What is a DJ download pool? Should you join one? Are they only for professional DJs? Are they even legal? How can you tell? Are they where all those easy-to-mix DJ versions of songs come from?
In this guide, we’ll explain all of this to you, and then give you our recommendations for the best DJ download pools you can join right now, in 2022.
If you’re a serious DJ who is constantly on the look out for new music, and who needs to keep up to date with the biggest new releases month by month, it may well be that a download pool will make sense for you, saving you time and money. So let’s get started…
What are DJ download pools?
A DJ download pool, sometimes also called an MP3 record pool or a music pool, is a subscription service that you can choose to join as a working DJ. DJ pools give you access to an unlimited selection of the latest music for DJing with, for a fixed monthly fee.
The advantages to you as a DJ are:
- You pay one fee, but can download all the tracks you require each month, to keep forever (usually you need a higher level of subscription for unlimited downloads, so check with the pool you’re interested in before subscribing)
- You can get a large amount of the music you need in one place, saving you time
- You can get versions of popular tracks that have been altered to make them easier to DJ with – intro versions, outro versions, bootlegs, mashups, clean/explicit versions, acapellas, samples, DJ drops etc
- You can often get remixes of tracks that are not available anywhere else, that are specifically designed to work on dancefloors
Where did DJ download pools come from?
Download pools grew out of record pools, which were a way for record labels to “test” new tunes before they were released. White labels, or pre-release vinyl/CDs pressed up in small numbers, were sent to DJs who played to hundreds or thousands of people each week, for those DJs to “test” on their dancefloors.
Based on dancefloor reaction, DJs then returned “reaction sheets” to the promotion company that sent them the music. Based on this feedback, the record labels could decide whether the track was working in its current format/mixes, and guess how many records or CDs to make to satisfy demand when the music was released.
Back in the 1990s, as a working DJ I used to get sent sometimes 50 or 60 new records a week this way, religiously faxing the reaction sheets back to the record pools each week, along with a chart of the tracks that were working best for me. We never paid for any of these records.
Fast-forward to now, and that world has gone. However, as long as you can show that you’re a working DJ and pay a relatively small monthly subscription, you can join the digital equivalent – which is what we’re talking about here. And while some still ask you for “reactions” to tracks, most don’t, or don’t impose this.
Read this next: Where DJs Get Their Music In 2022
Is this legal?
When run properly, DJ download pools provide a service to the industry, and are supported by record labels. We’re not lawyers though, and the best we can say is that some download pools are more “legal” than others. And in our experience often whichever download pool you speak to assures you they’re the most legal, and their competition are all bending the rules!
What is often true is that not all the remixes some pools offer are authorised by the labels, and some more unscrupulous players pretend to be record pools but don’t pay licence fees. Plus, where do you draw the line between promoting new music to working DJs, and a cheap way to download all the new tunes, for anyone?
As a DJ, when joining a pool (especially one not mentioned here) you should do your due diligence. Check out the T&Cs and privacy policies, social media accounts etc, and check the companies have real physical addresses in jurisdictions you trust – and go on your instincts. If you want to, you could always check with the music licensing bodies in your territory to see what, if any, pools they give their seal of approval to.
How do I join a pool?
You click “sign up” on their website. They will usually ask you for evidence that you’re a working DJ. Don’t let this put you off – if you call yourself a DJ, and your aim is to play in front of other people, you should apply anyway. “Evidence” could simply be a social media account in your DJ name, and “working” could mean that you are “working towards” playing out and getting paid for DJing!
Let them worry about whether you qualify or not. If you get turned down, there’s nothing stopping you playing a gig or two then applying again, or applying to another pool.
Learn to rock ANY gig like a pro: The Complete DJ Course
Why don’t DJ download pools have much older music?
If you’ve tried a pool or two before, you may have wondered why most if not all of the music on these pools is recent. One of the most common questions we get asked here at the school is: “What’s the best pool for older music?” People are thinking they can join a download pool, pay a monthly fee, and download all the music they’d ever want.
But to think this way is to confuse download pools with the likes of Spotify, etc. Download pools are not streaming services where you just pay a higher fee for the right to download the tracks, too.
