SpinTools: Alternative to iTunes For DJs Coming Soon?

Organizing your music as a digital DJs is an underwhelming and often frustrating experience.  Many DJs have years of history in iTunes, others have organized their tracks within Serato, Traktor, or Rekordbox. No one has really built a good alternative to iTunes for DJs – so that’s team behind SpinTools hopes to do.

What’s Wrong With iTunes?

Because of convenience, price (free), and ubiquitousness, has historically been the most common music organization tool for DJs. Just because something is easy doesn’t mean it’s a good tool.

Anyone remember iTunes 1.0? (Screenshot via Ars Technica)
Anyone remember iTunes 1.0? (Screenshot via Ars Technica)

iTunes’ development has bloated the software. It was once just an ID3 metadata editor, playlist organizer, CD burner, internet radio player, and mind-blowing visualizer (it had nothing on WinAmp). It was designed for music listeners (not DJs, since in 2001 there were very few digital DJs). Since then, the software has added features for watching movies, subscribing to podcasts, streaming on Apple Music, syncing iPods, iPhones, and iPads, etc.

One of the main forces behind the development of Spintools is the project leader, Stoyvo (there’s also a UX designer and a support team). We asked him about iTunes’ biggest flaws for DJs, and he shared:

“The biggest issue with iTunes is its compatibility. iTunes was developed for the general public use and not specifically for DJs, thus causing issues with applications such as Serato. iTunes has a great collection of organization and meta-data editing tools, it’s very powerful, however it doesn’t quiet fit the needs of a DJ.

With the growing DJ population I’m surprised we don’t have a tool specifically built for our needs – a library management tool with tag editing and ability to edit hot cues and/or loops. iTunes will never expand it’s toolset for DJs, rather it’s just a good solution for now until something better comes along.”

What Is SpinTools?

A very early screenshot of SpinTools
A very early screenshot of SpinTools from their blog (click to zoom)

It’s important to note that SpinTools is an independent project being developed by Stoyvo. Some of the iTunes alternatives for DJs we’ve seen in the past have come secondary to a different objective. For example, Beatport Pro is focused on selling tracks on Beatport – and the DJ organization is really secondary to that. Similarly, library management inside of Traktor/Serato/VDJ/Rekordbox all want you to use their software to DJ with.

SpinTools, which is still in a pre-beta development stage, envisions itself as a library management system expressly for DJs. Stoyvo writes:

“[No software] really suits [DJs] needs with managing our actual crates, media files, platform specific data (Serato cue points vs Traktor), and statistics about what we play.

SpinTools will allow you to find duplicates, organize tracks, edit cue points and loops, sync across applications (Serato and Traktor to start), edit ID3 tags, alert you of missing hot tracks (trends), and most importantly statistics. By analyzing your history we can tell you what tracks you play most often, which tracks you never have played, and eventually be able to identify “routines” you may not notice doing. It’s a swiss army knife of DJ specific tools, less apps you need to bounce between just to stay organized.”

Could you do much of this in your own DJ software? Sure – but that’s not their core focus, elaborates Stoyvo:

 “[..] live performance applications (such as Serato) were not built with library management as their top priority, and over the years we haven’t seen any change in this space. With SpinTools, library management is our top priority and our tool set will be much more versatile than your common DJ app.”

Moving From Prototype to DJ Utility

The SpinTools software is clearly still in a very alpha state. But what matters it that a developer is attempting to create a new tool that makes a mostly unpolished process (library organization) for DJs and makes it better.

Baby steps: the tag editor in SpinTools
Baby steps: the tag editor in SpinTools

On their blog, SpinTools development progress is charted publicly. There are screenshots of the features as they’ve built – including a tag editor, crate management tool, and media player.

Basic crate creation from folder structures
Basic crate creation from folder structures

They’ve built a Trends tool that shows what tracks are charting on Beatport, Billboard, and DJ City and will note which songs a user has out of those charts (ideal for mobile DJs).

