Over To You: Is It OK To Hide The Names Of My Tunes?

Track Names

Our reader wants to know if there's something wrong with hiding track names from other DJs who are checking out your set in this week's question.

Digital DJ Tips member DJ Ninja writes: "Would be interested to know your thoughts on having track names hidden when playing out live. I’m generous with my music - if people ask me the name of the track in the booth I’ll tell them the name. I do hold the view of sharing my music to a certain degree among people I trust. But I’ve had too many instances in the booth when other DJs I don’t feel the best of energy from come in and sneakily take pics while I’m playing off of my list.

"I spend hours searching for the crème de la crème and don’t appreciate others in the circuit doing that so I decided to make the track names invisible. Was in the booth recently with Eric Volta who was complaining to everyone that I did that. I guess it's the age old debate, but what's your view on it?"

Digital DJ Tips says:

I can understand the irritation, but my personal view is that if all the value you bring to a DJ set is in your tunes, then you are expendable. A good DJ brings personality, energy, mixing, programming, maybe a crowd, and deeper than that, a whole vibe that is uniquely theirs. Someone pinching the names of their tunes shouldn't undermine that.

If you concentrate on doing the best job you can and leave everyone else to their own devices, you're wasting no energy on stuff like this, which is a good thing, no?

Another way of looking at it is if you see the DJ as being a conduit for the music, a passer on of the message, then what right have you got not to share the names of those pieces of music? After all, the producers would thank you for it, and there must be karma in that, somewhere. If you really want to play stuff nobody else has (and can get), why not make your own remixes, re-edits and productions, and release them to the world when it suits you?

What do you think? Have you ever done this? Do you sympathise with DJ Ninja? Have you ever been refused a tune name by a DJ? Would love to hear your thoughts below.

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  1. Adam Daniel says:

    I often have guys checking out my tune ID's. Annoying guys who gig more often than me! Not fussed though, there's plenty more where they came from!! :)

    Guess one guaranteed way to make sure no one else has the same tracks is to produce your own, either originals or remixes. That way, you can happily give away track names knowing full well they can't get hold of it anywhere!

  2. Mauri Moore Braida says:

    I hide the track names in my traktor decks , but you should know they still have Shazam :-) -
    It's ok to share with the people your music knowledge but not to give them all the info .
    It takes time to build a nice collection ..... and there's a lot of lazy djs 😉

  3. DAV3 Kirbuck says:

    I personally think that hiding the tracks name is kind of a douchebag.
    Why? I share the booth with BIG names and most of the time I found myself sharing tracks (Just the ID's) with them, and they also do the same.
    I mean, there's thousands of new tracks everyday, it's impossible to keep tracking of all.
    Hiding the track names only makes people don't like you and your attitude.... what can you win with that?
    "Crème de la crème"? I understand that some you want to keep some tracks "secret" from public, but in a DJ booth won't take you anywhere....

  4. bob6397 says:

    I don't bother hiding the names of my tracks - people will just Soundhound/Shazam them anyway - and I view it as part of the job - It's a complement to the DJ if someone likes a track enough to want it themselves!!

    BUT the main reason I don't bother hiding them is that no one else would have put those tracks in that order. When you play a track is more important than what tracks you play - say you have a 2 hr set. If you play that set, it goes great and then you repeat it but with the tracks in the opposite order somewhere else then it is probably not going to go as well...

    It's part of the skill of the DJ to play the right tracks at the right time. Without both those variables, it simply wont go as well.. :)

  5. Spark972 says:

    For me the DJ role is also to make people discovering music because of is curration, I don't care if DJ x or z stole the names from my playlist.

    You really want music he can't have for yourself ? Start to bootlegs, remix, produce your owns : simple as that !
    As long as you use publicly available material you'll never be exclusive in anyway.

  6. DJSE Hazelcut says:

    I use to hide title back when I played on vinyl, because vinyl were harder to get and have to "last longer", but now with digital music I don't see the point (and it's maybe because I'm also more mature and kind to share). If people want to know the title they will shazaam it anyway so why bother. I have a sort of rule that say if I hear something I play in another DJ set (at least on my local scene), I stop playing it. So if another DJ want to play a track I play, ok, I can even take the screen photo for him :) I'll find more sound anyway.

    Give a man a fish, and you feed him for one day, teach him how to catch a fish and you feed him for a lifetime (not sure if I translate that correctly). In DJing it's the same, I give fish to people, so if they don't know how to fish, they will always have to depend on DJs like me to have new sound. So if you know how to fish, don't be greedy with the people who don't, and catch more fresher fish :)

  7. Kyle Baca says:

    It's easy as pie. I used my logos from djpresskits.com and never had a problem at all. Check em out.

  8. I love people asking what is that great track playing as long they are friendly and polite. And, as DJSE Hazelcut said before, people will find out in a second with smarphone apps anyway.

    It´s your skills, your particular narrative what matters.

    • I don't think this is the experience of most DJs. Most venues do not hire a DJ because they are so good at being an entertainer, so DJs are only as good as their sets to Promoters. I know some DJ friends who throw in audio garbage and drum machine parts to try and confuse song detection programs. To say that some DJs despise these song detection programs might be an understatement.

  9. Heck yeah! Your unique tracks are what make you special as a DJ. If you're gigging in an environment where it's that serious, keep them joints to yourself! I mine the crates myself and currently don't mind sharing track IDs because my gigs are low-key affairs but if I was in a highly charged atmosphere, like you seem to describe, I would keep my track IDs to myself. I disagree with the "personality" and whatever aspect of being a good DJ. To me, all that matters is your tracks. If I had lots of personality I would have been a dancer. Instead I'm an audio nerd/wallflower so I DJ. Who would walk into a hot 4-star restaurant and demand to know a popular dish's recipe?