Remember the description above of the “promotional records” culture that download pools grew out of. These services are designed to get new music into the hands of working DJs – not to fill out new DJs’ collections with all the music ever recorded.
Some do have some older music, it’s true, but don’t expect the “15 million songs” culture of the mainstream consumer music streaming services.
Read this next: The 11 Best Music Download Stores For DJs
The Best DJ Download Pools 2022
Before we begin, some tips. These pools are the ones our students and community use the most. That doesn’t mean one or any of them are right for you. Depending on what country you’re in (these are US/UK focused), what music you play, and what you can afford, the right pool for you many be any or none of these. So:
- Try a few pools to find the one that is right for you – Many DJs swap and change until they find one that suits them the best, and the right one for you may change as your DJing evolves, too
- Don’t fall into the “download everything” trap – There’s no point hoarding music you don’t like and won’t play, just because it was part of your subscription! Be as discerning as you would if you were paying for each track individually
- Schedule time each week to spend in your download pool – you’re paying for it, so remember to use it! Otherwise it doesn’t make financial sense.
Why should I trust what I read here?
This list is brought to you by Digital DJ Tips, the world’s leading DJ school. We have top DJs like DJ Jazzy Jeff, James Hype, Laidback Luke and DJ ANGELO among out tutors, and we have 32,000 students worldwide. What you read here is based on the experiences of our tutors, students and community. Unlike nearly all other lists you’ll find out there, we are not affiliated with any of these companies, and so you can be confident we’re telling you the real truth.
So here we go then: Our biggest recommendations for DJ download pools in 2022.
Best overall: BPM Supreme
They say: “BPM Supreme delivers all the music you need in one dedicated source. Discover exclusive remixes, edits, and versions you won’t find anywhere else. Easily preview songs and build your sets using a visual waveform player. Grab one track or download your entire crate at once.”
We say: A good all-rounder, with a big selection of new releases, DJ edits, and all the genres such as electronic, hip-hop, pop and so on. They spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve their service for DJs, and have one of the best mobile apps. Also check out their sister site, BPM Latino, for the best Latin music.
Website: BPM Supreme
Best for hip-hop DJs: DJcity
They say: “The leading platform for DJs around the world. Tracks directly sourced from regional powerhouses including the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and Latin America. Your subscription includes full access to all five DJcity record pools for the price of one.”
We say: Long-established pool, that grew out of hip-hop and is very strong in this area, but also covers commercial dance, pop, Latin. R&B, reggae, dancehall and more. As befits one of the biggest pools, it has a great user experience, including an impressive mobile app, and lots of exclusive remixes and useful curated playlists.
Best for DJs in a hurry: Digital DJ Pool
They say: “New music for DJs. Every day, directly from labels, artists, and producers. The latest trending tracks always up to date. Our Stream shows you what’s currently being added to the site. See what’s going on in the scene on our charts and trends pages and be excited about our daily updates.”
We say: The pool offers the same general features as most of the competition, but the thing Digital DJ Pool does really well is the “social” side of things: You can follow labels, other DJs and artists, which gives you a personalised feed. This is something that is especially useful in the mobile app, where it makes quickly auditioning new music and building playlists a fast and fun experience. It’s also a cheap pool.
Website: Digital DJ Pool
Best for electronic music DJs: zipDJ
They say: “We pride ourselves at being the best in electronic dance music and house, and our focus is label promotion with thousands of indie labels. Over 60 genres and 400k+ tracks to discover including dance, house, hip-hop, R&B, pop, top 40, Latin, and the biggest electronic EDM catalogue of any digital DJ pool.”
We say: An ambitious and forward-looking pool, zipDJ has a huge selection, including more back catalogue than most. While it has the usual top 40, R&B, hip-hop and so on, it’s particularly good for electronic music. So if you’re frustrated that other pools seem to be too commercially focused, this is the one where you’ll find smaller labels, more underground music, and more of a “Beatport” vibe than the others.
Best for video DJs: Promo Only
They say: “For over 30 years Promo Only has offered DJs, VJs, radio stations and entertainment venues unprecedented access to the hottest new releases at rates available exclusively to those who can generate public play. We save you time, trouble and money.”
