How to DJ With Your iPod

Amazon Music

posted Aug 28, 2016, 7:04 AM by Jeff Ilardi

Amazon Music has never been used at one of our events yet, but I had a customer inquire about it.  I decided to start a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime and play around with it a little.    

I am going to compare this to Spotify a lot, because it is the #1 music player that our customers use and probably our #1 preference as well.

Amazon Music is OK.  A little clunky but it has the basics and it will work for your event. 

First, you have to sign up for the free trial.  Secondly, you have to download their music player.  If you are already an Amazon Prime member you do get Amazon Music for free.

From there it get's a little confusing, at least for me it did.  I have bought music from Amazon's Digital Music Library in the past so I have a collection of songs already via Amazon.  So I have that library and then there is Amazon's library I could select songs from.  And it is just a little clunky trying to get from one to the other.  With Spotify you can just click add songs and then start typing in song names and they pop up, under songs, Albums, Artists.  But songs comes up first.  With Amazon Music, it just shows you albums and then you have to click on the album.  If you have a playlist already started, you can easily drag these songs over to your playlist which is nice.  It is just tough finding the songs. 

Important to know, you don't get every song that Amazon has in their library.  There are a lot to choose from but some will cost you $1.29.  I think Spotify has a lot more FREE songs than Amazon Music.  However, one of the downsides to Spotify is that there are a few songs you can't get.  With Amazon Prime, you have a better chance of having access to just about any song, you just might have to pay $1.29 for each song.  But if you are only missing one or two songs, that is not too bad.

A nice feature that Amazon Music has is that you can download the songs on to your device so you can play them without having WiFi access.  I did not try this out, so I can't give specific instructions quite yet on how to do this correctly.  With Spotify you have to make the songs available off line by downloading the songs and then you have to make the playlists available off line as well.  It is a two step process to make two devices able to play the songs independently of each other.  Maybe you don't have to do this with Amazon Music? I am not sure yet.

The player itself is nice and easy to navigate through your playlists.  It looks fairly similar to Spotify.  It has the shuffle option and the repeat a playlist option which is nice.  You can skip to the next song, you can skip ahead in a song, you can change the volume.  All features available with Spotify and iTunes.  One thing I like, as a DJ, is that it has a counter that counts down the time left in the song, but also tells you the total length of the song.  I don't know how this would be useful for anyone except the person playing the music during your event. One thing it is missing, that iTunes and Spotify have is a crossfader.  This is a feature that allows you to have one song fade nicely into the next song so their are no gaps between songs.  This is a feature we use a lot at our events.

In conclusion, three things Spotify has over Amazon Music are: #1 the crossfade.  Having no gap between songs is just a really nice feature.  #2 is it is much easier to create a playlist on Spotify.  I will admit, I have a lot of experience with Spotify and so maybe their is a learning curve but it is just confusing as to what songs you have access to, what songs are you in your library and what songs you have to pay for etc. And #3, Spotify has a lot more free music.  You do not have to pay for any song in their entire library and they have just about everything.  

The one thing Amazon Music has over Spotify is the ability to purchase songs that are not included in the free library easily.  (FYI, you can do that with Spotify, but you need to have an iTunes account and you can purchase the song from iTunes and then in the advanced settings for Spotify you can add your iTunes Library to the Spotify libraries.)  

As always I will update this as I get more information.

AIMP3 Player

posted May 7, 2015, 11:32 AM by Jeff Ilardi

I think this is an upgraded version of WinAmp but I am not sure.  

I used this player for the first time a couple weeks ago and I loved it!  Read more below what is good and what is not.  Here is the official description of the program from their website:

AIMP is a full-featured free music player designed with sound quality and wide,
customizable functionality in mind. Over twenty audio formats are supported.
This is one of the best music players you can find on the Internet.
Audio is processed in 32-bit for crystal-clear sound. The player features a 18-band
graphics equalizer with extra built-in sound effects. You can extend the existing
functionality adding Input, DSP and Gen plug-ins from Winamp. All local and global
hotkeys are customizable. Full Unicode support. You can convert AudioCD to MP3,
OGG, WAV or WMA. Similarly, you can grab sound from any audio device on your
PC to MP3, OGG, WAV or WMA formats. 
Simply try to compare AIMP with competitor websites that have the option to download
a free music player and you will be surprised by quality and features of AIMP.

