Preface: The rate in which users consume music has vastly exceeded all expectations over the last decade. The industry has had to adapt and re-mold its revenue streams into the need-now, pay next to nothing, consumer ideal. A new up and coming download and streaming marketplace, Pulselocker, seems to have plunged head first into the choppy waters of music retail and here at The Pro Audio Web Blog we were keen to see a new innovator making its mark on the landscape. Pulselocker is streamlined in content and execution for DJ’s with a large percentage of club music, but with many extra features that would appeal to anyone who enjoys this category of music. The Pulselocker website does boast a catalogue of 27,000 record labels.
Above: The Pulselocker Service Logo
Set up and install: After a painless download from the Pulselocker website, a simple install wizard guides you through an installation set up, standard of any program. On first boot you are greeted with a welcome login window. You are given the option, as a growing number of services do, to login using Facebook, or through an unconnected stand-alone account. As a review procedure we used the standard login. Now, I would like to make clear from the start, this service was in beta whilst in review. I have kept this in mind whilst reviewing, however I haven’t used a more complete and bug free beta for a long time! So some credit already to the Pulselocker team!
Features and User Interface: The sign of a great UI is when there is a zero learning curve, Pulselocker has all the features you would expect from a media player and more, so straight away you’re comfortable in use. First, down the left hand side is a ‘Discover’ column, the host navigation tools for the user. The ‘New For You’ tab has been the central hub for me and is where I believe the genius of this program lies. Social is at the centre of this service and the ‘New For You’ tab shows you your profile, of which you can edit photo, name, social links etc in the applications settings. It also shows who you are following and in turn who is following you. So as you can tell social plays a major role, connecting DJ’s together, sharing playlists, tracks and being able to see what’s trending at the moment, so you can keep your set fresh and up to date. Underneath this is the ‘Just In’ tab which is self-explanatory and is a great way to be straight on top of any new track added to the every growing Pulselocker collection. ‘Genres’ is the next tab which again is another generic media player control, with a simplest list screen which is easy to navigate productively.
The next section is your ‘Locker’ for storing music off line. Your Locker size is determined by what package you have subscribed to. The pricing goes from $9.99 - 34.99 (US) a month, with the most expensive package giving you 300 spaces for tracks in your locker, for off-line use. However you can request even more space on the Pulselockers pricing webpage. The Locker allows you to play tracks offline without paying for them as long as your subscription is active. This allows DJ’s to try out tracks in their sets and playlists that they wish to demo in the club before purchasing. This is an extremely appealing feature and will entice many DJ’s to this format. Of course it’s possible to add a track to your cart to buy and there is a purchased tab to access your bought content. The last two features are a ‘Starred’ and ‘Create’. ‘Starred’ allows you to flag your favorite tracks, the ones you may want to use frequently, and this provides a quick search solution to save time finding your biggest floor-fillers. ‘Create’ is the place to compile your sets together into playlists to store for future use.
The player controls are generic and nothing to wow the user here, the track counter does show a wave form which is always great to see, but it’s been a feature for many applications past and present - however always a pleasing ascetic addition.
When purchased, the tracks are able to be download at 320Kbps AAC/M4A and more importantly DRM free, which means transfers to other devices will be painless. The connection between the user and the Pulselocker team is well devised too, with users being able to click the ‘Talk to Us/Request Music’ button and a clean request form pops up, allowing feedback and track recommendations to the staff. Features such as this display the Pulselocker team’s eagerness for your feedback and to channel the application as easily as possible into the users hands.Now DJ’s don’t worry, Pulselocker boasts compatibility with Tracktor and Serato, so this application will slip into your set up with as minimal fuss and frustration as possible.
Conclusion: This is not a product for everyone, it is streamlined and set up for DJ’s and the specific features and workflow of this program will be a valuable asset to them. Finding a new revenue stream in the music industry is no easy task and I have to say the crew over at Pulselocker have something quite promising! Getting easy, quick and painless access to high quality tracks is a lifesaving tool for any DJ and I will certainly be recommending this service to some of my colleges and peers. Even better is this is just a beta, yes it still needs to grow it’s music catalogue and there is still a vast amount of ground to cover with user base community, but Pulselocker have hit the ground running, and will be closely watched by us and I am sure, competitors too. So down to the rating... Here at The Pro Audio Web Blog we give Pulselocker (Beta - 05/2013) 4 out of 5 stars!