Getting Started

Creating Spots

Listening to Spots

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Will People Hear My Spot if They Spell the Artist Name Differently?

SpotDJ uses the song and artist information from iTunes to determine which spots to send you. In general, the more accurate your iTunes library is, the better the chance that your spots will be heard.

Our matching technology is able to correct some basic differences. For example, if you record a spot for “The Doors,” it will still be heard by people whose libraries use “Doors, The” or even just “Doors”.

For artists who have a first and last name, we highly recommend that you record spots using the standard naming that Apple uses. Instead of marking a spot as “Lewis, Huey”, record it as “Huey Lewis”. That way, your spot is much more likely to be heard.

If you’ve already recorded a spot and want to correct the song or artist information, just log into the SpotDJ web site, click on the “My Home” tab, then “My Spots” and you can edit the information.

How Do I Delete a Spot?

Sometimes you upload a spot then decide that you could do a better job with one more chance. Or, you record a spot talking about how Green Day’s latest single is an allegory for Social Darwinism and Malthusian Ideals and then later that day you find out that it’s really just a song about drinking and playing soccer. Either way, you want to delete your spot — no problem!

To delete a spot, simply:

  • Sign on to SpotDJ
  • Click on the My Home tab
  • Click on the My Spots tab below that
  • Find the spot you want to delete
  • Click the Delete link on the right

Why Does My Firewall Show a Warning for SpotDJ?

SpotDJ needs to use your network connection so that you can hear the latest spots as you listen to music. We also use the web to show you information about songs and spots, to allow you to contact us with questions, and to check for updates. SpotDJ does not contain spyware. To work properly, you need to tell your firewall that SpotDJ can access the network.

If you’re using McAfee’s firewall, you’ll see a window like the one below. Just click Grant Access and SpotDJ will be able to operate properly.

McAfee Screenshot

Can I Record a Spot Without Downloading SpotDJ?

If you download SpotDJ, you can hear spots while you listen to music in iTunes, or create spotted playlists that you can sync with your iPod. So you really oughta download SpotDJ!

However, if you just want to record a spot quickly and don’t have time to download and install SpotDJ, you can still contribute a spot! Just sign up or login to SpotDJ, then click the Create tab:

Create Tab

Under the Create tab, you can record your spot right through the SpotDJ web site using Flash. Just click the Allow button to give Flash access to your microphone. Then click Record to record your spot. Fill in the details on the form and submit it — your spot will be available shortly!

Can I Listen to Spots on My iPod?

For you? Sure!

SpotDJ has a (currently experimental) feature that lets you take spots to go. Simply click the small iPod button near the top of the SpotDJ window. It looks like this:

iPod Button

Now you’re in iPod mode. You’ll see a drop down menu with a list of your current iTunes playlists. Pick the playlist you’d like to add spots to and then click Create Spotted Playlist. SpotDJ will create a new playlist with spots based on the original. Your original playlist will be left untouched.

The iPod Spotting Window

Now, just sync your iPod to download the new playlist and you’re ready to take your spots on the go!

Who or What is SpotDJ?

SpotDJ is a service that adds a something new and, frankly, !*#[email protected] awesome to your music listening experience. You listen to your music just like normal, but every once in a while, SpotDJ will play a “spot” between songs.

A spot is simply a short snippet of audio about the song you were listening to. It could be basic information about the song, a story about the artist, an interpretation of the song, news, gossip, recommendations, whatever!

A SpotDJ is also a person — and by using SpotDJ you become a SpotDJ. All of the spots on SpotDJ are created by our users. So if you’re listening to a song and have something to say about it, just flip to SpotDJ, click the “Spot this Song!” button and record your spot. Other SpotDJs listening to that song will hear your comments at the end of the song.

SpotDJ also makes an excellent dessert for a summer afternoon. Mix 3 packets of SpotDJ with 12 ounces (by weight) of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of light brown sugar, 2 eggs, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Mix until combined. Then spread the SpotDJ mixture on a greased baking pan and sprinkle with the shredded packaging from an iPod Nano. Bake for 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until topping is crisp and golden brown, or when it has ignited. Serve immediately.

What is a Spot?

A spot is a short audio clip that you hear between songs. While you’re listening to music, SpotDJ checks to see if there are spots that are relevant to the song you’re listening to. When the song is over, you hear the spot!