A basic player with loops, cue points, memory cues (click to zoom)
A basic player with loops, cue points, memory cues (click to zoom)

The most exciting part is that SpinTools is being built by DJs who actually want to hear what features other DJs want in their library software – Stoyvo writes:

“The DJ community is very important to us, we are also DJs at SpinTools. We believe that communication is very important and a lot of these big application developers don’t communicate with their users. SpinTools has a blog to help communicate our current status in development, but will also be used to help DJs effectively use the tool with tips and tutorials. For the time being we are available on our Facebook page and Serato forum.”

Based on a recent blog post, the software is slated for an Alpha release by the end of 2016, and then there’s a decent chance we’ll see it in action at NAMM 2017 in January.

What do you want to see in a bespoke DJ library management software? Share in the comments below!

  • joemoe

    sounds interesting. I am on Windows, and mp3tag is the tool I mostly use for tagging, outside of traktor. the function of creating tags out of filenames and viceversa I do use intensively, so – importend for me.
    hope to see your software soon.

  • Riley Cronin

    Lol the first question was, “What’s wrong with iTunes?”. What isn’t wrong with iTunes?

  • Gabe

    Why did they show a very very old version of iTunes? Are they trying to make it look unapealing?

  • roger537

    I believe library should not have to be managed at all. I like the virtual dj approach. The support everything but have folders that you can favorite and everything is there. It takes me ages to do crates in serato whenever the program takes a poop or i change my folder structure. But in vdj it happens automatically. I hate to spend time organizing music id rather do a solid job organizing folders and never do anything again. And the autoupdate too not like crates that u have to drag and drop whenever u add stuff and u might forget. Is just more restrictive for no reason. Thats my biggest complain about serato. On top the bugs and the crappy and expensive video plugging the have

  • Deksel

    A robust DJ library editor for me is a combination of several features from other software;
    (1) Tag editing like MP3tag
    (2) Smart playlists from iTunes
    (3) Platform syncing of grid, cue and loop info(especially digital to cd, so traktor to rekordbox and serato to rekordbox) like Rekordbuddy 2.0

    Some nice to haves
    (4) smart metadata gathering online (whosampled.com; discogs, beatport)
    (5) social metadata (let the community set grids and cue and just import them)
    (6) integration of ableton warping (and exporting warped mp3s for traktor).

  • Jike

    I’m using The Godfather with my mp3 library. I’ve packed it with Wine in a standalone app for Mac. Tested with El Capitan and Sierra :

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ddg7s32rqkrxyal/The%20Godfather%20%28Mac%29.zip?dl=0

    Enjoy !

  • Chris

    btw: there are freaks outside, they have only five wishes
    superstition – stevie wonder
    street life – randy Crawford
    sex machine – James Brown
    all night long – Lionel Richie
    never too much – Luther vandross
    and
    give me the night from George benson
    —–

  • Forevernow

    check out trainspotter3 if you use Traktor.. it can create dynamic playlists based on many criteria – great software. http://www.tspotter.net/

  • DanW

    … its got to sync to my iPhone to really replace iTunes.

  • Jake Bergeson

    Someone clue me in here. Other than someone just outright HATING iTunes, or someone using two different DJ setups regularly (Which I personally don’t really know of anyone doing this…) What is the benefit of this software over iTunes?

    • It not being iTunes may be one reason. 😉

      • Jake Bergeson

        LOL again, other than someone just outright HATING iTunes….

        • Slightly more seriously. Going by Apple’s prior performance with software like Aperture and Final Cut and recently Music on iOS, they are liable to simply drop features that people rely on, trap you in their ecosystem, remove back compatibility or even bin the product entirely. So anything that allows you to avoid being stranded is a good thing.
          I would describe iTunes as the least worst music player on OSX. Alternatives tend to be poor copies of iTunes, rather than genuinely useful software.

  • To fully compete with iTunes, you need to have a phone/tablet app that allows you to sync your music to it and play/tag your music. May be a challenge with Apple’s walled garden.
    One of the things I like to do when out and about is listen to music and star rate songs. Even better would be being able to metatag them, but even though adding tags is such a very simple thing to do compared with other things you can do on your phone such as video editings or music creating I’ve not found anything that can do this basic task. Apple’s killing the star rating facility of your music on iOS is beyond stupid.

