The largest community for DJ and producer techniques, tutorials, and tips. Traktor secrets, controller reviews, a massive MIDI mapping library, and more.

Pulselocker: Try Before You Buy – For DJs

Have you ever bought a song with a vocal you just didn’t like that wasn’t in the preview, or played a special gig where you had to waste money on tracks you knew you were only going to play once? Do you subscribe to services like Spotify that stream music for you with a monthly fee and wished you could play those tracks in your favorite DJ software? These are the problems that Pulselocker hopes to solve – read on for our exclusive first look at the service.

Pulselocker is an application that sits on your computer (Mac OSX only for now) that will let you preview full songs, download 320 kbps AAC/M4A versions of those songs to your computer, and then play them through your favorite DJ software. The application does this by creating a separate drive on your computer that Pulselocker has code-named “directdrive”.

All the songs that you preview are located in that drive, which is made available to your software through the explorer. Pulselocker currently works with Serato ITCH, Intro, and Scratch Live 2.3.3 or higher, as well as Native Instruments Traktor and Atomox Virtual DJ – but other systems are planned on being implemented in the future. EDIT: There has been some compatibility issues with Virtual DJ. They are working on it and plan to have a fix in the next few months.


Once the songs are loaded and analyzed you can set loops, cue points, and play those songs like normal – as long as the Pulselocker application is open. If the application isn’t open, the Pulseocker drive does not show up in your software and you’re not able to play the tracks. This works both online and offline so once downloaded, all tracks can be played at will without an Internet connection. Locker sizes will range from 10-1000 tracks depending on the subscription you choose.

If you find that gem of a track and you want to make it yours and in the process, support the artists even further, you are given the option to purchase the track. After purchase you can do what you want with the tracks – DRM-free, as if you bought it from any other source.

In the application, you can add songs to the queue and star certain tracks as a handy reminder. Tracks play with a full waveform at the bottom allowing you to see the structure of the song – something that’s lacking from many online stores. To make finding that next tune even easier Pulselocker users can rate and tag tracks in the catalog to help with accuracy. Users can also share playlists with other users and of course there’s Twitter and Facebook integration. One handy Facebook feature, once logged in, any artist you like on Facebook will show in Pulselocker.


With the ability to torrent just about any track out there for free, many DJs and listeners ask why they should buy their music at all. For those of you who know me from the DJTT forums, you’re probably aware I’m a very strong supporter of buying all of my music and supporting the producers that make that music. Based on questions raised in the forums about legality and how the artists will get paid when you’re using Pulselocker, many of the DJTT readers think similarly – so here are some of the answers that Fred Han, director of Marketing and Communications at Pulselocker gave in the forum when questions were raised how exactly artists get paid.

“Pulselocker was founded by DJs and producers and we built the company (and our business model) with the artists’ interests top of mind. While we cannot stop technology’s financial impact on the music ecosystem, we are providing new monetization opportunities to help soften the blow. In addition, we have our own licensing deals, and work with all providers of relevant content, be it majors or indies. At the same time, we pay artists and collecting societies and have all the legitimate rights to offer the services we do.”

“Our subscription model is totally legal and artist-friendly so no need to fear. These arrangements enable us to offer a catalog that spans from funk&rare grooves to reggae, hiphop, dnb, dubstep and house/techno (and subgenres), and is growing everyday.”

“If you play lots of different gigs with varying music styles then you’ll be happy with the currently listed categories. Each of these have more subcategories to pick from to help narrow down choices.”

In an attempt to address some of these concerns, Pulselocker has introduced a three-tier system for paying artists. For plays of the songs outside of the locker (i.e. on-demand streaming), they share at a starting rate. For plays which occur through the locker, they share at a significantly higher rate, and for purchased tracks they split revenues similarly to iTunes or any other download shop. While it may not be the final solution to an ailing system, it definitely seems like a positive new approach to what’s been a pretty stagnant system.

