How to DJ in Second Life

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DJing in Second Life seems like a very complicated process, it requires different components, planning and testing. This post is an outline of the requirements needed to DJ in Second Life. This is not a technical step by step guide, and you may need additional references not covered in this post, many I will link to throughout. This post is meant to serve as a starting point for those interested in DJing.

To begin, there are five major components when DJing in Second Life: Computer Hardware, Streaming Software, Audio Stream, Second Life and Licensing. Each of these components are connected with each other as displayed in the diagram below.

A diagram of how to DJ in Second Life. Some icons are from the Phuzion icon set. http://www.crystalxp.net/galerie/en.id.15238-phuzion-asher-icons-a-png.htm


Computer Hardware

Computer Hardware

The most important aspect of DJing in Second Life is your computer. Many people only have one computer system which must be able to run both Second Life and your streaming software while having enough space for your music library. Another requirement is your internet connection, it must have enough bandwidth for both Second Life and streaming software. Second Life is resource hog and eats up a lot of bandwidth and system resources. Some streaming software are just as resource intensive however all of them use a significant portion of your bandwidth upload speed. The best indicator to see if you can DJ in Second Life is run both Second Life and the streaming software at the same time. I do have some really important recommendations:

  • Test your internet connection – Most broadband services can handle the bandwidth required for DJing. A rule of thumb is if you have cable internet service or better your in the clear. DSL and Satellite broadband connections may encounter some problems. One way to see if your Internet connection will be able to support streaming is to test it with Speedtest.net. If the results of the test indicate that your upload speed is 1500 kb/s or better you should be in the clear, even upload speeds of 1000kb/s should be sufficient. Anything beneath that number and I would worry, however testing the process will provide the best insight.
  • Obtain a second system for streaming only – In general if you are spending $1,500 or more on a computer system, your more than likely to have enough resources to DJ in Second Life with only one system. The problem of a one system setup is it can become unstable due to software crashes and technical malfunctions. I recommend purchasing a cheap second computer (a laptop will do) with an external sound card and external hard drive to DJ with (budget roughly $600 – $1000). Streaming software does not require as much resources as Second Life, so a low-end computer strictly for DJing and maintain high quality production.
  • (If you can) Avoid using your integrated sound card – Most systems have an integrated soundcard. This means your soundcard is attached to your motherboard. I highly recommend purchasing an external USB sound card or a PCI soundcard to use. Not only will the quality of your audio sound improve, but you may avoid problems that will prevent you from DJing effectively.
  • Purchase a quality microphone – One of the things I’m really cautious about is my microphone quality. If your planning on DJing in Second Life and making it a career, purchasing a quality mic or headset will go a long way. I’ve previously listed some tips in improving mirophone quality that also applies to purchasing a new mic. A note about microphone types; the streaming software you choose will determine the type of microphone you use. Winamp, for instance, has a history of not working effectively with USB microphones. The alternative is to purchase a 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch microphone to plug into your soundcard or to use a program that allows different audio inputs such as SAM Broadcaster.

Streaming Software

There’s two types of streaming software, free and not free or “professional” software. I do not classify pay streaming software as “professional”, you can DJ professionally with free software. The distinction between the two lies with the software’s features rather than the sound quality.

Winamp provides a free plugin, the Shoutcast DSP, enabling the program to become a powerful DJ tool. This is one of the popular and common means of DJing online. Winamp is free lightweight music program with lots of features, supports a wide range of audio formats and includes an excellent music library. However, there are problems when running Winamp and Shoutcast in Windows Vista; The Shoutcast DSP 1.9.0 is very old and hasn’t had a recent update. Using Winamp and the Shoutcast DSP requires several steps detailed in this guide I’ve written.

SAM Broadcaster is the popular “professional” package. It provides a wide range of features not found elsewhere, but has a steep learning curve and does not support all audio formats (namely AAC+). There are some quirks, especially with microphone use. A tip if you plan on using your mic with SAM: in the Voice FX panel, click on Config then the Encoders radio button, then Ok Trust me on this one, you will save yourself a headache! SAM is a great choice for any DJ, although expensive ($299). If you are planning on making a career as an online DJ it is worth the price tag.

