Is Twitter DJ = Twitter Spam?


Techno DJ Richie Hawtin is putting social media site Twitter to use in a unique way – automatically Twittering his sets:

Twitter DJ is the latest brainwave from Richie Hawtin.

The new application, developed in-house by Bryan McDade at Hawtin’s Minus label, works as a conduit between Traktor and the online messaging utility Twitter. Minus and Native Instruments worked closely together to optimize the Traktor software for this special use.

The Twitter DJ application utilizes feeds from an updated version of Traktor’s standard broadcasting technology to send 30 second updates during Hawtin’s set of what’s currently playing to a designated Twitter account, allowing anyone following the Twitter group to obtain a unique insight into how a DJ builds the atmosphere and dynamics of a set, track by track, and in real time. The track information is freely accessible from any Twitter configured personal mobile devices (even from the dance floor) and archived online on the Twitter page.

This concept is also a significant step towards helping smaller independent record companies and artists to gain further recognition and free promotion when their releases are played as digital files.

Twitter DJ is an interesting idea,  but – sorry, Richie – it makes for a pretty boring Twitter stream:

is now playing: Pfirter – X. Una Vez Pele Una Papa (Digital Only)about 9 hours ago from web

is now playing: Pfirter – A1. Mi Chicaabout 9 hours ago from web

is now playing: – M 74_JPLS Ambivalent Creep_A_45_12about 9 hours ago from web

is now playing: jpls – duckets RMX plus8about 9 hours ago from web

Hawtin has more in mind, though, than just spamming twitter with a stream of details about what he’s playing:

The real potential comes to light when considering the benefits for performing rights societies:

“By providing the necessary information to track what is really being played in clubs, the Twitter DJ application would not only drag the likes of GEMA, PRS and SOCAN kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but make sure the real artists get paid instead of performance payments simply being carved up between the Madonnas and U2s of the world.

If record sales are slowing down and performance is now the key area where artists can achieve financial stability, better solutions need to be found and a workable structure put in place as soon as possible.

We hope that our Twitter DJ application is a step forward in the development of these types of systems.“

Hawtin’s right: there’s no reason technically why DJ’s and bars can’t accurately track, in real time, what’s getting played, so that the real artists get credit.

While this makes for a boring Twitter stream, it opens up a lot of possibilities.

  • If this became common with DJ’s, you could have real-time ranking of the hottest tracks in clubs.
  • You could track the viral spread of hot tracks from one DJ to another.
  • You could have an iPhone app that used proximity to identify the club you were in and display the track that was currently being played.
  • Labels could track which DJs are most successful at blowing up new tracks, making it possible to market to DJs more intelligently.
  • DJs could sort through all the music being played to find out what’s trending upward.

So, while Hawtin’s robo-tweets are a snoozefest, they’re still a great idea.

There are a few things that Hawtin and Native Instruments need to consider to make Twitter DJ useful:

  • Track tweets need to include a global unique identifier for each track, not just the track title. This could be used to identify specific versions of a song and also let you look up other information about the song.
  • Twitter DJ should include meta information about how the song is being played. Modern DJ apps let you easily change the speed and pitch of a track, and this can change how people respond to it.
  • Twitter DJ should “sessionize” the tweets, including a session identifier or a session open and close so that you’d know that Hawtin was starting a session at The Watt, in Rotterdam. This meta information would let other DJ’s know what tracks have been played at specific clubs, and let you know what people are listening to at these clubs.
  • Native Instruments could start a global DJ registry, based on Traktor registrations, and aggregate track tweets. When you register, they could have an option to share track tweets or not. Then you could browse DJ’s online and see the tracks that they are playing.
  • It would be great if track tweets could include some meta information that indicated crowd response. Maybe this could be done automatically using a webcam, or maybe the DJ would have to rank response from 1-10. The information could then be used to understand how crowds responded to songs over time, by club type or even by individual club.

In other words, the track info needs to be in a concise, machine-readable format – which would make for a Twitter stream even more soporific than Hawtin’s current tweets.

Hawtin should split his tweets into two streams: one for Hawtin’s personal messages and one for his robo-tweets. This avoid twitter-spamming fans, but provide the track details for people and applications, that can use it.

Hawtin is testing the beta version of the software on his tour, which started on Wednesday 4/29/2009. You can follow Hawtin’s tweets at

Let me know what you think. Are Hawtin’s robo-tweets Twitter spam, or do you think its got potential?

And if you’re on Twitter, make sure you’re following me.

Image via awesome club/concert photographer Caesar Sebastian

14 thoughts on “Is Twitter DJ = Twitter Spam?

  1. Great insights — this isn't really different from those media player plugins that say what you've got "now playing" in iTunes or Winamp. And since this is music, followers should *definitely* be able to listen to a sample of the playing track beyond just having text names. Otherwise, for most, it looks like a spammy list without context.

  2. "Twitter DJ is an interesting idea, but – sorry, Richie – it makes for a pretty boring Twitter stream"

    I didn't find it boring at all. It is a brilliant idea. An improvemnt could be done by adding a clip of the song (juno perhaps?) and/or a link where you could buy it online (beatport perhaps?)

    I believe it is a great step towards the right decision. An icon of the electronic music promoting producers. The era of "hard to find-bootleg-tracklists-what was that name of the track the superstar DJ was plying" has died long time ago.

  3. I'd argue that the data on what Hawtin is playing is interesting, and his personal commentary is interesting, but mixing them together detracts from both the data's usefulness and your ability to quickly see what Hawtin's doing and thinking.

  4. The nice thing about Twitter, though, is that you decide what's spam and can easily unsubscribe from it.

    Mixing a thousand "is now playing" messages in with a Twitter stream makes it spammy – but the information is nevertheless valuable information.

    I'm hoping Hawtin sticks with this and refines it. At the very least, it's an interesting experiment.

  5. If folks there know the DJ's twitter feed, they can pick it up on their cel. That part is very cool, knowing what he's playing while your there.

  6. Or you could use , which does the same thing. I am sure there are more services like this coming in the future. Beatport seems like a good candidate 🙂

    The good thing about twitter is that spam doesn't really work, because you don't have to subscribe to the stream. Richie has another account to post messages, but he doesn't use it at te moment

  7. Interresting insights on Twitter DJ. Most of the benefits comes from the searchable data it woud generates if it spreads. The session tags would make it much easier to parse and classify.

    Hypem should incorporate this…

    Good stuff

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