Music is in the air like never before. With the tap of a button it’s wirelessly playing through any speaker!
The DJ industry has never rushed to implement technological advancements and for good reason. By allowing time for the general public to road-test new formats, developers can catch and iron out the early flaws. Equipment manufacturers and performers can then be confident that they are ready for professional use.
Music streaming is now well-established with a good selection of service providers and most of the music-listening population accessing them. The stage is seemingly set for DJs to jump on board, but who provides the right streaming service?
What to look for in a streaming service
The biggest factor in a DJ’s choice of streaming platform is their music library. Does it cover everything the DJ needs, and does the library have a well-varied and constant back catalogue?
Providers are constantly trimming their libraries to make room for new material on their servers so it can be hard to know what tracks will stay long-term. However, most streaming services have weekly or monthly charts to indicate what’s doing well on their platform giving a clue about what’s likely to be kept on their server.
The cost of streaming plans is also a consideration. It’s worth looking into the additional benefits your chosen platform offers over others for the price they are charging.
Perhaps you play on massive PA systems, so lossless audio quality will make a difference. Maybe the ability to store music for offline playback is a more practical benefit you’d rather invest in. Each provider will offer different perks to consider in your decision-making process.
Many music streaming vendors provide a discount for families of users, however, the majority are not compatible with DJ software. Subscribing to a separate service for DJing and one for personal use may be the best answer for most. For others, the compromise of using a single mainstream provider could work for both their personal and DJ needs, saving them the cost of an additional subscription.
Which DJ software is compatible with my streaming service?
Below we break down the biggest music streaming platforms and their compatibility with DJ software.
Audio encoding: MP3 or AAC – Some platforms encode their music using the generic MP3 file format, and others use the newer AAC format. AAC has a more intelligent way of compressing the file without it losing quality.
As a result, a lower bit-rated AAC file will have the same audio quality as a higher bit-rated MP3 file; for example, AAC at 256kbps is equivalent to MP3 at 320kbps.
|Service||Compatible DJ Software||Price Per Month||Audio Quality|
|Amazon Prime / Music Unlimted||Engine DJ (SC LIVE 4 & SC LIVE 2 ONLY) (Music Unlimited only)||Student: £4.49
Music Unlimited: £8.99 (Sold as a bolt-on in addition to Prime membership) or,
|up to 24-bit/192kHz
FLAC (music unlimited)
|Apple Music||None||Voice: £4.99
Family: £14.99 (6 accounts)
rekordbox, Serato DJ, Traktor, VirtualDJ, Engine DJ, WeDJ, Algoriddim Djay (Mac/ iOS only), DJuiced, Reloop
|Advanced: 128kbps AAC
Professional: 256kbps AAC
|Beatsource Streaming||rekordbox, Serato DJ, Traktor, VirtualDJ, Engine DJ, Algoriddim Djay (Mac/ iOS only), DJuiced, Dex3||Base: £9.99
|Base: 128kbps AAC
Pro+: 256kbps AAC
Family: £17.99 (6 accounts)
|320kbps MP3 and up to 24-bit/192kHz
FLAC (Premium only)
|Google Play||None||£9.99||320kbps MP3|
Family: £16.99 (six accounts)
|Soundcloud Go+||rekordbox, Serato DJ, Traktor, VirtualDJ, Engine DJ, WeDJ, Algoriddim Djay (Mac/ iOS only), DJuiced||Soundcloud Go: £5.99 (no integration with DJ software)
Soundcloud Go+: £9.99
|Go: 128kbps AAC
Go+: 256kbps AAC
|TIDAL||rekordbox, Serato DJ, Traktor, VirtualDJ, Engine DJ, Algoriddim Djay (Mac/ iOS only), DJuiced||Free: Free
HiFi Plus: £19.99
|320kbps MP3 – 1411kbps WAV (HiFi) and up to 24-bit/192kHz studio master quality FLAC (HiFi Plus)|
|YouTube Music||None||Student: £4.99
Family: £14.99 (6 accounts)
|48kbps – 256 kbps AAC.|
The biggest music streaming players, Spotify and Apple Music, currently have no support for DJ software. Tidal and Soundcloud Go+ are the only widely known providers who do. Other providers are custom-built for DJ use.
For DJs specialising in commercial music who previously relied on iTunes for their downloads, Tidal and Soundcloud have a similar offering as they give decent access to material from top 40 and mainstream charts.
