The Future of Streaming Services and DJ Software?

Tidal’s recent restrictions on Neural Mix/STEMS have me questioning the future of streaming services in DJ software. While my first 9 years of DJing involved building a large library of purchased music, in contrast the last 5 years saw me shift almost entirely to streaming music for DJ gigs. I’ve learnt a lot while using all of these services and ultimately settled on Beatport LINK Pro for the offline locker. I realize my opinions are likely in the minority, but here’s a list of Pros and Cons from my experience over the last 5 years of using djay on iOS with streaming services.


  1. Unified platform for music discovery, curation, playlist creation, and library management. Hugely streamlined workflow.
  2. Elimination of regular music library backups.
  3. Reduced issues with hard drive and cloud storage space management.
  4. Instant music availability across devices, eliminating the need for a laptop & iTunes to transfer music to iPad and iPhone.
  5. Increased exploration and experimentation with new music at gigs.
  6. More dynamic and varied DJ sets.
  7. Ability to easily handle requests or even change genres if needed.
  8. Limited reliance on older music libraries.
    a. There are very few tracks in my DJ library older than 3 years that I still play out.
    b. There are tracks that I’ve never played at gigs and MANY that have only been played once.
    c. So the value of owning these is pretty low
    d. Library management is simpler because I find deleting purchased songs from the library much harder.


  1. Dependency on network connectivity, although mitigated by offline locker solutions.
  2. Music is “rented”, not owned, although I’m fine with this as long as catalog accessibility is maintained.
  3. Potential for unannounced removal of songs from the service.
  4. Limited control over music usage, posing potential creative restrictions for DJs.
    a. This could be the deal breaker for me.
    b. What’s next? No FX, EQing, Scratching, Beat Juggling, Tone Play or Looping when using streaming services?

I’ve embraced the convenience and innovation brought by streaming music but am concerned about the creative limitations imposed by recent restrictions. I’m hopeful an agreement on Neural Mix/STEMS can be reached with record labels/service providers, perhaps via offline lockers or some other method. Otherwise, I see this as a big step backwards in music innovation. I’m curious to hear what others think…


This also makes me wonder if this is one of the reasons Algoriddim has been so focused on regularly adding new record labels and music to their included djay Music source in the app. After what happened with Spotify and now Tidal, it actually makes a LOT of sense to have more control over a streaming service and the music within it. Hopefully they’ll soon be adding an offline locker to djay Music.

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What do you think their reasoning for the removal of the stems feature is? I understand it’s easy to create a mashup on the spot using the DJ programs but the mashups you see on TikTok and other social media platforms are created in DAW’s. Which means the producer paid for the track then uses either a VST plug-in, Neural Mix Pro or some other multi-track isolating program to obtain the stems. So why target DJ’s if we can’t record any of the streaming service songs within the DJ app to begin with?


@DJ_Norm I’m not sure. It really doesn’t make sense to me either. Ultimately, this should reduce the total number of streams and revenue from said streams for artists and record labels. The most logical reasoning, other than some hidden financial one, seems to be to maintain more control over how the music is used.

My wild guess is that labels want higher compensation for streams that use STEMS and they plan to achieve this through offline locker subscriptions. If so, I’m okay with that, especially if artists get paid more per play like they do already with Beatport.

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Honestly, I would be okay with it too if it’s a few dollars more but I wouldn’t see why this would happen in the first place. Seems as if other streaming platforms will follow if it moves forward from here.

This makes me want to encourage users of Tidal within djay to start telling algoriddim that we want streaming service (DSP - Digital Service Provider) options OTHER than Tidal, like deezer. So so so many of us would be shipwrecked without an option if Tidal pulls a Spotify with us like they did a few years ago. But we, as professionals, need to send the message to the services (and artists) that without us helping promote their stuff by spinning it, they might not amount to as much as they hope.
In other words, its a balancing act, and it’s a business and we still - even after all of these years of streaming - we STILL have to figure out equitable rates and fees and and and…
A very smart person I call friend (she’s the US Director of Catalog for a group of LA-based global labels) posted this perspective by one of her bosses and his peers that some might find an interesting and germane addition to this conversation:

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Just out of curiosity: How often does this happen? I heavily prepare all of my music so a track being removed or replaced with a similar but “different” one would mean I would have to re-invest in terms of beatgridding and cue point setting.

@djjoejoe I’ve only noticed this on Tidal and it seems pretty rare.

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I think it boils down to copyright laws and Tidal doesn’t want a bunch of publishers on its back blaming Tidal for enabling breach of rights. So Tidal probably tried to get ahead of the storm by simply telling everyone “don’t allow stems” if you want to use us in your software. Stems technically allows one to decompose and use it’s parts “without permission from the artist” and sort of release it (i.e. a live performance). Compare it to a remix - the mixer, by law, requires permission from the original artist. Now add in all the international copyright laws and stems is a huge mess. Even if you pay for the track, your technically are not allow to use it’s parts without permission. The publishers just can’t enforce every live performance so everyone gets away with it.

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I’m not convinced it is that simple. They might as well restrict EQing, looping, triggering parts of a song, etc. The moment you stream it into your environment it’s up to you what you want to do with it. If I prefer to watch Netflix in black and white, so what?

Using it in public environments is something else of course, just like sampling something and (re)selling it as your own, but that’s a different topic altogether IMO.

