Djay is a music mixing app that replicates thousands of dollars of musical equipment on an iPad. It's extremely popular, having moved more than 10 million units over the years and won a prestigious Apple Design Award in 2011.
However, for all its amazing features -- real-time analysis of songs to determine waveforms, BPM and musical key, plus a built-in sampler and extensive external hardware support -- Djay's biggest problem was that users needed to provide their own music. It only worked with songs that were already loaded onto the iPad.
This wasn't an issue for professional DJs, but for the average Joe looking to drop some beats at a weekend party, it added an extra barrier to enjoyment.
Today, the company has announced a significant partnership with Spotify -- who just yesterday revealed that it, too, had 10 million paying customers for its subscription music service -- to bring the service's 20 million tracks directly to Djay users through a deep and impressive integration with the iPhone and iPad apps.
"There's a trend that more and more users don't actually have any media or music on their devices," said Karim Morsy, CEO of Algoriddim, the development company behind Djay. "They launch Djay and... now what?"
The partnership with Spotify "is what really takes it truly mainstream," said Morsy. "It elevates the whole art form of DJing itself. DJing is all about experimenting with music." With 20 million songs at their fingertips, Djay's users will have nearly limitless potential for both enjoying the app and creating something new.
Users will need a Spotify Premium subscription, available for $10 (USD) per month. There's a 7-day free trial with a download of Djay for iPhone or iPad.
The Djay app itself looks like a standard DJ rig, with a skeuomorphic look -- though it isn't overdone (Figure A). Users can set multiple cue points, adjust the speed of a track with special pitch modification so songs don't sound like The Chipmunks when sped up, and use numerous special effects. Additional effects are also available via an in-app purchase, but the included ones are more than enough for a budding DJ.
The DJay app on an iPad.
The app analyzes songs in real-time for waveforms, pitch, and key, which helps to match songs more easily, and there's an autosync feature that ensures perfect BPM matches for more seamless transitions. A new match feature uses technology that Spotify acquired earlier this year when it purchased The Echo Nest. It analyzes songs for a number of different criteria to suggest tracks that would match musically with the currently playing title.
An automix option allows users to sit back and let the app do the work, choosing the best song from Spotify's 20 million and using Djay's mixing effects to transition from one track to another. For professional mixers, Djay integrates with professional rigs like the Reloop Beatpad to truly replicate the club experience in a little more than a thousand dollars worth of hardware.
Putting 20 million songs into an app is a pretty compelling argument for Apple acquiring Beats' subscription music service. Spotify is very picky about who gets access to its API -- Djay is one of the only apps to do it really well (Figure B).
You can browse the vast library of songs.
If Apple could take Beats fledgling music service -- just 111,000 subscribers, according to one rumor -- and build it in to iOS 8, for example, with a full developer API, it could blow Spotify's 10 million subscribers out of the water in a matter of hours.
Spotify and Beats are basically a legalized version of Napster, an app that changed the music world forever. iTunes made digital music legal, but services like Spotify have turned the whole market upside down. Ten million subscribers is certainly impressive, but it's time Apple got on board and brought it to the masses.
In honor of the Spotify update, Algoriddim is making Djay 2 for iPhone free for a limited time, and it's cutting the price of Djay 2 for iPad by 50%, down to $4.99 (USD). Both are available on the App Store.
What do you think? Does Spotify integration make a DJing app more enticing? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.