Soundcloud has had something of a chequered history. It has always seemed to barely get by without some story or other coming along that essentially said it was on the brink of collapse. But in recent times, things have looked up for the streaming giant, and today sees the company push into an area that for all manner of reasons was previous closed off to them — the DJ realm. For today, Soundcloud has announced that it is going to work with major DJ software brands, with a few notable exceptions.

Firstly, let’s hear what all the fuss is about:

SoundCloud Partners with Native Instruments, Serato, Virtual DJ, DEX3, Mixvibes and Hercules

Integrations will enable DJs to stream and mix SoundCloud’s one-of-a-kind music catalog through their favorite DJ performance software

SoundCloud rolls out high quality audio streaming to support  DJ integrations

October 18, 2018, Amsterdam, NetherlandsSoundCloud, the world’s largest open audio platform, announced today it has partnered with Native Instruments, Serato, Virtual DJ, DEX3, Mixvibes and Hercules, to integrate SoundCloud’s one-of-a-kind music catalog into their leading DJ performance software.

The integrations will enable creators to stream and mix SoundCloud’s massive catalog of original tracks, DJ sets, mixes, and more in high quality using a SoundCloud Go+ subscription and their favorite DJ application. The partnerships mark the first time DJs will have unlimited, immediate access to a unique catalog of this size, directly through professional DJ performance software.

“Until recently, digital workflows for DJs were limited to downloads and physical media, but streaming workflows are the future,” said Kerry Trainor, Chief Executive Officer, SoundCloud. “SoundCloud is committed to empowering creators with the best tools and resources to grow their careers, which is why we are excited to partner with these leading companies to help DJs take their workflow to the next level. Through these partnership, DJs will have the largest, most diverse streaming music catalog ever assembled instantly accessible within the tools they use everyday.”

Pedram Faghfouri, Director of Products, Traktor added: “Native Instruments and SoundCloud share a vision to inspire and empower music lovers and creators so we’re excited to work on this milestone integration. The news means more users will be able to seamlessly go from inspiration to creation, whether a first time DJ, hobbyist or professional. User feedback and collaboration is central to the development of all of new TRAKTOR products and services and streaming has been a hot topic across our audiences. With over 500,000 TRAKTOR users and new hardware and software released today, we’re pleased to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with digital DJing and look forward to sharing more on this integration early next year.”

To support the integrations, SoundCloud announced yesterday via a blog post, it has added high quality audio streaming to SoundCloud Go+, its premium content subscription offering. All content uploaded to SoundCloud in a high bitrate or lossless format will be available to stream in high quality at AAC 256 kbps. Subscribers can opt-in to high quality streaming by going to their SoundCloud settings under “streaming quality.”

SoundCloud Go+ gives listeners access to 190 million tracks from more than 20 million creators around the world, with offline sync, no advertising, and high quality audio streaming–all for $9.99/€9.99 per month. SoundCloud Go+ is available through SoundCloud’s existing apps on the iOS App Store, Google Play or by visiting soundcloud.com/go.

Integrations with Native Instruments, Virtual DJ, DEX3, Mixvibes and Hercules will begin rolling out in 2019, with the Serato integration rolling out in a forthcoming release. Details regarding each integration will be announced at a later date.

JUST BACK UP THERE A SECOND

This statement right here stands out like a sore thumb:

“Until recently, digital workflows for DJs were limited to downloads and physical media, but streaming workflows are the future,” said Kerry Trainor, Chief Executive Officer, SoundCloud.

Ummm… algoriddim’s djay suite and Spotify have been quite happily streaming together for well over four years now. And for better or worse, the slightly dodgy Grooveshark, pretty awful Pulselocker, and Deezer have been working with other DJ software too. And wait… Mixvibes Cross and Soundcloud talked to each other happily a full four years ago as well.

Facts do matter around here, especially in the age of fake news. So let’s not turn the hyperbole machine to 11 too quickly.

A COUPLE OF EMPTY SPACES AT THE TABLE

Let’s look at algoriddim again. They’ve been happily and officially in bed with Spotify since 2014. And as implementations go, it’s about as good and complete as it gets. As their video maker, I’ve found it to be rock solid and utterly reliable since day one. And given the ubiquity of Spotify and their more artist/song/album/playlist approach, they make a very logical partner for a DJ software company. I have to wonder how long it will be before Apple Music gets rolled out into the DJ realm too.

