It’s tough to keep up with any market in an environment of rapid change. Hardware and software manufacturers know that catering to DJs is like herding cats. Everyone has a different set of priorities and needs, ranging from hardware-only techno sets to iPad wedding gigs. On average, what do career DJs in 2019 want? It may not be consensus, but here’s what some of the people are saying.

Rent-to-own subscription models 

The general reaction towards software rental is on the negative side. Most DJs are more interested in owning their own sounds and software than paying a monthly fee for access. This is totally understandable. Who wants to get locked out of software they need for their work just because a tree falls on their house? Rent-to-own software models like Splice, on the other hand, allows users to pay a monthly fee to rent but ultimately own the software. The general impression is that software should be more affordable to the masses based on some as-yet-unnamed criteria.

Actual hardware solutions

It’s hard to hear the music over the endless wail of demands for cross-integration between the flood of hardware and software options. Many users have to dig deep to find solutions allowing even the most popular platforms and devices to play nicely.

Using Traktor software and Ableton hardware like Push, for example, is one example of a pair of unnecessarily complex playmates. Even fully integrating Maschine and Traktor, the two flagship Native Instruments products, is more tricky than it should be. VJ software like Resolume is another obvious contender for compatibility with Traktor, but it appears there will always be a lag between demand for awesomeness and supply. 

Streaming capability

Yep. Stream jockeying is here. Nope, not everyone’s cup of tea. Because if everyone can always stream everything, then you might as well be hiring a portable jukebox for the event, right? The scarcity around possessing exclusive copies of hot tracks is very much the lifeblood of career DJs. On the other hand, paying clients are often not very clear and discerning when it comes to the music selection on their special day.

Having instant access to a world of options might be what the industry ultimately wants. So, will ‘offline’ events eventually go the way of film photography, becoming a scarcity on their own? Perhaps. But let’s first fix the wi-fi at the venue…

DJing in 2019 is facing the same challenges that many careers are facing. A growing reliance on technology in order to deliver on the job levels the playing field. Will the gap between human selectors and algorithms eventually disappear? Or will the role of the DJ evolve into something else?

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