codec toolset. The term codec is an acronym for coder/decoder. Music streaming services such as Apple Music® […]
SoundCloud’s CEO published a post saying SoundCloud is here to stay and uploads are safe. But it isn’t just SoundCloud’s business that’s troubled.
Okay, first – the one thing you shouldn’t worry about is music you’ve uploaded to SoundCloud. As I wrote at the end of last week, you should worry if you have media that’s important to you that’s located in any one place without backups, SoundCloud or otherwise. But while there have been plenty of signs SoundCloud’s business is seriously troubled, that doesn’t necessarily translate to any indication you’ll lose access to the service.
SoundCloud co-founder and CEO Alex Ljung was left scrambling in the wake of deep layoffs to assuage user fears. He took to the phones with at least one celebrity user, Chance the Rapper, who reported a “fruitful” call with the exec on Twitter Friday.
Also on Friday, Ljung posted a plea on the company’s blog:
The music you love on SoundCloud isn’t going away, the music you shared or uploaded isn’t going away, because SoundCloud is not going away. Not in 50 days, not in 80 days or anytime in the foreseeable future. Your music is safe.
SoundCloud is here to stay. [SoundCloud blog]
Alex also refers dismissively to “an insane amount of noise” about the company.
But let’s back up. SoundCloud’s CEO can’t just shrug off fear and uncertainty when the company’s own messaging, actions, and even financial filings are largely responsible. Whatever’s going on with SoundCloud’s business, the company has lost control of its image. It’s hard not to view this “noise” as partly SoundCloud’s fault.
Co-founders Alex and Eric are each articulate and passionate advocates of music sharing. But the company has for years failed to articulate its business model. It’s talked about subscription services like SoundCloud Go, without being clear about how it can compete with entrenched competitors, and talked about advertising without being clear about how it will attract advertisers or how those ads will be effectively delivered. It’s been evasive about details of revenue and profit. It’s allowed bad press to accumulate, like allowing lavish office photos to spread just as financial filings were adding to concerns about its future. It has often failed to go on the record with press outlets (not mine, major press), while small rumor blogs flooded the narrative with leaked (and often inaccurate) information.
To see how badly SoundCloud’s media relations are going, look to recent reports by the likes of Forbes or even TechCrunch. That’s TechCrunch, who just last year were so bullish on SoundCloud that they said the company should be worth more than Spotify
Flash-forward to last week, and TechCrunch are reporting leaked accounts from inside the company’s headquarters and
questioning whether the company will survive.
The best SoundCloud could do by way of correction or response in this place was to say that the fourth quarter begins in 80 days, not 50, and that they meant they had money through the end of that quarter (that is, the end of the year) – but that means we’re not any further along than when Ljung initially made that same statement in a financial statement in January. You can watch the messy back and forth here:
SoundCloud Responds to ‘Extensive Inaccuracies’ in Article Claiming It’s Almost Out of Money
[Indeed, TechCrunch has reason to complain here – SoundCloud doesn’t specify what it means by “extensive inaccuracies,” and actually appears to confirm some of the main gist of the article.]
Presumably these layoffs were planned for some time, so why did SoundCloud appear to be improvising its message to the press and its own staff?
And this problem isn’t a new one in summer. Way back in January, the apparent failure of revenue plans to keep pace with growing costs were fueling acquisition predictions. Now we have vague platitudes from the CEO that the company intends to remain independent, without any material on how they will do that. (That is, even after 40% staffing cuts, they’re still not talking about having money after the fourth quarter, unless by “foreseeable future” Ljung only means he can forsee 2017!) Here’s Fortune back at the end of the year; we actually know very little new information since then:
Here’s Why SoundCloud Will Likely Look to Be Acquired Soon [Fortune]
I know SoundCloud can do better, having covered the company since its 2008 founding. I know its founders can do a better job of messaging than this, too, having known them almost as long. Rather than simply imploring its users to help, they need to provide a better picture as soon as possible as to how revenue growth will work versus costs – particularly now, having cut some of the staff who were responsible for making that revenue growth happen.
