So what will 2012 bring for digital DJing? We’ve asked industry insiders, listened to your ideas and thoughts throughout the year, and kept our ear to the ground for whispers, plus of course done a bit of thinking ourselves, to come up with our list of five trends and developments we think will shape digital DJing over the next 12 months.
One thing is for certain: If the previous 12 months were anything to go by, things are certainly not going to stand still; and indeed from what we’re already hearing, the NAMM show in January will throw up some pretty exciting developments. But for now, here are our five digital DJing predictions for the coming 12 months:
5 Predictions For The DJing World In 2012
1. The iPad will become more a part of digital DJing as laptop use plateaus
Laptops aren’t ideal for digital DJing and for DJ booths, and the iPad, being sturdier, smaller, lighter and – let’s face it – just cooler, looks like it’ll start to get some serious traction.
We think it will get some dedicated DJ hardware to allow you to use it like you currently use a laptop (a bit like the Numark iDJ live, but professional) and maybe some software to match (Traktor or Serato for iPad? Watch this space…). Using your iPad as a library and waveform display while DJing on decent hardware sounds like a no-brainer.
In fact thinking that through, why shouldn’t it interface directly with existing DJ hardware, Traktor / Serato Scratch style, in the same way? You could turn up with just your iPad and a pair of headphones and DJ anywhere.
It’s a way off (a single stereo out from the unit is a big stumbling block), but it this could be the year that this happens.
2. Manufacturers who can deliver the full controller experience will pull ahead
The days of manufacturers being able to get away with releasing DJ gear that comes with a rushed LE program and bad instructions about how to get everything working are thankfully receding into the past.
With the Traktor S2 and Traktor S4 coming with easy, tight integration with Traktor software; Serato ITCH continuing to be the ultimate in plug and play DJing; Serato Intro now doing the same for entry-level controllers; and whisperings of further developments in this direction, the manufacturers who do well this year will be the ones who put the R&D in, working with their software suppliers to make sure everything “just works”.
Expect to see more customised versions of software (like the Pioneer DDJ-T1 controller last year coming with “Pioneer Edition” Traktor), and don’t be surprised if new, more-integrated-from-the-start software appears from other quarters, too (see prediction 4).
And finally, decent forums, manufacturer after-care and communities built around products will help to define what does well and what fails. You can’t just throw gear out there: It needs an eco-system to support it and to help DJs to make the most of it.
Gear is starting to develop “scenes” around it, and the gear that does well this year will define its own niche with a proper vision in the first place, followed by superlative support from the people who know it best – its developers.
3. There will be more non-jogwheel all-in-one controllers
The Novation Twitch has been a great hit this year with DJs who didn’t come from a vinyl or CD background, with converts to controllerism, and with the crowd who simply think smaller and lighter is better.
A good example of intelligent product design from start to finish, its touchstrips do a convincing job of replacing jogwheels – and while it isn’t for everyone, it’s won more than its fair share of admirers (me included). It would be crazy to think that other manufacturers haven’t taken notice. Expect more such controllers through 2012.
4. Somebody will try a full-on assault on Traktor
The S2 and S4 have given Native Instruments a massive advantage in the market, because that company controls the hardware, software and thus the full experience (see point 2). This is giving it a currently almost unassailable lead.
Serato will of course continue to make inroads, improving its software without losing the plug-and-play aspect in which it is still slightly ahead of NI, even with the S2 and S4, but manufacturers must – must! – be thinking “if only we had our own software that ran seamlessly on our machines, we could offer something similar”.
I predict someone is going to hit us with their own DJ software for their own hardware in 2012, in an attempt to establish the kid of ecosystem I spoke of in point 2, and to peg their products on a level with the Native Instruments family of controllers.
5. Cloud DJing will go mainstream
It is already easy to see how this is going to happen. Many people already have their music in the cloud thanks to iTunes Match. This number will grow. The next piece of the puzzle that’ll fall in to place is this: With Spotify opening its API and apps beginning to appear, it is only a matter of time before one of the DJ software companies incorporates Spotify into its software.
Remember, Virtual DJ has already done the same with the slightly frowned-upon service Grooveshark (currently in a series of court battles with the record labels – Grooveshark, not Virtual DJ), but Spotify – with its quality control and rock-solid technology – is the golden goose: As anyone who has used the service on their desktop knows, it is pretty much 100% reliable, and its offline function means you could easily DJ with tunes that were held locally.
DJ software that accesses your own iCloud / iTunes Match music, while having Spotify there on tap too, would be truly cloud-based: Your laptop, iPad or whatever will simply be a conduit, holding local copies of tunes where it mattered. This will happen in 2012, for sure.
For all those who haven’t got one foot in the past, DJing has become more and more exciting as digital has taken hold. The fact that it’s also become more “consumer” is something to be celebrated, not decried, because for ever 1,000 people who have some kind of DJ set-up in their living room, there will be a handful of true talents who break through and enrich the pro scene.
One thing’s for certain: Stop innovating and you will get left behind… and that goes for manufacturers as well as DJs.
What do you think 2012 will bring? Is DJing going in the right direction, or does it seem to always have you up in arms? I’d love you to share your thoughts in the comments.