Virtual DJ mimics real DJ turntables and mixers. It is best used for those who want to strictly create hour long mixes The best feature of Virtual DJ is the ability to interact with vinyl turntables or CD players. You can download free timecoded CD’s or acquire timecoded vynl and DJ with your DJ equipment.

B.U.T.T. and SimpleCast are free streaming applications, their main function is to send an audio source to an audio server. If you have your own DJ equipment, you may hook up a mixer to your computer where the sound is sent to your audio server. While B.U.T.T. and SimpleCast are great pieces of software, they are very limited in use (unlike the other software, they don’t play audio files). Usually when using this type of software, your using an connected audio source to your computer.

Mac users can rely on Rogue Amoeba’s Nicecast to DJ. It’s not a free program, but inexpensive ($40), and interacts with iTunes, Quicktime and all sorts of audio programs. Mac users may also want to take a look at post for additional DJing resources.

Audio Server

An audio server is where the music you play is send to online and where your listeners tune in. Usually audio servers are called a “stream”. There are three types of audio servers, ShoutCast, IceCast, and OddCast. 99% of the time you’ll be using a ShoutCast server to stream music into Second Life. Regardless of your audio sever, Second Life can only recognize .mp3 and .ogg streams.

Most home internet connections do not have enough bandwidth to act as a proper audio server. For every listener you have connected to your stream, bandwidth is being utilized to send that audio to each user. A more effective option is to purchase streaming services (or Shoutcast/IceCast hosting services) from a company. I use Catalistpro.com (note: I have several working relationship with them, so my opinion may be biased) or Project X (a friends shoutcast service.) Both of these services are ran by Second Life residents, however feel free to use Google and find a host who best meets your needs.

When you obtain a server, you will receive a listening address, it will look something like this: 192.168.1.1:8000. This address serves two purposes: 1) how people are going to listen to your music and 2) how you connect to your stream. The address is comprised of two parts, the server address and the port. All streaming software requires these two pieces of information in order to stream. The address is everything before the colon (in this example, 192.168.1.1), the port is everything after the colon (8000). Most streaming software you will need to place these numbers in two different locations; for others to listen they are going to need the full address (http://192.168.1.1:8000). Other bits of information you will receive from your provider is a password for the stream. This is used to connect to your server and very important. Listeners do not require a password to listen.

Second Life

The next part of this equation is Second Life! Second Life has the ability to play audio streams without the use of additional programs. Every land parcel in Second Life has the ability to attach an audio stream address to it. To do this pull up the land information by clicking on it’s name at the top of your screen or in you menu, click on World then About Land. Here, click on the Media tab and insert your audio servers address in the Music URL box. When your stream is active (that is when you are connected and playing music), everyone can listen by clicking on the Play Streaming Music Button. In some cases, when your working at a club, the land owner will be the only one with permission to change the Music URL. In this case, all they need is your stream address. Torley Linden created a great video tutorial on how to accomplish this.

Be mindful, if you have voice activated others will hear you through your microphone. Also in certain cases sounds in Second Life may be heard on your stream. To provide the best quality, disable all Second Life sounds while DJing.

Licensing

One question that comes up is that of music licensing. I’ve shared my thoughts in past about this topic, but will reiterate here. You must pay music royalties if you are going to DJ online. Tracks designated under certain Creative Commons licenses, or explicit permission from an artist and those included in the production of their work do not apply. One example would be the Nine Inch Nails Ghosts I – IV album, which contains the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. If you meet the licenses criteria, you are able to play it on your stream.

Some services make obtaining a music licensing easy and cost effective, two popular ones are the swcast network and loudcity.

Additional Resources

I have many posts focused on the topic of DJing online, which you can find by going through the DJ Tips Category Archive. Additional sources of information are:

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54 Responses to How to DJ in Second Life

  1. Bearfoot says:

    I'm a bit confused about using a USB microphone with the winamp shoutcast plug ins.. do you know anything about this?

