Remember downloads? Remember CDs? Remember vinyl?
Add to that – streams.
Because Algoriddim adding Spotify to djay is earth-shaking. Sure, Pacemaker did this in February. But that app was thin on some critical features DJs need, and the Spotify integration was lackluster. This is different. djay is a mature, full-featured DJ app – maybe not a known name like Traktor or Serato, but widely popular and brimming with features, plus a UI that casual DJs find easy to use. It’s also one of two mobile apps (Traktor for iPad being the other) that people seem to actually DJ with.
So this is huge. Requesting a wifi connection at venues could be as common as asking for a mixer, cable, or turntable – especially given how much of the market is casual DJs to begin with.
And the thing likely to absolutely terrify artists, labels, and stores who sell downloads is the fact that the Spotify integration is seamless. Unlike Pacemaker, it plays instantly and analyzes quickly – then saves all that information on cues, tempo, and key locally. And the integration with search and libraries in Spotify does everything that client does – then adds more features for DJs.
- Full playlist, library support. Basically, if it works in Spotify, it works in djay – searching, instant play, and all your playlists, meaning Spotify becomes a tool for organizing playlists (which for some DJs, I expect it already was).
- Match and Automix Radio. This should ruffle some DJ feathers. Spotify’s predictive algorithms are good – really good, thanks to acquiring intelligent tech from The Echo Nest that sources everything from metadata to human reviews to work out how music is interconnected. I’ve actually found some nice music that way with the Spotify client. Now, you can use it to DJ, and algoriddim says even they were surprised by the results. You can either Match songs as you DJ, or use your DJ app as your music player (which is kind of fun, especially with an iPad at your side).
- Social sharing. Another draw – if you’ve been putting off making mixes for self-promotion, now there’s no excuse.
That’s not all that’s new in djay. Algoriddim has a couple of features that make it a more-serious challenged to NI’s Traktor for iPad: there’s new controller integration for third-party hardware (and ideal for those wanting to mix and match), plus effects by the lovely SugarBytes. Those two features are almost enough to make me stop cringing at djay’s skeuomorphic user interface, which to me is its one remaining drawback.
But talk about disruptive.
The good: artists could see more streams of their music, which means if Spotify and labels can ever sort out licensing in a way that actually gets ample cash to artists, streaming revenue could be more realistic. And, frankly, that’s much easier than the often-broken methods for tracking plays in clubs now.
The bad: well, downloads could be a thing of the past. And that’s bad news on the producer/label side. Download sales have been far better for artists. And they tend to build relationships between fans and the music, including providing artists with far greater stats (especially on services like Bandcamp and SoundCloud).
My guess is, this will push artists to try to pursue other avenues:
1. Higher-quality downloads, for fidelity closer to the master than streams can provide (especially important in big clubs).
2. Specialized downloads, like for-sale Traktor Remix Decks, Ableton Live sessions, or other remix-friendly stems. (Samples are already big business at Beatport, and trends like this mean sites like that are likely to invest more heavily in those areas to protect their future.)
3. Vinyl. It’s available to a select few artists, but it’s now not just about cache – it’s about survival. A lot of serious releases from labels may start to head this direction.
— and apps of their own, though there the return on investment may not be great enough to justify the investment of time.
I also hope Spotify works to provide more listener statistics to its artists. For instance, I won’t care if I don’t make a cent off streams, if I could then track DJ plays by city and work out where I might want to tour.
The big question, I think, is when the other shoe drops: when do we see Spotify integration from Pioneer, Serato, or Native Instruments?
In the meantime, count this as at least one shoe.