It’s a little after 8pm last Friday evening — I’ll always remember where I was when I read this press release on my iPhone from Denon DJ. Having just ordered crispy chicken in OK sauce, half a duck, and a bag of prawn crackers in the village Chinese takeaway, a wry smile formed across my increasingly hungry face, as news I though I had been aware of turned out to be just a fraction of the truth, and immediately of far more interest to me than before. You see, Denon DJ has been keeping a huge secret from us all, one that must have been killing them to stop leaking, because it’s one of those line in the sand moments in the DJ technology timeline. For today, Denon DJ has announced that the new Prime 4 will offer standalone streaming of popular subscription services. Yes — huge news.

But what has come as a huge surprise is that the existing SC5000 Prime and SC5000M Prime have had wireless technology all this time and will also be able to stream fully standalone too. That’s right — even bigger news. Here’s what they have been bursting to say:

DENON DJ® ANNOUNCES WORLD’S FIRST MUSIC STREAMING CAPABILITY IN STANDALONE DJ HARDWARE

Prime Series gear will soon be enabled for internet connection, bringing premier DJ music streaming services and a whole new method of performance DJing without the need for a laptop computer.

Cumberland RI, USA (May 21st, 2019)—Denon DJ (www.denondj.com), a leading manufacturer of premium DJ products and solutions, today announced its Prime Series DJ hardware will soon be enabled for both hard-wired and Wi-Fi internet connection. This exclusive, ground-breaking innovation brings the capability of playing digital music content from the world’s premier DJ streaming services as well as directly from the Prime Series units, with no necessity for a laptop computer.

The World’s Dance Music at Your Fingertips!

Denon DJ has partnered with a selection of the industry’s most cutting-edge and content-rich digital music platforms to bring exactly what the global DJ community has been hoping for, expecting and demanding – streaming music inside a DJ’s hardware! Exclusively for Denon DJ and the Prime Series units, DJs will now be able to access millions of original tracks, remixes and mash-ups, all streamed via a choice of wired connection and Wi-Fi technology, right within the hardware itself!

A Turning Point in DJ Technology History

Denon DJ’s exciting new streaming performance innovation marks a turning point in the history of DJ technology. It works with the recently announced Prime 4 standalone DJ smart controller. In addition, the previous Prime units, the SC5000 and SC5000M, are also internet-connect-capable. Yes, you read that correctly: All these units have full WiFi capabilities! This will bring the ability to stream literally limitless amounts of DJ content, standalone, across the entire Prime Series family! #prime4all

Partnered Platforms & Services

Denon DJ will soon be announcing the date of its first premium content streaming platform partnership. Accompanying this will be video ‘how-to’ guides to show how easy it is to interface and perform in standalone streaming mode, for any DJ. With roll-out starting Summer 2019, Denon DJ will integrate the next sequence of streaming partners and associated services into the Prime Series hardware via firmware updates.

Upcoming streaming partners:

  • SoundCloud – SoundCloud, the world’s largest open audio platform, will be a part of this new integration. With standalone streaming via the Prime Series, SoundCloud users can now instantly stream and mix SoundCloud’s massive catalog of more than 200 million tracks from over 20 million creators using a SoundCloud Go+ premium consumer subscription.
  • Beatport – Beatport’s new LINK technology will support standalone streaming with the Prime Series hardware. LINK, an innovative streaming service built for DJs, is the first of its kind to include an offline storage mode for public performance. Beatport’s hugely popular and club- ready digital content, along with expertly curated playlists will give Prime DJs access to an unprecedented electronic music library.
  • Beatsource – Beatport and world-leading promo pool, DJcity, recently joined forces to launch the hip-hop and open format specialist DJ platform Beatsource. This new platform will provide access to a broad catalogue of music, genre-specific discovery, intuitive playlisting, and expert curation, all accessible for performance over wireless and wired connection as well as standalone streaming in the Denon DJ Prime Series products via Beatsource LINK.
  • TIDAL – With access to over 60 million songs, standalone streaming with the TIDAL platform brings DJs a huge variety of music to please any crowd, dancefloor or event. DJs can easily access their personal TIDAL playlists and follow the platform’s own expertly curated selections too. With so many tracks and exclusive content across a massive variety of music styles, DJs can be prepared for any request at every conceivable gig – and all standalone within the Prime Series hardware.

Key Features

  • Wi-Fi enabled across the entire Prime Series (Prime 4, SC5000, SC5000M)
  • Hard Wire/physical connection to internet available
  • Streaming of digital music services within standalone unit
  • Touchscreen Interface direct to streaming service
  • Buffering of track in unit memory in case of network disconnect
  • Add hot-cues and loop points to streamed tracks
  • Search artists, songs and playlists direct from touchscreen
  • Streaming service partners added via firmware updates starting this summer
  • Through the unique locker technology, both Beatport LINK and Beatsource LINK will have offline storage.

