Your Questions: Is It Legal To DJ From Spotify?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
legality Pro Public performance spotify
Last updated 26 March, 2018


Not so fast, buster! It’s actually against Spotify’s terms and conditions to play music streamed from the site in your DJ sets.

Digital DJ Tips reader Jonas writes: “I wonder if it is legal to use Spotify when performing publicly? I am learning on the DDJ-WeGO3 with Algoriddim’s Djay 2 on my iPad, and right now mostly playing tracks from Spotify. Anyone knows?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

It is certainly against Spotify’s rules. It’s made clear in the Spotify Terms & Conditions of Use, section 4, “Rights we grant you”:

“The Spotify Service and the Content are the property of Spotify or Spotify’s licensors. We grant you … a limited, non-exclusive, revocable licence to make personal, non-commercial, entertainment use of the Content … You promise and agree that you are using the Content for your own personal, non-commercial, entertainment use”

However, Spotify has granted the use of its service within DJ software (Algoriddim’s djay 2 and djay Pro, Pacemaker app). The dictionary definition of DJ says a DJ is someone who “plays recorded music on the radio or at a club or party”. A bit confusing? We think so too.

It gets worse. Beatport is a site designed for DJs, where many DJs buy their music for public performance. Of all places, you should be safe there – right? Let’s take a look at their Terms and Conditions:

“Without the prior written consent of Beatport or the applicable copyright holder, no Content may be transmitted, distributed, translated, publicly displayed, uploaded, published, recorded, retransmitted, rented, sold, distributed, digitized, endorsed, reproduced, altered to make new works, performed, or compiled in any commercial way. The Content is only for your personal, noncommercial use…”

You’ll usually find similar clauses tucked away anywhere you buy digital music. Another crazy example: Here in the UK, if you buy a CD and use it to DJ with, as long as the venue has a public performance licence, you’re good. But if you rip that CD so you can DJ with it in your DJ software, you (personally) need to buy a licence to stay on the right side of the law. Crazy? Yup.

The whole area of copyright law and public performance is a minefield (which is why lawyers insist on nonsense like the above tucked in the small print), and ultimately it’s your decision whether you treat the law as the law or a guideline. we’ve yet to hear of a prosecution for violating either of the above clauses, for what it’s worth. If the venue has the licences it needs to let music be publicly performed, we’d personally be happy to play there, with music from any legal source.

Any stories to share or insights we’ve missed here? what do you think of this situation, and what could be done to resolve it? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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