Review: Pulselocker In Serato DJ 1.9

Pulselocker has been poised to become the top streaming library service for DJs since their original launch in 2012. With their new relaunch this year, they’ve expanded their collection and integrated the service right inside of Serato (with Rekordbox support on the way in an upcoming version). How does the streaming library service hold up in a real-world DJing environment? We take a closer look in this review of Pulselocker in Serato DJ 1.9.

Let’s start with what you need to use Pulselocker in Serato DJ: a Pulselocker account (they’re offering two-week free trials) and a copy of Serato DJ 1.9. After the two-week trial expires, you’ll need to get a $20/month plan to continue using the service. This allows unlimited offline tracks to be stored, and includes performance rights – allowing you to legally play these tracks in clubs and public venues.

Pulselocker In Serato DJ

Streaming Quality / Speed: All of the songs on Pulselocker that are streamed into Serato (or stored offline, as encrypted MP3 files) are 320 kbps – and in our tests all the files sounded virtually indistinguishable from local copies at the same quality.

Most of the streaming songs that we tested (on a home cable internet connection) loaded into Serato DJ in about 5 seconds or less. Of course, the speed that a song downloads or streams from Pulselocker will depend on your connection – if you’re in a venue with a slower connection, you might see a song take a few minutes.

Metadata: As soon as a streaming song is loaded into Serato DJ, it appears like any other song you’re loading in your library for the first time. The software quickly analyzes the track’s for a waveform, key, and BPM. If you change the metadata associated with the track, like the beatgrid, or add cue points, or make a Serato Flip edit, all of this is stored locally in your Serato DJ data, meaning the next time you load that track it will all come back.

Strangely, there’s no server-side metadata, so you can’t search by BPM or key. It seems like this would be pretty easy to integrate using user-reported analysis – maybe in a future version?

Browsing/Discovery: This is the clear weak link in Serato / Pulselocker integration right now – the experience that makes the Pulselocker website so great (highly curated genres of new music) is completely missing when you’re in a DJ software.

It feels like this integration isn’t designed for more casual mixing situations where you might want to try out a new track, or even explore new releases in favorite genres. We’re really hoping that some major improvement happens here in the next iteration.

Pulselocker’s Music Selection

There’s no doubt that Pulselocker is doing everything in their power to appeal to DJs – just look at the massive amount of dance music genres on their site. They also know they’ve got to be functional for professional DJs – that’s why there’s genres that are just club classics and pop classics from the 1980s and 1990s. The overall selection is impressive (over 44 million tracks from 500,000 record labels), but not completely comprehensive.

DJs shouldn’t expect to find every single request they want on this service, nor will new releases be out concurrent with their launch in music stores, but that’s no different than any online DJ record pool service.

One thing that was a bit annoying in the catalog was the amount of false matches that turned out to be covers of famous songs – especially when the original artist wasn’t present. This plagues a lot of streaming services, but in a request-oriented situation, you want to be able to quickly tell when a song is a real match or not. Have to pay close attention to the artist!

The Pulselocker Website

Because the Pulselocker interface in Serato DJ is limited to just search results and the offline playlists / tracks that you set up, it seems like the best way to use the service (aside from when you’re getting requests during a gig) is adopting a record pool workflow. Pulselocker’s website is great for this, and has one of the best interfaces for finding new music in genres that you like.

We’ve seen a number of users and other reviewers note that the actual interface experience feels pretty similar to Google Music – and they’re not wrong. The big difference comes in the DJ-oriented curation that’s happening here – it’s clear that Pulselocker has people who actually know each genre selecting new great releases and adding them to each of the genres, making it easy for a user to jump into a genre and find new great stuff. For instance, here’s the current overview of the Drum & Bass genre:

The entire website seems to be built in Flash, and there’s no mobile support as of yet – but Pulselocker does note that they’re working on a mobile companion app, which could really improve the workflow of a lot of users.

Personally, I found myself a big fan of the “Beatselector” section of the website, a Pandora-styled radio player that plays recent releases from your favorited genres. There are links in the player to quickly save the playing track to your offline library, a playlist, or just favorite it. It’s exactly the workflow that I wish every record pool had.

One small drawback of using the website to add tracks to your offline collection is that you have to then restart Serato DJ for the new tracks to show up. It’s not a big deal, but considering how underwhelming the browsing options are in the Serato-side integration, it would be great if this were dynamic.

Is This The Future?

DJs and music tech industry folk have been predicting that streaming music will eventually become the norm in every industry, even the DJ world where track ownership and local storage has been critical. Because Pulselocker takes a hybrid approach and allows offline storage of unlimited tracks, it is very reasonable for any type of DJ to use this.

