A new streaming service, initially available for users of Pioneer DJ’s Rekordbox software, just launched in public beta. Called Beatsource LINK, it offers a new $9.99/month subscription to mainstream music, covering dance, hip hop, Latin, pop, R&B and reggae/dancehall.
From the same stable as Beatport LINK (the electronic streaming service from the people behind Beatport which is also available in Rekordbox), Beatsource LINK is currently an option in the public beta of Rekordbox 6.0.1, with a free month’s trial available.
Read on for all the info. We’ve had a play with it, and our first-look Beatsource LINK review and thoughts about how this fits in to the market follow below.
Offline locker – no internet needed
Like Beatport LINK, the new service has an offline locker, meaning you can locally cache tracks from the service before your gig and not have to rely on an internet connection for them to play. This is the first thing you’ll see in any Beatsource LINK review, and for good reason: It’s a much asked after feature, not available in other DJ streaming services.
Note that these cached tracks are not available to you outside of Rekordbox, and you’ll pay for the privilege – while a standard subscription is US$10, for higher quality audio and 50 offline tracks, you’ll pay US$20, and for 100 offline tracks it’s currently a whopping US$30 dollars a month.
Emphasis on curation
There is a heavy emphasis on curation and playlisting in Beatsource LINK, carried across from the Beatsource download store, which means new DJs or DJs who want help in locating the biggest tracks in the genres that the store specialises in will find a lot of their work done for them.
Staff-curated playlists from the Beatsource team are directly available inside your DJ software, and you can make your own from scratch, or by adapting pre-made playlists, over at the Beatsource website. Beatsource is promising playlists from DJs, labels and the like too, and there will be the ability to like, share and follow playlists to help you in your music discovery. We’ll update this Beatsource LINK review with these changes when they happen, of course (again, remember this is in beta).
The catalogue is extensive: Basically you”re getting not far off the entire relevant catalogue from all the major labels here, and this is a first for Pioneer DJ’s Rekordbox platform, because unlike other DJ software it has until now had no mainstream music streaming partner.
However, unlike services like Tidal and Spotify, the online element here is not a full streaming service. Beatsource.com – an essential part of the way this works – is essentially a download store, with a new option to add tracks to your playlists for streaming added alongside the” buy” option for its catalogue.
There is also no mobile app, so you’ll be doing your work from laptop for now – although a mobile app is in the planning. we’ll probably do a mobile app Beatport LINK review in the future – after all, mobile is where people increasingly consume and even playlist their music nowadays.
Beatsource.com is actually a nice download store for mainstream DJs. (Not checked it out yet? No, neither had we. You should.) It’s well curated, simple to use, and therefore a fast way to get what you want – assuming you mainly play major label music. And that ethos carries across into Beatsource LINK.
Works well, a few niggles
From Rekordbox, it is easy to see curated playlists, to search the Beatsource catalogue, and to access your own playlists created at Beatsource.com. But unless you’re willing to pay substantially more than the entry-level $9.99 a month, you’ll be doing this at a lower bitrate (equivalent quality of the basic subscription is 192kbps MP3) and with no offline locker.
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Beatsource tells us it hopes that as the user base grows, it can up the size of the offline locker, which we think is essential here, because it’s an expensive proposition right now. And also, because Beatsource.com (where you’ll manage your streaming music) is basically a download store, the experience there is nowhere near as good as Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal; although there is curation, you can’t just kick back and listen, favouriting tunes as you go along for your DJ sets, because as with all download stores, there is a limit to how much of a track you can preview.
In our initial play with the software we spotted a couple of obvious niggles (the track key doesn’t come across from Beatsource.com, where it is listed correctly, for instance), but let’s remember this is a beta, and overall it worked fine.
We loved the way it brings in top 100 lists from Beatsource, and the way you can directly access the Beatsource curated playlists from within rekordbox too – the same ones that are in the store. This makes “knowing what to play” easy, for beginners or people playing in unfamiliar genres.
The offline locker worked well, and you can also drag tracks from Beatsource into any normal playlist. Creating your own Beatsource playlists is as simple as heading into the Beatsource store, and instead of buying songs, selecting the “add to playlist” option, which adds the tracks instantly to your lists in Rekordbox (after you click the little refresh icon).
Is this a choice too far?
The big questions are: Will people pay for this, when most are probably already paying for a subscription to a general streaming service too, which this isn’t a direct replacement for? (In short: “Why can’t we just plug Spotify in?”)
And maybe the more interesting question is: Why are there now two streaming services from the same company, namely Beatport LINK and Beatsource LINK?
Commercially, that’s easy enough to explain: Broadly, Beatport and Beatport LINK have grown out of the electronic music scene, and you can get loads of music there you won’t find elsewhere, from myriad independent labels. If you’re looking for every sub-genre of house, techno, trance and so on, Beatport is for you. It is an established ecosystem for and of itself, and all the better for it. But there ain’t no Madonna.
Conversely, Beatsource LINK is a mainstream streaming service, tapped into the major labels, and more suited to mobile, open format, pop, party and bedroom DJs who are more interested in playing today’s big hits across its genres of dance, hip hop, pop, R&B, Latin and reggae/dancehall.
Where are the DJ edits?
It’s worth stating at this point that that a key partner in Beatsource LINK is DJ City, a DJ download pool for pro DJs that offers DJ edits and exclusive remixes of today’s big records – something currently completely absent from Beatsource LINK, but which could make it more compelling were they to find a way to add these to the service in the future.
(I wouldn’t want to be in charge of negotiating those licensing deals with the majors, but if anyone can, you’d think the legal team at Beatport/Beatsource alongside a leading download pool could pull it off.)
Is a single DJ-focused service coming?
Ultimately, I am not so sure the divide between these two types of DJ is as pronounced as the above might suggest. DJing is a broad church, and asking DJs to choose between the two, when really they may find music of interest on both services, may prove to be a challenge.
Will we see a single, unified streaming service, uniting Beatport and Beatsource into one subscription in the future? It is the route I’d like to see them take. Meanwhile, Beatsource is an interesting – if not particularly cheap – entrant in the market, and your only choice as of today for streaming mainstream music if you’re a Rekordbox DJ.
Laptop DJs only – for now…
Remember that as things stand, you need to do this as a laptop DJ – you can’t export your playlists to USB to play in a club on Pioneer DJ gear or anything like that right now.
However, make no mistake that this is all coming – no streaming service is ever going to want to tie itself to one platform (Beatsource has already announced software support for Algoriddim’s djay is coming next week), and Denon DJ’s hardware platform already incorporates streaming from other services, so watch this space on that one.
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Meanwhile, Pioneer DJ would be committing commercial suicide if its next-gen Nexus gear didn’t offer similar, and so the day when you can simply log in from any DJ gear and access Beatsource LINK – and all your other streaming and cloud locker services – really is now not far away.