Casual DJ Mixing Apps in Pacemaker + Spotify: Should DJs Be Worried?

This week two companies have made additional forays into the casual DJ mixing apps market – Spotify and Pacemaker. With a new Party mode, Spotify hopes to automate DJing for a lot of casual music consumers; while Pacemaker’s new update adds “move-in transitions” that allow automated mixing between two tracks. Should DJs feel threatened? Read on for our thoughts.

Pacemaker For iPhone

The brand new version of Pacemaker brings the app to the iPhone, something that last year’s release on iPad (watch our first look review here) lacked. As I pointed out in the article on Auxy’s new release, having a casual music app is way more likely to be used if it’s on a phone as opposed to an iPad, which tends to be a device that you bring when you have a specific use for it.

But to make mixing songs together realistic on an iPhone, Pacemaker has come up with Mix Transitions, a creative solution that allows anyone to make quick transition edits. You select a second song from a list of EchoNest suggested tracks that match key and BPM. Slide the second track a point in the waveform that looks good, and the app will automatically lock BPM and fade out the old track, fade in the new track – but in a cleaner way than we’ve heard from other such automated processes in Traktor, Virtual DJ, etc.

Did we mention there’s Apple Watch support?

When it comes down to it, this is a simple mixing solution – but it is perfect for situations in which you want a better setup than just someone’s Spotify playlist. Speaking of which, the Spotify integration is still there, so you can load in tracks from Spotify and have a better flexibility of selection that you might on Serato (until 1.9 and Pulselocker arrives) or Traktor. The fact that EchoNest song compatibility works on Spotify’s library is pretty huge- you’re able to find compatible tracks that you never would have thought of otherwise. When will Traktor, Rekordbox, and Serato DJ get track recommendation engines?

Should DJs Be Worried? Absolutely not. Pacemaker is a fun mixing app that will do better than casually trying to fade YouTube videos together, and it’s very useful for finding great tracks that work well together, taking requests, and overall just curating a party playlist. I would actually recommend downloading it and keeping it for those moments in which you wish you had a full DJ setup but would settle for any way to make a series of selected tracks sound good together.

The new version of Pacemaker continues to be free on the iTunes App Store store – you just have to pay if you want to unlock in-app effects, loops, beatjumps, and filters.

Spotify Party

Also this week came a new announcement from Spotify that they’re touting as being “party-friendly playlists” that come already “mixed by DJs” but have the built-in ability to transition between three different mood/energy levels. Taglines like “Sound like a DJ” and “Set the mood” are all over their landing page. There’s a quote from Diplo in their blog post:

“When it comes to throwing parties you simply have to have the right playlists – or everyone will leave […] and while researching and picking out music is fun, it also takes a lot of time and effort. With Spotify Party, you’re served with loads of beat-matched music that transitions perfectly, which you can easily adapt to whatever your current vibe is. Best of all, you don’t have to do any of the legwork.”

Spotify Party allows selecting between three different vibes within a specific mix – which means someone still has to read the room and decide what the room needs. That’s traditionally the job of a DJ, right?

Should DJs Be Worried? If successful, this Party mode will very much start a new wave of people who think that a DJ’s job is easily automated. Remember when the iPod first came up and people were claiming that instead of hiring a talented wedding DJ, a playlist on an iPod would do just as well with a rented sound system? Expect more of that. But again, you won’t find this in clubs. You might find it in bars or house parties where DJs could be – but it still won’t have the same versatility, because at the end of the day, these are playlists, not tracks chosen for a specific event.

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  • KingArt

    I don’t think DJing would die. Those people who think DJing would die because they have not seen a Good, energetic and charismatic DJ. No doubt technology will make DJing easier and easier. Some venue will see no point of hiring a DJ anymore but those are limited to very simple play list picking. What we should see is a lot of DJ hardwear gear would be rendered useless due to how powerful apps have become. Hey that’s a good thing. You spend less and get more. But it still takes a good/trained/experienced person to be responsible for the music.