But other services and integrations aren’t that far behind – we’ve seen how Spotify and Algoriddim’s djay have progressed to a state where it’s almost realistic to DJ off streaming services in the club. Ultimately, it comes down to the software that the streaming service is available in, the quality of the integration, and the music selection – and so far, Pulselocker is well on track to become the dominant player in digital DJ streaming libraries.

Update from Pulselocker: What’s Next

We just heard from the Pulselocker team – who wanted to share a few points about what’s coming up for them next:

  • We just added the genres into our SDK, so they should be appearing inside Serato DJ soon
  • BPM/key are in the works!  We’ve been trying to come up with the best solution to analyze all 44 million tracks.
  • We’re still ingesting music from labels, and our catalog is far from complete.  We expect to have a full catalog by summer.
  • Because of the last two points (BPM and catalog), we consider the site still in a “beta” state.

If you haven’t tried out Pulselocker yet, it’s worth trying the trial, especially if you use Serato DJ. If not – perhaps wait for the Rekordbox integration …. or maybe Traktor might finally jump on this game soon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Comments (43)
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  • john

    to me that djay Pro with Spotify that Ean used in his reivew video with the CDJs looked a lot cooler.

  • BPM

    @spencer….you don’t even know what you’re talking about! I see you dropped negative reviews on here and seratos website after your 14 day free trial. I’ve been using Pulselocker for over a year now. It does need improvement but when you learn how to get around some of the issues… works perfectly! I saw you stated that you need to restart Serato Dj in order to update your library….this is true but you also have the option to search and stream tracks within serato while its open. Once you find the song you want, you can listen to it in cue to make sure it the correct version then play or not play accordingly. Also, other folks in here are complaining about $20 a month!! Really? I spend more buying my LEGAL music! If you’re truly making $$$$ deejaying then $20 shouldn’t be an issue. I can’t say enough about how people compliment me about even having the weird shit they request which can usually be found on Pulselocker.

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  • John Fitzgerald

    It’s far from complete and acceptable. I’m paying the fee every month. New tracks are not available. not all of them. You can’t record your set using the ones that you have download or streamed from pulselocker. I’m not streaming my music, for the reason what if no wifi. so i download them at home and prepare the tracks for my set.
    I’m in doubt if i’ll continue this. Your limited in the things you can do, and especially not be able to record your set is something really annoying for your promotion. spending 20 euro a month to music, 240 a year are a lot of tracks.

    Pulselocker In Doubtness.

    (sorry for my Englisch)


    • Craig

      Totally agree with you. I’m a bit disappointed that I can’t record my mixes. No point in subscribing. Looks like it’s back to good old purchases for now. Such a shame really

  • Peter Lindqvist

    I’ve been doing this for +30 years and there’s nothing more important than to have and to know your tracks. Since the internet boom, access to music has been virtually unlimited in one way or another, and that has made a lot of DJ’s, especially the newer ones extremely lazy. I still do my weekends and have a lot of fun, but I spend at least 10-20 hours a week to get the tracks I need and sometimes the ones I just want 🙂 . I may listen to 500 tracks, choose 50, listen again and end up with 10. Those are then renamed after my standard and analyzed with Mixed-In-Key and Platinum Notes and finally I add them to my folders on my Hdd. I want my music to appear the same everywhere so I don’t use tags, except for covers. For .wav, tags doesn’t work very well anyway. Also copied to an external Hdd, my laptop and an online backup, to preserve the job and money spend. This is how i stay out of locked systems like I-tunes, Rekordbox or for that matter any other DJ software (I’ll use a copy of my libraries for each software I use). This is what i call the basics of how you get a collection usable for DJs. Depending how I play, I also may add hot cues and loops in the software used for the moment. This is part of the preps a DJ should do and, yes, this means I know my tracks and I don’t need to listen before I choose when I play. If I play top 40, and don’t have a track, it’s because I don’t want to play it for some reason. If I play tech house I rarely get song requests and then I’m only playing what I think is good tech anyway. The way I prepare I’m not prepared for a set. I’m prepared for any set. That’s why I give myself the honor to call myself a DJ. How could I possibly benefit from a streaming online music service? Unless my tracks looks like this, I don’t use them:
    ”10B 128 OneRepublic – If I lose myself (Tress Rmx)_pn”. Now I know the track is OK and all the info I need is in the filename.

  • Ben McCarthy

    Beatport are coming up with their own version

  • John Viera

    I’ve have DJed 7 parties with DJay Pro and Spotify. Love it. Haven’t had an issue. And I can create and edit playlists on my smartphone as the party approaches. Then it’s all ready for the gig.

