It’s one last obstacle to streaming DJing becoming a reality: the mighty Pioneer has announced it’s adding streaming to its decks. Meet StreamingDirectPlay with Beatport.
Firmware 3.00 for the flagship CDJ-3000 includes the update. You’ll need at least one Internet-connected CDJ-3000 at a venue, plus a Professional or Advanced subscription with Beatport. With that active subscription, you can browse and play tracks live from the full Beatport catalog.
Here’s where things get a little confusing: the CDJ-3000 also already has something called CloudDirectPlay, which connects to your Rekordbox library online, and requires a Creative or Professional Rekordbox subscription. You can combine the two, even mixing between the two – provided you have both the Beatport and Rekordbox subscriptions. (Yeah, I know. Subscriptions.)
I’ve asked Pioneer about how the decks handle logins, as I haven’t yet tested that. (The way to avoid keying in passwords on a device with no keyboard is typically some kind of QR code scanning scheme, but I’m unsure how the 3000 works with this firmware update.)
Note some quality restrictions based on subscription tier: Professional is 256k AAC; Advanced is only 128k AAC (still decent with that codec as it’s not MP3, but 256 is definitely preferable)
This is of course a first for Pioneer but not Pioneer being first – the Denon DJ hardware already supported the Beatport Streaming feature, though good luck finding it in clubs. Traktor Pro, Serato DJ, and Rekordbox software also already supported Beatport Streaming.
You only need one CDJ to be connected to the Internet; up to four CDJ-3000s can play tracks from the same PRO DJ LINK network. It seems that does require all new decks, though; you can’t just add one 3000 via PRO DJ LINK and play tracks on the CDJ-2000nxs2.
The newest Pioneer mixers also support what Pioneer dubs Touch Preview, which basically lets you play tracks without loading them – no more accidentally loading a track onto an active deck when you’re trying to preview it.
My prediction as far as how veteran club DJs will like this new feature is totally not at all in any way – for now. It shifts too much responsibility to the venue to be practical in a club context, and a lot of the club scene lacks reliable Internet connections anyway, for any of the foreseeable future. But I suspect the real target market is not clubs but lucrative event venues and weddings. Note also the reliance on the latest gear – CDJ-3000s as decks, and DJM-V10 / 900NXS2 / A9 mixers for Touch Preview. If you have a venue install where you can invest in that gear and a reliable Internet connection, this may make more sense.
While this also gives still more power over the music ecosystem to Beatport, there’s also the potential at least for producers to get more reliable metrics and (ideally) revenue from music played, where they didn’t get it from promo send-outs and the like. That’s in contrast to opt-in-only systems like the excellent aslice – but I’ll be sure to talk to aslice about whether this is likely to become relevant for them, too.
It at least removes the short-term objection to streaming DJing, which was always “it’ll never matter until Pioneer supports it.” On the other hand, now it’s also just as clear that with the 2000nxs2 still the dominant deck, and USB sticks stupidly cheap and easy to use, and Internet being spotty in the places you play, this will be mostly irrelevant to a lot of producers and DJs for the foreseeable future.
Further down the road, though, as some of those variables change, it would be tough to bet against streaming. And I expect that will be worrying for producers as digital downloads were one of the last refuges of income – though lately, I’m hearing lots of people complain about that on Bandcamp even without streaming competition for DJs. Revenue on Beatport and others is also not calculated on the same way as the likes of Apple Music and Spotify – you can breathe a small amount of relief from not seeing those platforms here. So with streaming moving closer, it’s time to review exactly how those numbers add up (or not).