The Best Apps for DJing Your Own Party

Music

/ September 23, 2012

Ever wish there was a way you could change around a playlist on your mobile phone or iPod, without having to create a new one? An article in the New York Times over the weekend measured up the best jukebox apps available. Djay, Diner Jukebox, Spotify, StereoMatic, Tune Drop & Big Jambox were among those given a trial. Most of the apps range between $1 to $10, with the most expensive being $300. Among the biggest standouts was Tune Drop ($1) which lets people change around a dinner-party mix without interrupting the song currently on deck. Check out the NY Times’ article by David F. Gallagher below.

My mission was to supply the music for a friend’s big birthday party. Sounds simple enough, right? Set up a playlist on an iPod and throw in a little Motown, because everybody likes Motown. Plug it into the sound system at the bar we had rented out and hit play. Instant revelry.

Like any good D.J., I wanted some input on what song would play when. But I also liked the idea of handing over some control to my fellow partygoers, letting them queue up what they wanted to hear. My search for a way to do this led me down some twisted technological pathways.

For years, my standard tool for party soundtracks was theiTunes DJ feature, formerly known as Party Shuffle, available at the top of the list of playlists in iTunes. This lets you select a source playlist and then queues all of those tracks in random order. The advantage over standard shuffle mode is that you can see which songs are next in the queue, rearrange the sequence and take out any that might kill the vibe.

Like iTunes generally, iTunes DJ is functional but not all that fun. It is also not a great group activity, though you can set it up so that guests who have Apple’s Remote app on their iPhones or iPod Touches can request songs and vote for their favorites in the queue. (But show me a bunch of people silently submitting song requests on their phones, and I’ll show you a lame party.)

The trouble with using iTunes for the soundtrack was that it would involve letting potentially inebriated people gather around my laptop in a crowded bar, a recipe for digital disaster. My aging iPad seemed a little more party-friendly, but the iPad’s Music app has no equivalent to the iTunes DJ function. I would have to venture into the depths of the App Store.

Many D.J. apps for the iPad aim to transform you into one of those guys who are paid a pile of money to fly to Ibiza and spin techno tracks until the sun rises over the Mediterranean.

One top seller is Djay ($20), a beautifully designed app that lets you mess with two virtual turntables and a pile of special effects, things like echo, flanger and bit crusher. This made for some good mucking around with headphones on, but it looked as if it would take a few weeks to master, and to really fit the part I would have to hover over the iPad and pump my fist in the air the whole night.

Read more at the NY Times.