A spot can be just about anything. A spot might tell you something interesting that you didn’t know about one of your favorite songs, like this spot about Jay-Z:

Other spots contain artist updates, concert announcements, trivia, interpretations of songs, etc. You name it, someone has probably spotted it!

The spots you hear with SpotDJ are created by other SpotDJ users. You can also easily create your own spots for the world to hear. Got something to say about a certain song or artist? Some gossip to share? Some knowledge to assert? Be heard!

Why Can’t I Log in?

If you’re having trouble logging into SpotDJ, keep in mind that there are two components to SpotDJ that both require logins — the SpotDJ application that you download and install, and the SpotDJ web site, where you can browse spots and customize your DJ page.
Here are some hints for logging in:

  • If you just signed up for SpotDJ, did you confirm your email address? You should’ve received an email message when you signed up with a link to confirm. If you’d like, we can send the confirmation email again. Just attempt to login to the SpotDJ web site, and it’ll offer to re-send the confirmation email.
  • Make sure that you’re logging in with your email address, not your DJ name!
  • Make sure your CAPS LOCK key isn’t down — passwords are case-sensitive.
  • If all else fails, try clearing your browser’s cookies.

How Do I Record a Spot?

Well, you’ve come to the right place! SpotDJ is the only place where you say something about a song and have your comments inserted right into an iTunes listener’s playlist!

Here’s how to record a spot:

  1. Sign up for SpotDJ, if you haven’t done so already.
  2. Download the SpotDJ app and install it. The download should happen automatically when you sign up.
  3. Run SpotDJ, by double-clicking the SpotDJ icon:
  4. In iTunes, start playing the song you’d like to spot.
  5. When SpotDJ shows the correct song info, click the “Spot this Song!” button:
  6. Click the “Record” button:
  7. Start talking!
  8. Click the “Stop” button to finish:
  9. Click the “Play” button to listen to your spot. If you don’t like it, you can record it again:
  10. Click “Upload” to send your spot to SpotDJ:

    It’ll take a few seconds, then the music will start again.

How Does SpotDJ Decide Which Spots to Play?

The spots you hear are determined based on a number of factors. We build a list of potential spots based on the title and artist of the song you’re listening to. Then we refine the list based on what you’ve already heard, your list of faves, the ratings of the spots, and your other preferences. Then we send the new list to a panel of experts in Rochester, NY who make the final selection. This all happens while you’re happily listening to the song in iTunes.

We’ll be refining this process over time to make sure that you get the best possible content for the songs you’re listening to.

Can I Spot a Song That Has Already Been Spotted?

You bet! We encourage that. People tend to listen to the same songs over and over (according to iTunes, I’ve played Lindsay Buckingham’s “Holiday Road” 213 times!) so they’ll want to hear different spots each time.

So, even if a spot already exists for your song, go ahead and add something new. Or if you hear a spot that you disagree with, or you want to expand on, add a new spot!

Can I Record Spots Without a Microphone?

Don’t have a microphone? We’ll send you one! Just sign up for SpotDJ, or log in if you’re already signed up and request a microphone. Make sure to include your name and address and we’ll send out an official SpotDJ microphone ASAP*.

Or, if you prefer, you can call in your spots. Visit this page for details.

*Microphone offer is available only to registered users of SpotDJ with US addresses while supplies last, or until Kevin gets tired of addressing envelopes. We reserve the right to end the offer or not send microphones as we see fit. We won’t use your address for any other purpose, not even a Christmas card. The microphone uses a standard microphone input and will not work on computers that lack such an input, such as certain Macs.

Why Do Spots Sound So Loud/Quiet?

SpotDJ is separate from iTunes, so changing the volume of iTunes doesn’t affect the volume of spots. If spots sound too quiet, increase your System Volume (from the Sound control panel) and lower the volume in iTunes. Vice versa if spots are too loud.

Sometimes spots sound too loud or soft because of the way they were recorded. We attempt to normalize all spots to the same volume level, but if you encounter a spot that is horribly loud or unforgivingly soft, please send us feedback with the name of the spot (or a link to it) and we’ll check it out.

To prevent your own spots from being too loud or soft, keep your volume levels in the mid range and play back your spots before uploading them to make sure they sound okay.