  • Being able to name files in specific ways from metadata and vice versa. The latter being incredibly useful for files ripped from CD/vinyl and with only the artist track name in file.
    Being able to parse such data correctly too. I always use the format Artist – Song Name [mix version] – square brackets being deliberate. With variations such as Artist (feat. XXX) – Song Name, but others may have their own slight variations. Being able to describe parameters one uses and Spin Tools being able to parse them however they are used would be vey useful indeed.

  • Being able to import iTunes library complete with star ratings and smart/dumb playlists, so we don’t have redo everything over. iTunes star rating unlike other metadata is not saved to the file. Not being able to do that would be a big barrier for many people who’ve invested time and effort into a well ordered library.

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  • stuie66

    I used to organize, edit my tags on MediaMonkey http://www.mediamonkey.com/ when I had a PC. I’m glad this software is coming out!

  • mikefunk

    Let me guess. No Windows version?

    • SpinTools

      Actually those screen shots above are on Windows 10. We’re building for both OSX and Windows, though we’re not exactly sure what versions of operating systems will be supported at this moment. Most likely Windows 7+, OSX 10.7+

      • mikefunk

        Fantastic. I will buy this first day is released.

  • Alexandros Roussos

    Like they did with iPhoto and the Photos app, Apple needs to redefine it’s music listening/library management software with a new app they could simply call Music and which supports third-party plug-ins that extend its functionality for exemple to sync tags with other software or to bring tools like mixedinkey in. Otherwise someone else will do it and it’s not going to be very convenient as DJs are also everyday music listeners and want to be able to have their playlist on their iPhone’s Music app and benefit from its integration with other apps/features.

  • zendoo

    – Sorting and sub-sorting by columns
    – Excel-style filtering within columns
    – Double-buffering of lists so they don’t flash when the screen updates (I’m looking at you, Traktor)
    – Keyboard shortcuts for star ratings (very important)
    – Support for structured metadata (tags) in the comments field, for example, “#downbeat; #bangin; #sounds.like:Automator”
    – Support for large (20k songs) libraries (MiK struggles with this)

    Right now I use Winamp for rating songs, MiK for analysis, and Mp3Tag for bulk tag editing, re-tagging based on file names, and Camel Case Conversion.

    • SpinTools

      – Sorting and sub-sorting by columns : Check

      – Excel-style filtering within columns : We have played with the idea of searching per column, is that good enough?

      – Double-buffering of lists so they don’t flash when the screen updates : Been working on that… but our flash issue is minimal.

      – Keyboard shortcuts for star ratings (very important) : Pretty neat. Noted!

      – Support for structured metadata (tags) in the comments field : We plan to expand on this, though probably wont be available immediately.

      – Support for large (20k songs) libraries : How’s 500, 000 tracks in 2 minutes sound? Realistically, if you have that many songs in 1 crate, you’re doing it wrong. For the “ALL” crate (all media), it’s acceptable, though we try to condense tracks by detecting duplicates. We believe 500, 000 in 2 minutes is reasonable.

      • zendoo

        Searching per column, yes, as long as I can do it in multiple columns simultaneously. I think minimally, wildcards, and quoted strings for exact matches should be supported.

        Awesome! I’d pay $30 for that, easy. But I bet if you charged $9 or $19, you’d sell a lot more copies.

  • Gavin Varitech

    Outside of Trends (which I would never use) what does this do that RekordBuddy 2.0 doesn’t/isn’t going to soon?

    • I just had a look at RekordBuddy website and I found it hard to find out what it even did the website is so lacking. No overview, no screenshots, no trial version.

      • Gavin Varitech

        That is true, but it wasn’t always that way. When it was in the original RekordBuddy 1 version it made it clear exactly what it was and what it did. Not sure why it doesn’t anymore. Maybe they are waiting until the public beta for 2.0 is complete and all the bugs are completely worked out before they make it a more retail-oriented site? Either way there’s tons of videos in the FAQ’s.

        • Its still in Beta?!!! Thats like the longest running program still in development…

          • lol.. No no… it’s out and available on the Next website 🙂

          • Gavin Varitech

            I know it and I bought it already!