Not only SoundCloud
That said, I think SoundCloud are unfairly bearing the brunt of bad press and angry musicians.
Let’s not mince words: right now, the whole model of streaming appears economically broken, and surely all the major players deserve some share of the blame.
Talk about a rock and a hard place – maybe “buried under a pile of rubble” is more apt.
Content creators and owners believe they should get paid for music being streamed. So you’ve got the industry that represents them asking for higher royalty rates.
The problem is where the revenue to pay those royalties is coming from. Listeners don’t appear to want to pay much for subscription fees. That’s at least partly why Spotify and SoundCloud and others aren’t showing profitable results. Even if you don’t buy their arguments (lavish offices and huge headcount being evidence), there’s still a fundamental problem here. If users pay a flat fee for a subscription, then the company loses money the more they listen to the service – because royalty costs accrue. SoundCloud here actually has an edge, in that not all of the music uploaded requires a license – think spoken word and unreleased music. But SoundCloud hasn’t yet proven that they can make this work, either. (We’ll see if those staff cuts or other budget trimming helps.)
Advertising is the one thing that will grow with increased listening, at least in theory – more listening means more revenue for ads. But listeners and even content creators have been resistant to advertising. And selling ads in sufficient volume and with significant value means you need to have a talented staff able to liaise with big agencies and advertisers. Google is the one tech company who seem to have built a significant competency in the ad business, but they claim they’re not making money on ads, either.
And it gets worse. Largely missed in all the coverage of SoundCloud last week (but observed by some CDM readers), it’s really YouTube that dominates streaming. The Washington Post has just painted a bleak picture of the value of those YouTube plays to music.
In a pot-calls-kettle-black argument, YouTube weirdly warns of the dangers of consolidation in big players:
“The industry should be really, really careful because they could close their eyes and wake up with their revenue really concentrated in two, three sources,” said Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s global head of music, referring to Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Prime Music.
Right, so it’s better if it’s concentrated in four, and the fourth is Google? Huh?
The real danger here seems to be a race to the bottom. Apple, Amazon, and Google can all afford to lose money on streaming, turning it into loss-leader business for other revenue streams. SoundCloud, Spotify, and other tech companies can afford to lose money by repeatedly turning to outside investment. (It’s absurd that we’re still calling this “runway” with those companies, as the business is now around a decade old at least. The runway metaphor only works if you take off at some point. A “hole in the ground into which you throw money” metaphor is what we seem to have here.)
I wouldn’t normally compliment the record industry, but to the credit of groups like the RIAA, at least they’re exerting some pressure up. The problem is, even a $7 royalty per 1000 streams may prove negligible to smaller artists and labels – and if the business that pays that royalty can’t survive, it’s a moot point anyway.
So, uh, how’s everyone feeling? Super… happy? No?
Of course, the buzzword that everyone seems to be running to at the moment is the blockchain – offering decentralized content and paying creators more directly. But describing one part of a larger solution isn’t the same as describing the whole solution. Will listeners embrace micropayments for music, or will they find it a hassle? What will make them migrate from services they’re already accustomed to using – and in which they’ve already assembled playlists and preferences? What about the fact that services like Apple’s are already integrated with the listening devices they own? How do you convince listeners to change their mind about what music should cost, when they’ve already grown accustomed to $10 monthly fees – or, very often, no fee whatsoever?
It isn’t all bad news. People are listening to more music. Streaming isn’t a nonexistent business – it’s US$7.7 billion in the United States alone. Someone, somewhere is actually earning money.
Also, because of the cost of PR and building fanbases, and the potential revenue earned from paying live (or selling physical goods), a lot of musicians I’ve talked to really do appreciate the promotional value of online streams. There are plenty of cases where giving away streaming music is viable – because you might then sell people vinyl, for instance.
And, look, while all of this shakes out, musicians and labels continue to pursue a strategy that caters to building relations on all these services. Some of them have great success stories with YouTube, with SoundCloud, with Spotify.