  • Joel Watson

    I think stuff like this just lowers the bar a little. Just like replacing the drummer with a drum machine, or the band with a DJ. Until we have some decent artificial intelligence it’s still useful to have a nominated curator so that group energy levels etc are influenced in a good way. Groups of people like to have a point of focus also. If I saw someone juggling iPhones playing the music my friends and I liked, I’d be impressed!

  • James Burkill

    As the bulk of my work revolves around bar and commercial Club i have already embraced such apps as djay 2 with spotify integration on the ipad. As a good of a DJ you maybe ,you can’t have every song in the world. But for those times when you need to get out of that hole, it can save you. but i have noticed that i can rely on the Ipad to much and use it over my main gear, although it is wired to my mixer so is it cheating??? I don’t know, but what i do know when my serato has the pulselocker integration I’m on board.

  • Frank

    I am one of those Bedroom DJ’s , so stay on top of your game Ha Ha Ha.
    As if someone just can get into an F1 car and makes it on stage for awards.
    If so, he or she belongs there !
    I don’t understand your vision on that as being an informative site.

    In my opinion about the app , although it’s sometimes hard to accept at first, it is always good to embrace new technologies ,and see what it can do for you.
    A real opinion about these apps I didn’t form yet, but as long as people can enjoy themselves with music it sounds good to me.
    Now on this having fun with tunes in certain places comes often this legal thing (which I didn’t came up with by the way).
    I would like to know how a public place deals with that in theory, if these mentioned lybraries are used.
    Keep the good work up !!

  • Allen Fernandez

    I think this issue’s degree of severity depends on the type of work you’re doing a a DJ. For example, no way is this going to replace the DJ in the clubs. No shot. How about the event DJs (Corporate, weddings, parties, etc.), you might have concern, but not enough to make a significant impact. I believe the aesthetic of the DJ, the feel of a DJ, the expertise and skills of a DJ (A solid one, that is) still holds a sweet spot in crafting a great experience for an event filled with music and/or dancing.

    A commonality all of the above spots have is that there is at least one person who is interacting and influencing the crowd and event in the direction it is supposed to go. Especially in events where a great DJ who’s funny and has personality makes an impact at how a wedding or baby shower goes. In the corporate event, the professionalism and charm a DJ can show could reflect the host in a very good light and make for an incredibly smooth-going event.

    In the end, I could see this being an issue for DJs that do house parties. But when it comes to the events that matter and can only be “one”, like a 21st or 50th birthday, weddings, corporate events, etc., people will still want the DJ, because they’re not just a jukebox. He/She is a cultivator of smooth, positive, and fun experiences through their skilled presentations and dope curations of music. Just my two-cents though.

  • ItsWesSmithYo

    I developed perma-worry ever since the MP3 force became strong because I felt while my analog skills would always have some value for fun if nothing else, it would be hard for me to compete with Thud Rumble for work so rather than freak out about every iteration of commoditization, this being a great example, I’ve dunked my head in a steady stream of tutorials, practice sessions, creative thinking and networking opportunities year round. Thanks DJTT for helping me scratch that itch:) It’s different, but it’s fun.

  • Sambo

    Until they create a system for monitoring the crowd then no, the DJ will not be replaceable.

  • w buttry

    I don’t think we should be worried but it give the customer a choice that they might find cheaper to run a program than to hire a DJ . But most Dj’s need to worry about the bedroom Dj that will under cut all others just to play out just to get theyre name out there . Tech has evolved in the Dj industry so much it does not take a person to smart to learn how to use a controller and steal songs off you tube to become a Dj . I play bars private clubs and private parties. And I mostly do country rock and pop that’s it I don’t worry about R&B hip flop or urban rap. That’s not my style. So I don’t need to know much scratching. I can do it but not needed .

    • Dan White

      Personally I suspect we’ve probably somewhat hit the critical mass of bedroom DJs in the last 4-5 years and this threat is as large as it will ever be. But I could be wrong!

  • John Viera

    “you ain’t no Muslim bruh.”