    • Yep. Someone asking for a song means they want to hear it without having to hear it from you. I like your reference to cooking as I think DJs and Chefs, Painters, (and any other skilled crafts person) using common things together in an uncommon/special way deserve a lot more respect than "Gimme everything that makes you special so I can copy it... now please" is exceedingly rude, and should not be tolerated as the norm. If you Sound Hound / Shazam, do it on the sly, and certainly don't pester the DJ all night for their "choice cuts."

  10. is it OK? Yes, it's your set, and you're allowed to do whatever you want to your gear during your sets. Will some people Sound Hound/Shazam songs in your set? Sure, they'll at least try to with the really good songs, but this is why people post set lists. Few things are as disruptive as people coming into the DJ booth asking for a song request/the name of a song. Most dance club patrons think a DJ is just playing around, having a good time "doing nothing" in the booth, so nothing the DJ does is more important than telling them the name of the song and artist... preferably written, or even e-mailed to them right now (because they said they wouldn't remember it tomorrow)! I've had people get demanding with me in my DJ booth and going through my stuff, pocketing little items and screwing with my controls, and yeah, that's when I start to guide them out of the DJ booth, and if they resist, I shove them out. This experience was somewhat common when I allowed people to look at my records /CDs from the DJ booth. I tried "walking the line" on this issue, but it seems belligerence is en vogue these days. I'm always looking for better ways of doing things.

    Whitelabels exist to keep people who didn't belong in the DJ booth out of it (and to keep certain tracks private/special). Remixing tracks sometimes confuses Shazam / Sound Hound, but I leave a sign with my Twitter account near the DJ booth so I can get back to people about songs as I choose to. Playing DJs are not here to curate some other DJ's set list (this happens a lot, especially in Top 40 clubs be they underground or mainstream) so please limit your requests/interaction with the DJ until they are off the decks.

    If someone likes a song, they can at least put the effort into detecting it with Shazam/Sound Hound. If they like my remix, we can talk business later. Please respect my space as I'm DJing, and I'll be a lot more likely to help when I'm not. I'm sure there are others who feel the same.

  11. I'm fine with people asking about or seeing my tracks. They are welcome to add them to their sets. Why you ask? Because I have my own "Sound". I can pull the same style of tracks all day long. They either don't have their sound or have just paid me a huge compliment.

    There are only a few "Secret Weapons" that I have kept close to my chest. One in particular, I have only given to 1 other person who is not a DJ. To this day he has never shared it. In my circle, that has built a respect & anticipation. "That's a C2 track" & "What goodie will he find next".

    The best Gems are found deep down an abandoned mine of crates. Always have a good Pick and Shovel and go farther than those who came before.

  12. This quote from Phil pretty much sums it up:

    "...if all the value you bring to a DJ set is in your tunes, then you are expendable. A good DJ brings personality, energy, mixing, programming, maybe a crowd, and deeper than that, a whole vibe that is uniquely theirs. Someone pinching the names of their tunes shouldn't undermine that."

    This is why I have always put full tracklists and never hid my tunes. Seen some "shop my set", but they never sound like me, nor I like them.

    I just think it's a disservice to the artists when you hide your tunes. I'd rather see people get enlightened, buy the tunes from producers I like, and thus it grows that sound and those producers.

  13. There are two issues here and depends what style of DJ you are.. Im very happy to tell people who artists im playing are, supporting the great producers is something i like to do.. but on the other hand I spend days actually sometimes months for certain mixes putting the tunes together like a collage, the way the tunes work together is my art form so thats my composition so if u want to copy that at least go to the effort of taking a set list off my mixcloud so Im kinda with DJ Ninja, thou I have never hidden the track names I'd just tell the person trying to take photos to F off taking photos of someones traktor list is liberties and they know it or they wouldnt do it on the sly

  14. Oscar Northington says:

    It shouldn't matter because they still need to know when to play track and blend it. I am not intimidated by any dj. So, i will tell them the track happily. I just think that all djs should at least work with or help the new djs instead of putting them down. We all at one time didn't know how to blend or scratch at one time in our life. We all wasn't born blending and scratching.

  15. [IN]CLUDED says:

    The great music DJs get to play is created by producers who need to eat.
    To eat you need money.
    Producers make money when they sell their music.

    I'd say it's not only wrong to hide the title of tracks you play, it's your duty as a DJ to actively promote the tracks and let people know the name if they want it.

    If that doesn't happen then producers don't get paid and there's less music which is a bad thing.

  16. Richard Bolt says:

    I always provide track listings for my podcasts and to anyone that asks for a track id when I'm out playing.
    If it's great music, it deserves to be shared.

  17. Andrew Mills says:

    Okay, I'm not the most experienced at DJing out there (far from it), and a lot of the music I have played is already known (I mainly do Latin stuff for Salsa/Bachata/Kizomba dancers, and there's not as much suitable new music that comes through).

    But, to me, part of a DJ's job is to also promote new music, to help it get out there to a wider audience, either by letting other DJs know the track name (or whatever), or by the listener who will then (hopefully) go and buy that track.

    Otherwise, what's the point of producers/artists releasing music to DJ pools for us to download and use? Surely that's part of the whole point of DJ pools existing?

    Anyway, I can understand it at times, but in general I don't have an issue with people asking as your success as a DJ, as Phil said, is knowing when to play those tracks, reading the crowd, mixing and so on. Your overall talent as a DJ is as important, if not more so, than the tracks you play. I don't mind someone asking me, if I'm not busy and they respect my space and time, etc., but if someone was being obnoxious and a total PITA, then I just wouldn't want them hassling me regardless, whether that's for track names or whatever.

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