Streaming services are excellent for practice at home, playing around with new tracks in Rekordbox, or just figuring out what type of music you enjoy DJing.
They’re also great for those who have just started playing house parties and need a streaming service to play songs that they don’t have on the fly.
The four streaming services and their big online track collections and curated playlists that integrate with Rekordbox are Beatport LINK, Tidal, Beatsource LINK, and SoundCloud.
But what are exactly the differences between them, and is there a general agreement on which platform seems to be the best?
To give a quick answer, the best streaming service for Rekordbox depends on your musical taste and DJ style.
For example, if Spotify (not integrated with Rekordbox) is currently your audio streaming service of choice, then Tidal would come nearest to that. But then again, you don’t get all of the extended mixes on EDM tunes.
Beatsource Link would be my recommendation for “bedroom DJs with club aspirations, who already have a decent library.” Beatport Link is for more indie, genre-specific DJs. Most songs on Soundcloud are bootlegs and DJ edits, so that’s the place for someone who likes that genres are all over the place.
In this article, we’re going to talk about all these streaming services for Rekordbox and help you decide which one to choose.
Streaming Services That Work with Rekordbox
Number of tracks for offline playback (up to)
Standard package price (per month)
Advanced package price (per month)
1. Beatport LINK – Beatport began as an online music store. It’s seemingly the most known name for DJs who play electronic music. They’re directed at electronic music.
2. Tidal is focused on the mainstream. The odds of finding indie/underground artists are less than others. It’s the most established streaming service in everyday use compared to the others.
3. Beatsource LINK – Beatsource is a collaboration between Beatport and DJCity. They’re focused on an open format containing every popular genre on the charts.
4. SoundCloud began as a streaming site where artist and producers could share their songs directly. It’s also viewed as a breeding ground for up-and-coming artists. You’ll discover the most underground stuff here. And the variety of genres is extensive.
As for what streaming service is the best, there is no best. Only what satisfies your need the most. That said, Beatsource is the most DJ-friendly as it contains DJ edits and intros, offline track storage, and has a great community.
These are the things you need to know about using streaming services with Rekordbox:
- If you have several, you can use them simultaneously in Rekordbox.
- The only real usage rights your streaming service membership gets you is the license to stream songs to Rekordbox. It doesn’t yield music licensing for performing, so you’ll still need licenses to play copyrighted tracks publicly. The venue normally manages these for live events.
- Some streaming services (like Beatport Link at Pro tier) grant limited offline storage (faster load rates and internet independence).
- Having access to the extensive streaming service library eventually saves money and enables you to experiment without being restricted to whatever’s in your collection.
With streaming services, though, you’ll be at the mercy of the availability of a solid, high-speed internet connection and if the streaming service will continue to offer the song in its library. This is a bit messier because you never know if a label/artist decides to remove a song from a streaming service offering.
I have been mixing for over 15 years, and I believe that songs from audio streaming services (TFASS) are the following evolutionary step in DJing media. You can’t yet transfer the metadata for TFASS to the same song as an audio file, but there is a way to convert the metadata of TFASS between different DJ software using macOS.
1. Beatport LINK
Beatport LINK is narrowly centered on electronic music genres, which may or may not be ideal, depending on your tastes.
Beatport is more about Techno, Trance, House, DnB – from mainstream to more underground (gatekeepers would most likely disagree) – with a more European/International Flavour.
It’s the kind of music you would expect to hear in a credible club (not party) scene venue in Europe.
Most (95%) of tracks they have for sale on Beatport.com are also available for streaming, so you can check out what they have.
I have used Beatport LINK on Rekordbox 6 on Windows 10 and macOS BigSur and have never had any problems.
Beatport Link also has integration into Tribe XR, so if you’re going to start VR live streaming (e.g., on Twitch), having the entire Beatport catalog at your fingertips might be well worth it.
With a Beatport LINK PRO subscription, you can play Beatport tracks without connecting to the internet. You can store tracks on the computer before playing them.