The list of trending tracks in Pulselocker

Unlike many of the top sites for DJs buying music, Pulselocker has managed to pull together a diversified catalog of music that is sure to work well for all DJs. Electronic, Hip-Hop,/R&B, Reggae, Funk, Rare Groove, and Jazz all are available in the app for you to try before you buy. I was even able to find some Country and Big Band music!


  • Low monthly fee
  • Full length previews
  • Ability to legally try and play before you buy
  • Not limited to just EDM – hip hop, R&B, rock, funk, blues, jazz and more are available
  • DRM-Free 320 kbps AAC/M4A format
  • Tracks show BPM and Key in Pulselocker


  • OSX only for now. Windows version is planned – possibly early 2013
  • Application must be open unless you pay for the track
  • Initial private beta had a few bugs, but the tech guys have been responding to feedback quickly
  • Not able to modify ID3 tags with non-purchased tracks
  • The private beta catalog was initially small, however deals have already been signed with several big independent aggregators to increase that size. They’ve promised to offer nearly 6 million tracks by the end of the year.

iOS and Android-compatible versions are planned for the future. I asked what other kind of things were planned for the future of Pulselocker and the answer was pretty intriguing.

“We’re going to focus on making sure we have the right features and catalog with our beta user group, then we’re going beyond the laptop — phones, tablets, and connecting directly to performance instruments. Stay tuned.”


Initial pricing is set at full streaming, social features, and a five track locker for less than $10 US. They’ll be scaling up from there depending on the locker size.

“Pulselocker monthly subscription tiers accommodate DJs and music aficionados of all budgets. Starting at $9.99 for a 10-track locker, tiers range from $14.99 for 50-tracks, $24.99 for 100-tracks, 34.99 for 200-tracks, and $69.99 for 1000-tracks”

To celebrate the launch of the public beta Pulselocker is offering a 60 day-free trial with a 100 track capacity locker for the first 10,000 people who sign up. That being said, DJTT has secured invites for all of our readers that will get you to the head of the queue and in the beta quicker. Getting an invite is simple:

Sign up with your email here and you’ll get your invite ASAP from Pulselocker in just a few days!

Pulselocker is based in San Francisco and is funded by Grammy award-winning artist, Ben Harris of Dirty Vegas.

  • Willie Robb

    I’ve been using VDJ for years now. With their content unlimited ( $10/month ) I’d have a hard time making the switch. It allows you to cache songs for future use without Internet connection. And with the extensive song selection, I really don’t see the attraction for pulselocker. Just my thoughts.

  • Pingback: Serato DJ Announces Pulselocker Integration | connectikART()

  • Pingback: Serato DJ Announces Pulselocker Integration | NUTesla | The Informant()

  • Pingback: Serato DJ Announces Pulselocker Integration - DJ TechTools()

  • evolakim

    I’m using it now in Beta and I don’t really like it to be honest. The fact that its constantly running sucks. I played a house party last night and Traktor couldn’t find the Pulselocker directory and is telling me my Traktor install is corrupt. So, I can’t open Traktor. Shit is pissing me off. Plus, the track selection is pretty weak. I’m sure it will get good and all but I’m definitely NOT paying for this shit.

  • ralph

    pulselocker sent an upgrade today and now it dosent work..was that a planned upgrade to stop us using it ??????

  • Has anyone received an invite code yet? Itching to try this out!

  • It was only a matter of time before beatport got some competition. The electronic music market has to be one of the fastest growing. I’m curious to see how it pans out.

  • Michael Garrett

    I’ve been searching for a service like this. I infrequently need to play pop and R&B music for school dances and its hard to find versions of songs with intros or just edited without joining a CD pool. My entire laptop is filled with EDM, it would be nice to keep the Ke$ha off until I need it.

  • FSR

    what are online record pools? sorry for my ignorance, and can you point me to some of them?

  • Strrog

    What if you record when you play! Then you will have the song! Or is that looked….