      • As mentioned by someone else there are a lot of tutorial videos up now. Trial version is planned.

        The thing people don’t often know is that RKB is done all be me. I do development, support, website, everything… So understanding that, I’d rather spend my time on the app and the users than the website 🙂

        • But if the website’s poor design and content mean many people simply move on, then all your work on the software is for nothing. First impressions do matter.
          A web page for some software or product that doesn’t quickly explain what it is for is pretty much a waste of time. A quick feature overview and some screenshots of software in action will go a long way towards sorting this out.

          • You are absolutely right, I just need to find the time and I will get that fixed.

          • You don’t need to find time. You just need to stop doing the other less important things. No point debugging a programme or adding features if people never get to the stage of using it.

          • It’s more complicated than that. Having more people buy the app mean more people to support which in turn can use more of your time. More is not always better, especially when you’re on your own.

            The website will be improved for sure, it’s just not the main issue for growth right now 🙂

          • I updated the website today by the way 🙂

    • joemoe

      that it is (will be) available on Windows.

      • True, although the Windows port of RKB2 is on the way too 🙂

        I personally think it’s great to have different options for library management. It’s an overlooked area of Djing and I’m sure both Spintools and Rekord Buddy will provide great innovations in that area.

        • joemoe

          oooh, ok, looking foreward to see RKB2 on my computer.

  • Smart playlists where you music populates them automatically when being tagged and allowing tracks to be in multiple collections is essential for fast and effective media organising.
    The same thing in Lightroom is called Smart Collections and it transformed photo organising in the same way as iTunes did for Music. LR hasn’t become unmanageable or cut useful features unlike iTunes.
    I can’t say I like anything else very much about iTunes, but smart organising is well…rather smart and other methods are literally somewhat dumb. 😉

    • Sergio Aguilera

      Bro, you actually can do the same in iTunes. Create an smart playlist, en select the criteria that you want for the query… in your case it will be something like “comments” “contain” “#yourtag”… So i Edit my songs by adding #tags in its comments.

      • Uh, not sure what in my post about how useful iTunes smart playlists are made you think I didn’t know they were present in iTunes. ?!?

  • CUSP

    I’d like to see this come a little further along until I throw money (and time) at it, so for right now, I’m going to use MP3Tag. I like that this tool has “Make Crate” and “Set Cue Point” options. But I’m not risking my library on untested software.

    • SpinTools

      No DJ should ever risk their library… after all it’s all your data. You could always use the backup version, but that’s not always up-to-date.

      Best part of SpinTools is that it auto-backups your database and crates before any changes are made, just in the event something happens (such as battery loss, unexpected shutdowns, etc). No need to worry about this yet though, we need to release something before any of that happens.

      • CUSP

        Well keep us all up-to-date. There have been many companies who tried to do this before, but I think your company sees where these companies went wrong. I still jump around with different DJ software so this will be useful for someone like me. I truly hate that I have to keep on setting cue points every time a software DJ company comes out with the newest version.

  • Regular Citizen

    This is EXACTLY what I need. I bought rekordbuddy 2, not a bad software I must say. But THIS!

    • Luiz Zen

      I also use Rekordbuddy, but I am disapointed with the price for the updated version 2, since I already bought version 1. Having no discount for version 1 users is a pain in the ass.

      • The discount for version 1 users is currently $10 which basically pays back your purchase of version 1. I’m not sure how I could offer any bigger discount than what you already paid 🙂

        As far as macOS support, it’s currently 10.9 and above. I’m trying to add 10.8.5 but I’m not sure I’ll be able to. Let me know where you saw 10.12 and I can fix the typo.

        Hope this helps.

