February 10, 2014 at 10:23 am

Music Hack Beats Pacemaker to Spotify as DJ Platform

dj spotify

DJ Spotify uses complicated workarounds and is nowhere as slick as Pacemaker for iPad, but it appears to have been the first Spotify DJ app.

As reported by The Verge, the new Pacemaker app for iPad released on Monday presents a beautiful interface for DJing tracks from Spotify, with “the ability to play two Spotify songs simultaneously for the first time.”

That’s accurate in a commercial sense, but technically, one creation from Midem Music Hack Day last week was actually the first app capable of playing two Spotify tracks at the same time, allowing a DJ to mix and beatmatch between them, although you can’t use it unless you’re a coder, so it doesn’t really qualify as an “app.”

DJ Spotify, created in a mad 48-hour frenzy by Yuli Levtov (only usable via the source code), was voted the best hack by the other hackers at Midem Music Hack Day in part because it was so “hack-y.”

Here’s part of what’s going on inside DJ Spotify, according to Levtov:

DJ Spotify is made up of two parts. The first is the ability to play two consecutive Spotify streams with full control over playback speed, effectively allowing you to beat-match and, theoretically, do a whole DJ with streamed content. In summary, this is achieved by running the second instance of Spotify in a virtual machine via Parallels. The two streams are then sent into individual tracks in Ableton Live, each with a Max For Live patch which reads the Spotify stream into internal buffers which can then be sped up or slowed down at will.

The second part is a Spotify App which retrieves key and BPM information for tracks from The Echo Nest [publisher of Evolver.fm]. Adding fields to Spotify lists isn’t supported by the API, so the workaround used was to request the display of some fields we’re not interested in (I used the Popularity and Share columns), and overwrite their titles and content.

Pacemaker, on the other hand, is incredibly slick (screenshot to the right). I loved it when I first saw it as a hardware prototype on the show floor at CES 2008 (note: the video shows former Pacemaker marketing manager Ola Sars, not Pacemaker founder Jonas Norberg).

I loved it less when it committed wholeheartedly to the Blackberry tablet platform (yikes).

Now that founder Jonas Norberg has bought his company back after reportedly being forced out, it looks like Pacemaker might have half a chance in the commercial market as Pacemaker for iPad, because there are a lot of people out there who’d probably enjoy a slick DJ interface on top of everything on Spotify.

But if we’re going to get technical about it, DJ Spotify was actually the first app to let a(n admittedly technically advanced i.e. not “end user”) person mix and beatmatch between two Spotify tracks at the same time.