  2. @Bearfoot I do. USB Microphones don't work with the winamp shoutcast dsp. What happens, in order to DJ with voice, you need to push all your sound through the soundcard. This doesn't work with USB Mic's.

  3. Bearfoot says:

    that's what I thought, thanks anyway.

    at least the headphones are good.. :D

  4. djknice says:

    I've been djing for over 18 years. I know dj on laptop and wanted to know how to get a job djing in second life??

  5. That's a really good question DJ Knice, enough that I'll be making a blog post about it this week. Until then the best advice I have is begin searching for clubs who are hiring for DJ's within Second Life, its going to be tough if you don't know someone but there's always a club hiring somewhere. It's going to require some footwork, visiting club after club, and asking managers if they are hiring.

  6. Pingback: Music Clubs in Second Life: A Labour of Love. « Twisted Second Life

  7. Pingback: OMG! Teh Griefing Wall! - Page 3 - SLUniverse Forums

  8. Toxic says:

    Do you NEED a microphone to Dj in second life or can you get by w/o one?

    • You don't NEED a microphone, but I highly recommend it! While many DJ's get buy without talking, such as appearing and playing a mix, it also tends to be a very shallow experience for those attending the parties.

  9. jbbbear says:

    can a sl dj use cd's instead of stream?

  10. jbbbear says:

    can an sl dj use cd's instead of stream?

    • You still have to push the music out somehow. So in order to DJ into Second Life you have to use a stream. You can play CD's from your system using a media player, but you still need to use a stream.

    • Absolutely but the setup is a little more sophisticated.

      If you are planing to want to crossfade between tracks (go between one song to another with a smooth transition) then you'll need to employ a mixer. In short, connect your two CD players to the mixer.

      The mixer (or if just a single CD player) is the ran into the "Line In" input on your sound card. From there, a dedicated streaming software such as Nicecast or Streamcast is required to encode the sound and send it to the server.

  11. Carty says:

    I have just read the excellent "how to…" above. And it all makes sense as it's exactly how I work in SL now.

    However, I have a problem. I use SAM Broadcaster and a free ShoutCast host.

    The clubs I work at are having problems hearing my stream. I have given them the stream address (http://s3.myradiostream.com:10150), but no-one hears anything. The stream works perfectly when using other media players, but not in SL. Some days I can only hear the SL feed, other times, nothing.

    ShoutCast have told me that I have to give the webpage address with embedded player for people to listen to the stream, which is not going to happen. SL players want to hear the music in the club.

    ShoutCast were adamant that this has to be the case and that the other link (posted above) will not work.

    Therefore, I need help, as a new club I am working at needs me to have my own stream.

    What can I do? What options do I have?

    Any help would be really appreciated.

    Carty

  12. Typhon says:

    I have SAM, but the shoutcast plugin keeps giving me a error when I try to broadcast, is there a way I can correct that?

  13. Pingback: Second Life and Ibiza | KizaPark

  14. Judas says:

    En este blog (judassantos.blogspot.com/) podrán encontrar instrucciones en español para ser DJ en Second Life, usando Mac OS X, sin necesidad de pagar por el servidor de streaming.

  15. Mike says:

    I am a DJ at a club on SL, and use the SAMS broadcaster without any problems. The only problem I do have, and not sure if anyone else does, but there always seems to be about a 10 second gap between my songs. Anyone know how to fix that??

  16. Nexeus Fatale says:

    @Mike you may want to try messing with the cross fading preferences. Visit the SAM Broadcaster Wiki (link: http://support.spacialaudio.com/wiki/Crossfading) for more information.

  17. Lin Rosenstar says:

    I have a friend who wants to start a Club in SL and asked me to DJ, so i went to another friend and they gave me this stupid notecard that made no sense, your "how to" above made more sense but what im confused is how i put steps 1-2-3 together, I.E, how do i get a free stream host? and how do i get the DSP and winamp to broadcast my music? I'm rather VERY confused. Also I was told i need a player in the club and i dont know where to get that at either…

    If you could just maybe break this down into begginers terms i might be able to figure it out, I'm sorry, adn thank you for your time.