    • Spencer "Thunderball" Thayer

      Spotify doesn’t have a very good selection of EDM music but for shit regular people actually want to listen to it can’t be beat.

  • Admiralty

    The pricing model is (dare I say) a total rip-off.
    $19.99 in the US /£19.99 in the UK. What that means is that even with exchange rate and tax, subscribers [here] are paying about $80 a year more for the same service.

    • Spencer "Thunderball" Thayer

      Agreed. It’s a total scam. You don’t even get to “own” the music so you can listen to it on your iPhone to learn the tracks.

  • Richard Ellis

    Native Instruments NEED to do this and SOON. The way the world’s music consumers and DJ’s discover and access music has changed irrevocably form the traditional days of record stores – physical and digital (for better or worse depending on your standpoint). Buying tracks, at least to me seems like an arcane way to carry on. Other than artist support, it no longer makes sense. Streaming services need to come up with better ways to commoditise artists for their work, but this is the future…

  • James Burkill

    already tried this at a gig as a add on to my library in serato, at a venue with wifi, and it is quite solid a solid 7 out of 10 few songs wouldn’t load, but their library is quite good they just need to sort the site out a bit the serato integration is a little clunky, but I’m sold time to get on board peeps…

  • couic

    I have several questions on this. can’t find any answer on google.
    – how are producers and labels remunerated ? streaming services are known to be very cheap in terms of paying the music right owners. given the subscription fee that is in the same price range than platforms like spotify, google music… (or tidal :p ), we can expect to get a very low remuneration.
    – what if it becomes a standard and exclusivities are signed with venues, imposing to Djs to play from the pulselocker catalogue and not from their own collection ?

  • Titan721

    Yeah, like I thought. Good for Mobile DJs (Maybe) or open format, but if you’re the average one or two genre dj, then give this a pass. Having access to this is neat, but I don’t see it really taking off like people think unless every single club the world starts using high speed/fiberwire internet as to have to download a song, then get it set up and ready in time to bring it in for the next track is not something that’s really feasible unless the club decides that it’s worth it to have high speed wifi. When I’m sure they’d much rather spend it on other things, like buying new bottles of liquor or paying for more marketing. So while this is nice, I’m sure there’s also going to be Djs like myself who don’t care much for streaming and don’t see the point. I can usually find better tracks just by digging than I can through a stream service. I used to use Pandora, but stopped when I realised that even at home, high speed internet is iffy, much less at a club where’s probably better to use phone data than wifi, if the club even has wifi at all. Plus, then maybe I have an exclusive track no one else does, I’ve even been trainspotted by Djs I’ve looked up to. So why do I want to sound like almost every other DJ when I could maybe have stuff no one’s ever heard before? Isn’t that really the whole point?

    • deejdave

      This is actually the opposite. PL is great for underground and specialty dance music as well as off the beaten path and they actually lack in the top 40 mainstream dept. PL is by NO MEANS a Spotify clone.

      • Titan721

        Okay. Still doesn’t do anything about the lack of good internet in most clubs. Which my main problem concerning streaming for Dj sets as a whole. Oddie O’Phyle said it best, there’s what can be put on paper, then there’s what happens out in the real world. Most clubs have shitty internet, if any at all. So until this dramatically improves, streaming is neat and good for your home or at work, but it’s still not to the point that DJs can rely it like they can local storage.

        • Titan721

          I know Djs probably won’t stream for thier entire set, but in the real world, how long will a download take? I’m talking the FACTUAL numbers. For example, USB 3.0 can do a gig a second data transfer, but even when you use a usb 3.0 thumb drive, you still don’t see those speeds in use. DJTT said it takes them a couple minutes, neat. Glad the office internet is that good. Most clubs, downloading a simple image takes a couple minutes, never mind a whole song in a quality high enough to be used on a proper system. I downloaded a free mp3 an artist linked me to, took 10 mins and I was the only (as far as I knew) on the Wifi. By that point in a DJ set, you may have already changed the vibe and the song no longer works. If you’re a request taking DJ, then this is probably awesome for you as now you can use Serato and not have to change your workflow too much. But otherwise, for most Djs in general, this is another feature they’ll probably never use, much like 75% of the FX and things like Flip.

        • disqus_Z3EtwVAKkk

          You can save the music offline, so you won”t need an internet connection at the club as long as you downloaded them ahead of time.

          • Titan721

            Which how are going to know ahead of time? Isn’t the whole point as to why Serato did this in the first place? So that Djs who are willing to take requests can? If you’re downloading ahead of time, why not go support the artist by buying the damn tune? Like I said, if it takes too long to download and get the tune prepped, what’s the whole point of having the integration?