    • Joel Watson

      I think stuff like this just lowers the bar a little. Just like replacing the drummer with a drum machine, or the band with a DJ. Until we have some decent artificial intelligence it’s still useful to have a nominated curator so that group energy levels etc are influenced in a good way. Groups of people like to have a point of focus also. If I saw someone juggling iPhones playing the music my friends and I liked, I’d be impressed.

  • Adem Gun

    I’m disappointed with this article. Anybody who can put two and two together knows (and so do you) that no DJ App will ever be something that DJ’s have to worry about. I come to this website because it is the best source for DJ related news – not to see clickbait titles.

    • Dan White

      Thanks for your comment, Adem – but I have to say that based on reactions in some of the other comments, it’s not a simple as that.

      There absolutely are technologies that are advancing to the point that lots of people will accept it as “as good as” having a DJ. Think about the markets *outside* of the club and festival scene – what makes people hire DJs for mobile gigs, for parties, for weddings? These are the areas that are under threat anytime new advances in music mixing automation appear.

      • Adem Gun

        I agree that the technologies are making it easier and more effective to DJ from mobile applications, however I don’t think it is reasonable to make a comparison between a proper setup such as CDJ’s and a mobile device. I’m not saying that mobile DJ’ing won’t be or isn’t a thing, it is and I recognise that – I played next to a guy using Traktor’s app on his iPhone a couple of days ago).

    • John Viera

      That’s what they said about Pandora. I laughed at my friends and said “your phone is going to DJ for you.” Now they play Pandora all the time. Even at small get togethers. And it does a great job with most genres.

    • stevesweets

      I’m more disappointed they didn’t think that Pyro was relevant to this discussion.

  • Brad

    I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. Have you ever been to a party with an iPod. Impossible to get through more than 5 songs without someone switching it out for their own, and that won’t change with this new tech. I have been to bars that use ipods for their ambient music as well, and they all play the same songs night after night after night. This got better with Pandora and Spotify, but still predictable. And clubs–forget about it. People pay to see a live DJ, not to pay $7/beer and watch somebody mess around with a phone. For the record, this is coming from someone with a lot more experience on the dance floor than on the decks. Basically, I think this is a cool idea, but it isn’t going to replace DJs except on the smallest of scales (house parties, bars where the DJ is not the focal point). Who plays house parties for the money anyway, amirite?

  • Darnelle

    Eh – people still like the aesthetic of an actual DJ. In a lot of places, most people probably don’t know what the DJ is actually “doing” anyway (obviously playing music, but you catch my drift). If the music’s good people will dance. They’ll probably enjoy it more if there’s a human selecting, adding a “live element”. Seeing a guy doing this on his iPhone probably would diminish that experience.

    Any place that is actually serious about the music / party experience, I wouldn’t see this replacing the DJ either.

    This is a cute idea for a house party or bar to let people think they can DJ without doing the “legwork”.

  • JC Bissonnette

    If you just DJ ya maybe this could replace you at a party. If you produce and play what you’ve made no stupid app can replace that.

    • Dan White

      Yeah, of course – but people who are playing their own productions aren’t ever going to be affected by advances in DJ automation. They’re quite not the same as DJs. They might do something similar to DJing when they play out, but their core skill isn’t the curation of music and reacting to a room.

  • azaex

    I think this could be “the” moment for DJ’ing. This can effectively kill off DJ’ing using Sync and commonplace transitions, since irl with enough beatgridding, a computer can automatically do those. It’s time for the real DJs to step up (i.e. good live controllerism, some crazy genre flipping, rhythmic scratching, something an iPod can never dream of doing)

  • Selecta

    I have worked for a lot of morons who own bars and clubs. These morons, who have sometimes asked me why I bring more than just a laptop or ipod with me to when I play (and kept a straight face while doing so), should not be told of this apps existence.
    The consequences are unthinkable.


    YO! Of course DJs should be worried! I doubt there will ever be one app or piece of technology that will hit DJ culture like a meteor and completely wipe it out over night, but this kind of technology will grow like a cancer and slowly (maybe even quickly) start taking out DJ culture.