Finding a provider with the right music is undoubtedly the highest priority. However, even if a provider seems to have the perfect selection, some situations beyond their control can end up limiting their library.
This famously happened in 2017 when Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift all demanded that their music appear exclusively on Tidal. You can once again find their music everywhere, but this platform boycott lasted for years!
Which streaming services integrate with my DJ software?
All the main DJ platforms now integrate with a selection of music streaming providers.
|DJ Software||Streaming Services Available|
|Algoriddim Djay||Beatport Streaming, Beatsource, SoundCloud Go+, TIDAL|
|Djuiced||Beatport Streaming, Beatsource, Qobuz, SoundCloud Go+, TIDAL|
|Engine DJ||Beatport Streaming, Beatsource, SoundCloud Go+, TIDAL, Amazon Music Unlimited|
|rekordbox||Beatport Streaming, Beatsource, SoundCloud Go+, TIDAL|
|Serato DJ||Beatport Streaming, Beatsource, SoundCloud Go+, TIDAL|
|Traktor Pro||Beatport Streaming, Beatsource|
|VirtualDJ||Beatport Streaming, Beatsource, iDJ Pool, SoundCloud Go+, TIDAL|
|WeDJ||Beatport Streaming, SoundCloud Go+|
Two providers dominate in terms of DJ platform compatibility. They are Beatport Streaming and Beatsource. They specialise in music for DJs and both stem from the same company: Beatport.
In essence, Beatport is the clear choice for DJs who play underground dance music. The newest material always surfaces on Beatport first and they have a comprehensive back-catalogue for library bulking.
For DJs who need a wide variety of genres alongside access to mainstream music, Beatsource has your back! They cover an expansive musical landscape and have specialised crates for music you may not be familiar with.
Beatport are the most influential music vendor on the scene. Their curated playlists and genre-specific charts inform all DJ pools, blogs and competitor music vendors who have anything to do with dance music.
Beatport Streaming is Beatport’s comprehensive offering for DJs wanting to cloud-connect to their music.
The service is filled with richly labelled and beat-gridded dance music in all its forms. From afro house and amapiano through to drum & bass, dubstep, and grime. Deep, tech and minimal house to trance, techno and beyond. Everything is represented with a healthy tracks selection and frequently updated DJ-curated charts and playlists.
Crossfader students enrolling on the House Mixing DJ Course get three months FREE access to Beatport Streaming!
Beatsource is a collaboration between Beatport and the well-respected, long-running DJ pool, DJcity.
Utilising the same underlying streaming technology, Beatsource differentiates from Beatport Streaming with a heavy commercial focus and specially curated crates designed for working DJs.
They have no shortage of DJ edits, loops, tools and remixes for trending-right-now chart music.
Their giant pool of worldwide DJs hand-pick tracks for specialised crates, including some useful headings such as Wedding, Latin and Throwbacks. Perfect for DJs of all persuasions, catering for events ranging from weddings and corporate functions to student and nightclub residencies.
Crossfader students enrolling on the Hip Hop Mixing DJ Course get three months FREE access to Beatsource!
Beatport and Beatsource are currently the leading streaming providers for DJs and are set to add an exciting remote collaboration function to their web DJ app, Party Mode! This will allow subscribing DJs to remotely go back-to-back and invite audiences to live stream their collaborated sets. A revolutionary feature allowing DJs to practice collaborative or competitive sets whilst in different locations! Check the demonstration video here.
For a more detailed look at these platforms, check out our Beatport Vs Beatsource Streaming Guide.
Amazon Music Unlimited, SoundCloud Go+ and TIDAL
Although not purpose-built for DJs, Soundoud and Tidal are almost equal to the Beat offerings regarding compatibility with DJ software. To save on cost, you can choose one rather than subbing to a specialist alongside your existing platform.
TIDAL is a more traditional music streaming proposition, perhaps the closest to Spotify and Apple Music for accessing commercial content. It is also the only option for DJs to stream full high-resolution FLAC files.
SoundCloud Go+ offers a more music-community-based experience with access to some exclusive edits of popular songs and even exclusive remixes and fan-made creations.
Both are currently the least expensive way to stream at a minimum of 256kbps AAC sound quality.
What If I want to DJ with Spotify or Apple Music?
