By request…

I have had a few requests for mixtapes commemorating wedding receptions and have started working on fulfilling those requests. One recent wedding guest [the Rabbi!] asked for a specific snippet from the mix: my tribute to Snoop Dogg and Notorious B.I.G.; I call it the “Snoop’s too Biggie For You!” mixtape  [MP3 version]…

I made this special mix using my iDJ Pro and the new ‘djay 2’ app.


(Streaming link above; download link below)

Snoop’s too Biggie For You! MP3

Playing around with an ‘idea’ on vjay today…

Talked with a wedding client yesterday about the similarities between Marvin Gaye’s “Give It Up” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”. The client requested that I mix the songs during their wedding reception to blend the old and new for their partiers.

So, to see if it would work, I played around with it on my iPad for a bit. I had to search my iPad library before loading the tracks into vjay and stumbled across The Goodmen’s track, also called “Give It Up”. The BPMs were close enough between all three songs that I felt compelled to test them all in a quick recorded mix. Since I wasn’t using my iDJ Pro controller, I wasn’t able to fine-tune the blends, but I was happy enough with the results.

Then it hit me. Why not import the mix into vjay and add video to it? That would allow me to upload the entire thing for others to enjoy!

You’re welcome…

“iDJ Life”: mobile music libraries and storage [or Mobile DJ-101]

DJ 101 - How to rock a party | Koss community board
DJ 101 – How to rock a party | Koss community board

***The following is my personal philosophy/approach to DJing with an iPad; your situation may vary and I do not believe my setup is the best/only way to do it…***

The popularity of DJ apps for mobile devices is on a steady rise with names like Pioneer, Numark, and Vestax making controllers to work with those apps. With this advancement in mobility and smaller setups, there has also been an increase in concern over music storage. The limited storage space in laptops was easily circumvented with the option to attach external drives. External storage allowed DJs to carry an extra few hundred GBs of music as an emergency source of request-fillers. With the new possibility of DJs replacing their laptops with tablet devices, the biggest question facing DJs is whether tablets will have enough space to carry our music libraries [unless you have an Android tablet with SD card/external storage options].

In my specific situation, the hard limit of 64GB on the iPad had me worrying that I wouldn’t have enough music on hand for my gigs. I was able to stop worrying once I got over the initial shock of reduced storage and thought more about the nature and specifics of my music programming for mobile events. My perceived problem was the result of being stuck in the mindset of a club/radio mixshow DJ; this mentality dictates that I must create completely unique music sets at every event and avoid duplication.

Mobile DJ events sit in stark contrast to club DJ residencies. Mobile parties are usually ‘one-timers’ [you may never encounter these people again] with a crowd that will often ask for the same song more than once. The locations may be different, but the partiers regularly want a lot of the same songs at each event- top 40, easily recognizable oldies, and certified dance floor anthems. Once I remembered the similarities in my mobile gigs, I realized that I didn’t need to carry 45,000 songs with me to EVERY event.

'DJ SOUNDS'(TM)  CD music library
‘DJ SOUNDS'(TM) CD music library…

Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to have a lot of options with your music library and even smart to be prepared for anything someone throws at you. However, it is unrealistic to think that you can anticipate absolutely any request from a party guest AND keep all of those songs with you at all times. Rather than carrying 5 hard drives around [risking loss, damage, theft], you should make sure you ALWAYS have the most popular and most often requested music with you at every event.

Many events have a specific theme or genre requests that you can prepare for in advance of the event. Anything beyond the most popular music and the expressed desires of the client becomes ‘judgment call’ territory. In this situation, you should be able to use a professional attitude and personal charm to overcome any disappointment one or two guests may express when you tell them you don’t have the particular song they’ve requested. [NOTE: Pay attention to how many people request specific songs that you don’t have and consider adding them to your standard library!]

djay for iPad music library view
djay for iPad music library view

A not so secret rule in the mobile DJ industry assumes that the vast majority of weddings/mitzvahs/parties can be thoroughly entertained with a standard set of 200 songs. The average mobile DJ set lasts around 4hrs; at an average of 3min per song, 20 songs per hour, you typically end up with just under 100 songs played at an event. Barring extremely rare requests from an exceptionally diverse crowd, the songs in that playlist are quite common between events.

Taking that 200 song preparation list in mind, I honestly don’t NEED to bring more than 500 songs [less than 3GB] to an event when I properly plan and program for it. Going back to my concerns about limited iPad space, I would still have a lot of room to play with for music storage. Careful consideration of the specific event theme and anticipation of the ‘reasonable expectations’ of the crowd based on age groups will provide me with enough information to trim my ‘extra music’ to a storage size that will easily fit on the device.

