What is Pulselocker? Definition: a music subscription service and storage locker targeting electronic music fans and DJs
I was lucky enough to be one of the chosen few to beta test the integration of Pulselocker and Serato from the start and have used this combination for about 2 months extensively. Although Pulselocker is still in Beta and there are quirks that need to be ironed out ( I will address these later) it is very stable at this point and SeratoDJ 1.9.0 is solid as usual.
Pulselocker is currently available in the following countries:
- The Netherlands
- United Kingdom
- United States
If you travel outside of your zone and you have used the OFFLINE option you can travel worldwide without worry.
As far as quality while using SeratoDJ, the Streaming and Download quality is 320kbps MP3. So get rid of underlining worry that the quality is not up to snuff. Streaming obviously requires a wifi or hard-wired connection which is great for the Bedroom DJ, but not so much if your on the go as a Mobile or Club DJ. Have no fear, Pulselocker has a download option called OFFLINE in which any or all of your selected playlists can be downloaded to the hard drive of your computer, allowing you to take your laptop and OFFLINE playlist worldwide without the need to be connected to the Pulselocker servers.
The other question is Price. Pulselocker is offering a Streaming only service for $9.99 per month (see Q&A below) ….perfect for the Bedroom DJ! The PRO service aka OFFLINE option allows you to stream and download your playlist(s) to your computer for travel is $19.99 per month. If you think about how much you pay for Beatport tracks, and after one to two plays you’re not really feeling that vibe for the track you originally had (you realize the track sucks) $20 bucks a month is well worth it. Think of it as leasing the tracks…according to Pulselocker – 44 million of them. And to be honest 90% of tracks today are not worth the purchase and should be on Soundcloud as Promos.
Another big question is.. How many tracks can I bring with me because I’m a Superstar DJ and travel the world and play gigs 2 times night? Well Steve…! If you’ve used Spotify you are aware there is a 3,333 offline track limit. Pulselocker has no limit, you can have 50,000 songs at your disposal for the road…if you have the hard drive capacity load it up, just be aware it may take some time downloading 2TB of music.
So how does all this happiness fit into the realm of SeratoDJ? The main thing to remember is that your dealing with playlists which we are all familiar with. In the case of Pulselocker it appears just as such, just like a Crate or iTunes playlist on the left hand column in the application. The leg work for the playlist has to be done outside of SeratoDJ at the Pulselocker website. Your playlists and pre-listening can be done at Pulselocker.com by choosing your Genre and selecting the tracks or albums that you want to add (remember your not buying them so have at it…bulk up!) You will see a few icons on the top right when you select and listen to a track from left to right is Add to Playlist, Add to Favorite, Store Offline.
One issue that we found beta testing was, as you can see in the images above and below there is no BPM or KEY in the meta data yet, as of March/2016. Pulselocker has stated they are diligently working to get this fixed ASAP and maybe fixed by the time you read this. Either way SeratoDJ will analyze the track and write in the BPM and KEY as soon as you drop it in a player. So once you’ve created a playlist(s) you will see them at the Pulselocker home page under the MY MUSIC tab.
At this point you can fire up SeratoDJ and your Pulselocker playlist will be visible. Note if you have SeratoDJ open and you make changes to your playlists by adding, subtracting or renaming it will NOT see any changes until you shutdown Serato and restart. This wasn’t a big concern but just be aware and prepare your playlist prior to playing, hopefully Serato can implement some sort of refresh button instead of a restart in a future update.
Now that you are in the SeratoDJ environment you will see your playlists populate and you may also notice that tracks are downloading in the background. These are the tracks that you have selected to be played OFFLINE, they will continue to download as long as Serato is running. Obviously, your network connection will affect the speed of downloading as well as streaming. Fortunately, when streaming, the track is ready to play before it finishes caching. It basically takes a couple of seconds to start playing and 20-30 secs to completely load and get analyzed.This only happens once because the analyzed data from the streaming track is cached for future use, this includes Waveform,BPM and Key metadata. The same goes for OFFLINE mode except it doesn’t get analyzed until you first play the track or manually analyze your library.
Searching for new tracks to stream can be done by highlighting the STREAM icon beside the search field and select a column in the Library area – Artist, Track or Album. Key in the Search Info and Voila! Your tracks appear per your info….Drop your track into a deck and your good to go. Take notice of the blue cloud icon to identify a streaming only track. Update – If you perform a Pulselocker track search within Serato you can add it to a CRATE that has already been made…just remember if you haven’t downloaded it and you take your music on the go it won’t play unless you are connected to the net!
