How To DJ With Spotify: A Basic Guide
It all started when I saw the video below…
Since the 80s, being a DJ involved building up a large collection of music.
Over the years our methods of storing music have become more and more compact. What use to be a few crates of records is now just a thumb-drive.
IPad DJing has become a growing trend. There have been many DJing apps released, but very few of them are practical.
The biggest problem with DJing on an Ipad is running out of storage space for your tunes. If you’re using your Ipad for uses other than DJing(photos, apps, games, etc), you are already using a ton of space. You’ll barely have room for a music library.
What if we could completely eliminate the issue of storage space while having every song in existence right at our fingertips?
Well, now it’s possible!
Update for 2018:
Since Pacemaker hit the scene, there have many many other Spotify DJing apps that have hit the scene.
Below is a list of the best Spotify DJ apps:
“Why did you just list Spotify as a DJing app?”. Valid question. Since writing this article many moons ago, Spotify added a feature to certain playlists (primarily dance playlists) where there is a nice, automatic cross-fade between tracks without you pressing a button.
Is DJing with Spotify even legal?
This legal note is meant for primarily for DJ professionals – ie. those who make money performing.
The question of “Can I use Spotify for DJing was asked on their community forum and Peter, a “community legend” and probably a Spotify employee too, gave a nice answer.
He cited this particular sentence from Spotify’s Terms of Service:
“The Spotify Service and the content provided through it are the property of Spotify or Spotify’s licensors, and we grant you a limited, non-exclusive, revocable licence to make personal, non-commercial use of the Spotify Service and to receive the media content made available through the Spotify Service in your Local Country, based on the Subscription or Trial you have selected (the “Licence”). This Licence shall remain in effect for a period of 20 years unless terminated by you or Spotify.”
Pay attention to the section that is bolded because that’s what’s key here. As long as you using Spotify for non-commercial purposes — ie. you’re not getting paid for your DJing services — you are good to go.
Our Tool of the Trade
App Name: Pacemaker DJ
Cost: Free Starter Edition – $10 for all the upgrades
Pacemaker is a very clean looking DJ app that offers many filters and effects for you to play around with.
So how does this software give you access to every song in existence? Pacemaker uses Spotify’s complete library of songs.
All you need is an internet connection and you’ll be able to drag in songs from Spotify’s large collection of music. Keep in mind you need a Spotify Pro account to use this app. You can get a free 10-day trial of Spotify Pro just so you can play around.
What I Like About Pacemaker
I love Pacemaker’s beautiful and simple design. Unlike some of the other DJ apps, it is very simple to navigate which is important when using a DJ app. You need to be able to navigate the menus with ease.
You can also use your iTunes library alongside with Spotify. Using your iTunes library is great for DJing without an internet connection.
Pacemaker is pretty good at correcting BPM issues. When playing two songs side-by-side, Pacemaker is pretty accurate at aligning the tracks to make sure they are aligned properly.
There are 5 different effect options within Pacemaker:
ChopChop: ChopChop is a stutter effect. It’s fun to play around with.
Reverb: The reverb effect in Pacemaker is a very nice sounding spacial effect. It doesn’t sound too cheesy like a lot of DJ reverb effects. It won’t cloud up your mix and can easily be adjusted with the platter.
Echo: The echo effect gives you the option to control the delay timing. The echo works as a great transition effect!
Hi-Lo: Hi-Lo is a mix of a high-pass filter and a low-pass filter. It has a really smooth filtering sound with no resonance. I couldn’t find any option to adjust the resonance settings.
Roll: The roll effect creates a loop that can be adjusted by the platter wheel. It’s a fun little effect to play around with.
Pacemaker has a handy little ‘Kill FX’ button that will stop all of your FX. This is useful since Pacemaker allows you to trigger multiple effects simultaneously. Having a stop button makes controlling multiple effects much more manageable.
There is a looping feature as well. The loop control is very handy when creating build-ups.
Beatskip is another function of Pacemaker that can sound quite good when done correctly. It allows you to jump forward or backward in a track by a chosen timing.
What I Don’t Love About Pacemaker
I didn’t like that the BPM detection isn’t always perfect. Currently there is no way to manually change the bpm. This means that you need to have full trust in Pacemaker’s auto-bpm-detection. You can imagine how this can go bad when performing live.
There is also no option to analyze your entire iTunes library at once. You are going to have analyze each track individually. If you have ever used computer DJ software, you’d know that analyzing an entire library is a standard feature.
This goes to show that we are a long way away from being able to run a professional DJ setup on our mobile devices.
Who Is Pacemaker Meant For?
In no way is Pacemaker meant for professional DJ gigs. There are many reasons why you wouldn’t want to use this for paid gigs – especially the legal reasons mentioned earlier.
However, for DJing a friends party, or a small event, this app is ideal! I love the fact that the Pacemaker app packed in so many features while keeping the design and user interface nice and simple. Learning how to DJ with Spotify can be great especially if you are playing at a gig where you don’t know what type of music everyone will be into.
What was your craziest experience DJing?
Let us know in the comment section below!