    Lin Rosenstar

  18. Mathew says:

    @ Lin Rosenstar –

    The only times you'll have a "free" stream host is if the club is paying for it's own stream, and gives you the info to use it. Otherwise, you'll want to purchase your own stream: Just run a quick search for DJ streams in the SL search, and you should be able to quickly find places to buy your own stream. The prices are usually pretty cheap, and sell the lease to the stream either by the week or the month. You'll want to make sure you get a stream that allows plenty of bandwidth for quality playback.

  19. elizabeth says:

    hey,
    so my issue is tht i want to dj in second life, but is the lisencing software necesary to be able to do that, and i think i'll need a dictionary for the rest lol
    thanks for it though, very!! helpful :)

  20. KyraV says:

    Can iTunes be used to dj?

  21. Just like to add a note to the subject of licensing. This is very much in the air and untested in Second Life. That said, the above statement about Creative Commons is not correct. This gives you the right to copy, reproduce, rework a song or make derivative works. If the artist is a member of ASCAP, SOCAN or an affiliated member internationally, then you still need to pay broadcast license fees and royalties.

    By the industry rules (check with your own country's own equivalent organization) For the Canadians in the crowd, SOCAN (ASCAP in the US is the counterpart) defines that the owner of the venue is responsible for the broadcasting license where the DJ in this situation is only providing a service to the venue. If the venue does not possess it's license, then the DJ is not responsible or liable for royalties.

    If you chose that you want to run a second life radio station thou, then you become responsible for the license fee. The justification is that "who benefits from the broadcast of the music". If you work for someone else's radio station, the same as the above club situation applies, the station is responsible.

    Hope the two cents helps everyone, licensing is sticky. While no one yet has had the knock on the door from the man in the suite, better to be safe. When I speak of the above, there's bound to be a few court challenges to clarify if a Second Life club constitutes a venue or if the DJ is broadcasting their own radio station.

    On an aside, I have chosen to be licensed by SOCAN as I rather be safe as a internet radio broadcaster. The fees are quite reasonable and does provide me the ability of operating a shoutcast/itunes radio station if I chose to.

  22. Cookiemami says:

    is it possible to use an internal mic on the laptop when dj'ing and if so, how, im new at this sorry if it seems like the newbie question lol but hey im not afraid to ask..

  23. bulanmaster says:

    Is it possible to stream with windows media player?

    • Nexeus Fatale says:

      Not really, if there is, it isn't easy at all!

      • bulanmaster says:

        Hey thank you very much for the response. Seems like its been about 2 years since i have this carrier (if i may call it like that) of DJing in SL and its been a long but more than wonderful period of fun doing this and i do not intend to even stop it… Your “How to…” was a quite good start for a person that didnt know much about the subject. But well i also learnt a lot in world and well taugh a lot to others. As i saw there were a lot of people that your post helped as well so i would like to say grats for it and keep it up…

  24. Krysten says:

    okay i've tryed almost all of these! and its the SERVER on all of them and its really annoyin! i dont know any more free server sites!

  25. Taima Fang says:

    I am seriuosly thinking about becoming a DJ in Second life,but now for two questions. One, I have Itunes,and a fair library in my computer,Do I have to do anything major to add them to the DJ Program? Second,Does it matter what kind of computer you are on,Laptop or PC?

  26. Pingback: Second Life and Ibiza | KizaPark - The Automotive Blog

  27. bob brown says:

    wow it sound a lot harder then real life

  28. Pingback: DJ's - How Do They Get Started? - SLUniverse Forums

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  33. Mobile Disco says:

    I've always wondered how you DJ in second life thanks for the tutorial would be good to get my set heard on there.

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  38. Drew says:

    in sams I have set up a encoder and I can login as a dj at a club but there seems like there is some kind of feed back because all that happens is a high pitched squeal like audio feed back. Do you know what might be causing that?

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