DJing In Your Browser: PartyCloud DJ App

Point your browser at partycloud.fm and in less than a second, you are DJing, with a choice of 20 million tunes. What’s not to like?

Today we're returning to something we covered in a very early form a while ago, but in its latest incarnation, this service has come on leaps and bounds - and you really must try it.

It's powered by technology from a company called iWebDJ, but the "public facing" product I'm going to show you today is called PartyCloud - so first, I'd like you to take a look at it. See you in about six hours... ;)

So basically, it's a web mash-up comprising the complete library of music available on SoundCloud, and a pair of decks and a mixer of the type that's familiar to anyone who's ever used DJ software.

While it's simple to look at and simple to use ("It was important that your mother or girlfriend would be able to understand and use it easily," the developer told me - with apologies to mothers and girlfriends with deck skills everywhere), I am sure you'll agree that the behind-the-scenes stuff is impressive.

Why it's easy to use

They've just got it right. The decks look like a Numark DJ2GO - just what you need and nothing else. It loads really fast. There's an awesome search. SoundCloud is just a wonderful place to browse for music, remixes, mashups and so on - there's 20 million tracks to choose from!

As an app, it's seriously addictive, the developers having stripped away everything superfluous, leaving by and large just what you need to DJ with, and adding a few features that ensure it's a lot of fun: the parallel waveforms, the seamless looping, three FX that give a lot of bang for the buck, and a noteworthy "automix" - just hit this and see what a good job it generally does.

They've even cleverly pre-selected a load of likely tunes for you to get you with. In web terms, they've made the app "sticky" with bona fide DJ features.

Why you should be impressed

Do not underestimate how hard this must have been for the developers to get right.

Note how quickly it loads in your browser. Note how smooth it all is (I could get audio glitches moving the controls very fast, but apart from that everything is truly smooth). Note how fast tunes are analysed. Realise there's a bloody good keylock algorithm going on there - as good as any I've heard on any pro DJ software. Try that filter out - amazing. All the while, try to remember this is all in your browser.

You can log in to Facebook and it'll remember your favourites, so you can quickly build up a set that way (you don't have to share them with anyone; just select "only me" when linking the app to your Facebook account). That's a smart move, because Facebook integration will almost definitely ensure this app blows up big time.

What's coming

I took the time to speak to the developers to see where they're heading with this, and I found out that they've got Midi compatibility in the pipeline!

Imagine plugging your DJ controller in and using it to control this...

(Again, please take your hats off. Can you think of any other browser-based software that lets you take control via a connected Midi controller? Nope, us neither.)

They've also got pre-cueing working in their studio and on the way (using a splitter cable). Add just those two things and you've got basically a complete DJ solution for playing from SoundCloud, wherever you can open a browser! Not bad from a handful of part-time developers. If I were one of the big DJ software houses, I'd be buying this up now and labelling it mine.

What we'd like to see

Clearly, this is something that runs in a browser, and there's no way it could (or would want to) turn into a huge bloated DJ app - lean is good. We get that.

But if I was the boss of the crew who've got the app thus far, I would be pushing them really, really hard right now. I'd be making them sweat. Because I think they can do many of the things I'm about to suggest, and I want to see them happen!

Deck in PartyCloud

The decks contain just what you need, and the FX are surprisingly addictive. Try them!

Firstly, it would be good to grab and scratch the waveform or decks. Come on boys, your algorithms sound excellent - add some wow factor by letting us scratch.

Keyboard control of all features via shortcuts would seriously make this an a-m-a-z-i-n-g app for "proper" DJing from just a laptop - I'd divide the keyboard into two "halves", one for each deck, and try and approximate a decks/mixer layout with my key choices. Or just let us map them ourselves.

I want to be able to sign in to my SoundCloud account and access my own favourites there. It is perfectly possible to DJ only from SoundCloud (and there are good arguments why you may want to do this - I've heard of DJs who do so they can be sure they're completely upfront in their tune selections), but to do so, you need to be able to access the way you've already organised your tunes over on the service.