    • It will be in the recording.

      • Strrog

        And the you don´t need pulselocker…….

  • So I had the chance to play around with the software last night and let me say… very cool concept and idea and I hope it takes off. Very cool way to scrub tracks and discover some new music (especially cause the library now is so limited you’re practically forced to find stuff you’ve never listened to before). That being said, I think the tiered monthly subscription prices are on the expensive side, particularly for hobbyists that aren’t paid DJ’s (myself included). If you compare to Spotify Premium which is only $10 and lets you have unlimited songs available online or offline. I sort of fail to see how the licensing here is any different just because you’re choosing to play a track out of different software. A license to play the song is a license to play the song, the software has no way of telling if you’re playing it out in a club where it would be subject to performance royalties, or playing it for yourself at home.

    I think a 100 track locker for $9.99 is reasonably, with 200 track lockers at $15. I think this would present a good value for users. Unless the intention is to target only paid performing DJ’s, they’re going to ignore a large part of the DJ public who are just hobbyists where the value proposition of paying $34.99 a month for a 200 track locker just isn’t there.

    Just my two cents, looking forward to continue testing the software and see how everything pans out.

  • mattatya

    when I mix with RANE SL3 I record using the aux. Does using a track from the locker record through so my mix doesn’t have a blank gaps when using the locker?

  • MattKingCole

    If you decide to buy the tunes, is a lossless option available?

    • We plan to offer .WAV files next year.

      • FLAC or another lossless compression codec which supports tags would be really nice too!

        • Mitch

          FLAC may attract me.

  • DJ Gerard

    So NOT worth it. YET anyway. Too expensive. Better off with online record pools. Plus how are you suppose to audition songs conveniently until the phone apps are out. I am glued to my macbook to audition songs. What about my commute?? thats when I listen to new music or even in the shower After i downloaded them. And why are their tracks going to cost 2.49 per track. It’s not like it can be justified for packaging and shipment DUH this is digital.
    Now let me say I LOVE the idea. I hope all the quirks work out and I am in.
    Thanks for letting us know this exists now.
    But my final notion I should not be paying for the same song three times!

    • Hi Gerard,

      Not all tracks are $2.49. What you see is placeholder text as the purchase feature has not been enabled yet.

      As for “paying for the same song three times,” the user only pays his/her subscription one time per month. Pulselocker pays the rightsholder for streaming plays and locker uses, and then the third opportunity for rightsholders to monetize is if a track is purchased. When a track is purchased, this is the only other time a user would pay any additional cost above his/her subscription and this is because when the track is purchased the user will own the track, DRM-free even if the subscription is not continued. Does this make sense? I’m happy to discuss more.

      Thanks for your interest,

      Josh | Pulselocker

  • OK so I am a big confused on the model and how it would work for a mobile DJ. The cost-per-song to store locally is $2.49 which if you are obtaining say 25 songs per month, is significantly more than a monthly record pool service. And unless you are playing at a venue that has wi-fi, or you have a fat MiFi plan, the play-by-queue would be useless.

    The UI is very clean and responsive. I am just finding it difficult to find how it would work best for me.

    • fredfunk

      hey LT – So, with a subscription, you get unlimited on-demand streaming and the locker. To clarify, the locker feature allows you to download and store music from Pulselocker’s catalog locally, without incurring a fee because it’s included in the subscription. Essentially, you are “borrowing” the track to play out, but can play it offline.

      For example, let’s say you have a 100 track locker (which is what we’re offering for beta subscribers), you can download the songs onto your computer and then DJ those 100 tracks on Serato/Traktor without the need for an internet connection. Let’s also say that you don’t like 20 of those tracks and want to exchange them – no problem. When you go home, just get back online, delete the 20 tracks from your locker and fill those empty slots with another 20 you want to try out. You can do this for the life of the subscription.