The other missing name on the guest list is Pioneer DJ. So this is a weird and spooky coincidence — this morning I watched a video from Electronic Beats TV about how technology has changed DJing. One particular section that stood out was when Pioneer DJ’s Rik Parkinson offered his opinion about the future of DJing. Check out what he says here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVT2JKKJXds&feature=youtu.be&t=881

I could be wrong, but this screams something that I’ve mentioned before. Pioneer DJ wants a one-stop shop for everything a DJ wants and needs, and with KUVO being the hub and ensuring that artists get paid, I’d put money on Pioneer DJ starting their own centralised music service for rekordbox.

soundcloud dj software Serato native instruments traktor

BUT IS IT RELIABLE ENOUGH?

There’s no doubt that streaming works well enough for audio and video on a consumer level. But for mission critical DJ performances, what happens when something goes wrong? I’m sure that there are studies about such things, but how long can a track drop out for before the floor is lost? What about glitching? I go from 0 to ragemonster in nanoseconds when the TV stutters.

The connection was by far the biggest issue when we kicked this around the DJWORX team, and in some places, it’s likely that you won’t be able to get a connection at all unless you can hardwire into a LAN. And we know how truly bad hotel internet can be.

Beyond this, there are issues with software too. Serato for example recommends switching off wifi and bluetooth when using Macs, something that does rather make connecting to Soundcloud impossible without a LAN connection. Given that their implementation will be in 2020, one assumes that it’s an issue that will be worked on by their devs, or at least that recommendation being quietly removed from the Serato site.

CONTENT CURATION

For a very long time, Soundcloud was quite the dumping ground for other people’s work, something that forced them in 2010 to adopt methods to combat piracy and essentially clean up their act. Not only do they have technology to scan audio at upload stage, but there’s also a comprehensive copyright infringement reporting system as well.

This does rather depend on the copyright holder registering their track and asking Soundcloud to monitor for violations on their behalf. There’s also a guide about what can and can’t be uploaded, but again the onus is more on the uploader to play nice than fearing the Soundcloud audio police.

Want proof? Just go looking for tracks you like. It’s likely that top 40 stuff won’t slip through the net, but finding derivative remixes and mashups is much easier. And the more obscure the track, the higher the chances are that you’ll find it. And let’s not even get into the plethora of full length DJ sets that have loitered undetected for many years now. So you’ll be able to stream your favourite DJ sets and just mime along. Wouldn’t it be funny if that mix you put on in that extended toilet break was actually better than you?

That said, many acts are getting themselves up officially on Soundcloud and importantly getting monetised with Soundcloud Premier program.

UPDATE: While writing about this very subject, another piece of Soundcloud PR plopped into my inbox. It seems that Soundcloud is taking the issues of copyright and importantly artists payments very seriously indeed, and has announced a partnership with Dubset that addresses the issues of derivatives and mixes at the source.

So while Soundcloud may have been a repository for less than legal music in the past, it’s taking the new DJ partnerships very seriously indeed. The issues of internet connections and software reliability are beyond Soundcloud’s remit, but they appear to be cleaning house in readiness for all this to kick off in 2019, and 2020 for Serato.

One last thing to bear in mind — earlier this year Beatport bought the remnants of Pulselocker, essentially giving them a streaming platform without having to develop their own. It’s highly likely that something like “Beatlocker” will appear soon, and given Beatport’s more up to date and underground dance music focus, it’s likely to have the DJ software vendors forming an orderly queue.

SUMMING UP

It would make me sad if as DJs we migrated from digging for and ultimately owning music, to simply renting it when we needed it. Has music simply been relegated to being DJ equivalent of petrol? It does have a potential side effect that DJs will only buy the music that they actually like and really want to own rather than have to buy crap simply to fulfil some pissed up request from a shirtless office party goer. SO in this respect, streaming definitely has its uses. But it’s not for everyone.

The bottom line here is that like with every other advance in technology, you don’t have to use it. Soundcloud in DJ software does not signal the end of DJing or music buying, but simply keeps abreast of how music is consumed, and offers new ways to deliver music to DJs and the dance floor. And it makes refusing that request all the more harder too. Evolve or die, because you can be damned sure that the DJ that has access to streaming platforms in their sets will soon have the competitive edge on those that don’t.