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Cloud DJing finally comes to CDJs — here’s why it matters

Pioneer DJ’s new CloudDirectPlay ushers in a new era for DJing

Pioneer DJ announced a new firmware update for their flagship CDJ3000 player last week, called CloudDirectPlay. The new feature lets users access files stored in their personal Dropbox and play them on the CDJ without having the file on local storage like a USB stick. It means you can access your whole digital music library from anywhere that has an internet connection, assuming you’ve set up your Dropbox in advance. 

Pioneer DJ are not the first to implement cloud DJing into hardware — Denon DJ’s PRIME range supports multiple streaming sources including Dropbox, but also Beatport and Beatsource LINK, TIDAL and SoundCloud. They also allow you to stream over WiFi connection — Pioneer DJ require an external Ethernet hub that’s connected to an active internet connection, similar to how you’d Link more than one player — but it’s no doubt that Pioneer DJ still dominate club booths around the world. While Denon DJ’s PRIME range continues to innovate, and in many ways out-innovate Pioneer DJ, it’s Pioneer DJ’s ubiquity that means that any innovations added to the CDJ is going to have a much deeper impact, even if they are late to the party.

It’s worth noting too that the rekordbox dj software already has functionality to stream from Beatport, SoundCloud and more, but the new firmware update is the first time a piece of standalone Pioneer DJ hardware has had streaming capabilities.

So why does it matter? It makes a lot of sense for bedroom DJs or software like rekordbox to add streaming, for track discovery, practising mixing and blends, or new DJs who haven’t amassed a music collection yet. But for the industry standard player, or at least the one that aims to replace the 2000nxs2 to add streaming, is it really the beginning of a new era in the booth or a gimmick new feature that’s still too risky for any pro DJs to adopt?

We’ve written extensively about streaming in the booth and the potential impact and pitfalls, as well as the impact beyond the booth for royalties and product development — read our DJing and the Data Wars piece here. We spoke to Pioneer DJ’s Product Planning Manager Rob Anderson about the impact cloud DJing might have and what’s next for CloudDirectPlay. 

"The DJs of years to come will have grown up in a world where cloud based content is the norm" — Rob Anderson, Product Planning Manager Pioneer DJ

Why did you decide to add cloud DJing to the 3000?
“We had always planned for the CDJ-3000 to be our first player to access the cloud based content right from its inception. Step one was to provide rekordbox users with the option to store their music collections in Dropbox using the Creative plan and CloudLibrarySync. Step two was to allow access to these music libraries directly from the industry standard DJ setup. It’s a natural evolution for the CDJ and DJM setup.”

What do you think the impact of cloud DJing will be on the wider industry? 
“We’re not expecting every DJ to switch from USB sticks and laptops to cloud based music content straight away, but there will naturally be an uptake of CloudDirectPlay by various types of DJ. The infrastructure works perfectly at home and the majority of venues outside of clubland. Primarily because solid internet connection is pretty much as standard in these settings. The DJs of years to come will have grown up in a world where cloud based content is the norm. As CDP becomes more desirable by these DJs, clubs will need to adapt and provide stable connections in the DJ booth.”

What assurances are in place with the new update for when connections go down? Are the tracks fully cached before they play? Or will there be an emergency loop? 
"Once a track is downloaded from the cloud it is cached to the CDJ-3000. As long as the file completes downloading then it won’t enter an emergency loop. This is the same specification as playing the tracks directly from a USB stick. If the Internet connection goes down for some reason while the track is downloading then the file won’t play.”

Will there be more services like Beatport and Beatsource LINK added in the future? 
“The launch of CloudDirectPlay on the CDJ-3000 and Cloud Library Sync in rekordbox is the first step for Pioneer DJ’s cloud based system. We’ll continue to develop this and aim to provide many unique values for our users.”

Will the feature be backdated to other units like the 2000nxs2 and RX series?
“Watch this space…”

Pioneer DJ may be keeping quiet about the development of cloud streaming on other hardware, but it's an inevitablity, as is Beatport LINK's addition to the CDJs, as hinted by Anderson. Despite the questionable decision to not allow Wi-Fi streaming (Pioneer DJ were one of the first to offer Wi-Fi connectivity on their DJ hardware way back in 2012 with the XDJ-AERO), the CDJ's adoption of cloud DJing is a big development. While the ultra-expensive 3000 keeps it out of the hands of all but pro DJs for now, when streaming does become the norm, it will be the biggest shift in DJ technology since the introduction of the laptop to the booth. Its impact will be no less profound.