      Imagine having a few gigs over a weekend, where you were asked to play a deep house set, and then a breaks set then a techno set. You could play all three without the need to buy three sets of music.

      As photojojo mentioned, the way we help artists is to pay a royalty each time the track is streamed, downloaded and played on Serato/Traktor and purchased.

      I hope this helps.

    • Is there a record pool service for quality house/techno? All the ones I can find only have stuff they play in those top40 clubs?

      • jacob

        wait im still a bit confused. i get that you pay a subscription of the amount of songs u can use. but then what is the point of buying the song if you already can download the song with the subscription

  • first of all, i use traktor, so im not dissing digital DJ’s (give me anything with buttons and ill have it controlling traktor). here’s the BUT, i think this apps biggest setback will be lack of Rekordbox integration and theres going to be some very lateral thinking (although this program is lateral thinking) to make it work with rekordbox.

    A lot of DJ’s are turning up to gigs now with nothing but a set of headphones and a usb stick simply because its a lot easier than mucking around and setting up a DVS. Plus theres also a few clubs with the “no laptop” policy (well where im at).

    So there gonna need to find a way to support the Reckordbox market.

    • Ryan Walsh

      its coming. 🙂

    • That is a very small group of deejays still in most cities as the vast majority of clubs still have not adopted CDJ2000’s and there is a finite group of deejays out there that can demand them at every gig.

      • oh ok, pretty much everyclub where im at has cdj2000’s and changed over to them the day they were released (gold coast/brisbane australia).. most DJs here dont even have a current cd collection.

  • Depending on the collection I would totally ditch Spotify and Groove Shark for this.

  • Anonymous

    10$? per month? per year? forever?

    • Hmm, I thought I put this in the article.

      “Pulselocker monthly subscription tiers accommodate DJs and music aficionados of all budgets. Starting at $9.99 for a 10-track locker, tiers range from $14.99 for 50-tracks, $24.99 for 100-tracks, 34.99 for 200-tracks, and $69.99 for 1000-tracks.”

    • Henry Lancaster III

      My gripe precisely. And you $10 only gets you access to 10 songs, which makes little sense for anyone out actually DJing or even experimenting with music. In all likelihood your library is made up of hundreds or even thousands of tracks, and I can’t see how any tier under 200 track would be useful.

      • Keep in mind that you can use your Pulselocker content alongside your existing digital library so you aren’t just limited to 10 tracks if you subscribe to the 10 track tier. The 10 track tier is an intro tier offered with an introductory small locker for new users. We’re still testing the pricing and tiers and they may change before our commercial release next year.

  • Nicky H

    Gotta admit now the full details are out this looks pretty impressive, good write up Chris.

  • Jesus Lynch

    Compatibility with Mixed in Key..?

    • The short answer is no. The tracks are kept in an encrypted locker until you decide to buy one so you can’t use programs that write to the id3 tags on those. All of the tracks list the key in Pulselocker though and the key tag in traktor writes to the collection file so you can update the key in Traktor.

  • can’t wait to try. such a great idea.

  • Okay, I’ve just learned there has been some compatibility issues with Virtual DJ so it’s not supported as of now. They are working on it and expect a fix in the next few months.

  • jvass

    i wonder how Beatport will react to this. Pulselocker seems like some serious competition for them.

    • Anonymous

      I was going to ask the same question. If pulse locker can get a good range of music, it might mean a big problem for beatport and other music sales portals that cater to DJs. I am also wondering what the monthly subscription is all about. That might just save Beatport and co.


      • They’re adding tracks to the collection by the thousands all the time. What people search for plays a part in suggesting to them what to get, but the best way is to request something in the app.

    • They have beatport Pro for Mac, but of course it’s not “DJ/play before you buy”
      But makes it easier to put music a side before buying them

  • Daniel Lawson

    Sounds awesome!

    I cant wait to hear of the PC and android tablet version! Keep us posted DJTechtools!

  • Johbremat


    Proofing. Try it.