Two problems that we found were the fact that when you search and find your tracks this way, you cannot add that track to a playlist by just dragging and dropping….You still need to add it to a playlist @ Pulselocker. Secondly, when streaming a track and it is completely loaded into a player you should at this point be able to select STORE OFFLINE and it should be instantly saved, but instead it re-triggers a download from Pulselocker? This is stupid because it is already stored in a temporary folder (check inside the Pulselocker folder…more on that later) as a complete track and should be saved with ease rather than having to re-order the packets. It is possible though once you have tracks OFFLINE to create CRATES which should be the case, they are after all like any other MP3 in your Library.
Speaking of MP3’s Pulselocker files are encrypted (yes we looked at them)Locked tight. We then asked the question …What if I am running 2 copies of Serato? Do I have to download everything again and analyze tracks over again as well? No! The files and caches are stored inside the Serato folder in a sub-folder called Pulselocker. Serato folder is located inside the Music folder Just in case you didn’t know already.
If you are running Serato on a Macbook and an iMac this solution will save you hours of work. Do all your main OFFLINE music and analyzing of STREAMING music on one machine. When you want to update the other machine, overwrite the Pulselocker folder on the second machine and basically your Tracks, BPM and Key info will be mirrored. It is probably best to do this after you downloaded large chunks of tracks..like hundreds or thousands. As the library gets larger it will take longer to transfer but not as long as doing everything twice. The one thing I did encounter was the fact it was a lot easier to select tracks for OFFLINE use at Pulselocker rather than selecting them and downloading them within Serato but that’s a personal preference. As you can see in the image below, as the tracks are downloading to your Pulselocker folder the completed tracks have a solid white down arrow and the tracks waiting in queue have a blank down arrow.
Serato is only one of many DJ software companies integrating Pulselocker or Spotify into their software. Later this year Pioneer’s Rekordbox is getting a Pulselocker facelift. This is not a fade but the next step in DJing. This will ultimately affect the record labels bottom line as far as profits but if they are good tracks getting a lot playtime I’m sure people will purchase them outright. Pulselocker is great solution for the Bedroom DJ with a fixed record allowance and for the Global DJ – load up and don’t worry about wasting money on the crap – ’cause the cream will rise to the top, then you can think about purchasing for longterm. I also think this may force record labels to be more vigilant on what they are producing if they want to make money. This is a good thing for everyone all around!
Q&A with Pulselocker
I was able to get an online interview with Zayn @ Pulselocker just after completing my review and asked him a few questions that should give some the answers they are looking for straight from the Pulselocker crew.
1. What is the limit of tracks that can be downloaded offline at one time? How many machines can contain offline tracks?
2. How does Pulselocker differ from Spotify to warrant charging double the monthly fee?
Well, there are two tiers. The first, “Basic,” is $10/month, which on top of having comparable features to Spotify also integrates into various DJ applications (although this lower tier is not compatible with Serato DJ yet). The second tier which you are referring to, “Professional,” is $20/month. The big advantages are that you can take unlimited music offline and that the music is permitted for use in public venues.
3. Are there any plans to charge a yearly fee to reduce costs to DJ’s
4. As you are aware Spotify must be connected to their servers to use even offline tracks. How does Pulselocker differ from that?
5.As announced recently that Pulselocker will have partnerships with both Serato and Traktor, Pulselocker must have a lot expectations to provide DJ’s not only a massive current catalogue but Back catalogue as well?
6. Most complaints my readers as well as the Serato community have is the fact that the tracks are not tagged with BPM and KEY INFO. Are you hoping to correct this issue before beta testing is finished.
7. Pulselocker was introduced a couples years ago and did not grab the market as expected what is different now?
Pulselocker has actually gone through a couple of different iterations. The old Pulselocker’s technology and business strategy were fundamentally different. In many ways, our old technology required us to “hack” DJ software, and the resulting experience left a lot to be desired. So we went back to the drawing board and began speaking to different companies, which resulted in the direct partnerships we have now. These partnerships are important because they allow our own and partner software development teams to work side by side. The result has been a Pulselocker that is tightly integrated into the DJ software workflow and UI, in addition to being extremely reliable.
So there you have it, if you are a Serato user, Pulselocker will give you a 2 week trial for free to test out their service. Hopefully, they address some of the minor issues quickly as of March/2016, it is still in Beta. But for myself I’m hooked on it and treat it like a 44 million track library in the cloud!