“Denon DJ continually delivers feature innovations, performance options and technological enhancements for all DJs,” said Denon DJ’s Creative Director, Paul Dakeyne. “With both Wi-Fi and physical internet connection now engaged across the Prime Series hardware, plus access to the huge amount of digital music content from the industry’s premier streaming services, DJs no longer need a laptop computer. This changes everything – right here, right now!”

STANDALONE STREAMING IS HUGE

My stance on hyperbolic PR is well known. I’m happy to call companies out on unsubstantiated claims, and ones that stretch the truth to the absolute limit. And I get physically angry when I read anyone bandying around the term “game changer” when the release is little more than an update.

But let me state this plain and clear — standalone streaming is a game changer. And this is not a statement I make lightly. Having access to Soundcloud, Beatport, Beatsource, and TIDAL without a laptop is a paradigm shift in DJing. Your music library can be carefully tuned from anywhere, and equally be available anywhere… well with Denon DJ Prime players and controllers anyway. No writing of USB keys, remembering where they are, and hoping they don’t corrupt — it is the very definition of on the go DJing.

I’m waiting for answers from Denon DJ to a number of questions relating to playlists and Engine Prime that immediately come to mind. But even if it’s as simple as having access to your playlists without a laptop, then that’s an amazing starting point for standalone streaming. Obviously there are wider questions and issues relating to streaming (legality, poor internet in the venue, tracks being pulled etc). But all Denon DJ can do is provide access to the assorted streaming platforms, after which point it’s in the DJ’s hands.

The obvious omission is Spotify. This was a question asked over and over when Serato announced streaming in Serato DJ Pro. We’ll just have to see if Denon DJ can twist Spotify’s arm.

BEYOND STREAMING MUSIC

With this announcement, Denon DJ is essentially enabling an internet connection to hardware that has powerful brains and big screens. But the game changing part of this release is more than just streaming. What’s to stop mobile ecosystems like iOS and Android running internet connected subsets of their features in this window? I just had my first experience of Apple’s CarPlay last week and was very impressed. And I see little reason why that kind of integration can’t happen in units like the Prime players.

It’s a matter of where the hardware’s power and the user’s imagination hit brick walls. If Denon DJ is smart, they’ll make an SDK for this and get all kinds of innovation happening via third party add-ons. The potential is there, if users can think of valuable uses for it.

I’ve also got to ponder Denon DJ’s approach to laptops with this. I’ve said before that I haven’t missed using a laptop with the SC5000s one bit. It’s so liberating to not depend on another moving part in the audio chain. It makes me think that perhaps Denon DJ is reinforcing a no laptop approach to their products.

No hardware manufacturer likes to depend on a software supplier for the success of their products. And if they can make a coherent product that runs on its own, then that’s likely to be a more stable product, and indeed more likely to improve the bottom line too because of less licensing fees, not to mention reduced support issues that are usually accompanied by finger pointing.

BREAKING FROM THE PACK

It seems that with each new release, Denon DJ takes another step away from the pack. The original Prime series had innovations that others have yet to respond to. Then the Prime 4 drew a new line in the sand with 4 channel standalone operation for the first time. And now, they’re the first to market with standalone streaming. There’s still work to do with these products and especially the software, as well as getting more DJs to change their rider. But those who had doubts about inMusic’s stewardship of the Denon DJ brand should be feeling better with the boundary pushing direction.

Where is Pioneer DJ in all this? Where is their response to Prime? If Pioneer DJ sales are still strong, then they may not feel the need. But an interesting scenario developed in my mind — should Pioneer DJ announce next level shiny to take on the Prime series, this immediately makes users and particularly clubs itchy to update, whereas right now they may not feel the need. If however they’re of a mind to update, they may well take a look at Denon DJ’s Prime ecosystem at the same time and make a balanced buying decision rather than just buy Pioneer DJ. Thus new product from Pioneer DJ could actually work in Denon DJ’s favour.

While standalone streaming is new, there are indicators that Pioneer DJ is investing in streaming. Last week’s DDJ-200 is mobile and streaming focussed, but a more expensive player like a say a full fat CDJ/XDJ player should have the grunt to run streaming internally.

Any way you look at it, streaming is now a thing that’s not going away, and is set to grow. You don’t have to use it, especially with some of the restrictive subscription pricing being touted.

EDIT: Beatport pricing removed as still to be confirmed.

But to be able to grab new tracks that the floor is demanding, or maybe some golden oldie, standalone streaming could be an absolute lifesaver. Now you just have to decide which service you pick, or indeed if your wallet can stretch to cover a number of the services.

One thing is clear — flipping a faceplate at review time is no longer enough. It’s more than everyone else does, but it seems that the industry is hiding tech in units just waiting to enable it. Cue weird Torx hybrid faceplate screws that are impervious to the best efforts of the worxdriver. For now.

SUMMING UP

Hats off to Denon DJ for having the forward thinking attitude to build future proof hardware. Also bloody well done in keeping this huge cat firmly in the bag, and for making this old man smile at their ability to keep pushing forward. And thanks for making the wait at the Chinese takeaway more memorable that I could have ever imagined.