DJing is extremely popular and access to free software, reasonably priced hardware and the ability to stream or download millions of songs has only increased that interest.
However, assuming you are not playing vinyl on turntables, your hardware and songs are largely useless without software to link it all together.
There are lots of expensive DJ software solutions on the market today, but for those of you who are just starting out, are on a limited budget or just want to DJ for fun, there are plenty of free DJ software alternatives available.
I have listed the software in alphabetical order so as not to appear biased in any way.
Blaze DJ software has been developed for PC and Mac and provides everything that you would expect from more premium solutions, without the cost.
It seems to me that the developers may have taken inspiration from Serato DJ when creating the interface as it has a very similar, clean look about it. Also similar to Serato DJ are the different coloured waveform layers for the low, mid and high frequencies. This allows you to see individual musical elements if you are not totally familiar with the track.
A really great feature of Blaze DJ software is that it integrates natively into Soundcloud, allowing you to instantly add any track from the popular music sharing site to your set or mix.
Connectivity is possible with most controllers and the option to create your own custom mapping to control a range of FX is also available.
Cross DJ software is developed by MixVibes, the company that created the industry-standard Rekordbox software by Pioneer.
This is another piece of free DJ software that has a really clean, minimal interface. This makes it perfect for beginners who need to focus only on the essentials.
Cross DJ offers two virtual decks, a mixer that boasts a three-band EQ for each channel, individual channel faders and a crossfader. In addition, there are also high and low pass filters assigned to both channels.
While the pro version of Cross DJ offers a lot more functionality, the free version is somewhat restricted. You are unable to record your sets natively in the software, it cannot be used with any midi controllers and you cannot edit the keyboard shortcuts.
Cross DJ is a great piece of software to help get you started, but the business model is clearly focused on tempting people with the free version and then upselling the pro version.
This is probably the most basic software included in this list. If you are serious about DJing, then you may want to skip this one!
DJ Mix Lite is a very simple piece of software that will analyse your music library and identify the BPM of each track. You can then create a playlist and the software will perform automated mixes of each of the selected tracks.
This particular piece of software is perfect for house parties or other small gatherings and is only available for PC.
This is a comprehensive piece of software which, since the release of version 2.0, now enables you to record your mix directly in the software. DJ Prodecks is available for PC only.
There are three FX assigned to each deck; echo, flanger and wah, though only one can be selected at a time.
Other features include a loop function which can be selected from 1/4 beat all the way to 32 beats and three sample slots are available for triggering one-shot FX for each deck.
For those of you who like gimmicks, DJ Prodecks allows you to display your real name or DJ name within the skin, enabling an element of customisation.
DJUCED DJ software is developed by Hercules, so integration with some of their range of DJ controllers is seamless.
The interface makes good use of colours and vaguely reminds me of Virtual DJ. It does look a bit too “busy” for my liking though and seems cramped in some areas.
The sampler is quite extensive and has a 4×4 grid where you can load samples, loops and one-shots. If you are using the software with a compatible controller, then the sampler can be triggered from the pad controls.
Like some of the other free DJ software listed here, DJUCED has included a fun gimmick in their software as a unique selling point (USP). The “My Party” feature allows you to create a playlist ahead of your party or gig. You can then share a link to the playlist with the people who will be in attendance and they can cast votes on their favourite tracks.
DJUCED is available for both PC and Mac.
Mixxx is a free and open source DJ software for use on PC, Mac and Linux.
In my opinion, this is one of the most comprehensive pieces of software on this list.
The interface comes with different skins to customise the look of the software as you prefer. The skins are fully responsive so will fit any screen size.
There is also in-built key detection to enable harmonic mixing, RGB waveforms to differentiate between low, mid and high frequencies and five FX of the highest quality.
Mixxx supports a range of DJ controllers from manufacturers such as Pioneer, Vestax, Numark, Traktor and many more.
One of the industry leaders in DJ software, New Zealand based Serato have been in the business for a long time.
Serato DJ Lite (previously known as Serato DJ Intro) is their entry level software which allows you to get the hang of mixing without the need to attach any hardware. You can take advantage of the practice mode, which enables you to mix on two virtual decks and view the RGB waveforms on HD screens.
If you are still in the stages of building up your music library, you can stream millions of tracks from Soundcloud and Tidal directly in the software.
Serato DJ Lite comes bundled with a two week free trial of Serato DJ Pro and there is also the option to add Serato Play for $39, which unlocks more advanced features.
Serato DJ Lite is available for PC and Mac.
UltraMixer is available as a free download, but only as a trial version. If you don’t upgrade to one of the full versions, you will need to reboot the software every 60 minutes.
The reason why I have included this piece of free DJ software is that it is a little bit different from any of the other available solutions.
UltraMixer is the perfect option for any DJ who plays at fun days, restaurants, corporate events or any other event where continuous music is required for many hours. The automix feature is excellent and will mix through a pre-programmed playlist without any issues, with or without BPM sync.
UltraMixer is compatible with a host of popular controllers and will even work with Pioneer CDJs.
Prices for full licences range from $49.95 up to $199.95 and are available for both PC and Mac.
I am sure that most, if not all of you, have heard of Virtual DJ. Originally released in 1996, it is used by millions of people every day and has been downloaded more than 150,000,000 times (yes, you read that correctly, one hundred and fifty million times!)
You can download Virtual DJ for free and it can be used with the home licence. This allows you to control audio, video and karaoke via the software and even record and broadcast your sets, but you will be unable to control any hardware.
If you wish to use Virtual DJ with your DJ controller or mixer, then you will need to purchase either the home plus licence or the pro licence which range from $49-$299 and will work on either PC or Mac.
This is the ultimate solution for anyone who would like to try their hand at DJing without the need to download or install any software.
YOU.DJ is a cloud-based solution and has a lot of tracks available to start mixing immediately. However, if you don’t find what you are looking for, you can always use the search function and stream your favourite tracks from YouTube or Soundcloud.
For an online solution, YOU.DJ has a lot more functionality than you might think. A slicer, flanger and echo delay are among some of the available FX and there is a loop function from 1/2 beat all the way to 32 beats. On the virtual mixer you will find mid and low EQ controls and a lo/hi pass filter for each channel.
YOU.DJ is available to use via any browser and there is an iOS app available with the promise of an android option coming soon.
This is a great piece of software for the beginner DJ, offering a clean and simple interface to get started.
Zulu will start life as a 14-day free trial, after which the software won’t expire, but some features will be restricted. At that point, you can either continue using the software for free with limited functionality or upgrade to the full version for $29.99.
There are a lot of FX that can be added while you mix and the BPM detection is extremely accurate.
Zulu is compatible with many DJ controllers and supports VST plugins for those who would like to utilise additional FX. It is available for PC, Mac and Android app.
So which one should I choose?
All of the free DJ software solutions listed above are still on the market because people continue to use them.
I have provided a basic description so that you know what to expect from each one, so it now comes down to personal choice.
I recommend visiting the website of each developer to find out more information about the software, then choose accordingly based on your expectations and which one you feel will be suitable for you.
If you have had good results with a piece of software that isn’t listed here, I would love to hear from you in the comments.