Digital DJ Tips reader Babble Jam asks: “I’m thinking about branching out to play on larger PA systems, but I have a problem. I have been ripping from YouTube and SoundCloud because it gets me the music free and easily. I am very aware of the lack of ethics and the appalling sound qualities which, although fine for bedroom DJing, would be much more noticeable on larger speakers.
“Now, I am thinking that I should clean up my act and start looking for good quality audio files, but I am young and lack the funds to purchase all my tracks from sites like Beatport and iTunes. What are my viable, economically sound alternatives to ripping? The ones that will give me the sound quality appropriate for louder volumes, but won’t cost an arm and a leg.”
Digital DJ Tips Says:
Well, you will not find any help here when it comes to ways to get pirated tunes. Period.
There are some platforms and methods to find tracks for free because that is the way the artist / label distributes them, and we have some articles on the site and in our forums about the topic. Clearly, these will not be mainstream stuff, but these sites can contain some very interesting tracks. Unless you are very underground, I don’t think this will allow you to build a full collection for playing out in public, though.
We live in a world where the price per track is down to just under US$1, and in sufficient quality for performance use. Gone are the days of having to buy full albums, even if you like only one or two tracks. If you start playing for larger crowds, you should either have the money to pay for your DJ music, or have a job to sustain your DJing hobby.
We are also advocates of highly efficient libraries, this means your library contains only those tracks you know you will play regularly. Being on a tight budget will help you turn every potential track around 10 times before committing money to it. And once you’ve added it to your collection, you will treat it like the gem it is.
DJ download pools are good alternatives: less than US$50 can give you access to a large amount of music. It’s a monthly recurring cost, but once your collection is up to speed, you probably won’t be downloading that many tracks each month anymore and you could opt to cancel your pool subscription, unless you need to be updated with lots of new tunes constantly.
DJing, while much cheaper to get into now than in the “good old days”, is still not free. Digital DJing requires you to purchase a laptop and a controller, headphones, and possibly a microphone. Apart from these, you do need to buy music too. Playing music for others is a passion and a privilege, not an entitled, basic human right.
We advise new DJs to prioritise building their collection from day one. If it takes you a year to get ready to play out and you spend US$15 a month on music, you will have a collection of around 200 tracks by then. Picked carefully, those 200 songs will allow you to easily play a four-hour gig. As you said, ripped internet versions of tracks sound so bad on bigger systems that you will not endear those giving you a chance to DJ at their venue, and it’s not worth the risk. Save up, buy music and build your collection, and then play out.
What are your thoughts on this? Apart from record pools, where else do you legally get your DJ music from? Share your sources with us below.