There’s always that endless debate raging about what constitutes ‘cheating’ when it comes to DJing. The recent release of Serato Pyro reignited the discussion, with Mark wading in and pretty much saying there’s nothing to worry about. Personally, I feel like having the choice of tools can help if you use them correctly. At the end of the day, as long as you’re enjoying yourself, that’s all that matters, right? There are certainly plenty of tools to help us, from bigger apps like Beatport Pro, to smaller things like key finding software or harmonic charts.
To that end, there’s also Smoothie for Traktor to add to the list, which sits quietly in the background, listening to your Traktor mix via Traktor’s broadcast feature, and suggests what to play next based on the last track you loaded into the software. Smoothie works by reading what your most recently loaded track is, and searching your Traktor music collection for music that have a harmonic key and similar BPM. It sounds like a finicky system, but is actually fairly easy to set up, and works reliably once you have it working. The app easily falls into the impulse buy price range at $1.99/£1.49 so I had no qualms giving some cash to the developer.
I gave Smoothie a go while doing a quick mix, and tried to use the suggestions it came up with. The software gives you a percentage match with your current track… I presume based on the how closely the BPM and key match up. One problem I came up against was that Smoothie doesn’t take into account the genres, meaning you end up having to double check you’re not playing minimal Techno into Disco or something. This means you should be extra careful to know your tracks.
Because the software suggests tracks based on only a couple of factors, you tend to get into a bit of a feedback loop with suggestions, especially if you are sticking to the same key. I’d play a track, use the next suggestion and found the further results were pretty much the same unless I moved to something else…
In the end, the best lesson learn from this is that library management and prep always the best and first option. Modern DJ software pretty much already has all these tools in one way or another, but something like Smoothie can work as a sort of ‘second opinion’. Personally, I use the Comments metadata to keep on top of what a track is, along with what other music I know it goes with. I just type ‘goes with’ into Traktor’s search box and I get a big bunch of music that has a sibling. Coupled with the right key, you’ve got a way to get out of pretty much any corner you might have painted yourself into. In the end it still comes back to that one piece of advice: Above all else, know your tracks.
The idea behind Smoothie is a good one. I can see loads of potential in this, but in use, there were a couple of suggestions that came to mind. First, It’d be really handy to have a notification popup after it knows the track showing the first few suggestions in the list. Bonus points if the notification is expandable to show more tracks. Second, add more metadata columns to the list so you can at least have the option to see stuff like track comments or the genre.
Would you find Smoothie for Traktor useful? How do you find which track to play next in your sets?