I used this on a PC laptop.  As a user, I loved the flexibility.  Moving songs around and the playlists around was pretty easy.  I figured out how to operate everything very quickly.  

I love the crossfade on this player. It is measured in milliseconds which is a little rough but once you do the math you can set it at about 7000 milliseconds and it works pretty nicely. 

THE BEST feature is that you can set a separate crossfade option for when you want to just skip to the next song.  On iTunes and Spotify, this is a hard cut to the next song, but here you can set it so it will crossfade nicely into the next song.  A couple of the songs I played at the wedding, where I used this for the first time, really bombed.  I hit "next" and it nicely crossfaded into the next song.  I put it at about 5000 milliseconds as I wanted it to get me out of the song faster.

I went home and downloaded the free program and transferred some songs into the program and started to play around with it.  This is not as easy.  You have to figure out what songs are compatible etc. I am not sure how to add new songs from CD's and other sources yet.  It was not easy to figure that part out.  Accessing new songs I am not sure how much easier this is?  But once I got some songs I already have downloaded it was pretty easy to start making playlists.  

THE WORST is the size of the player.  It is really small.  Check out the 3 skins it comes with and the middle one offers the biggest format.  But the size makes it really hard to use and since you can't make it full screen, whatever is in the background is there and very distracting.  This is the part I disliked the most about this player.

I am sure I will have more to add on this in the future.  If you have used this and want to pass on some information, please email me or contact me through the Just Press Play Website.  www.justpressplaypro.com  Or click on the logo at the top of this page.

Rhapsody

posted Aug 18, 2014, 11:45 PM by Jeff Ilardi

Recently we encountered Rhapsody for the first time.  I am going to include what little information we were able to obtain from this one outing with Rhapsody and also the customer did not really know how to fully use it either.  Also this experience was on a mobile device (iPad), the full software may yield different results.

Basically it looks similar to Spotify. Not sure how to add/edit playlists. I know that you cannot play from 2 different players at the same time and in order to edit playlists you have to be connected to the internet. However, it seems that the only "editing" you can do is add/remove song - not reorder them.

Spotify (Updated)

posted May 1, 2014, 2:41 PM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2016, 11:42 AM ]

Spotify is now the number two music platform we see now.  I have posted before about Spotify and I am updating this information with this post.

Spotify is almost as good as iTunes.  In my opinion.  It definitely gives you a lot more music choices for a reasonable monthly charge.  The paid version is really the best option to go with for Spotify to even compete with iTunes.  

With the paid version of Spotify you get access to just about any song you will need.  You can ave it available on multiple players, which is good.  Always good to have a backup.  o

With Spotify on your laptop you can make playlists and rearrange songs on the fly easily.  There is a crossfade feature and the level between songs is much less of an issue than it is with iTunes.  I also feel the crossfade feature is better on Spotify than it is on iTunes.  

The key thing to remember with Spotify is to make your playlists available OFF Line the day of the event.  This way you can use both players at the same time and you don't have any issues of not being able to play a song because internet access has been lost.  This needs to be done with each individual playlist, while still connected to the internet.  Once all playlists are made available offline, go to Settings (The gear symbol) and then to Playback and click the Offline so it turns green.  Now your playlists are downloaded and you can operate each player independently of the other players.  

ITunes is still better because you download songs from CD's and from Amazon.com and the iTunes store.  So you have a lot more options as far as song choice.  With Spotify you are pretty much stuck with what they have in their library.  Also with iTunes you don't have to make the playlists available off line.  They are just there regardless if you are on-line or not.  And finally, you only have to spend money for songs you can't get from CD's.  Most usually end up spending less than $50 on music.  For Spotify it is $10 a month.  If you sign up more than 5 months away form your event you have spent the same amount of money.

DJing with your portable digital music player

posted Nov 7, 2013, 1:09 PM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:10 PM ]

I was reading some of the older posts and thought I would update this a little.

