Your Questions: Do I Have To Pay For My DJ Music?

Last updated 4 April, 2018


Online music
Today, our reader asks if he has to pay for the music that he DJs with, or if he can use music from streaming services like YouTube or Spotify to DJ in public.

Digital DJ Tips forum member Oisin writes: “I’ve been DJing for over a year now and have two quick questions. Do I have to pay for songs in order to use them in a set, even if it’s a low key event and I’m not being paid? And can I use songs from YouTube? It’s been playing on my mind for a while now, any help would be appreciated!”

Digital DJ Tips Says:

In short: Yes, and no. While you can indeed stream stuff from YouTube for free, downloading music from there is illegal, and YouTube forbids public performance of music from its site – same as Spotify, Apple Music etc. So even if you’re subscribing to these services, you aren’t technically allowed to DJ with that music (which is weird, I know, as some software for DJs has Spotify built in).

But paid or not, charity event or commercial festival, big or small venue… you have to pay for your DJ music. That said, many artists give away stuff for free, so look out on their websites, or search services like SoundCloud for free music – there is lots, and it’s perfectly legal to DJ with stuff made available this way.

Things are changing: Pulselocker is a new service shortly to be integrated into Serato DJ and Rekordbox DJ software, that for a small monthly fee lets you legally DJ with millions of tracks, and download offline copies of them too in order that you don’t need the internet to play them – such services may well be the future.

Any other advice you can give our reader? Do you think a service like Pulselocker will be the way forward for many DJs, or will paid downloads / record pools still be the norm for the foreseeable future? Let us know below.

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