What are Fans and Faves?

When you’re listening to a spot, or looking at another DJ’s page, you can add that DJ as one of your faves. Faves are a great way to connect with other people while using SpotDJ. Your list of faves will show up on your DJ page (when other users look at your profile) and we’ll factor your list of faves into account when deciding which spots to play (so you’ll tend to get more spots from your faves).

When someone adds you as a fave, they become one of your fans. The more fans you have, the more people tend to hear your spots, and the more popular you look when people view your profile. When you invite a friend to join SpotDJ, they automatically become one of your fans.

In the future, we’ll be adding more features that build on fans and faves. So keep adding to your lists and when someone tells you they like your spots, tell them “Be sure to fave me!”

When I Run SpotDJ, I Get an “Unhandled Exception” Error

It seems that a small number of users encounter a problem when installing SpotDJ that results in this message. Luckily, we have a temporary fix you can use until we are able to track down the root cause and modify the installer.

To fix the problem manually, you get to enjoy the magic of manual DLL registration. Don’t worry — it’s easier than it sounds. Children in Redmond, WA learn this in second grade!

  1. Click the “Start” button and select “Run” from the Start Menu.
  2. In the box, type “cmd” (no quotes) and click “OK”. A command prompt comes up.
  3. Type “cd c:\Program Files\Context Optional\SpotDJ” (again, no quotes!) and press RETURN
  4. Type “regsvr32 AudioCtl.dll” and press RETURN.
  5. You should get a message saying that DllRegisterServer succeeded. Hooray!
  6. Start SpotDJ. Tell a friend!

If you’re still having problems after trying this, please send us a message and we’ll do our best to help you out.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective SpotDJs

Some of our most productive DJs and most eager listeners have written in with their opinions on what makes a good spot. Here are some tips from the pros:

#1) Write Ideas, Not a Script
We know that talking into a mic can make you nervous. A lot of people write stuff down before recording a spot, but that can sometimes backfire. Users have told us that they generally prefer spots that sound like they were recorded off-the-cuff to spots that seem scripted.

That said, we think it’s a great idea to think about what you’re going to say ahead of time and take down some notes. Just keep it casual and you won’t sound like an encyclopedia.

#2) Keep it Short!
Unless you’ve got a killer story about the band that takes a minute to tell, you should try to keep your spots short and sweet. When the length of your spot starts to rival the length of the song itself, people might start to tune out and they’ll just skip the spot. Some of the best spots are less than 20 seconds long. They tell you what you heard and give you a brief nugget of info.

#3) Remember When Spots are Heard
Spots are heard after a song is done playing. Remember that your listeners have already heard the song. So you don’t need to say “You should really check out Heart of Glass” if that was the song they just played.

You may, however, find it useful to give recommendations. So it’s fine to suggest Heart of Glass in a spot about a similar song.

#4) Put Yourself in a DJ’s Shoes
Sometimes it’s helpful to temporarily forget that you’re in front of a computer and pretend you’re in a DJ booth. You’ve got a mic in front of you and you just played a song. There are people out there listening, depending on you for interesting commentary and context. Thinking about SpotDJ this way might change what you say and how you say it.

#5) Make Sure Your Spots are Heard
Remember that SpotDJ matches spots with songs by looking at the information in iTunes. So if you record a spot for The Beetles (note the misspelling), odds are that nobody will hear it unless they have the same misspelling.

If you accidentally record a spot with incorrect song or artist information, all is not lost. You can log into the SpotDJ web site and click on the spot (under HOME -> MY SPOTS) to correct the information. You can also change whether the spot refers to that particular song or all songs by the artist.

#6) Stay Up to Date
Since we’re still testing SpotDJ, we release new versions of the product fairly frequently. When you get an update notification (SpotDJ checks for a new version when you open it), please download and install the new version! There are often changes that affect sound quality, fix bugs, or offer useful enhancements.

#7) Make it Personal
Often times, it’s more interesting to hear a DJ talk about their personal experience with a song or artist than to hear them state some encyclopedia-like facts. There’s certainly plenty of interest in factual spots, but also consider talking about why you like a song, what it reminds you of, a funny story about going to that artist’s concert, or your own interpretation.

