DJs are known as party starters or selectors, this is because of their expansive knowledge and deep understanding of music and music culture, especially within the genre or genres that you play.
In order to acquire this, you must become a student of music, studying track structure, instruments and elements of music in order to select tracks that mix and sound good together.
A DJ accumulates a substantial collection of music from multiple sources over time and spends many hours listening, studying, researching and sourcing music of old and new.
Whether you’re just beginning as a DJ or are well versed in the craft, we hope our guide will give you some fresh ideas and ways to find new music.
How To Source And Discover Music
Discovering New Music
Find new tracks and learning about track selection is an essential and fun part of being a DJ.
Exploring new music is one of the foundations of DJing, then selecting tracks that mix and sound good together is another skill in itself.
DJs spend hours listening to new music from an array of different genres, developing their knowledge and understanding of the music they play and the culture in which it is attached.
When it comes to finding new music there are numerous ways you can do this, there are paid and unpaid options, some sites offer a subscription service in order to unlock their music catalogue.
There are other ways online to find new music whether that’s via social media or podcasts. With most of the world online these days, don’t forget about good old fashioned record shops, you can find some real classics that you can’t find online.
Below we have compiled a list of the best places we feel you can find and buy music online, lets jump in;
Where To Source New Music
Bandcamp is one of, if not the best place to find, discover and buy music, they have a huge catalogue of tracks from an extensive number of genres.
Bandcamp is a strong supporter of the artists and offers a fair trade music policy, this means when you buy a track your money reaches the artists quickly and simply and the artist or record label usually receives between 80-85%, this is a lot more than the majority of other platforms.
Bandcamp understands the music culture and believes the artist should be compensated fairly for their work, there are lots of upcoming and underground artists on Bandcamp and a great place to unearth gems, we highly recommend using Bandcamp!
Another excellent place to find music is SoundCloud, there are millions of tracks and artists on the platform with some of the biggest names in music starting out here, this makes it a great place to discover some real jewels.
At first, SoundCloud can be difficult to navigate, but the more artists you find and follow the more you can see what they like and who they follow, which allows you to really immerse yourself in the platform.
While you can find a lot of free tracks to download on here as well, just be sure you are not downloading them illegally or ripping the track from the site via external software.
I’m sure everyone’s heard of Youtube and a Youtube hole right? Well like Soundcloud, it’s another place to get lost finding new music, using the platforms sophisticated algorithms you are able to start with a simple track you like and from there you can find related and similar music. Like Soundcloud, please do not download music illegally from Youtube via external download software.
Streaming music has become the most common and used way people listen to music, there is a huge catalogue of artists that are growing by the day.
These paid services also have playlists, this way you can listen to specific genres of your choice, also you can take advantage of the sophisticated algorithms that will find new music related to the tracks you like.
While these services are a great way to discover new music, they are not that great when it comes to actually DJing with them, this is because the files are not of the highest quality and you do not own the track you are simply renting from the service, this can be a problem playing in venues with no wifi or internet connection.
Beatport is a platform aimed and geared towards DJs, it is both a place you can buy individual tracks, while also offering a paid subscription service called Beatport LINK. Here you can search an array of genres, tracks, artists, charts and more and it is a great way to discover new music.
The subscription service gives you access to their extensive catalogue of music and allows you to store the music offline, removing the need for an internet connection. This is also a great way to experiment and practice Djing with different genres and tracks if you’re just starting your journey as a DJ.
Of course, there is a downside, as you do not own the music you download, once you stop your subscription you lose access to all your tracks, this potentially could have taken a lot of time to build which is why we recommend buying the tracks from Beatport rather than the paying for the subscription service.
If you are able to get on to mailing lists it can be one of the best ways to find exclusive music, usually, you will receive early releases which can greatly give you an edge when it comes to performing in clubs and festivals.
A record pool is a paid online subscription service that gives DJs access to exclusive and promotional music, this helps DJs stay up to date with new music and makes the process of searching for new music easier.
The radio is still a great source of music, there are a limitless amount of radio stations from all across the world to tune into.
From commercial to the underground, most radio stations will offer you a tracklist or a chart of some kind on their website which can be a great help if you have just listened to a set and want to find some of the tracks played.
Social Platforms & Podcasts
Podcasts have become an excellent source of information in recent years, many DJs and music enthusiasts either have podcasts or guest on podcasts.
You can follow your favourite artists, develop a deeper understanding of their music taste, their favourite genres, maybe even some tips and tricks along the way.
This goes for social media too, following your favourite artists, or finding music pages that are constantly being updated with new tracks and videos of DJs from around the world, the comment section can be a great source of information, usually, you can find a track ID or two in there.
Discovering this is a game-changer for a DJ, how many times are you listening to your favourite DJ play and can never find the song? Well, your prayers have been answered, there are sites out there that release the track listings for the sets being played, one of the more popular sites is called 1001 tracklists.
Shazam is a really cool app to have installed on your smartphone, wherever you are, whether that’s a club, a rave, a bar or restaurant, if you hear a track you like you can open the app and it will begin to record the song, it will then use advanced algorithms to try to match the song in its database and store it for you in the app.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work all the time, especially when trying to source an exclusive or underground track.
Discogs is an online database and marketplace for music, it’s a great place to buy and sell music. They have a vast selection of rare and exclusive music that you will have trouble finding anywhere else.
This is a great place for music connoisseurs, here you will find exclusives, rare and classic tracks.
This seems like a thing of the past now we are living in a digital world but doing it the old school way can pay its dividends. There are many record shops you can search through to find gems both old and new, with music from around the world. Most record shops have equipment that allows you to listen before you buy.
Things To Consider
It’s important to consider the quality of the audio file you are downloading, you want your music to sound good when and where you play it so ensuring you have downloaded a quality file from a good source is imperative.
There are multiple audio files, we will cover a few of the more common ones here.
MP3 is the most popular and common format used, an MP3 is instantly playable amongst almost all software and will be more than good enough to perform with, usually, 320kbps is an accepted standard amongst most DJs.
There are then FLAC and WAV files that are widely regarded as the highest quality audio and do not compromise on quality, the problem with these is that the files are so big, up to 6x the size of an MP3.
For a beginner DJ, MP3 files are perfectly fine, as your skills develop further and you begin playing at bigger venues and festivals you may start to acquire better quality audio files.
Do not download music illegally from any source or use external software to rip the track from Youtube, it will be likely that the file you get will be of low quality and possibly be corrupt, this can not only lead to damages to your computer, it will also lead your audience out the door.
Producers also spend many hours creating music for DJs to play, and without them, it would not be possible. Supporting your favourite artists will inspire them to continue making tracks in the future, places like Bandcamp are a great place for this.
There are also many legalities when it comes to performing music live with many venues and DJs needing licenses to do so, always check to ensure the venue you are playing at has a license, if it does not it may be down to you, the DJ to acquire one.
In today’s age, many DJs stream music via social media platforms, while this is a great way to showcase your skills and begin to get your name out there, you can run into copyright issues and your sets may be taken down.
Researching, studying and finding new music that mixes well together is a fun and crucially important part of being a DJ.
Spending time developing your musical knowledge and understanding is vital in becoming the best DJ you can be.
It’s also a really fun and enjoyable experience, looking for gems and finding tracks that not many people have or know can give you a great edge when performing.
We hope this article has helped you with a thing or two, keep practising and enjoy the process!