But maybe that’s the point. It seems to be the businesses in between that are non-functioning – or (in the case of futuristic blockchain propositions) just not ready for primetime.
Musicians and labels keep doing the hard work of making the music and fighting to get it heard. Yet investment and attention pours into the middleware between us and listeners – and that middleware really isn’t working terribly well.
At the very least, it seems totally valid to me that people who make music have reason to be frustrated. I think we should continue talking about our own solutions. And I’d like to see the captains of industry – music industry and tech industry alike – take some greater responsibility for what’s gone wrong and how it might go better. Well… one can dream, anyway.
So, uh… vinyl? Cassette tapes? Eight tracks?
Erm… happy Monday?
The post SoundCloud tries to allay fears, but streaming needs a business model appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
There’s a famous line in business by Tom Peters, in his book The Circle of Innovation: “you can’t shrink your way to greatness.”
But shrinking is exactly what SoundCloud now has to do, with its survival – let alone any ongoing greatness – at stake. As founder Alex Ljung puts it in a blog post for the company today, massive headcount reduction and the closure of two offices is necessary to put the company “on our path to profitability and in control of SoundCloud’s independent future.” The implication is, without a buyer, the company may not last without cutting staff.
Asked for comment, SoundCloud pointed CDM to that post:
SoundCloud will lose a lot of the people who made the service valuable. 173 out of 420 employees – 41% of staff – are being made redundant. San Francisco and London offices are closing, leaving New York and the headquarters here in Berlin. (That may have implications for Berlin’s reputation as a European Internet capital, as well, as SoundCloud has been its best known poster child.)
I know some of these people personally. I’ve seen what they bring to the service and our music community in general. I’ve also seen how significant SoundCloud has been in helping musicians share music and people to discover that music, its impact on record labels, on artists getting bookings … on daily life.
I think artists and ex-employees alike could feel legitimately betrayed by the course music streaming has taken. SoundCloud at least is increasing revenue. Ljung says the company has “more than doubled” revenue in the past 12 months, without citing specific breakdown of producer subscriptions, listener subscriptions, and advertising. But the issue is how revenue compares to costs.
Now, ironically, the writing has been on the wall for a decade. Ten years ago – and one year before SoundCloud was founded – Pandora co-founder and ex-CEO told CDM he thought streaming rates would shutter companies. The weird part of this is, he may have been right – it’s just that an ongoing influx of investment has prolonged that failure over the years.
If it seems greedy that he’d suggest such a thing, one reason is that there aren’t such royalties collected on radio broadcasts.
Whether you want to blame the services, tech giants like Apple and Amazon, or the music industry for setting rates, the business model just doesn’t seem to add up anywhere. And 2017 could be the “s*** hits the fan” moment as it becomes ever clearer that no one is able to turn that business model into a win.
Just last week, co-founder and returning CEO Tim Westergren left Pandora. That company has never made a profit, and it seems new investors Sirius XM (satellite radio company) have other plans.
Then there’s Spotify. As its revenues and number of users grow rapidly, its losses are actually growing even more rapidly. That should mean that Ljung’s comment about growing revenue is as much a red flag as it is encouragement.
Noticing a trend here? Pretty much anyone in the streaming business is losing money. That overall picture also will rule out some acquisitions, or reduce the price. And it’s not surprising that this combination might frighten away some investors.
CDM readers and associates frequently compare Bandcamp to SoundCloud. But perhaps if any comparison is apt, it’s because of the contrast in business models, growth rate, and intended audience. Bandcamp remains a niche site for people to consume music, not only as free streams, but as downloads, physical media, and in the form of merchandise. It’s the always-on, “tap water”-style streaming that is having trouble.
To state the painfully obvious, it’s also troubling to look at the streaming players who are thriving. Facebook has stayed out of music (unlike Russian social media network VKontakte). But three other big tech giants – Amazon, Apple, and Google – are able to offer streaming services as “loss-leader” offerings, directing sales elsewhere. Apple may lag Spotify, with 27 million users to Spotify’s 50 million. But then Cupertino doesn’t need Apple Music to turn a profit, since the company can instead sell iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
It’s just as easy to find music on YouTube – which also spells further pain for artists and labels.