I think for what it is, the GUI is almost perfect - but I would move the Search / Hot Songs / Favourites / Random widget into a single line just under the decks (where Traktor keeps its crates) and widen the library, allowing the user to choose columns. I'd like to see a BPM column.

Why this app matters

This isn't meant to be used in DJ boxes (I bet you could though - I'd love to see someone pull off a "pro" DJ set on this). It relies on an internet connection. It would never be your only DJ software.

But, can you think of a more amazing way to audition tracks from SoundCloud?

Let's look forward further, as this is plainly only the beginning. How about being able to slot in any online music? How about being able to drag and drop online tunes from other services straght onto the decks? How about this as an app for Spotify? How about being able to record sets performed in this way? To broadcast them as you're playing?

iWebDJ, the company and technology behind this, has shone a light on all these possibilities. Aside from the fact that even getting this far is an amazing accomplishment, this little app is a clear demonstration that cloud DJing can be done well - online music played with an online app. The developers should be immensely proud.

We're watching closely, boys. Don't lose the faith - you're changing the game.

Please only respond to this post if you had a play - here's the link again. I'd love to know what you think, how you think this can be improved, how you found the usability, the sound quality, the "stickiness" - and where you'd like to see such technology going.

Comments

  1. It’s like Virtual DJ but… worse…

  2. Dr Dubplate says:

    Good fun when you have a fast WiFi connection! fast and easy to use, 3/5 for me.

  3. I’ve tried it and for what it is. It’s realy good at it. I don’t see myself using it in current form. I think it’s the same I tried some monts ago but then I could play songs of my harddrive also. But this together with Spotify cound be cool for bars that need music but not a DJ.
    I think it’s cool and I’m shure it will be even cooler with time.

  4. Cosa Nostra says:

    This absolutely amazing. This takes digital djing to the next level. as they advance the technology i would hope that it becomes compatible with some of the leading controllers on the market so that one can get the feel of djing while utilizing this marvelous technology.

  5. thisisian says:

    Make it run on IOS / iPad, then i’ll really be interested.

    I’m still on the search for a good iPad based backup system, & this could beat Cross, DJ Player or Djay, just because you’re no longer limited by the size of the memory in your iPad.

    I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this!

  6. Key point that has to be made, all soundcloud streams only run at 128 kbps, so sound quality doesn’t match that from your itunes. That said, brilliant idea and execution.

  7. Thanks Phil… I wont get any work done at my job today! 4/5

  8. Just had a quick play with this, and I have to say as a little party trick it’s pretty cool, I use Traktor and would never condsider this anything other than a toy!

    But having said that, I think this will be very useful/Fun for discovering new music!

    And for that reason alone, I give it a thumbs.

    • I must agree
      I would not trade in my S4 yet, but I’m starting to wonder with fibre optic BB going main stream in a few years, This kind of virtual DJing could put us all out of work

      IOS version for iPhone 4s could get Siri doing shout outs

  9. Trystan says:

    4.9/5 You can have my other .1 when you add scratching. Thats the only thing I missed.

  10. Oh my god, I can’t believe, the app is amazing. It runs so smooth!!

    The best part is, it somehow knows what I last played in my Soundcloud song-picking session and the songs I played the most in Soundcloud so I can quickly take out my favorites.

  11. In my view, this is absolutely phenomenal and a leap forward in Digital DJing. It’s a great way to try out a little bit of DJing without having to pirate music. It’s fun and easy to use and guess what? it actually works pretty well. Right clicking allows you to turn KeyLock off and on! a 10/10… Thanks for keeping us informed Phil!

  12. One word….wow.

  13. I would love to see its music fetching ability added to as a plug-in to existing applications like Itch/traktor. Other than that its cool to play around with and discover new music with it.