You can get a one-month free trial of the LINK streaming service and try it out technically.
- Beatport LINK – $14.99/month (128 AAC, No Offline Storage)
- Beatport LINK PRO – $29.99/month (256 AAC, Offline storage – 1000 Tracks)
After a while, Rekordbox enabled Tidal streaming. At first, it was slow to search the library, but they improved it. For faster mixing, it’s best to create playlists that will show in the Tidal segment of the playlists.
You can add tracks from Tidal to your regular playlists – so it’s easy to curate a playlist with songs you’ve downloaded and tracks you’re streaming. There’s a Tidal logo next to the streamed tracks.
Tidal doesn’t allow track downloads for offline mixing, so you require a solid internet connection.
Using Tidal to stream with Rekordbox is helpful to see how songs feel in the mix until you buy the tracks you want to spin.
Tidal integrates with the DDJ400/Rekordbox like a charm. My friend moved from Spotify to Tidal, and he says that being able to download high-quality FLAC files for no extra charge from Tidal is unbeatable.
But if you use the lossless (FLAC) versions, you’ll find it takes too long to load up a track even if you’ve already analyzed it.
If you have Spotify, you can utilize a service called Soundiiz to transfer your Spotify playlists over to Tidal. That service is free for tracklists of up to 200 tracks.
The only bad thing is that Tidal songs don’t work in Rekordbox’s Export Mode. Export Mode is used to prepare tracks in Rekordbox (e.g., cue points, tags). However, Cue points can be added in Performance Mode (the mode activated while mixing), but it’s more tiresome.
- HiFi – 4,99/month (up to 1411 kbps)
- HiFi Plus – 9,98/month (up to 9216 kbps)
3. Beatsource LINK
Beatsource LINK came alive when one of the world’s best DJ pools united – Beatport and DJ City.
“Linking” the Beatport LINK technology with the tracks and artists from DJCity, Beatsource LINK strives to give a full package for pro DJs.
By hiring professional DJs who are experts in their own styles and genres, Beatsource offers marvelous curated playlists. A DJ puts together curated playlists based on your input on artists, genres, tracks, events, and time of night.
The curated playlists serve as a reliable guide and a great inspiration.
The library isn’t as in-depth as Beatport for electronic music, but the broader genre range will suit open-format DJs better. The Beatsource music collection also covers a wider range of music with more indie, Latin, and Hip hop than Beatport.
LINK PRO+ subscribers will also have access to extended intro/outro edits, instrumentals & acapella, radio-friendly versions, short edits, transition DJ tools. Beatsource signed a world-first, exclusive contract with the three biggest record labels to lawfully grant that.
With a Beatsource LINK PRO+ subscription, you can also play Beatsource songs offline. You need to save songs on the computer before playing them.
- Beatsource LINK – $9.99/month (128 AAC Streaming, No Offline Storage)
- Beatsource LINK PRO+ – $34.99/month (256 AAC Streaming, Offline Storage – 1000 tracks)
SoundCloud GO+ and SoundCloud DJ have a library that extends to more popular music genres. I’ve used it on a few events when I played more mainstream music.
I was surprised by what I could find on Soundcloud. It has users who upload their favorite songs, remixes, etc. I’ve found every track I’ve typed into the search.
Its library is fine, but nowhere near the Tidal. But when compared to Tidal, which has no offline storage option, with a subscription to Soundcloud DJ, you get UNLIMITED tracks for use without internet.
I’ve then spent a weekend transferring from Soundcloud to owned music. You can’t play live, and there is no easy way to move your Hot cues. You have to be on WiFi, and the metadata on Soundcloud is not that good.
My friend was DJing a wedding last year and didn’t want to purchase like $300 of music he’d probably never use again, so he took requests and obtained them all in Soundcloud and built tracklists so they’d be ready to go.
He made sure to scan through all of the tracks, and some of them ended up being clubby remixes of stuff like the bridal procession song. It would have been such a disaster if he hadn’t scanned through them all.