You may have put time into creating playlists on Spotify or Apple Music, after all, most people use them for their daily listening! If so, you can put that work to good use by exporting your playlists to one of the DJ friendly platforms listed above using a third party website.
Sites such as soundiiz.com will transfer your playlists for you by taking your streaming account details and creating duplicate playlists in the new platform allowing you to get up and running with minimal interruption. Music that does not exist on a new platform cannot be added to the duplicate playlists.
The problems with streaming in performance:
Consistent internet connectivity is not where it needs to be for performance-worthy streaming. Many clubs and bars do not have a nearby LAN port, let alone a stable Wi-Fi connection.
However streaming using a tethered connection to a healthy 5G cellular network from a smartphone is perfectly reasonable. But it would require a good cellular signal of which there can be no guarantee.
Many DJ software developers recommend DJing with Wi-Fi turned off during performance to avoid any background OS update interruptions. OS updates can be switched off but will often be reinstated automatically after a set time which is easy to forget.
Both Beatport Streaming and Beatsource have a 1,000-track offline locker to allow for local playback as a workaround to internet-based issues.
You never own the music
You may become heavily invested in a music streaming service, especially if you have crates, playlists and metadata set to your preference. Unfortunately, If the streaming provider decides to remove part of their service offering there’s almost nothing that can be done about it.
Although there are plenty of safeguards against this, such as the ability to migrate playlists from one streaming platform to another, there is a lesson to be learned from Pulselocker’s untimely closure.
They were the first streaming service made specifically for DJs who pioneered integration with DJ software and offline Playback. Their operation ceased abruptly in 2017 meaning anyone using the service lost access almost overnight!
Pulselocker’s innovative tech has since been put to good use as the company were acquired by Beatport in 2018 who have now integrated and upgraded the offline locker feature from storing 100 tracks to storing 1,000, and hopefully more in the future.
Is it legal?
This is a grey area. Most streaming services offer the same warning that the physical music media that came before them offered: Not for use in public performance! However, club and bar DJs rely on their host venues’ public performance licence(s) and wedding, mobile and corporate DJs are technically performing privately.
In the UK, the legality issue lies with events performed outdoors to a large audience or put on by the DJ in a public area at certain times during the day. Check with your local authority and music streaming provider for more on this.
Metadata is easily lost
Everything that is not the music file itself, from the track’s BPM to its album artwork, is all attached as a tiny subfile known as metadata.
Every time you stream a track for the first time, your computer has to analyse the temporary download to fill out its metadata by calculating the track’s BPM, key and length etc. This adds stress to your system’s CPU which would not be present had the track been played locally.
Most DJ software saves metadata for future plays, so this should not be a problem from the second play onwards.
However, the problem arises if a lot of versions of the same track are saved to a streaming provider’s server. This could result in your system seeing the track as new, even if you have played it before, as the streaming site is technically sending you a different copy of the track.
Not every track is what it seems
Some tracks may be temporarily pulled from service, others lose licensing. There’s no shortage of technical reasons why you may come across a track which is labelled one way but turns out sounding another!
Streaming sites don’t want to lose their audience so will find suitable cover versions of songs that they know are popular! In the Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift example from earlier, Spotify had put cover versions of their tracks up throughout 2017, 2018 and 2019!
Depending on the streaming site’s labelling, it can also be tricky to determine if a track is a dirty or clean version.
Another potential pitfall, unless the streaming site is dedicated to DJs, is that most of the material is not DJ-friendly. This means that DJs need to get hot on setting loops or mixing quickly as the tracks will not have extended intros or outros.
Full stream ahead
The reality is that the DJ booth is already witnessing phase two of the streaming takeover. The change is just as enormous as the switch from heavy vinyl to convenient CDs in the early 2000s.
Beatsource in particular, is a sign of the times for performance streaming. It is run by specialists in all arenas needed to push the technology forward, from the frontline DJs using the service to the bloggers bigging it up to the back-end developers stabilising its performance. They’re all sold on the vision and sticking to it!
Streaming has been a proposition for well over five years now. How long it takes to make a full transition from these USB plug n’ play days remains to be seen, and streaming may never fully take over.
There’s certainly a strong case for DJs to swear by owning and locally storing their music, at least a core selection.
Do you think streaming is the future of DJing? Is this a step in the right direction for the industry? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and look out for our future blogs, videos and courses as we keep on top of the latest in DJ technology.
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