There are many different types of players you can use to DJ your party with.  The Apple products are by far the most popular and in my opinion easier to operate than most.  Although Spotify has made it possible to use Android based players to operate similarly to Apple based players.  

First you want to make sure you have the music organized well.  See some of my postings about making playlists.  With good playlists in place it will be easy to move back and forth through your music.  In iTunes you can edit the songs which means less space between songs.  This works well even when using the crossfade feature in iTunes.  When you edit the long fades and unnecessary intros from the songs your playlist will flow much better.  

If you have someone to operate the iPod during the party or event, I recommend plugging the player into an audio mixer that has volume controls.  This makes it easier to fade in and out of songs more smoothly.  Also by using an audio mixer where you can use more than one channel, this is also helpful as you can take a second player and go back and forth between the two players.  I always recommend having a second backup player in all situations, just in case.

Finally a printout of the songs in your playlists is very helpful as you can use it to quickly locate songs and the playlist they are in.  If someone wants to hear "Blurred Lines" right now and you don't remember which playlist you put it in, a printout can help you find it quicker as opposed to going through each playlist trying to find it.

With these simple tips you should have a much better experience DJing with your digital music player.

Sound Check

posted May 28, 2012, 5:41 AM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:12 PM ]

Many customers ask about keeping the volume level the same form song to song.  In iTunes they have a feature called "Sound Check."  You can turn on Sound Check in iTunes preferences.   Do this before syncing the iPod and be sure to wait for it to finish, then sync the iPod and turn it on in the iPod settings, too

This will help keep the volume controls similar but it is not perfect.  I suggest having someone always monitoring the sound levels just in case.

djay App

posted May 11, 2012, 8:15 AM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:13 PM ]

This app is my favorite so far.  Much better than the Mixtrax app I also have a post about.  This app is a little more DJ oriented, in the sense that a DJ would understand many of the "extra" features of this app.

Basically, you have two turntables.  You can pull your music right off of your iTunes playlists and load them up on the turntables (Be careful they will start playing right away when you load them up on one side or the other. Hit the Play button on the far left or right of the bottom of the screen, depending on which side you are using, to stop the record. Then hit the button with the arrow pointing to a dot.  That re-cues the record up to the start.  And then when ready to start playing that song you can then hit the play button again.)  

If you have someone manning the iTouch, iPhone, or iPad then you can just click the music note with a + sign next to it and will pop up your iTunes library.  You can search by song, artist, album or playlist.  If you have put all of your music for your party into one or a few playlists (I highly  recommend this) then it will be very easy to find the music for your party and pull up the next record.  You must be careful to have the crossfader at the bottom of the screen all the way to the side that is playing.  This allows you to pull up another record on the other side without it going out live on top of the record already playing. 

The crossfader at the bottom of the screen can be used to manually fade out of one song and fade into the next song or you can let the app do it for you.  As the song is getting close to the end or is fading out just hit the arrow to the left or right of that crossfader at the bottom of the screen.  It will then just crossfade automatically for you.  

If you do not have someone to watch the player all night, then select "Automix."  With this you can select all your music or a specific playlist.  Again, I highly recommend making playlists for your party.  If you have you can then pull up the playlist you have already created and then you can play it straight or shuffle the playlist.  You can also choose the length of the crossfade between songs.  Once this is set you can then just hit "Start Automix" and it will do all the work for you.  It will automatically pull up the records for you in the order you have specified and play them automatically and crossfade from one song to the next.

I suggest this later option for cocktail and dinner type music situations.  You can use it for dancing as well, but if you want to change a song you can, you just have to stop the automix and then pull up your next song.  The problem is you can't go back to the automix and pickup where you left off.  It will start from the beginning or start shuffling again and you could end up with repeats.  

Another suggestion is to create a bunch of playlists.  Fastdance1, Fastdance2, Fastdance3, etc.  Have about 7-10 songs in each playlist.  Then have a slow dance playlist.  This way you can select Fastdance1 playlist turn the automix on.  Once that playlist comes to an end, select a song from your slow dance playlist and play one or two from that list and then bring up the automix again to play Fastdance2 playlist.  And repeat.  This means you only have to be at the player some of the time instead of all the time.

