The DJ world never stands still, and the last 12 months have seen a resurgence of activity by the gear and software companies, following a period of relative calm. All of this bodes well for an exciting 2020. Here are three trends to watch out for:
1. The rise of standalone DJ systems
The new hardware battleground is undoubtedly the standalone DJ system – we’re talking about DJ set-ups that don’t need a laptop to be present, but that have a lot of the power of laptop systems.
While it is still mainly “early adopters” who are jumping on board this style of DJ gear (70% of our community currently still DJs using traditional DJ controllers), standalones are a rapidly growing area. This sector is being driven by Denon DJ and its Prime 4 unit, which is hugely powerful and offers most of the features laptop DJs have got used to, with the advantage (for many, at least) of the laptop not having to be present.
Pioneer DJ has battled to keep up, with mixed results so far. Its XDJ-XZ is its current flagship standalone, and while it has much going for it, it doesn’t have anywhere near the power of the Prime 4. However, we fully expect “next generation” standalone gear from Pioneer DJ in 2020, and also expect a whole raft of similar products from Denon DJ itself, plus Rane and Numark – as a minimum.
2. The rise of streaming for DJs
If standalone systems are the new frontier for hardware, a less tangible but potentially even more disruptive development is the rise of streaming or “online” music services for DJs. Think about it – streaming isn’t even in a battle with physical or downloaded music any more as far as consumers are concerned – streaming has won. Spotify, Apple Music and their ilk are the way most people consume music nowadays away from their DJing (and the way people who aren’t DJs have done it for years…).
For DJ use, the past 12 months have seen Beatport launch Beatport Link, offering a viable way for pro DJs to play with music from Beatport’s catalogue without owning it. Meanwhile Serato has sidled up with TIDAL, and SoundCloud has partnered with just about everyone, being available in software from all the major names.
Perhaps the biggest development is again in Denon DJ’s Prime 4. This unit can work wirelessly with TIDAL, meaning you can walk up to any Prime 4, log in with your TIDAL username and password, and as long as the location has WiFi, you can DJ with your whole TIDAL library.
Cloud lockers for our own music, ubiquitous internet in DJ booths, all the streaming services on all DJ gear and software, and a single login to access your collection wherever you play – this is the future, and it’s getting close. Internet in DJ booths will become a given, just like electric power – and then it’ll all become very normal.
3. Easy new ways to make re-edits and bootlegs
The final big trend I want to highlight is connected to a style of DJing. The EDM scene saw DJ/producers (or perhaps more accurately, producer/DJs) playing what I liked to call “victory lap” DJ sets – sets that were technically pretty simple to perform, but that were packed with exclusive versions of tracks – both the producer/DJ’s own and from other producers. While it has always been possible to grab semi-exclusive re-edits of tracks from DJ download pools and places like SoundCloud, we’ve noticed that more and more DJs are making their own re-edits in this way to play in their sets.
While thankfully the art of DJing has resurfaced after its decimation by at least some “push button” superstars from the EDM age, the “exclusive re-edits” idea has stuck, and we think this will grow in 2020.
This is not least because software like Serato’s easy-to-use Studio, Mixed In Key’s Captain series of semi-automated composition tools, and online offerings from the likes of (for instance) next-gen sample company Splice and mastering service LANDR, is continually appearing and improving. These apps demystify the whole art of making your own “bootlegs’, and we expect to see this all become much more mainstream in 2020.
So – with gear getting more powerful and thus opening up new possibilities, with the way music is delivered to DJs moving online with all the potential advantages that brings, and with DJs getting awesome new ways to pre-prepare bootlegs, re-edits and remixes for their sets, these are intriguing times indeed.
There are more ways than ever for imaginative DJs to make their mark on the scene going into 2020, and we’re excited to have not only journeyed the past 10 years with you, but to be here to move into the next decade too. So stick with us as we document, teach and assist you on your own journey through modern digital DJing into 2020…
What do you think is coming next for DJing in 2020? Let us know below.