Serato and Roland — how I joined the dots

Serato x Roland #909day

It’s 05.13am, and once again my gut is being punished by the takeaway I had some 8 hours ago. This is nothing new, as my inherited internal wrongness that precludes me from the joys of anything hot or spicy (guaranteed 24 hours of bed ridden pain) frequently reminds me that I sould be more careful with my intake of culinary crap. But from time to time, my gut does serve me well, and in recent times it has been a Mystic Meg like predictor when it comes to industry happenings. Allow me to explain.

A couple of days ago, I posted a story about how music tech giant Roland is going to take over the internet on #909day and unleash a 24 hour new gear fury upon us — a veritable GAS cloud if you will. Within this piece, I teased that I have a theory about what said DJ related fury might be. But instead of puking it up in your laps, I figured it might be a jolly jape to let you lot postulate your own theories. Some of you had a go, but I’d typify the response as “not that interested”, if only because it’s Roland and they have no real pedigree in the pure DJ scene at all.

But yesterday, an email arrived through the usual channels about how I should stay up until toolateforthisoldman O’clock because Serato has something hawt to talk about. Been there, done that, seen deadlines extended for news that just wasn’t worth staying up for. Sleep is not just more important, it’s essential. And as it turns out, for this news they didn’t actually send out any PR anyway — it’s all rather social mediaish. I swear I’m not angry and I’ve become dulled to the inevitability of such things, but you know… the press generally works better if there’s a press release — the key is in the name. Imagine how apoplectically enraged I would be if I had stayed up, calmly waiting for something to arrive. Coincidentally, even the Apple dictionary foretold of what might happen as I spellchecked this piece:

Serato and Roland — how I joined the dots

Aaannyway… if you haven’t seen the news, or guessed from me namedropping the two key ingredients of this little DJ takeaway, Serato and Roland are cosying up to deliver… something. There’s also a seemingly unembeddable video, and some words, lifted from the Serato site, because there’s no PR in my inbox:

Serato announces a new partnership with Roland, a world leader in music hardware.

Serato and Roland are joining forces to create something truly unique and that will redefine what it means to be a DJ. Drawing on the combined experience of both companies, this shared vision will be realised in a special announcement on “909 Day” (September 9th).

Young Ly, Serato CEO says: “Roland is an exciting new partner for Serato. It’s inspiring to be working closely with a company with such rich heritage and expertise in the musical performance and production world, and responsible for so much of the music that DJs play night after night. Both companies are closely aligned in our vision for the future of DJing and performance, and we’re excited to reveal this to the world.”

As part of the 909 Day worldwide celebration, Serato HQ will be hosting a streaming event live from Auckland, New Zealand, where a special announcement will be made. You don’t want to miss this!

I’ll tell you right now, a great many people will definitely miss it. New Zealand time usually means that Europe is in bed, and considering that most traffic happens in working hours, the majority of the US has clocked off for the day as well. Indeed, as I type this story, no other DJ news outlet worth a damn has posted about this hot news. Maybe they didn’t get the press release either.

Serato and Roland — how I joined the dots
The Worxlab last week. This is how I roll. Honest.

HOW I JOINED THE DOTS

Working out that Roland would be working with Serato was an interesting journey. Of course I could just brag about being all guru-ish and saying that I knew all along and this is nothing new to me. And if I may, I’d like to share my thought process with you and show my workings, and how my gut was shouting at me somewhat more than the fried chicken in OK sauce is doing right now.

Firstly, the post DJ Expo grapevine was twitching about how Roland was getting into DJing. “And that’s all I know” said my source. Plausible of course — they have a old and limited track record in this area, albeit not a good one. Time to dig.

My first train of thought, like everyone else, was what could Roland do in DJing? “They’re going to need a software partner to work in the modern DJ scene” shouted my gut. If it’s DJing, it sure as hell won’t be NI or Pioneer DJ, especially if it’s playing to Roland’s established strengths. Serato however is the perfect fit, especially as I’m led to believe that Serato wishes to work more in the production and performance area of things. Now to find some evidence of Roland and Serato sitting in a tree.

The first piece of the puzzle was what I considered to be a strategic hire. Nick De Friez, formerly of Serato and Focusrite, announced to his Facebook friends that he was moving to Roland. Not enough on its own to confirm anything because Nick is quite the synth head. But when an MI company with intentions in DJing hires a former Serato employee, that’s some dots to join lightly in pencil. This was later joined in sharpie pen when he announced his job title of Dance DJ Product Manager.

The next blip on the radar was the video that came from the recent Jazzy Jeff PLAYList retreat. I knew Serato is heavily involved in this, but interestingly I saw a more than coincidental number of identical Roland 808 t-shirts, followed by the Serato and Roland logos as key sponsors. Knowing that new gear is shown in secret at the retreat (remember the whole S9 mega-leak last year?), I put one more piece in the growing puzzle.

Serato and Roland — how I joined the dotsNow to the Roland video announcing #909day — when talking of live streaming performances, it lists seven key cities around the world, followed by “and more”. Odd right? If you listed seven, why relegate others off the page… unless their location would be a total giveaway. And that’s exactly what Auckland would have been.

Now in a court of law, this would be circumstantial evidence. But it’s enough for me to have laid money on it being true. And as it turns out, my gut has served me well. I’m on a run, probably to the toilet if my gut continues to grumble at last night’s dinner.

Serato and Roland — how I joined the dots
Drop a Numark TR-8 and a TB-3 into my favourite Numark NS7 controller and I’d be in gear Nirvana. Not happening though. Sadly.

BUT WHAT ARE THEY DOING TOGETHER?

Much of that depends on where the slider between their mutual strengths lies, and also what they can bring to each other’s dinner table. Roland has the brilliant Aira range on the performance and production side of things, and Serato has the Serato DJ suite backed up with an established DJ hardware blueprint. Welding these together in some way to make a green Ser-aira-to mashup seems logical.

In theory, this could be Serato’s way of delivering a more coherent version of the ill-fated Ableton based Bridge, and having the TR-8’s sequencing and the expanded Serato Sampler working together. I always felt that while it had promise (and definitely had fans), the Bridge always felt fudged, and running an Ableton window inside Scratch Live was always going to be problematic. But Serato could well be delivering a more planned and designed experience inside of Serato DJ itself, without recourse to third-party software.

Time will tell if this is Roland wanting to go full DJ, or Serato wanting to go full producer/performer. But it’s definitely a sign of Serato exploring related areas again. Given my preference for Serato DJ, and my deep lusting for an Aira setup, this could be an interesting personal journey for me.

Keep your eyes peeled for #909day, although these things do have a habit of leaking out, although not being sent officially apparently. In the meantime, check out Serato’s dedicated Roland page.