Shopping for music online can be a challenge if you’re trying to stay within a budget. You’ll spend your time seeking out new tunes, and often end up with a shopping cart loaded with way more than you wanted to spend. Now I know some of DJs spend hours on end listening to hundreds of tunes and only find one worth buying. (If that’s you, you might want to check out our tips on beating the “saturation blues”.) – but for the rest of us, here’s my advice on how to get the most bang for your buck and still stay within your set budget.
(Before we begin, I want to set a standard on terminology I’ll use for this exercise. If I speak of “dumping”, “removing”, or anything of the sort, it’s up to you if you want to delete tracks from your shopping cart or if you want to move them into the wishlist most of these websites offer. There are benefits to either action, but it’s really up to you if you want to hang on to rejected tunes.)
1. Get rid of anything old
I’m not trying to say you should never go cratedigging or pick up something from the past. However, if you’re not monitoring the release dates of the tunes you pick, you might then want to start with this. It’s 2013, and I’ll be honest, unless a particular tune from four, five, ten years ago is sending shivers of joy up and down your spine, then get rid of it. It’s more than likely you’ll play it once or twice, then file it away. That, or the tune that sounds really good to you now will sound very dated in a month. If you have to pick priorities, pick new material first and pick things you know you’ll play over and over for a while… not a few times.
2. Pick just one remix
One other bad habit I’ve found is I’ll come across a tune I like and end up liking and picking two or three of the remixes. Now I’m ready to check out, and those remixes are making my bill much bigger than I’d ideally like. This is when nowadays, I pick one and dump the rest. Pretty much every time it’s a case where I have one version I really like and the others I like as well, but can only imagine using them in some special circumstances. In the end, I find I never use those other versions, and merely keep pulling up the one remix I like when the right time hits.
3. Listen critically to what’s left
Listen to everything that’s left, and remove whatever doesn’t excite you. This is the point when you now weed through all the stuff you picked out, and if you “slept on it” (like I advised in the past), some of those tunes won’t excite you as they did yesterday (or the day you added them into the cart). You might now decide a tune is too dark, too plain, too synthy, too cheesy, whatever. Listen to all the tunes you have left and remove what isn’t blowing your mind right now. No sense in buying tunes you’re not excited about so much any more and thus probably won’t play.
4. Shop around
One of the joys of capitalism is we have choice through competition. There’s a handful of great online music shops and thankfully we’re seeing more artists and labels reject going exclusive with one store. So maybe you’re on Beatport and one of the tunes you really want is set at US$2.49. Go on Traxsource. Go on JunoDownload. Go on iTunes. Go on Satellite. See who might be selling it for less. Maybe one of them will be selling it for $1.49 and you saved a dollar. (I’d only advise this though with the more expensive titles, unless you want to spend loads of time bargain-hunting).
5. Find a coupon
This is an ideal reason to make sure you’re set up and receiving emails from your favorite online music stores. Coupon codes happen often, especially if the website finds you haven’t been shopping much. This also is another good reason to shop less often… let them think they need to toss you coupons to get you to “come back” (or be really devious and rotate around more than one account).
So check your email and see if you have any coupons you might have overlooked, or just search on Google. You could find some on those sites posting coupon codes for all sorts of online shopping. Believe me, it could be the nudge you need to get you right within your budget.
The only other wisdom I’d leave with you is to keep your budget flexible. If you planned on spending $20, let yourself go up to $25 if you need. Sometimes just kicking up the budget a small amount will be easier than making hard decisions. But also, don’t feel you “have” to buy every time it’s shopping day: It’s fine to skip it if nothing’s really exciting you temporarily.
Lastly, and I know it’s been said to death in our circle, please don’t pirate music. Don’t be hit with the temptation to just pop up a torrent or P2P program and download some tunes. Remember that your money spent keeps not only the store in business, but more importantly the artists and labels. Maybe they won’t get millions in sales from these sites, but the notches saying they sold music will nudge them on the charts, help them sell more, and especially push them to keep releasing the music you love. Keep it real.
What’s your tip for keeping your shopping cart mean and lean? Have you found yourself spending far too much on music only to regret it? Or are you one fo those DJs who struggles to find anything you like sometimes? Please share your thoughts in the comments.