        • Luiz Zen

          Hi, thanks for replying. The website could be more clear, with a simple and straight System Requirements section, for instance 🙂 Regarding the discount, where do I find the $10 off? Unfortunately, even with that discount, it is still much more expensive than v1 and that I don’t get it. When I buy software, I expect to buy it once and receive updates either for free or for a reasonable amount of money (less than what I paid when purchasing). V2 looks different from what we are used to seeing around, where there are usually 2 (or more) versions: one free (maybe limited) and another that you pay for (which usualy is expetcted to come with free minor updates/bug fixes, etc). Anyway, it’s just my opinion. If I lived in US, those $45 would probably be almost nothing, but converting to my currency, it`s quite a bit. 🙂

          About 10.12, my bad! Don`t know why and where I found that 😛
          Cheers

          • I agree on the website. It’s not something I have a lot of time to address at the moment but I will for sure down the road.

            The $10 discount code is provided when you launch version 1. To be fair I have provided plenty of free updates over 2 years from 1.0 to 1.7 (the last version). 2.0 I had no choice but to charge for as this is my full time job and I need to make some money to make it worthwhile. The price is more than the first version because, to be honest, the first version was too cheap. I wouldn’t have been able to continue developing the app at that price. Apps like Mixed in Key are sold at the same price so I positive this is very good value for the money.

            I hope this makes more sense now.

          • I updated the website today, Hope you like it 🙂

          • Luiz Zen

            Thanks, looks better 🙂

      • killmedj

        I completely agree, what a frikken gip! $5? Def left a bad taste in mouth and made me 100% committed not to buy V2!

        • Again for the record, it’s a $10 discount.

          Version 1 was $9.99. How much do you reckon the discount should have been?

          • killmedj

            Holy crap you’re right! For some reason I had it in my head that I’d paid WAY more than this. Apologies and I’ll check my receipts in future before shooting my mouth off.

          • No worries. I had talked about a $5 discount a while back but decided to thank the early users and give them their money back.

          • Erwan Hebert

            Well done!

  • Punkt

    I stay on itunes, it runs like i needed. No reason to change anything.

  • Oscar

    Spintools and Denon dj ?
    Change your rider?

  • Ls

    From my dealing with Serato DJ, Traktor & Rekordbox DJ software and other music library editing application the one thing that comes to mind is that most DJ software do not have and share the same tap for example: Traktor has the “Label” Tap, and “Command 2” Tap, Rekordbox has “My Tag” and other options as well as Serato DJ has it own Tap in which we write information that help us organize our music. Base on this “tap” id3 tag information we build smart playlist. Well itunes has many taps that I personally use for organizing my music, but the information I write in them do not show in any DJ software unless it is on the basic taps such as: Artis, Genre, Album, Track, Comment, Description. I like to see that if a new editing tool for DJ is being created, that it has also the capability of having common “taps” or that the information in a particular DJ Software engine can be or show on one of the “taps” of the another DJ Software. For example if in rekordbox I type something on the “My tag” option, I can see that info in Traktor “comment 2” tap. Personally to me this will be of great help. I hope I got the message across.

  • dj setaQueHabla

    Omfg! I’ve been years waiting for a library management application like this as much as i was thinking in make it myself!
    Well, i’d really put a good batch tag editor, with conditional filters like the mp3tag app (yes, that one not available for mac users).

    • Rob

      Look at RekordBuddy2: https://next.audio/
      It’s still getting new features developed. So far it’s great for organising tracks and syncing Traktor, Serato and Rekordbox libraries.

      • I just had a look at the the RekordBuddy 2 website. Not impressed as I found it hard to find out what it even did, the website is so lacking. No overview, no screenshots, no trial version.

        • Rob

          Watch some of these: https://vimeo.com/nextaudiolabs

          • Cheers for the link, but same problem really. The videos assume you already know what the programme does. If this is how they market their programme, it’s never going to take off I’m afraid regardless of how good it is.

          • I replied to you above. It’s not ‘they’, It’s just me.

            What kind of video would you like to see?

          • One that simply demonstrates what the programme does and why it can be useful. Currently I can’t see any reason to buy it, because I do not know what it is for.
            ‘How to’ videos are for those who already have the programme and want to know more about using it.

    • CUSP

      Actually, MP3Tag is usable with a Wine wrapper (PC program run on a Mac). http://www.mp3tag.de/en/mac-osx.html

      • MMlazgar

        I tried the Wine Wrapper version and found too many issues. Currently using MP3Tag on my Macbook Pro through Parallels. Love it.

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