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SoundCloud’s new integration with Serato is a missed opportunity

SoundCloud’s new integration with Serato is a missed opportunity

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

SoundCloud is now integrated with the newest versions of Serato DJ, allowing DJs to search, play, and mix any song uploaded to SoundCloud natively within Serato. It’s an immensely convenient integration that’ll give DJs access to SoundCloud’s unique library of music, but it also falls flat for one major reason: there’s no offline support, making it a nonstarter for live performances.

Several DJ softwares have had streaming services integrated for some time — djay, for example, lets you pull from Spotify Premium. But SoundCloud has long been the platform DJs have relied on for remixes, mashups, and other material that isn’t on typical music streaming services. Having SoundCloud integrated into Serato is a definite bonus if you want to try out new songs for your set, or play out a remix you love that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

But at launch, there’s no offline playback support in Serato. SoundCloud tells The Verge that while offline playback isn’t included in this initial release, it is coming in the future. In the meantime, that means you need Wi-Fi to play SoundCloud tracks in the program. It’s a nightmare scenario to depend on a venue having stable (and fast) internet in order to DJ a set without hiccups, so this integration won’t be anywhere near as useful as it could be until offline support arrives.

You can’t rely on a Wi-Fi connection while performing live

This appears to be an issue on Serato’s end, rather than SoundCloud’s. The latest Serato update also integrates Tidal, which has the same online-only limitation. I doubt many DJs will be annoyed over this, since Tidal isn’t exactly known as a hot spot for digital crate-digging. But SoundCloud often is, which is why its absence of offline playback makes this partnership a great idea with a huge miss (for now).

If you want to use SoundCloud in Serato, you’ll need Serato DJ Pro 2.1 or DJ Lite 1.1. Once you link your SoundCloud account, you’ll be able to access your saved playlists, search for tracks, and mix anything available on the service, all without leaving the app.

You’ll also need a SoundCloud Go+ account. Many DJs and artists already pay for SoundCloud Pro and Pro Unlimited — accounts that let them upload content to the platform — but they’ll have to additionally pay for a subscription to SoundCloud’s full streaming service to use it within Serato. Regularly, SoundCloud Go+ is $9.99 a month, but if you already pay for Pro or Pro Unlimited, it’s $4.99 a month. As a professional tool, that wouldn’t be as hard to stomach, but it’s mostly a novelty until offline playback arrives.

SoundCloud also announced earlier this year it was adding high-quality streaming to SoundCloud Go+, a necessary step if the company plans on having DJs play from its platform in a live setting. Content uploaded in a high bitrate or lossless format can now be streamed back at AAC 256 kbps via an opt-in setting. In terms of quality, AAC 256 kbps is about as good as a 320 kbps MP3.

So, will DJs use this new SoundCloud / Serato integration? Without offline playback, it doesn’t feel viable to use in live performances. Using it at home to test songs on SoundCloud without leaving Serato, or record a mix that includes SoundCloud material does seem handy, especially with the new boost in streaming quality. But offline playback feels like the strongest case for convincing DJs to pay for the new feature. And that isn’t here... yet.