          • Stephen Nawlins

            OK then it isn’t anything else than others allready existing Pools…So where is the novelty???

        • deejdave

          Cache = local storage. Actual folder on your HDD and all………………. Anything else?

      • Stephen Nawlins

        Sorry but you are maybe right for now…but if suddenly all DJs start using it, it’s not going to be “off the beaten Path” anymore it’s gonna turn Mainstream.
        And if it is on a Sharing/Streaming-Databank then it is not Underground in my eyes…The Definition of Underground is that not everyone can find it and certainly not with a few clicks in the Internet.

    • Stephen Nawlins

      I totally agree with you…but you know what…I want some DJs to work with it…the “DJ Fails” Section on Youtube is bringing the same examples over and over again since 2-3 years…I wanna see some of this guys get in Trouble because during a Set the Internet Connection crashes 😉
      We Need fresh blood for “DJ Fails Meme” 😉

  • Linz

    I know I’d like to be able to stream music to my dj software. But will it make for better dj sets?
    I don’t think so. I’ve got enough tracks in my library that I should know better. Having access to hundreds of thousand more, that I don’t find compelling enough to own, doesn’t tickle my fancy.
    … And I don’t even want to think about the request situation once everybody on the floor thinks you have access to every track they can think of. Ugh.

  • StephenNawlins

    To be honnest, for me another Thing the Need.
    Either you are an Electro, House, Trance or any specific electronic Music DJ you get like every specialist a bigger payment but for sure you are not a Jukebox ’cause People book you for your style…and not taking request you will not Need that Pulselocker Thing.
    Nore you are a Generalist DJ (Like me playing from 50’s R’n’R untill todays Charts), you accept requests but you are not paid like a specialist (but way less) and 20.-/month is a certain percentage of your income. Me for example would just say “Sorry I don’t have this song” when a Song is requested that I don’t have. Why should I try to put the planet upside down and looking for this one song just to make 1 Person happy maybe every second night I mix??? If it’s a “Top20” hit or a “universally known Classic Hit” I got it, so the requests I can’t cover are just not Mainstream enough to be played.
    SO there are this 2 categories of DJs nothing less nothing more…so please can anybody just explain me in which case this Service makes sense to be used???
    I make DJ since 16 years, never recognized a situation in which I hardly needed a Service like this during a Gig.

    Maybe I just don’t recognize the importance or when this could be usefull and I am happy for every Statement that opens my eyes or maybe just puts my eyes in the right Point of view.
    I am maybe damn oldschool but selecting and buing Music is something “off” my “Performance Time”, when I can’t fullfill a request I write Songs informations down and I listen to it when I am home…does the track fullfill my “Quality Management” requirements then I buy it and Play it at the next Party.
    16 years ago, when I started, we didn’t have all this Gadgets and Online-Services we have Nowadays and People were partying the same way (if not even crazier) than today.
    This Club Owner once asked me “I saw this new Thing called VDJ-ing. Why don’t you mix Videos like those guys?” I just answered “Are you willing to pay me double or triple Price??? ’cause If I have to finance a brand new Equipment that can provide this and If I have to re-buy every song in Video-Format I have to finance it thru my DJ Salary no???”
    What I say is that we DJs just should stop, specially in the Mainstream style, to work for a minority, the crowd (that means by Definition allready that it is a Mass of People and not single persons) is who we should make happy.
    So once again who does really, really, really Need this Pulselocker to make his Gig and couldn’t without???

    • StephenNawlins

      First sentence should have been “The World doesn’t Need”

      • 1000 Cutts

        It is exactly what the world needs maybe not right now but as mentioned above all Dj’ing will eventually go this way. I have a Spotify premium account and would love to have Traktor being able to access the content. Sure it currently does not have a fraction of the music I love and play (weird, dark moody, spaced out deep house!!!!) but as soon as I find a provider that does with Traktor integration (or maybe Serato or Pioneer) I will be all over it like a rash..Not sure what the argument about being a jukebox is about, maybe I am missing something but most DJ’s are exactly that i.e. weddings etc. Will the big name DJ’s who have a style and access to their own exclusive content use this service, of course not but eventually I reckon most others will..

        • Oddie O'Phyle

          When dealing with computers, you have theory and real world application… Looks good on paper. To me personally, it’s not viable. Not until audio priorities get set higher than 802.x. In other words, there is no point in streaming when you get audio drop outs because your OS thinks that you internet connection is more important than your audio.

        • Scoop

          There is no “I don’t have that song” in this world. If you’re a working DJ and you put in time, this is just an unnecessary accessory.

          • Stephen Nawlins

            There is “I don’t have that song” in this world…then when I don’t wanna Play a Song LOL