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Serato Scratch Live Crate Management

Using an external drive with Serato Scratch Live for DJ'ing at WSUM.

Another article in the WSUM KB talks about how to set up an iTunes Library on an external drive so that iTunes can be used and sync'd against from different computers without having to burn up iTunes store authorizations (of which each iTunes Store account allows 5).  This article will introduce using the same hard drive with Serato Scratch Live for DJ'ing.
WSUM provides Serato Scratch Live hardware and software in the Main and Production broadcast studios as an alternative to using iTunes for broadcast playback.  Scratch Live is an effective tool for DJ'ing as it allows two separate playback decks for cross-fading between songs. Crossfading can often provide additional time during a show to allow an extra song or two to be played during a show.  Crossfading also is a great way to prevent dead air. 

Scratch Live is a free program available from Serato which provides many additional tools for effective playback as a performance. When using Scratch Live for playback, more advance techniques can also be employed to create a more appealing show:
  • Match beats in transitions
  • Loop tracks or portions of tracks
  • Select music based on BPM
  • Use sound effect audio more efficiently
  • Use vinyl to control your audio playback
Scratch Live can be downloaded from  While Scratch Live can be used without anything other than the program, many of the enhanced features are only available when connected to a Serato capable mixer like the Rane TTM57 mixers available for use at WSUM. As a standalone program without a mixer, Scratch Live can be used to build and prepare what are known as Crates to contain the music on an external drive. Scratch Live in standalone mode will scan all of the media on a drive for Track and Title information as well as analyzing the audio for BPM information.  Additionally, cue points can be specified in songs to quickly access and loop a particular portion of a song for playback.
If Scratch Live is installed on a computer which also has Apple Quicktime installed, all music from an iTunes library can be used to build a crate. Instead of modifying the media on the hard drive for it's own purpose, Scratch Live will create a folder on the root of the external hard drive with the name _Serato_ to contain all of the additional information that will be needed to effectively use the music on that drive. Once this is done, the drive can be moved from computer to computer making it really easy to perform a kick-ass show without anything more than the external drive.

Creating a Serato Crate

If the guidelines in the iTunes Library Management article have been followed, an external drive with music is already available to create a crate. If not already available, download and install Scratch Live from Serato.  A Serato-capable mixer is not required to set up the crate. When installed, go ahead and launch Scratch Live.
The easiest way to set up the first crate is to navigate to the iTunes Library folder on the external drive with the Files window.
Grab the iTunes Folder and drag it to the left-hand window that lists available crates.  This will automatically start the process of media scanning.
This is all that is required to create a crate. At this point, the file browser can be used to drag a media file from the library up to the playback deck to play a song.  
As mentioned before, Scratch does provide a host of additional tools to aid in music playback when connected to a compatible mixer.  In order to maximize the effectiveness of using Scratch Live, this is a good time to Analyze Files. Analyzing files is only available in Scratch Live when NOT connected to a mixer.
Analyzing files will extrapolate all of the information needed to add BPM and patterns to the crate so that this work does not need to be done by the computer during a performance.

What Next?

Scratch Live takes the concept of sampling to new heights.  Now that a crate is set up, it is easy to start setting cue points on all of the music in the crate. The cue points can then be used to trigger samples for looping.  Scratch Live can do all of the work of selecting beat-matched samples for looping or just for starting a song at a particular point.  The music can be used almost like an instrument now that all of the prep work has been done to the music. Now head to the station and plug into a Serato computer and mixer and start practicing! Scratch is designed with the performer in mind, and performance is exactly what a WSUM host does.  While it may not feel the same as being a turntablist at a rave in front of a crowd, the principle techniques are still the same. So much more can be achieved when music is approached as a tool and the hour in the studio is considered a performance.  Beat matching, cross fading, looping, and no dead air are the key principles to preventing a crowd of 1000 dancers from tripping over themselves.  It is wholly appropriate to apply these concepts to a broadcast as DJ does mean "Disc Jockey." Broadcast DJ's are what started Turntablism in the first place.

Keywords:WSUM, training, sports, editors, programming, remotes, serato   Doc ID:20894
Owner:Laura G.Group:WSUM
Created:2011-10-23 13:09 CDTUpdated:2012-02-14 13:41 CDT
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