  14. Eduardo Beattie says:

    I think the main use of this is impromptu parties. Imagine the scenario: You’re off on a trip, all your gear is at home, and suddenly you get told that you and your friends are in charge of organizing a party that night… Laptop, check. Internet connection, check. BANG! That’s everything you need. Next thing you know, you’re rocking a dancefloor on another continent from where you live, and didn’t know you would be doing it eight hours ago. Definitely, this is the ultimate portable DJ rig… You don’t even need to ues your own laptop. 10/10

    • I have to agree with you on that. It’s perfect for when you don’t have your gear but are designated as the dj for the party. It’s actually not bad after using it for 4 hours i can say that i can’t wait for other features they end up adding to this! 10/10

  15. ” It relies on an internet connection. It would never be your only DJ software.” It doesn’t have to… in fact, I was thinking while playing with it, if I had my music collection on my local machine, the app could just use file:/// access in the browser to index and search my local collection of music. Two problems solved: my collection and no need for an internet connection!

    The one big minus is that is uses flash and not html5. Flash is unarguably on the way out. Perhaps its on their road map to switch over to this technology in the future however. The midi spec just got drafted by the W3C, so thats another reason to go HTML5.

    Another idea I had was Dropbox and Google Drive integration, offering an alternative to what I had previously mentioned, local file access. You would be able to put all your tunes in the cloud and access them from anywhere!

    All in all, I don’t think its a replacement for a control and professional dj software, but in a few years, it could be giving the big boys a run for their money!

    Keep up the good work!

    • Unfortunately HTML5’s audio would not be able to make this work. For example detecting the BPMs and track syncing can’t be done in HTML5. For it to work in all browser Flash is the only alternative. However this could work for Chrome using the Chrome Native Client and C++ but then it would only work in the Chrome browser.

  16. It’s definitely fun to play with, and they did well with it. Is there a way to search by BPM that I didn’t see?

    • Also, I would prefer to know when the automix was kicking in. Right now, it reads the songs and starts at whatever time it thinks is best, but a little heads up would be better so that I knew that I no longer had time to replace the track on the other deck.

    • No, not as yet – we’d like to see that.

  17. Big thing missing for me was keyboard mapping. Mouse clicking is just a dreadful way to DJ. Using a keyboard at least makes laptop DJing bearable. I’m not sure if flash has any APIs for midi but that would be amazing. As others have said, getting the music on my hard drive in there would be a huge plus.

    Other than that (and as someone who has worked extensively in action script) this is really a fantastic little app. It seems really well put together and immediately usable.

  18. I wasn’t sure what to expect but the smoothness and lightning fast load is most impressive. As stated above, its perfect for auditioning tracks. Perfect for impromptu gatherings/parties where you want a bit more than itunes but you don’t have any equipment handy. I’ll be keeping an eye of the progression of this one.

  19. Yes, you can use this, or you can get a Pioneer setup for €5000. If you suck using one of them, you probably gonna suck using the other one to…..

  20. billybob says:

    very impressive bit of work, for what it is.

    very smooth. enjoyable bit of fun.

    will not replace ableton, max/msp, or traktor for my real work, but, for a bit of entertainment on luchbreak, this is awesome.

    i love the fact that i could find my own tracks on soundcloud too…

    will keep an eye on this.

  21. Thanks for sharing guys =)

  22. Record function is missing =(

  23. pineapple express says:

    Two words…AMAZING

    Seriously though, this thing works so well. I was especially impressed by the automix feature. It works pretty good and even handles genre changes fairly well.

    I can totally see this kind of thing taking over in the kind of vegas clubs that kick people of the decks. haha

    Really though, an amazing piece of software for free, no less, AND access to all of soundcloud music….simply stunning

  24. darerick says:

    based upon this video

    http://www.overdigital.com/2012/06/10/partycloud-amazing-online-dj-tool-powered-by-iwebdj/

    it looks like iWebDJ already have a midi-controller ready to go….not bad. I can see this equipment being very attractive for home usage and impromptu parties….