Music press have been quick to jump on SoundCloud, often without much to back them up. But now, I believe it’s reasonable to sound some alarms. Staff cuts this significant could slow growth and curb the efforts that would expand revenue. They suggest serious financial obstacles. And there’s still not a clear picture of how streaming will be sustainable as a business model – not for SoundCloud, and not for the entire industry.
And the implications there go far beyond SoundCloud’s offices. They should raise serious questions about what a record label is, how it collects revenue in the digital age, and how much control artists and publishers will have on their music being shared and discovered.
Of course, that absolutely means now is the time to talk about alternatives, including innovative solutions like Blockchain-powered sharing and the like. But the popularity of SoundCloud and Spotify for finding and playing music is going to be a tough benchmark to match.
Whatever happens next, it’s going to involve some major changes. And if these companies do start to contract, a lot of the talent that was working on the problem is going to wind up elsewhere.
The post SoundCloud cuts 41% of staff as streaming music business melts down appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Mastering The Mix has released an update to its Levels metering plugin that help you achieve a technically excellent mix. The update
Introducing djay Pro for Windows – Algoriddim’s award-winning DJ software is now on Windows – seamlessly integrated with Spotify! djay
SoundCloud’s ambitious goals for being the place where people share and discover music has always left it with a challenge. On one hand, it has to keep encouraging you to upload music – your tunes, your remixes, your DJ sets. It can’t just be a site for major label content, because then it loses to Apple and Spotify by default. On the other, it has to satisfy the needs of right holders – including when you upload music that they own. That’s an issue with your DJ set, of course, but it could eve be an issue with your own music, if you’re signed to a label.
Musicians and DJs have often assumed that these two interests conflict, but that’s not necessarily so.
First, the more SoundCloud attracts popular, major label content, the more likely it is that people listening to that content will find your music, too. That’s true in theory, anyway – and SoundCloud’s discovery algorithms are specifically tuned to introduce other music. SoundCloud has popularized a breakthrough track here or there, and there’s even word via Chance the Rapper that streamed music (including SoudCloud) could be up for Grammy awards. So this is really a thing.
Second, SoundCloud’s legal battles have actually made it easier for DJs and producers to upload their music without annoying takedowns.
But the ultimate prize is, SoundCloud will pay you for streams. That on its own might not be relevant, but SoundCloud gives individual artists far more control than Apple and Spotify. Only SoundCloud lets you upload content directly, at will, and the statistics and social controls available far exceed anything else. So combined with the ability to get paid, even a little, this is a big deal.
Obviously, the way this works is for SoundCloud to use its paid options (and presumably advertising revenue, though we’ve not seen a lot of that) in order to direct funds to the artists.
The details are a bit sketchy, and the rollout isn’t instantaneous. (That’s unfortunately been a pattern with SoundCloud, though I don’t know to what extent to blame the Berlin company and to what extent to fault the byzantine entities of the record industry.)
Basically, what SoundCloud are announcing is that the Premiere offering will soon be available to DJs and producers. For now, you can sign up; there’s no word yet on who will get included when.
Maybe the most interesting detail here is actually that SoundCloud specifically calls out DJ mixes (that’s the first time they’ve done that on the record, officially), and remixes. The sets are a big deal, because licensing them has been a hurdle in the past. And while Mixcloud ostensibly offers better tools and more solid licensing, I’ve never once talked to a DJ who was as happy with the plays and engagement they got on Mixcloud as they were with SoundCloud.
Here’s the signup:
The news comes at an interesting time. It seems increasingly likely that SoundCloud could soon face heated-up competition, especially as DJ mixes spread. Apple took some (small) steps into that space as far as licensing, and more recently, Spotify purchased technology that lets it better identify songs and stems.