#8 (bonus!) Listen To Your Spots Before You Tell Them Goodbye
Hey, I get giddy when I’m recording spots too and sometimes I want to just click “Upload” without listening to the spot I just recorded. Try to resist the urge! By listening to your spot before you upload it, you can make sure that it sounds the way the you want. If it’s too loud or soft, you might want to adjust your microphone volume. If it sounds fuzzy (especially when you pronounce the letter “P”), you should try moving a little further from the microphone.

Thanks to everyone who’s sent in feedback so far. Keep it coming!

Why Doesn’t My Microphone Work? (MAC)

The Mac version of SpotDJ will use whichever microphone you select through the Sound System Preferences Panel. To change your microphone settings, select “System Preferences” from the Apple menu on the top-left of your screen. Select the “Sound” item (it’s listed under hardware) to select your input device.

Under the “Input” tab, make sure that the correct device is selected. If you’re using a laptop, you’ll probably use “Internal microphone”. If you’re using a desktop Mac, you may have a USB microphone, or one of the sound input ports on your computer.

In the screenshot below, the internal microphone has been selected. Notice that the Input Volume has been set in the middle — a good starting point and the first setting to tweak if your spots are too loud or two soft.

Note: Some newer macs, like the Mac Mini, have an audio input port that looks like a microphone port but won’t work with a standard microphone. You’re better off with a USB Microphone. If you’re unsure whether or not your mic is working properly, watch the Input level on the Sound System Preferences Panel as you speak into it.

I’m not hearing any Spots!

So you’ve downloaded SpotDJ. You’ve fired up SpotDJ and iTunes and started playing your favorite music. And yet for some reason, you haven’t heard a spot yet!

Well, hang in there. A couple of things have to happen for you to hear a spot:

  • SpotDJ needs to check if there’s a spot available – is your machine connected to the internet?
  • We also need to be able to tell what song you’re listening to. Are your music files tagged properly? SpotDJ is pretty smart, but it’ll have a hard time figuring out what “Track 01.mp3” is.
  • SpotDJ needs some time to download the spot from our servers. Is your network connection very slow? Are you downloading Britney’s latest feature-length movie right now? Are you skipping around, listening to only parts of songs?

Even if all that’s working, it’s possible we just don’t have a spot for anything you’ve played yet. Have a look around the web site and see what other people are spotting – if no one’s spotting your favorite artists, well, it’s time to pick up the microphone!

Why Don’t I Hear the Spot I Just Recorded?

As soon as you upload a new spot, we’ll start distributing it to people listening to the song you spotted. If you continue to listen to the song after you record the spot, we’ll play your new spot so you get to hear it first. If you’re not hearing your own spot, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • In general, we prefer to play you spots recorded by other DJ’s because you probably know what you sound like. So after we’ve played your new spot once, you probably won’t get it again.
  • Spots take some time to download. So if you’re near the end of the song and you record a spot, we might not have enough time to retrieve it before the song is over.
  • We won’t play the same spot twice in a row. So if you heard your spot once and then you bring your friend Esmeralda over to hear it, she probably won’t until another spot has played first.
  • Spots only play at the end of a song, so if you’re trying to get the spot to play right away, skip to 5-10 seconds before the end to make sure SpotDJ has enough time to download the spot and detect that the song has changed.

Keep in mind that you can always view/edit/listen to all your spots from your DJ page, which you can access at your Home page

I Don’t Know What to Say!

Don’t worry, Spot Shyness is treatable. We’ve found that a lot of people really want to record spots, and have a lot of knowledge about music, but don’t always know what to talk about.

Here are some suggestions for how to get started recording spots:

  • What do you know about your favorite artists that most people don’t know? Turn that into a trivia question that other fans of the artist might find interesting.
  • Heard any gossip about a musician? Share the dirt with other SpotDJ users!
  • Listen to one of your favorite songs. What’s this song about? Is there a deeper meaning? What does it mean to you? What do you think the artist was talking about?
  • Put yourself in the listeners’ shoes. What would somebody listening to this song want to know? Maybe they’d like to hear a few recommendations of similar songs, maybe they’re interested in when the artist is touring. Maybe they just want to hear why other people like the song.
  • If you don’t know how to start, why not use the classic Spot intro: “That was XXXX by XXXX.” The rest will come naturally!

The audio quality of a spot I recorded is poor. What am I doing wrong?