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!

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