I must admit that although I buy music for djing from various sources online, many of the tunes in my collection come from the Apple iTunes store. I was downloading music from iTunes since back in the early 2000’s, so the integration of it into my Djing activities was quite straightforward.
Why? because it’s easy. I hear a song I like in the car, in a club or at home on Spotify, I Shazam it and then eventually proceed to buy the ones I really like from the iTunes store. They are then immediately available to my DJ software of choice for tagging, analysing, beatgridding… Easy workflow. Only thing is, iTunes has become a bit monster over the years, and since the launch of Apple Music, it’s very hard to understand how all of Apple’s solutions (downloading, Apple Music, iTunes Match..) play together. But more about that later.
Buying a song has still some ties to the old school way of acquiring music, namely going to the record store and buying music in whatever format you want. I like that. I like the idea I “own” the tune on my hard drive, that I can back it up and that 10 years from now, I will still have it. And I like that fact that my music collection for djing is somehow separate from the pool of millions of track available for streaming in any given service.
Now Digital Music News is reporting that Apple will kill music downloads in a few years from now. Great, will some say, for 15 or so bucks a month being able to hear everything you want, whenever you want. A virtual collection of millions of tunes. Well, I think that that’s a DJs nightmare. Can you imagine that all the other online music stores go the same route, and trust me if Apple goes everyone will eventually, and it becomes impossible for DJs to actually build a collection of their own in a legal way? That’s the moment I go back to buying cds, if they still exist by then.
You see to me DJing is about building and curating an unique music collection. On vinyl or cds until a few years ago, digital now. The difference between vinyl, cd, usb or hard disk is in the end quite irrelevant. You can have a high quality flac file that sounds superb and outclasses the warmth of vinyl by many times. The point is, it’s your personal, private collection, and you can manage it the way you want.
Then there is streaming. My main problem with streaming for djing purposes, or for even listening to music, is that we, as the consumer, have no control over the material. If the streaming service decides to remove the track from their service, you can’t access it anymore. If they decide to replace the track with a version of lower quality, you have no control. If they decide to replace an older track with a newer, remastered version, you have no choice!
How can you build a quality digital collection under these circumstances? You really can’t. It’s not enough to be allowed to temporarily store tracks offline to play them in DJ software (like for example Spotify’s integration with Djay Pro). DJs need more control.
So, no streaming services for me as DJ collection substitutes, thank you. In the next few months, I will move away from iTunes and explore other music management solutions. I’m already using Rekordbox quite a bit, and considering the way Pioneer DJ is pushing the software as a one stop solution for all DJs, I’m pretty sure it’s features will expand to cover all DJ needs, and maybe at one point it will integrate with music retailers so you can buy music right there from the Rekordbox interface. I don’t see why not.
Furthermore, as I state at the start of this post, iTunes has become such a complex solution that managing a collection is more and more a challenge. Specially if you have many services active. Steve Jobs would have fired someone over this mess.
How do you feel about streaming replacing downloads? Will it impact the way you manage your music, and your djing overall. Will it force you to change your approach and habits? Comment below!