For now, we aren’t even sure if it’s the labels (right?) or maybe Tidal wanting to generate more income. Why would they hold off on prohibiting the functionality? It’s still working for me…


@DJ_Norm I think the reason centers around copyright. For example, tools like Ultimate Vocal Remover are extremely good at quickly and easily creating instrumentals and acapellas which are derivative works. In copyright law, a derivative work is “an expressive creation that includes major copyrightable elements of a first, previously created original work. The derivative work becomes a second, separate work independent in form from the first.” Because it’s separate and “untracked” (meaning it didn’t follow the normal major label publishing channels) it can’t be controlled by the major labels and major publishers for proper royalty collection.

I completely agree DJs shouldn’t be targeted for this. Anyone can create instrumentals and acapellas (derivative works) using any number of tools, including DJs, so why target DJs? I think it’s because RIAA and the like need something to target, and DJ apps and their users are easy targets. It reminds me of when RIAA went after mp3 downloaders in college dorms and eventually the universities themselves.

@Slak_Jaw great points in your OP - thanks for sharing - sets up for a valuable, robust conversation in this area.


Excellent thread @Slak_Jaw and super timely for me.

Quick background: I started bedroom DJing about 3 years ago and Tidal allowed me to instantly start mixing without buying tons of mp3s. I know many beginner DJs have made this same calculation.

@Slak_Jaw 's Pro #1 “Unified platform for music discovery, curation, playlist creation,” resonates super strong for me. I started building playlists on day 1 and I still use many of them. I listen to Tidal all the time when I away from my decks (I try to listen thru my “Discovery Mix” every day) and filter songs into playlists all day long. This has allowed me to build a robust library in a short amount of time.

Then I started gigging, mostly friends’ parties, and just rolled with Tidal. I’ve yet to encounter a gig where I didn’t have good (enough) internet. I bought a 4G hotspot for times I can’t use someone’s home wifi. Even tethering to my phone is usually fast enough. Tidal gives me the flexibility to play any and all requests (pros and cons haha).

All good right??

Then I read a couple days back that Tidal is removing stems support and I went into an existential crisis. Has everyone saying “BUY YOUR MUSIC” been right all along???

So I signed up for ZipDJ and spent a couple days sifting through their catalog, hoping to re-build my Tidal playlists. But I realized they have barely any of the songs I have in my Tidal playlists. And I can’t discover/create/curate on the go like I’ve been doing. And I don’t want to manage a large mp3 library.

So here’s where I’m at:

  1. I am confident that I’ll have good (enough) internet at foreseeable gigs.
  2. I’m OK if the odd track disappears from Tidal’s catalog. In my experience this happens to maybe one or two songs a month. Usually I can find the replacement track.
  3. I’m OK with stems going away (for now). TBH I never use that feature anyway haha
  4. I hope Tidal offers offline locker soon.
  5. However, I’m NOT confident Tidal won’t pull a Spotify someday, so …
  6. I’m currently exploring Beatport and considering subscribing, starting to build playlists over there, and upgrading for the offline locker feature in advance of gigs (just in case).

Any who loves or hates Beatport, I’d love to get your feedback on using their streaming service in a gig setting.

Thanks for reading this long ramble of a post!!


@agershon I’m a fan of Beatport. I’ve used Spotify, Tidal and SoundCloud as well. Even before streaming came along, Beatport was my go to source for purchasing DJ music. The library is vast and rarely do I need to search elsewhere. Although that really depends on the type of music you play. Plus the offline locker removes the poor internet issue. It’s definitely not the cheapest option, but they do pay artists a lot more per stream than all the other services.

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Most things have been said already.

But I came across this thought just this evening. Was playing an on-line gig and discovered that with tidal certain artists just won’t load anymore in Djay (“Asset is not ready for playback”) but are still available for playback through the Tidal app itself.

Maybe it is too late already for these deep thougts, but could this be a marker for the future? Certain artists or labels that allow stream-DJ’ing on a case-by-case basis? Or maybe just a technical glitch?

Was too occupied to note them, but one of them is Innellea, have seen this before on this producer.

Cheers, Bart.

I’ve always owned my music, I guess coming from Vinyl its the only thing I knew…
When Spotify was available to use I thought this was the best thing since sliced bread, They had an extensive library and I love their match feature as well,
When they pulled the plug it convinced me to keep building my library…
Tidal whilst being better than nothing, are no where on the same level as Spotify…
I only ever use streaming for the odd request, I would never play more than two streamed tracks in a row

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Interesting article by DJ TechTools regarding the Tidal / STEMs / Neural Mix situation and what the future of STEMs might look like:

Interesting idea that mixers will possibly have stem control built into the eq’s. Just requires more processing power in the mixer hardware.

I think that there is one flaw in the thinking. We don’t own the music we buy, we just obtained the right to play back. The IP or ownership rights remain with the artists. For streaming services, just the financial model is different in that we pay per listening event. And easier technological possibilities to restrict certain types of usage in a timeframe of weeks. The same technological possibilities exist with DRM on ‘owned’ copies, it is just more time-consuming to implement, like months or years. And more expensive. What we can do is trying to use the loopholes that are offered by ‘owned’ copies and gain time or hope that the costs to restrict that route are simply too high. That is what the DJ TechTools article is about.

At the end, the ownerships rights remain with the creator. This is good! Remixing and sampling became a lot more mainstream with stems. You don’t need the hassle of all the apps mentioned in the article and a DAW anymore, and just buy a ‘DJ app’ to create remixes. Any kid can do it now.

My questions are these.

Where is the boundary between mixing as a DJ, creating nice transitions, and transforming an entire track with stems? And yes, some of my ‘transitions’ take half a track.

Is Tidal at the front of development to offer a transparent and legal streaming service for DJ’s? If this is true, we could embrace the initiative?

With the result that streaming for DJ apps will be restricted even more or blocked entirely?
Honesty and transparency is key.

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