The thing is, literally anybody can upload anything to Soundcloud, in any format, and at any bitrate. There are plenty of low-quality uploads in SoundCloud. Use your hearing and be dismissive.
A great thing with Soundcloud is that you can play SoundCloud tracks from Free DJ Playlists without a SoundCloud subscription, as the Rekordbox streaming service usage guide states.
- SoundCloud GO+ – $9.99/month
- SoundCloud DJ – $19.99/month (unlimited tracks for offline playback)
Can You Convert Playlists from One Service to Another?
Beatport Link, Tidal, Beatsource, and Soundcloud support the easy transfer of your music and playlists from other platforms.
You maybe use Spotify or Apple Music for everyday music listening and discovering new tunes, and you don’t want to search for tracks elsewhere if you already got them there.
How to Record DJ Sets When Using the Streaming Function?
As the Rekordbox stated, “currently, you can’t record DJ sets when playing streamed tracks.”
I own a Pioneer DDJ-1000, and it’s true, Rekordbox locks the record function when playing songs from the Beatport streaming service.
The simplest option is to buy an RCA to 3,5mm jack cable (they’re cheap as hell) and plug RCA out in the controller to a line in the laptop.
For better sound quality, this is what I do:
I happen to have an extra computer on the side and a Scarlett 2i2 (audio interface).
I connect a TRS out from the booth monitor output of the DDJ-1000 into Scarlett’s line-in. Then I turn the volume knob that regulates the booth out of DDJ-1000 to the 12 o’clock position, while on the Scarlett, I turn both gain knobs fully to the left (minimum).
I use GarageBand to record without altering any of the settings on the computer with Scarlett.
You can also download VB Cable, mess around with your sound input and output in Rekordbox and OS, and record with Audacity – both are free programs. Sounds difficult, but you can easily figure it out once you need it.
Why Are Streaming Services Not Optimal for Professional DJs?
There’s a reason why streaming isn’t the standard yet! I think we’ll get there, but not quite yet.
In this day and age, most clubs will have internet access. However, that’s another possible point of failure. It’s one more variable in your setup that you have no control over.
Even with the fastest internet speeds, you can run into blockages. Sometimes that service can just be down. Sure some platforms let you download tracks temporarily, but they still can be pulled at a moment’s notice.
Also, working in backup strategies with these types of services is pretty much non-existent.
I might have streaming songs available for my use if I decide to dip into those playlists – but I’m certainly not going to put myself in a place where I have to depend on them.
Some pretty relevant tracks get pulled from libraries because of licensing problems or other causes. It sucks to have tunes randomly vanish from your playlist, but it does happen.
Talking about licensing, it’s one of the more limiting things on streaming. Platforms like Tidal and Soundcloud that are integrated into Rekordbox don’t have a lot of languages associated with public performance playback. However, just because it’s contained in the service doesn’t necessarily make it legal.
If the label decides they don’t like the terms of an agreement, they can muscle their way to remove their collection from the platform.
Like it or not, you are at the total mercy of those companies when you stream. So if and when they have a problem with a licensing bargain with a label or artist, you could see yourself without many of the tracks you had the day before.
In September 2017, Spotify completed its integration into Virtual DJ. And then, in November of 2017, Pulselocker disclosed it was shutting down.
This maybe isn’t a big deal for the casual listener, but for a professional DJ, this could mean catastrophe. That’s something you need to thoughtfully consider, particularly for some of the DJs who are beginning to build up their library exclusively on streaming media platforms.
Streaming services’ libraries are limited from a professional DJ’s perspective
While streaming services like Tidal boast massive collections of tracks, they can still be woefully insufficient, particularly with older tunes. For instance, a simple list of some of the top rap tunes I generated has almost 30% of the tracks unavailable in their collection.
Many professional DJs will go to exceptional lengths to guarantee that their music collections are expansive, covering from as early as the 1930s to today’s hits. Many labels decline to offer their music to streaming platforms and occasionally even services like iTunes. A professional DJ will get that tunes on any available medium that it’s available.