Your Questions: Can I Remix Any Song I Like For DJ Use?

Remix DJs

DJs have a long and rich history of (mis)appropriating their source material to come up with exciting new edits, mixes and mashups.

Digital DJ Tips reader Richard writes: “I am new to this art and would like to know more from you about something that’s been on my mind since I started. Are there are restrictions to remix songs without the knowledge of the singer / composer, etc of that song, and doing something to get permission? Or are DJs free to remix any songs they like?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

You can re-edit, remix mash up and generally mess with what you like for your own DJ sets, and often even upload to YouTube to show off your work if you like. (YouTube will just inform you you’ve used copyrighted material, and put visual advertising over your track and pay the record labels etc on your behalf.) But what you can’t do is make any money at all out of your unofficial “remixes”, and many services (SoundCloud springs to mind) will often not let you upload such mixes at all. But for personal use, for practice, for creative reasons, for your DJ sets and private mixtapes, I’d say go ahead and don’t worry too much about it!

Is this your experience where you happen to be in the world? Have you been surprised what you can “get away with”, or conversely, been reprimanded over what you thought was just creative use of material? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. I assume that playing the tracks in a club etc, would make it different — the club is makiing money and maybe you get money for the mixing as well.. but I think that would be the responsibility of the club?

  2. One thing that I am doing right now is trying to remix a tv series. How would I get the permission of the TV series for that?

  3. Mike Graham says:

    You can legally clear samples and sell remixes and mashups on http://www.legitmix.com . The catch is the songs you sample and remix must be for sale for on iTunes and it costs the remixer $2 per source track used to license. Seriouly check the site out . It’s legit

  4. Corey A. Keller says:

    If you play these mixes in a club, the club is making and money and you yourself are getting paid as a dj….so what makes that different? If you can put them on youtube, why not soundcloud? Just curious? Thanks.

  5. This is an amazing article on this, more on what sort of legislation we should be after, rather than what exists, but beautiful, unlike anything I’ve come across before on this:

    http://www.contentsmagazine.com/articles/on-the-virtues-of-preexisting-material/

  6. paul lorrimore says:

    technically, even mixing two songs together in a club is altering/remixing the track if you think about it.

    If you play two tracks together, like a long mix.. whats the difference?

    Like others have said, if you are not trying to “sell” it as your own work, I should think it to be fine.

    Also, clubs and music venues normally require a PPL (Public Performance Licence)
    Which means you can publicly play any music (for profit), this should cover the “making money” from playing any music as this is why you need one.

    Thats all i can think of anyway :)

  7. Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

    I believe that the actual current status is that when you buy a track, uyou actually only buy the right to play it for an audience of one (you) or in the direct family/household setting. There are specific stipulation about NOT being aloud to play it in any larger and/ or commercial setting. Also there is small print about not being aloud to alter in any way the orignal.

    Rules vary by country obviously, so it might be different where you are.

    Secondly there is the issue of maintaining such laws. There aren’t enough law enforcement people to go around checking every remix.

    In practice, not something to worry about, in theory we are probably all breaking the law :-)

    Greetinx,
    C.

  8. The rules vary depending upon the country you’re doing this in.

    Editing, remixing, or modifying any track in Canada is a direct violation of the Federal Copyright act and is not allowed even if you have an AVLA license unless you have the written permission of the artist and their record company in advance of making the mix.

  9. Even giving away unofficial remixes can get you into trouble. Julio Bashmore gave away a bootleg via soundcloud which almost got him sued and he had to pay a bunch of money for an out of court settlement.

    http://www.attackmagazine.com/news/julio-bashmore-apologises-for-sampling/

  10. Just curious…. how do those sites that sell remixes get away with it? I see it says donate rather than buy on some of these sites. wonder if there is a loop hole somewhere.

  11. Obviously, legalities differ from country to country. That said, most countries have some sort of Fair Use clause to copyright laws. That is, it is within your right to reasonably use copyrighted material, even for profit in some cases, as long as there is a case that it in no way affects the market of said copyrighted item. How you would go about proving that your bootleg remix doesn’t affect the sales of the original is another issue entirely. I’m not a lawyer…

    That said, if you put it on YouTube or Soundcloud or distribute in any way, so long as you don’t monetize it, I think most artists/labels will look the other way, even though you are probably infringing on their copyright, technically. Chances are you would get a cease and desist letter rather than getting sued, unless you had multiple and repeated infringements against the copyright holder…

  12. I decided to start putting my mixes on youtube, but the very first one was blocked due to it picking up on copyrighted songs! anyone know why it didn’t give the option of crediting the artists and/or displaying ads?

    there are thousands if not millions of mixes on there already, as well as thousands of people posting up complete tracks on their own channels – albeit with a link to itunes or whatever

    any tips guys? I have my own website and all mixes are on mixcloud – but i feel i would get a lot more listens on youtube!

    cheers.

  13. Great am new at remixing even though I could say I been a karaoke (KJ) Host and DJ. I know is crutial this days to put out your own mash-up mix. The question I have is using variable Dj mixes in my own mash-ups and as long as I give credit to all the dj’s and artist in that mix. I must ad that I will put my own effects, scratch and beats where I feel I can contribute to an already remix. Would that be ethical in this bussiness ?

  14. Funny enough this coming up now. I’ve recently started using “Legitmix” which lets you link your source material from iTunes and allows users of the site to either buy the tracks used for a mash, or save the time and just buy yours. Or something to that effect. Take a look

  15. I’ve just started remixing and was wondering the same exact question. Thanks for the help!!

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