I currently use my iPad as a backup/emergency device for mobile events and always keep it synced with several playlists for specific styles/genres/events. I have the mandatory mobile DJ library of ‘DJ Tools/Platinum Series’ songs [4GB], the last 6 months of Top 40/Dance/Urban Promo Only ‘quick edit’ tracks [3GB], and a flexible playlist of specific or anticipated requests, dinner music sets, or cocktail hour mixes [2GB, depending on how paranoid I am]. That leaves me TONS of space, even if I only had a 16GB iPad.

The new controller I have been blabbing about for weeks will test my theories, but I will be sure to have backup plans to keep the party going if it doesn’t meet my needs. If decide to go with an iPad-only setup and feel like I absolutely MUST carry my entire library with me, I may try looking into the Seagate GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless HDD [500GB].

Still waiting to ‘really’ DJ with my iPad…

Ever since Numark first debuted their iDJ Pro controller for the iPad, I pretty much concluded that I would buy one. I already own Algoriddim’s “djay” software and have used it during critical performances, so the potential of a turntable-like controller that I can use with my iPad made this setup an no-brainer. Creating playlists on the go through my iTunes library and simply docking it into the controller at show time is an ideal situation for me.

iDJ Pro
Numark iDJ Pro | Premium DJ Controller for iPad w/ djay software

Further investigation of this setup revealed the ability to use the embedded AirPlay functionality in the iPad to run a wireless speaker setup. I was originally unimpressed by this bonus feature due to the lack of professional grade public address speaker systems that work with AirPlay without needing an extra device attached to them. That was until I discovered Alto Professional’s TrueSonic wireless PA system.

TRUESONIC Wireless speakers
Alto Professional | TRUESONIC Wireless speakers

Alto already had an iPad-docking speaker/microphone combo, but this wireless system is different. It theoretically allows the DJ to be several hundred feet away from the speakers while maintaining solid audio connection and output through wifi. The only obstacles are the typical wifi networking and interference issues that come with any event location. Proper planning and preparation should eliminate those problems.

With only speculation as my guide, I am becoming increasingly anxious to put together a DJ package that features all of this cutting-edge technology. I have not had a chance to demo the hardware and the djay software upgrade has not been released. When the iDJ Pro hits the nearest BestBuy or Guitar Center, I will be one of the first people standing in line! I am still working out the details on getting the speakers, but I already have a solid JBL/QSC system that I rely on.

My only anticipated concern is the potential difficulty of taking/planning requested songs during a gig. I don’t want to spend a lot of time tracking down a request or worrying about forgetting to play it later. I perform ‘on the fly’ and try to resist the urge to plan EVERY song in advance; the spontaneous nature of live events can spell disaster for DJs that aren’t flexible. Then again, I may just use this as my wedding ceremony rig since music in that situation is ALWAYS pre-programmed and set in stone.

Don’t be surprised when you see me rocking your event with this setup in the near future!

Mashup App | Mobile mixing for pro DJs [Waves]

Mashup App by Waves

A lot of hype to go with a steep price in comparison to most of the already established, tested & respected iPad DJ apps. The competition in this arena is fierce and I am guessing that they plan to use their name recognition to leap ahead of the pack. Unfortunately, it appears that they focused so much on being mobile that they didn’t consider making the app MIDI-compatible. That mistake gives the upper hand to apps like Algoriddim’s ‘djay’ and PCDJ’s ‘DJ Dex’.

Since there is no mentioning of the output connection method, I will assume that the standard headphone jack or Apple iOS device output connectors are needed to send the sound to club/PA systems. This isn’t a step forward in technology, it’s just more of the status quo. Bluetooth and wifi are the path to salvation for mobile DJing with an iPad.

Waves did at least try to address the cueing problem present in most iPad DJ apps by using a synching/cueing feature with an iPhone/iTouch. From what I gathered in the video [link], you would connect your headphones to the iPhone rather than trying to spilt the sound out of the iPad to the speakers AND the headphones. Sounds great in theory, but DJs will have to remember to put their iPhones into airplane mode and then re-enable wifi or bluetooth in order to avoid phone calls interrupting their monitor.

The on-board effects options definitely provide a reason to consider this app. The precise control shown in the video has me considering laying down the $40 necessary to play with these features. However, I already own no less than 8 DJing apps and I am firmly in the waiting line for Numark’s iDJ Pro controller that is specifically designed for use with the iPad and djay software.

Again, here is the video link for Mashup in action w/ features list