    • Hi! I’m Adrien from iWebDJ. This video shows indeed a prototype of the MIDI control working with iWebDJ! This thing is real and works very well already. We actually use it in all our private parties :). However, we will need some time to make it reliable with any kind of hardware/controllers. We will let you know. Have fun with partycloud.fm :)

  25. Indamix says:

    I Dont look at it as a dj software to use on gigs , but a Software for fast trying Mixes
    Like trying a mix , and listen how it will sound .. then get on your real gear to do mix it and record it .. to avoid trial and error and time wasting

  26. It’s not bad but it goes all choppy if it’s not in key and there’s no cue points (Not that you need them I suppose as the tracks are edited down to mix easily). For the serious DJ, no point as you’re restricted to wi-fi and their own songs, but for house parties I can see it taking off (For novices or those who want to get into mixing).

  27. celtic-dj says:

    wow,,,this has a huge potential,,,i added it to my favorites for further testing,,,
    thanks for the update

  28. Subfugitive says:

    Super fun and highly addictive.
    I wouldn’t use it as my main DJ ‘gear,’ though, because I’ve *already* invested so much time (not to mention money) in finding tunes and getting them organized. Assuming this is a worthwhile replacement (in the future) for ‘real’ DJ gear, it would be like switching platforms. In other words: A big pain in the arse.

    Still, extremely fun, and they obviously, as you pointed out, did a fantastic job with the development.

    P.S. Aside from a BPM column, it’d be nice to have a Key column as well — while we’re wishing.

  29. I let it just play last night on auto DJ and after a while I forgot I was listening to a website and not a mix. I don’t know what that says about me or the software, but for a small lounge with no DJ this is the PERFECT solution. Time for Virtual DJ’s to learn some Ableton!

  30. clockwise says:

    This is just awesome for discovering new tunes :)
    Bookmarked, played with, kept busy fpr 4 hours straight xD

    Definitly recommended :)

  31. I’m going to try to mix a house party with this! It’ll be good fun. I’ll keep Traktor on standby though haha

  32. DJ qDee says:

    First off I have to say, it is very interesting but I feel this will be something else to take away from “real” DJ’s. I’m not anyone who downs people on their style or technique of DJing but I would never suggest to anyone to use at a club. Just for someone hosting a house party.

    • treble_head says:

      I would have agreed with you a few years ago, but as long as you aren’t using their “popular” suggestions, you can, if you are so skilled, make a really good set with this. the learning curve is high, but I’ve pulled off mixes of over an hour and a half with just this software. it challenges, because you’re flying by the seat of your pants. you don’t always know what song you’re mixing into, and it keeps you on your toes. sometimes the beatmatching doesn’t work well, ESPECIALLY on the Drum n’ Bass tracks, but by and large, you really can do a pro set with this as long as you have a few proper favorites up your sleeve and know how to beatmatch by yourself.

  33. Too fun! I love it :)

  34. adriana says:

    Hi!! I thinks it’s amazing cause it’s relly easy to use and learn!!! But I think I can’t add my own files??
    If so, how can I add my own files from my music?\
    Thamnk

  35. you should put it on the app store

  36. Not getting any work done now.

  37. Great technology; will they ever make it where you can store your own tracks on the cloud?

    • treble_head says:

      you already can. once you finish your mix, you can find it in the online dj section and save the link.

  38. treble_head says:

    disagree with many on here. it is a full functioning dj program. The drawback is that you are mostly flying blind, and what could be better to jump up your DJ skills? I have performed live with it and it was wonderful, because nobody, not even me knew what was coming next. Keeps you on your toes.

  39. 128kbps = 8KB/sec , average internet connection in America: ~6000Kbps , go figure..

    The problem isn’t the client-side (aka your) internet connection rate, its the throughput of soundcloud (server-side)..

  40. These web pages are not working already for a week on Facebook is not the developer and the app did not work on google chrome http://www.partycloud.fm/

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