Many other features, including effects, changing the pitch of the songs, beat matching etc.  There is also independent volume controls for each record player.  There is a power on and off button for each player (why? I don't know).  You can even change the cue point, or where the record will start.  If you have time you can play with all of these other gadgets but I covered the basics here to get you up and running.  

iPod Nano Crossfade Feature

posted Feb 9, 2012, 10:03 AM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:13 PM ]

This is covered below but I recently had a question about this from another customer so I thought I would cover it again.

If you are using most iPod Nano's, they have an auto audio crossfade function on them.  When you turn on this feature it will crossfade from one song to the next as long as they are in the same playlist and it is the next song on the list.  If you just pull up a song yourself from another list or further on down the same list it will not crossfade.  But if you do skip to another playlist or another song in that playlist, it will take a couple of songs but it will go back into the crossfade mode again for you.  It does not work all that well with On The Go playlists.  You will need to stop playing a song from that playlist and exit the playlist, re enter the playlist and then give it a song or two and the it will start up.

Go to...Settings, then Playback, then Audio Crossfade.  Toggle it on.  This works better with the Sound Check toggled Off so be sure you do that before you leave the Playback menu. 

Mixtrax App

posted Dec 26, 2011, 2:13 PM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:14 PM ]

I was recently introduced to this new free app for the iPad, iTouch and iPhone.  This app gets great reviews and I have to admit it works pretty well.  It basically takes your music library on your player and selects similar songs to mix from one to another.  Matching beats and style.  Again I was amazed at how well this app did this.  It also uses some effects to help make the transitions seamless.  

What you will need to watch out for is that it only plays 1-2 minutes of each song.  As it tries to find the best place to get in and out of each song, much of the song gets skipped.  So to fill a one hour period of dancing you will need about 20-30 songs.  Normally 30-40 songs will get you three hours of dance music.

My suggestion is to use this app as a tool to suggest an order of the songs for you.  Then mix the songs yourself.  Or if you have a large library of songs you want to get to in one dance period then this will work extremely well for you also.  I have had bride and grooms tell me in the past to only play about 2 minutes of each song so they could get all of their songs played during their dance portion of their reception.  If they had this app loaded on their player it would have been perfect for them.

General Tips

posted Nov 17, 2011, 10:43 AM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:15 PM ]

Many customers choose to use a DJ or a MC to assist in playing their music for them, especially for weddings. But what if you want to do it yourself? Here are some tips on how to DJ with an iPod. This may even be useful for your DJ or MC!

While the first song on your playlist is playing, hit the menu key on the spin wheel and go back to the playlist, locate the next song by highlighting it with the spin wheel. With 10 seconds left in the song or if the song starts fading, hit the menu key on the spin wheel again and you will see the song is still highlighted. Fade down the song with the volume on your Audio System (with Just Press Play Productions we provide a small proprietary iPod DJ Black Box with volume controls, if using someone else, be sure they show you where the volume control is for the system you have rented from them). After fading down, hit the center key on the spin wheel and the song highlighted will start. Next fade up the volume on the Audio System again.

Obviously the faster you can do the fade down and fade up process the better. By using the volume control on the Audio System you can go from song to song, even when they are in order, this way and make it sound like the songs are practically mixed but most importantly you will get rid of those pauses between songs.

If you one of the newer iPod Nanos, go to the main menu and select "Settings" and look for a "Playback" option. If it has that option, not all of them do, then select it and look for the "Audio Crossfade" option. If you see that option, turn it on. Make sure you turn the "Sound Check" feature off at that point. The two do not work well together. Separately they work fine but not together.

A word of caution...I have tried using the "On The Go" playlist on many iPod's and if you make the playlist while the iPod is not already playing the "On The Go" playlist then it works great. If you continue to add songs to the "On The Go" playlist while it is playing it sometimes skips back to songs you already played. The strange thing is that your screen will say you are playing the next song on the playlist but it is not? I have tried to address this with Apple but have not received any response from them.

Additionally, I always bring an AC adapter for my iPods and plug them in. Then I change the setting for the backlight and make sure it is set to "Always On." I also will turn the "clicker" off. And if you have any additional features like "shake to shuffle" I turn those off too.

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