Format Fate: Streaming Into The Future

'Next Generation' Streaming

Beatport has acquired the assets of streaming site Pulselocker, which folded in 2017, with dreams to create a ‘next generation’ subscription streaming service for DJs. But what does this mean for the future of digital file formats like Mp3? Is this the next logical step? Will it work? As the music industry has learned the hard way, new technologies can't be held off forever. Just think back to the Napster crisis, a popular P2P (that's music file sharing) site that almost single-handedly brought down the major music moguls after they refused to accept that the Mp3 would supersede the CD. BEATPORT LOGO This decision to ignore the potential of such technology of the time was swiftly followed by plummeting CD sales and a vast network of uncontrolled free music distribution that still continues to this day. For the general masses streaming is quickly becoming the music listening format of choice. In DJ contexts however, there may be some negative ramifications. The subscription idea sounds great in terms of convenience and penny saving, having as many tunes as you want instantaneously and at a fixed rate, but whether the audio quality will be as sturdy as current digital formats remains to be seen (or heard). laptop dj

Uncertain Future

Perhaps the biggest point to make about this move by Beatport is that they've tried it once already. And it did not go well. Following the fall of its parent company SFX in 2016, the site was forced to shut down its music streaming service after just one year along with its video, news, and event features sections. The music site, most notable for its digital music shop/database, stated (at the time) that they wanted to take focus back to Beatport's core function e.g. to upload and sell DJ ready tracks to whoever needed them in a number of friendly formats. Maybe now, in our current technological climate and on sturdier financial grounds, the time is right to pursue a commercially viable music streaming format.

The Future Format

Only time will tell if streaming is set to be the new go-to DJ format; seeing as Beatport seem to be throwing their eggs into a once failing basket there must be some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. It would be naive to imagine that mp3s, WAVs, AIFFs and so on are to be the sole formats in the foreseeable future. Stems for example showcase a radical new take on what a sound file can be, a mere glimpse at what might be possible. What ever your views may be on the idea of streaming music during DJ sets it inevitably raises questions on where the music industry is heading... and might even spawn some new, exciting concepts in the process.