10 Commandments For Better Digital DJing, #9

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 4 mins
Last updated 28 November, 2017


Original Napster
The original Napster: After this, the music industry was never the same again.

Commandment number nine is related to our first two commandments, which were do it for a genuine love of the music, and have respect for your peers and forefathers.

I’ve heard all kinds of arguments made by DJs who disagree with the following “commandment” over the years – but at the end of the day, they’re wrong, and they’re not only shortchanging themselves, but also the people who make all the great music they claim to love so much.

Today’s commandment

So you’ve probably already guessed today’s commandment:

Don’t steal music.

This is particularly a digital and CD DJ thing, of course, because it’s pretty hard to pirate vinyl records (although it’s been done…)

In today’s video and resources we’ve got lots of advice on how to get more music than you know what to do with for very little money (and perfectly legally), plus some worrying evidence that if you do steal music, things may be about to get very tough for you. Finally, we have the mind-blowing story of the greatest musical theft of all time – one that singlehandedly spawned several musical subcultures!

As with the other commandments, this extra content is part of our Campaign For Better Digital DJing, and for your part we’re asking you to click the Facebook Like button at the end, if you find the material useful. This will show your Facebook friends that you support this commandment, and help us to spread the word far wider than would otherwise be the case.




Getting free music legally

  • Follow artists on Facebook and Twitter – Like their pages, even become their friends if they use Facebook that way. Certainly check their tweets. Make this “people discovery” as integral a part of your record-finding process as “music discovery”. You’ll be amazed how much music gets given away legally through these channels
  • Be active on SoundCloud – You don’t need to make music to have a Soundcloud account. Sign up, and start finding tracks you love. Favourite them. You can set this up so it autotweets for you – and often, the artist will get in touch to thank you. Now, just ask for the tune (and any subsequent tunes if you like)! I do this all the time and it usually works. And check your “incoming tracks” on SoundCloud too – if you follow people, they’ll send you music, guaranteed
  • Sign up for artist emails – if the artists or producers have email lists, sign up for them – this is another route where you often get rewarded with free music for your loyalty in agreeing to accept the emails

The stream/buy model

In the video I mentioned the stream/buy way of collecting music. It goes like this:

You sign up to Spotify (pictured), Rhapsody, Rdio, or any of the other services that let you listen to music on demand over your iPhone, Android phone, laptop etc. (The services available to you will depend upon where you live.)

This is now your music “library” – you use its playlist features to organise “your” music (favourite albums, tracks to buy, girlfriend’s party tunes – whatever). The best of these services even let you keep certain stuff offline – like, a favourite albums for instance, so you can listen to it without an internet connection.


No need to buy any of the music – you’re “renting” it for the fee you pay the subscription service. This replace a big, bloated iTunes with everything on it from your Dad’s 60s & 70s stuff to your rock years to your kid’s nursery rhymes – whatever! Just find music in a streaming service and save yourself the bother of buying and keeping a copy.

When you want tunes to DJ with, that’s when you buy them – and only then (I start with Amazon MP3 as it is often the cheapest, then hit the specialist stores like Beatport only if I have to as they tend to cost more).

If you were to add five tunes a week to your DJ sets that you end up buying, at an average of US$1.50 a tune, on top of your free music (and I’d wager you shouldn’t be adding any more), that’ll cost you 52 weeks x 5 tunes x $1.50, plus 12 x monthly subscriptions to your streaming service.

For this outlay, you’ll have access to more music that we could possibly have dreamed of back in the vinyl days, all perfectly legally. Cost? US$500/year, or under US$10 a week. That’s not much to ask to do the right thing, is it?

Further links

  • 5 Ways to Promote Your DJ Mix on SoundCloud – this is a post from last year, and we no longer recommend you post your mixes on Soundcloud (use Mixcloud instead, as it’s made for DJ mixes). However, the tips will help you to understand how promoters push their own tracks on the service, and thus how you can best find such producers’ music
  • 7 Ways to Stop Being a Freejay & Start Being a DJ – Yup, real DJs buy their music, and earn the money to cover their costs. This is what should drive you to getting proper gigs and thus becoming a better DJ. Which is ultimately what these commandments are all about
  • Watch this video to learn the incredible true story of the Amen break – six seconds of stolen music that changed dance music, ushering in hip hop, rave, and drum & bass practically single-handedly… and yet the musician who played it died penniless on the streets. Is stealing music really right?

We hope this material has been useful to you, and thank you once again for Liking this post in order to help us spread our campaign for better digital DJing far and wide…

• Watch out tomorrow for the final “commandment”. And thanks again for your support – it’s truly appreciated.

Check out the other parts of this series:

What are your views on our ninth commandment? Do you pay for all your music? Are there times when it’s OK to take it for free? Or do you disagree with DJs paying for music at all? Please let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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