The acquisition alone is bad news for SoundCloud – even if Spotify doesn’t use the tech, they just blocked SoundCloud from getting to it. (And in acquisition-happy tech, sometimes even that’s the goal.) But it could also be the basis of Spotify adding features that compete with SoundCloud. I doubt seriously that you’d get a Spotify/SoundCloud mash-up, but it could cover something like DJ tech.
I’m surprised, though, that no one has speculated that a Spotify acquisition of SoundCloud could go hand in hand with buying Sonalytics, since the latter would shore up the legal basis of the former.
Meanhwile, there are the usual swirling discussions about SoundCloud running out of money, which we’ve heard now for years on a regular basis. Since the company was founded, it has routinely had to go ask investors for more cash to extend runway – to the point of maybe “runway” isn’t really the word for it any more.
In other words, running out of money isn’t news. It’s a question of whether investors want to keep investing. But I wouldn’t trust anonymous sources for reliable information there, which is what some more speculative sites of relied upon.
Getting bought would be another route, and all of this could simply have to do with negotiations and asking price. Some of this uncertainty I think isn’t just a reflection of SoundCloud and their business model, but the uncertainties of streaming music in general. Because performing rights organizations and publishers and labels effectively set their share of money, and consumers have set their expectations of what they want to pay so low, businesses get badly squeezed in the middle.
Anyway, it’s a good thing we’re musicians. We have none of that uncertainty – we know most of what we do won’t make any money.
But I’m totally biased. I’m rooting for SoundCloud because they provide tools for musicians that no one else does, for the moment. And this move makes the stuff they make for us more useful. And for all SoundCloud’s flaws, right now, we need all the tools and control we can find.
I will see if we can get SoundCloud management to go on record about any of this; stay tuned.
The post Producers and DJs can now sign up to get paid for SoundCloud plays appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
イギリス・ロンドンのマスタリングスタジオ+レコードレーベルGearbox Recordはハイクオリティなサウンドとデジタル技術を合体したGearbox Automaticを発表しました。現在クラウドファンディングKickstarterにて出資者を募っています。
ここ数年間、急激に人気が復活しているアナログレコード。そのアナログレコード人気に後押しされ、現在様々なアナログターンテーブルの新機種がリリースされていますが、例えば昨年劇的な復活を遂げたTechnics は高級オーディオマニア向けターンテーブルSL-1200Gをリリース（およそ350.000円）。一方ではデジタルフォーマットへの変換が可能だったり、 アンプやスピーカーを内蔵していたり、手軽にレコードを聴く環境としての格安なターンテーブルも多く見かけます。
Could a DJ/VJ app on your phone be a serious tool? Absolutely. Not just could be – is.
Algoriddim’s djay Pro is here on the iPhone, and after playing around with it, I think it’s a must-have for DJs and VJs alike.
Are you going to do a serious DJ set with this? Probably not. You’re just going to use it for everything else. It’s there if you need to play a mix while a party is warming up. It’s there when you’re at a friend’s place, or at an afterhours/afterparty in the drowsy hours of the morning. It’s there when you’re on the bus and curious how some tunes might mix together, or lying in bed browsing through music and mixing, or listening at the office, mixing the latest promo tracks you’ve gathered.
And it’s a serious enough VJ/DJ tool that you might use it to run video in the background from your phone, or make it an ultra-portable companion to a controller in place of a laptop, or keep it as a backup.
In fact, djay Pro could be the solution to adding 4K video mixing to your live/AV set. Really. Like, on your phone.
What I like about Algoriddim is that, despite the “pro” moniker, their software doesn’t really make a judgment about what it is you’re doing. So they’ve crammed in a bunch of features here, for “pros,” but they’ve kept everything friendly so it’s just as handy for casual use. And casual use is something that both serious DJs and weekend music lovers have in common.
I mean, I’m mixing a set while I write this. (Okay, maybe don’t tell your boss you’ve got this app.)
The feature set that makes this possible:
Up to four decks. You actually have a choice of layouts – horizontal, vertical, two decks, or four. But that four deck mode means you can try a lot of what-if scenarios on the go with multiple decks when practicing, even when you’re far away from your DJ rig.