We say: Promo Only has been around for decades, and also runs a UK arm. They provide a lot of music to hotels, leisure outlets, radio stations, hospitality etc, as well as to club/mobile DJs, so have a wide choice of genres including Christian, Latin and alternative. The big difference is that as well as audio, they have video files, so if you’re a mobile or wedding DJ who uses video alongside audio, this may well be the best DJ download pool for you. They have a desktop app as well. Pricey, though.
Website: Promo Only
Best for cash-strapped DJs: MyMP3Pool
They say: “MyMP3Pool is a one-stop shop for all things MP3. Latest hits and party favourites all just one click away. Tired of getting empty results because of a silly misprint? With MyMP3Pool, finding exactly what you need has never been easier. We did our best to make sure you’ll find everything you’re looking for, even if you’re a bit distracted or typing in a hurry.”
We say: Good value, with an easy to use website and lots of tracks covering both major and independent labels. It has lots of features to help you search (like BPM, key etc), in common with most of the pools here, and has curated charts too. You can sign up for free and browse around before deciding, which is a nice feature.
Best for EDM/big room DJs: Club Killers
They say: “Same as always, but like never before. World-famous Club Killers Crew, Las Vegas-based DJs, producers…”
We say: We first saw Club Killers come to prominence during the EDM explosion of a few years back, excelling at EDM, club-friendly top 40 remixes, re-drums, and transition edits. They’ve got a great team behind those edits, which nowadays cover hip-hop and trap well, too. For club exclusives, this somewhat secretive pool is indeed killer, as per its name. No mobile app, though.
Website: Club Killers
Best for pro wedding/mobile DJs: Direct Music Service (DMS)
They say: “Direct Music Service, or DMS, is an online promotional MP3 music pool for professional DJs, producers, radio mixers and music directors. We are the industry leader in DJ friendly intro edits and the originators of many editing styles such as acapella outs, quick hitters, acapella loops and more. We filter through the garbage so you don’t have to.”
We say: Nearly 25 years old, DMS is near-legendary in the USA, especially among open-format and commercial DJs, with a slant towards R&B and hip-hop. It has its own selection of exclusive remixes (including sometimes made by our wedding DJ tutor, Jason Jani), and is publicly endorsed by our very own DJ Jazzy Jeff too, which is always a good thing to be able to claim! Wider back catalogue selection than most, plus videos.
Website: Direct Music Service
Another good choice for new mobile/wedding DJs: IDJ Pool
They say: “Servicing DJs since 1985 (we are the oldest record pool). We deliver the hits faster than any other DJ service. There are no contracts and no minimum commitment. Original versions and remixes. Fast downloading with bulk download option.”
We say: Nearly 40 years old, this is the grandaddy here, a pool that follows a commercial slant similar to Promo Only (but without the music videos). It has the usual DJ intro and outro edits, clean edits etc. Because of its age and reputation, it seems to be particularly popular among mobile and wedding DJs too, much like Promo Only.
Website: IDJ Pool
Best for UK DJs: CD Pool
They say: “CD Pool has been supplying DJs with music since 1994. We love music and we love DJs. Whatever kind of DJ you are, we have a package for you. DJs can choose to have their music on MP3, high quality lossless files or CD. Members get music updated everyday across multiple genres. If you’re a DJ, you need CD Pool.”
We say: This pool has also been going for several decades, and as its name suggests, started out by servicing DJs with (curated) CDs of new music according to their tastes/styles. It continues in that vein, with a UK-centric selection of music on offer for download, which the pool divides into “packs” that you subscribe to separately. If you play a particular style or type of venue, these are a great idea – but can get pricey if you sub to several.
Price: From $20/month
Website: CD Pool
Other DJ download pools
There are countless pools out there, and we’ve deliberately focused here on those used by our community the most. Do look out for names like Crate Connect, Late Night Record Pool, Heavy Hits, Doing the Damage, Digital Music Pool, Barbangerz too – and let us know in the comments what pool you’re using if it isn’t featured or mentioned, for possible inclusion in a future update to this article.
Learn to DJ with us: The Complete DJ Course
Do remember that no single source of music should be relied upon by any DJ. The art of building a unique music collection is to be constantly on the lookout for those tunes that will set you apart, whether they come from one of the best DJ download pools listed here, or elsewhere. So do take a look at our Where DJs Get Their Music article for the wider picture.