    Club. NO! But why wouldn’t you see this at a bar or house party? Also tech never gets worse it only gets better. The technology already exists for computers in clubs to select, play, and mix songs better than any human could. Let’s not even talk about what’s going to happen when those computers start networking with music streaming services and aggregating all of the data to know more about people’s music preferences and what they want to to hear than any DJ ever could. Yeah I try not to laugh to hard at my DJ friends who think their ability to read crowds, beat match and select just the right tune is going to save them.

    Ladies & Gents the party is almost over let’s just get naked and enjoy these last days of our lives. Hey it was a good run 🙂

    • Stephen Nawlins

      Well you think Computers linked together can Analyse what People wanna hear…Maybe…but I don’t think all the People wanna hear the same shit and specially not every night the same stuff…and there comes the “Reading of the Crowd” capacity…I Play in Bars, sometimes our average Age is in the lower 20’s, sometimes higher 20’s (if not even lower 30’s) and sometimes we also have older People inside…that means our crowd is very heteroclite and the same Playlist can be perfect one day and wrong the other…Our crowd also don’t wanna hear the same Sound than in the neighbours place.
      1 Crowd, 1 Sound, 1 Party may be OK for the EDM folk that just Needs Big Beats and Bpm between 128 and 132 all Night Long…but there’s more than just Electro (and specially EDM) in the Nightlife and there are more Styles a DJ can Play.
      I got a simple example:
      I had a really lazzy time as DJ a few years ago. Mixing every Friday & Saturday in the Same Club for the same People for 4 months in a row (with a high percentage of regular guests). I always played the same Music and just incorporated the New Songs that came up in da Hitparade. After 3 months regular guests came to me and allready predicted what’s gonna be the next song with an accuracy of over 90% they were right….then I realized that no Robot will ever get this Job…I also realized, that I never again gonna be as lazzy and that I will work harder on it in the future.

  • Stephen Nawlins

    Well never heard about People using an iPod for their wedding either, but if there are People thinking of it they are definitively not on my Radar for being customers of mine sorry.
    I enjoy playing for People having at least a minimal knowledge on Music and what it means to be a DJ.
    Then Comes that I offer more than just “a Mix”, at weddings for example you are more an Entertainment coordinator, over here (Switzerland) at each wedding friends & Family want to be “part of the Show”, you can be sure there’s always at least 1 Person that performs a Songs (which means you Need to be a Sound Engineer ’cause mostly they haven’t a clue how to use a Mic and hold it away from mouth…so you have to put up the Volume).
    Sometimes there is a Diaporama with pics from the past life of bride & groome (So either they have their Soundtrack to it and they ask you to Play it or they need you to mix some tracks from the past decades during this Video-Show…mostly they come 5min before and tell you).
    Then mostly People wanna hold a speech (Groome, Best Man, Father of the Bride, etc…) so as they also haven’t a clue on using a Mic…Soundengineer again.
    Then Comes the Wedding Cake…most of the couples celebrate the “Entry of the Cake” with a Special Song (I allready had: “U2-Beautiful Day” “Star Wars Imperial March” “Carmina Burana” etc…) So you have to be there and synchronised with the Kitchen Crew.
    Then I bring the Disco Light, but there will be different moods during the Celebration, You can’t allready have your Lightsystem on “Dynamic Mode” during Dinner, you certainly also wanna have another mood during Bride & Groomes first Dance, and for sure your Lightsystem never will be Dynamic enough for when it turns into “Party Time”….so you are Lightjockey as well.
    So if you can Find an iPod, an App or any Software based solution to this versatile Job I will stop being DJ without Anger because I will then have to accept that our Job turned obsolete….but I think I’ll have a lot of glory years in front of me untill you are successfull finding this solution 😉

    • Dan White

      In 2008, I def had TON of people asking why they should hire my business instead of just renting an speaker setup and plugging in an iPod. Every region is different tho 🙂