There have always been rumblings that streaming will take over entertainment at events. There are even some apps that focus on automation of music playback. Now this may happen in the lower end market (think bars and low paid gigs) but in the medium and higher end I still think that a DJ with music on a hard drive, CD, or even vinyl is superior. But why specifically? Let’s dive in.
Lack of ownership
Like it or not, when you stream you are at the complete control of those companies. So if they have an issue with a licensing deal with a label you could find yourself without many of the songs you had the day before. Or what if that company goes under? So goes your music. Heck in September 2017 Spotify nixed their integration into Virtual DJ.
This may not be a big deal for the casual listener, but for a DJ this could mean disaster. It’s best to subscribe to reputable music pools and purchase compilations or individual releases on your own to guarantee your collection’s stability (and invest in great backup solutions).
Broadband is not widespread
Yes, broadband seems to be everywhere. Even cell service is in most places. However many communities have access to fairly slow internet services, and some still not at all. Further many venues would have to invest in broadband in order to service customers, which is not a trivial cost, especially if they invest in higher speed services to gain better performance.
Reliability can never be 100%
Imagine, it’s your first dance as a married couple. Your song starts, everyone is focused on you and a milestone in time that can never be duplicated, and all the sudden…
Even with the fastest internet speeds, you can run into bottlenecks, sometimes that service can just be down.
Streaming service catalogs can be inferior
While streaming services like Spotify boast huge libraries of music they can still be woefully incomplete especially with older music. For example a simple list of some of the top hip-hop songs that I created has almost 33% of the music unavailable in their library. Professional DJs go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that their music catalogs are very broad, covering from as early as the 1920’s to today’s hits. Many labels refuse to offer their music to streaming services, and sometimes even services like iTunes. A professional DJ will get that music on what available medium that it’s available.
As of the writing of this article, Spotify does not allow licensing for public or commercial performances in the US. While some DJ apps have hooks into these libraries, they are not explicitly licensed for performance use.
Anti-streaming is not anti-technology
I am not a technophobe. I have a nearly multi-decade long career in IT, and am always on top of the newest trends and technologies. I embraced the change in DJ technologies like going from vinyl to CD to digital media. However one needs to be mindful of the capabilities of what a particular technology has to offer, and what it’s shortcomings are. My personal opinion is that streaming music is an awesome service for personal use. For for professional services like DJing where music is critical, it’s a service that can never compare to a DJ with a catalog of music in hand, not in the cloud.
A larger discussion. Know your music.
I started DJing in 1988 where there were no MP3s, heck CDs were not even big in the industry yet. As a DJ you were hired not only because of your skills, but also your music curation. Now with huge libraries that fit into the palm of your hand or even in your fingertips, and the demand from people that you literally have any song on the planet, it’s time to take a step back a bit. It’s time to get back into curation, knowing what you are buying, storing, and ultimately play back. Have enough of a library to hit any genre that comes at you, but do you really need 27 versions of one song?
Know your music. Invest in the tools that is making you a professional. The most critical piece of this are the songs you play.
This article was originally written February 23, 2014 and has now been updated on September 27, 2017.
Author Biography: Lou Paris of Paris Creative
Lou Paris has been DJing since 1988 and has a deep passion for music of all styles and genres. Coincidentally Lou is also a successful 20+ year IT professional and has merged many technology concepts to ensure a successful night of entertainment. Click here to learn more about Lou's background.