It’s a serious VJ tool. You can mix two simultaneous 4K video streams. You can output full HD at 60 fps. Yeah, stop thinking of lugging laptops, and start thinking of your phone as a computing device capable of the powers your laptop once had.
It works with AirPlay. Of course. (Hope that afterparty has an Apple TV.)
It works with your iPhone camera. Here’s another reason this might be a serious VJ tool – armed with a stabilizer and/or some extra lenses, it could be a powerful visual addition to a live rig.
Haptic, 3D touch. It’s funny that Algoriddim is making better use of touch feedback than even Apple. You get haptic feedback to make the touch interface more usable when working with the jog wheels. And on supported iPhones, “3d touch” (force touching the screen) lets you set cue points and preview songs.
Spotify integration. This is to me really powerful for music discovery, which is where mobile apps for me shine. Spotify’s catalog is pretty huge at this point, thanks to digital distributors. And djay Pro does everything – key, BPM, beat grids, colored waveforms – even with Spotify content. So you can navigate new music via Spotify and try out mixes and combinations, then go grab the downloads later from Bandcamp or Beatport or the like.
I’m sure I’ll offend some DJs here, too, but I like the occasional random discovery, too, so the “Match” algorithmic function in djay is interesting, as well. (And at this point, there’s so much music out there, there’s no reason algorithms couldn’t lead you to human curation – by helping you find an artist or label you might otherwise miss.)
It’s a serious visual tool. VJs might look to the iPad Pro-optimized djay Pro on iPad. But if you have some content you just want to present easily, your phone (um, with the cell radio turned off presumably) is actually a viable option. That could be a godsend for a traveling solo musician.
You get basic transitions (Blend and Luma for me is enough, but if you want to go cheesy, Cube, Swap, Grid, Mosaic, and Push are there). Those transitions also work with the music (afterparty time!) or split. There are also effects (Grid EQ, Kaleidoscope, Circle Splash, RGB Offset, Edges, Invert, Tiles, Splash, Ripples, and Radial Blur), and title and image overlays. So, yeah, if you just got paid to DJ a corporate gig, put up their logo, get cash, go. (Or put up your name, too.)
There are fun visualizers (afterparty), or 4K video mixing (actually, that could have some serious uses for AV sets).
External display support means all this goes to HDMI, Thunderbolt, to DVI devices, or via Airplay. And that’s why your phone is a real powerhouse here.
Does all the DJ stuff, Automixes, too. You get all the usual EQ, filter, mixing options, plus even a simple 4×3 grid of one-shot pads. But Automix mode is also useful if you want to just play some of your music collection and hear how it sounds, at work or on the road.
A/V recording. Make some quick social media fodder or mixes, on the go. Remember that transitions work with the audio, so you can have a lot of fun with this.
DJ hardware support. The other way to look at this is, a controller now has full computational power by just adding a phone. A whole lot of hardware now works with djay Pro on the iPhone in addition to the iPad version – even the top-of-range Pioneer CDJs. (So, if you’ve got a gig and need to switch from a USB stick over to your phone library, say while people are milling at the bar, you can.)
You can use Split Output for cueing through headphones, work with MIDI controllers, use multi-channel audio interfaces (via USB adapter), and all of this works out of the box.
It’s five bucks?! Yeah. Crazy. That’s the intro price, then it’s ten bucks, which is still ridiculous.
So the nearest competitor, TRAKTOR on iPhone, has to me a slightly more elegant interface, and the excellent Freeze mode, but… that’s about it. This pretty much just blew it away.
This ought to be a wakeup call for Native Instruments and Serato. Why does Serato still not have a working mobile solution? (No, carrying a coffin-sized controller alongside my laptop does not count as a “mobile” solution, Serato, and yes, it is totally then just a huge dongle.) Why has Native Instruments not kept their (excellent) mobile app up to date? No Link support, no STEMS, no sync with the desktop TRAKTOR? Because at this point, even working with TRAKTOR on desktop, I’m inclined to switch over to djay on mobile.
Video (cheese me up!):
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