If you have all your music on Spotify and want to play a DJ set, either a one-off gig or often, this guide on DJing with Spotify is for you. In it we’ll look at four ways you can achieve this, from the very simple to the more complicated, and from the “just get the music playing!” to the 100% professional – with or without DJ gear.
Whether you’re just wondering how you can make your existing Spotify playlists sound better when you hit “play” at a house party, or you’re looking for a way to transfer all of your Spotify music to a DJ controller and laptop (or even to “Standalone” or pro DJ gear), we’ve got you covered.
Read this next: 4 Ways To Add A Music Streaming Service To Your DJ Set-Up
So before we start, here’s the issue. We all have our music on Spotify, right? But the problem is that it simply isn’t set up for blending tracks, and worse, it point blank doesn’t “work” with DJ software or hardware.
If you want smooth blends for dancing to from Spotify, or if you are a “real” DJ who DJs with Serato/Rekordbox/VirtualDJ etc software, Pioneer DJ gear, Numark kit, Denon DJ decks, etc etc, Spotify simply won’t play ball – nothing! Once upon a time you could use Spotify directly with DJ software (Algoriddim’s djay Pro, if you want to know), but that stopped years ago.
But don’t worry – there are solutions. In this post I’ll go through the four solutions we advise people to choose from here at Digital DJ Tips, the world’s biggest DJ school, depending upon their circumstances.
1. DJing with Spotify – for non-DJs
You’re not a DJ and you don’t want to be, but you’ve got a party coming up and want to play the music from Spotify. You know the music you want to play – but Spotify will, of course, leave gaps between songs if you just hook up your party speakers and hit “play”. You need a better solution. Luckily, there is one – Spotify’s built in “DJ Mode”.
To do this, first you need to be signed up for Spotify Premium – the ads Spotify inserts between songs otherwise will obviously make it unsuitable for use at a party. Then, download the app – don’t try to do this from the web player unless you have to (ie you’re using a Chromebook). The web player is less reliable.
The trick is to create a playlist for your party, and then to go to Preferences and set Spotify to “Crossfade Tracks” and “AutoMix”. This blends the songs together, cutting out the gaps.
A nice thing is that you can add and remove songs to/from the playlist as it’s playing, or rearrange them to suit the mood. It’s like DJing, but not in “real time” (and sadly Spotify’s attempts at “beatmixing” aren’t very good) – but it’s MUCH better than nothing.
Tip: Use “offline mode” to download the tracks in your playlist. Then should the internet drop, the music will carry on playing. Even “real” DJs using the following two methods don’t get that benefit!
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2. DJing with Spotify – one-off parties (for DJs)
Let’s say you’re a DJ who’s been given a Spotify playlist someone wants you to play at a gig. You don’t own many (or any) of the songs. You don’t want to own those songs (you may be a house music DJ playing your sister’s sweet sixteen for a favour, to give one example, and the music is all pop hits that don’t interest you).
Or, maybe you’re a former DJ who doesn’t really play any more, but you’ve got Spotify for your day-to-day music use, and you want to come out of retirement “for just one gig” – but don’t have any of the music files any more to play from, as guess what, they’re all on Spotify for you nowadays!
In short – you want to DJ with Spotify for a single gig or occasionally. In this circumstance, Spotify’s in-app DJ mode is no good, as you want to actually DJ, using real DJ gear with these tracks – maybe you’ll also be mixing them with other, non-Spotify music files that you own.
This is where it gets frustrating, because while there are streaming services that work with DJ software and hardware, as we know Spotify is not one of them. So the secret is to transfer the playlist or playlists you want to use from Spotify to one of the services that DOES work with it.
The service you’ll probably be best with is Tidal, as out of all the services available to DJs in DJ software and hardware, its catalogue is the one that matches most closely to Spotify’s – meaning most (if not all) of the songs will be available.
Before we go any further, know that the big downside with this method and the following one is that it requires internet – so do make sure that is unshakeable in your venue.
So to do this, you need a way to transfer your music from Spotify to (probably) Tidal. Tidal will give you a month’s free trial before you have to start paying (plenty of time to practise and play your gig), and there are services that will let you transfer a limited amount of music (such as a playlist) from one to the other automatically for free or for a small one-off fee – again, free trials are sometimes available too.
Others may be available, but these are the three we’ve used successfully. You’ll sign in to their services using your Spotify and Tidal login details, specify the playlist or playlists you want to transfer, and in one click, the magic will happen.
When you next log in to Tidal on your DJ software or DJ unit that supports it, your music will be there (do check though as there’s a chance a small number of tunes will be missing if not available on Tidal).
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3. DJing with Spotify – regularly (for DJs)
If you’re planning on doing this more often, but you don’t want to switch totally over to Tidal as the streaming service in your life, leaving Spotify behind (something to definitely consider, as it will make life much easier), there is an alternative – and again, it is brought to you by the services listed above.
You see, with FreeYourMusic, Soundiiz and Tune My Music, you can have the app sync your whole collection, not just playlists, and also, have it done automatically for you. You carry on using Spotify as you always have, but when you open your DJ software or hardware and hit “Tidal”, you see a “mirror image” of all the music, playlists and so on you’ve worked on in Spotify, right there in Tidal!
This is an elegant and “hands off” solution, but it’s not perfect (as there will always be the odd song that doesn’t make it across due to the two services’ catalogues not being 100% identical, and you still need strong WiFi of course). Plus, it will cost you quite a lot more, because before, you were just paying for Spotify, but now, you’re subscribing to Spotify, Tidal, AND the conversion service you’ve chosen. It is pretty awesome though for DJs getting more heavily into this.
Bottom line: Have good reasons for wanting to stick with Spotify in this circumstance, as it’s trickier to set up, not perfect, and expensive – although it does work well when all configured, and it’s quite cool to see your playlists “duplicated” automatically across two services this way.
4. DJing with Spotify – the “pro” way (for serious DJs)
Spotify is an incredible tool for discovering and hearing new music, for shortlisting tunes you want to DJ with, and for your day-to-day (ie non-DJ music). But I’ll let you into a secret: Even if it were available in DJ software, no pro would use it – or at least, none would rely on it, maybe using it “just for the odd request” – but nothing more.
Why? Loads of reasons. Here’s three big ones:
- No offline “cached” tracks in DJ software, so it needs WiFi which pros HATE (for that, you have to use DJ-specific streaming services, namely Beatport and Beatsource, which don’t duplicate Spotify’s catalogue anywhere near as well)
- The fact that tracks “come and go” on Spotify due to licensing reasons, meaning you can never 100% rely on your playlist staying the same over time
- The inability to find those special DJ versions or hard-to-find tunes that can set you apart on Spotify
The solution? Use Spotify for all the things described above that it’s awesome for, and buy the tracks you want to DJ with, building a “local” collection of music that you own, just for DJing.
This is the longer route, as DJs take years to build their collections, but it is the route all pro DJs take. If you’re serious about DJing, you’ll take it sooner or later. For now though, hopefully the tips in this article will help you get from Spotify to dancefloor in a way that works for you.
Now take it further
Are you interested in learning how pro DJs find and organise their music? How they choose and set up their gear? How to mix? How to perform? How to get gigs?
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