If you have done your research into the world of digital DJ mixing software, you will surely have been overwhelmed by the extensive range of program available in the market today. With the abundance of mixing software easily accessible, it is common for professional DJs to adopt the use of more than one program… so why is it so difficult to move between DJ software?
Import and Export Issues
As DJs prepare for their next performance, their beatgrids, cuepoints and loops are stored within their software in particular ways that differ greatly across programs.
If you are attempting to switch between two softwares with juxtaposing import/export capabilities, then changing between the two will be tedious and borderline worthless. XML is a common file format used amongst DJs to store data within mp3 tracks, so alternating between programs that support XML, like Rekordbox, will be much simpler than attempting to import XML data to a program that is oblivious to such a file format.
If the importing and exporting capabilities between two softwares are completely different from one another, changing between the two will be very difficult.
The next reason is purely business-orientated. The people who create and own mixing software are companies and corporations, and their abilities to continue developing their software and expanding their businesses are reliant on their customers and user-base.
This means that once you are invested into a particular mixing software, the program you have chosen will aim to make it an easy and sensible decision to stick with that software. This could be done by releasing a hardware controller that is fully integrated and compatible with a particular software, or by releasing expansion packs that won’t work alongside other programs.
Similarly to a consumer who purchases an iPhone feeling the inclination to next buy an Apple Mac, digital DJ mixing companies instigate similar marketing tactics. That is why it seems like a mountainous operation to change to a different software platform, because the company you are invested in relies on your loyalty.
Once you are invested into a particular software, they will spoil you with feature updates promising professional developments and mixing supremacy compared with other programs.
Furthermore, it is fairly rare that a software will have the rights to patent one of their developments, meaning all other programmes will soon have similar capabilities once a new feature is announced within the market. So in many cases, the sudden urgency for DJs to jump ship to a different software that has announced a ground-breaking new feature is quashed within a matter of months as their current software pursues similar developments. The result is a dithering decision making process in which DJs must consider whether or not it is truly worth the hassle of transferring to a different software, formatting and exporting playlists and readjusting cuepoints and beatgrids all for a new digital DJ mixing feature that will probably become available in their current software within a matter of months.
Of course, this argument is dependent on your position as a DJ. The professional artists who perform regularly would feel much more inclined to accept the hassle of changing software compared with a bedroom DJ who has no desperate need to be the first to utilise new industry updates. So before you switch software in pursuit of the most advanced new mixing updates, ask yourself if it is truly necessary to endure the hassle.
The final point is about the type of hardware you are using.
Difficulty switching between software will vary depending on whether you are using a standard controller or a CDJ/DJM setup. For example, if you are looking to ditch the laptop and export playlists using USB drives and CDJs, then it would be far easier and more intuitive to switch to a software such as Rekordbox which has brilliant integration with CDJ devices.
If, however, you are inseparable from your laptop and the idea of a gig without it shakes you to your core, then switching from your current software is probably unnecessary as you’ll be using your own device with your chosen software anyway. If you are looking to incorporate some aspects of live performance into your future sets, then software packages like Ableton Live and Traktor fit the bill better than other programs and it would make more sense to switch to one of these.
In short, switching between DJ software is difficult if you fail to first consider the type of DJ that you would like to be. If you plan your future as a DJ and have a clear vision as to the direction you would like to head in, then changing software should make perfect sense to you. Overall, moving between DJ mixing software is never a painless process, and every software has unique styles and features that will take time for an individual to become accustomed to. So moving between software is undeniably difficult, but if you take the time to make an informed decision about the software you should use relevant to your aspirations as a DJ, the hassle of changing will certainly prove worthwhile.