I’m developing an Android application that I call DJ’s Mate. It’s still experimental, and ugly, and may never be really finished. But I thought I’d share it with you.
How does DJ’s Mate work?
Currently, it has a database of the tracks I like to play (100s of them). For all those, it knows their key (Camelot Wheel notation as seen in Mixed in Key) and for some of them it knows their DJ notation.
Imagine I play back-to-back with someone. I know that the track my fellow DJ is playing is in A-Flat Minor (1A). I produce my Nexus One and start up this app.
(I know, it’s ugly.) It currently shows all my favourite tracks. But I want to filter just the tracks that are harmonically compatible with 1A (that is: 1A, 1B, 12A and 2A).
I click on the top button and see this even uglier layout:
I pick 1A and come back to see just the tracks I need:
(Click for larger.)
For every track, I see the usual metadata (Artist, Name, Remix) and Camelot Wheel notation. I also see the name of the CD this track is on (“Pack 042”). For some of them I also see the DJ notation, which helps me to plan ahead when mixing. (More on DJ notation on the official page: http://www.djnotation.org.)
Why I develop DJ’s Mate?
If today’s DJs have any disadvantage in comparison with the vinyl DJs of the past, it’s probably the sheer abundance of tracks. In the 90’s, DJs came to a party carrying a case of about 50 vinyls. Today, the number of tracks available to a DJ at any given gig counts in hundreds.
It’s a real pain to select the next track to play in these conditions. I believe that good DJing is mainly about great track selection, so I though I’d fix that.
Does it work?
It does. Listen to this mix: I mixed it last hour with the use of DJ’s Mate. I didn’t prepare the tracklist beforehand.
The future of DJ’s Mate
This is just the beginning, of course. The app will be able to sort the tracks better. It will be able to automatically generate tracklist of played tracks. It will show a handy screens with information on the two tracks that you want to mix, deriving additional useful information from DJ notation. It will have a webapp part where it will be possible to upload and change the database of tracks (I currently upload my database via an android resource – it’s inherent in the app itself).
How can you help
If you are interested in testing the app and if you own an Android (2.1+) device, just let me know. If not, but you still like the idea, please share.
[UPDATE] I got a very interesting question from Phil Morse (of DJ TechTools):
My only question would be how necessary this is. You can have key information display in your DJ software, and could have the notation in the comments ID3 tag. That’s what I do, anyway, more of less.
Ok, here are my answers:
- Key info is not enough. You need filtering when you have 300 *favorite* tracks. In practice, you don’t have time to look through all of them all of the time.
- A lot of djs (I’d say vast majority) still use CDJs (because it’s still the standard at most clubs and still most reliable). And frankly, for the audience it’s more enjoyable to watch.
- Many (incl. me) use Audio CDs because again, it’s reliable and no club fails to have at least a CDJ-100, while many still don’t have CDJ players with mp3 technology.
- Even if you use Traktor or similar:
- Having DJ Mate on a separate device allows for much better multitasking: you tweak a knob and move the crossfade while already looking up the track to play next. That’s essential for me.
- Swiping through tracks on a device like Android is faster and feels much more natural than scrolling on the laptop. The form factor of an Android device is just better for this stuff and DJ Mate is designed from grounds up for searching tracks.
- When playing back-to-back, you can’t use Traktor’s search when the other guy is playing.
I’ll try to keep this post updated with other discussions.