20 Tips for Keeping Up with Music as a DJ


20 Tips for Keeping Up with Music as a DJ

As technology grows, so does music, seemingly at the rate of knots! So fast in fact that the amount of new producers I see newly launching their music via platforms such as LANDR, TuneCore and CD Baby.

How do DJs keep up with music?

  1. Record Label Websites
  2. Compilation Albums
  3. Listen to Music Producer Playlists on Spotify
  4. Follow Individual Artists on Soundcloud
  5. Join a Record Pool
  6. Beatport Top 100 Releases by Genre
  7. Beatport DJ Charts
  8. Shazam Music When You’re Out and About
  9. Friend Recommendations
  10. Watch YouTube Mixes of DJs that You Love
  11. Music Review Blogs / Websites
  12. Podcasts & Radio Shows
  13. Attend Clubs, Festivals and DJ Gigs
  14. Follow Artists on Social Media
  15. Record Shops
  16. Record Label Markets
  17. Focus on Quality over Quantity
  18. Stick within ‘Your’ Sound as a DJ (Don’t Deviate Too Much)
  19. Soundcloud Streaming in Rekordbox to Experiment with New Music
  20. Use Intelligent Playlists to keep Track of Your Music

As DJs keeping up with new music can be a challenge due to how time consuming it can be, yet again if you love listening to music then it’s simply finding the right places that work for you. Depending on the music genre that you DJ there are certain outlets and platforms.

The below tips will help you keep up with finding new music, just to clarify ‘new’ by saying any music you’ve not heard before, new releases, old classics and remixes, here are some awesome tips to help you.

Plus if you want to see my recommended “discovery process” for finding new music I’ve written about it here.

Music Finding Tips

1. Record Label Websites

Record label websites are a great way to find new music that you’ve not heard before.

Usually there are some great resources of music that the labels offer that you can browse through. I’ve found in the past that there are some great remixes, EPs and albums that feature music tracks that I’ve not heard before.

If you’re not overly familiar with all the names of the record labels in your specific genre, I find Reddit posts from music enthusiasts post lists of record labels and Beatport feature labels in their genre searches.

Here are some great examples of record labels that present their music well for you get researching and get new music ideas for your DJ sets.

Funky House

EDM

D&B

Techno

2. Compilation Albums

Compilation albums are like gold if you’re looking for some inspiration for a specific sound. I personally love compilations because they are the original playlists that you find on modern platforms such as Spotify and Deezer these days.

Compilation albums genres include all sorts of music, most notable from my experience and mind are:

  • Ministry of Sound: The Annual
  • Ibiza Classics
  • Now Dance
  • Defected Most Rated
  • 100% Clubland
  • Pure Garage
  • Kiss Clublife
  • Kisstory

Compilation albums can be found on lots of platforms out there now, back in the day it was just music shops selling CDs.

Spotify is a great place to find playlists of compilation albums, you can buy them on Amazon too and download the audio files. On Spotify and Soundcloud I find that compilations are usually created by other users on the platform and sometimes by the record label themselves.

If it’s just the names of the tracks that you’re after then YouTube usually has compilation albums. Most of the time the playlists are submitted so you can then seek out the tracks to DJ with.

If you’re struggling to find the playlist details of music compilations like I said above Spotify, Deezer etc are great, but Discogs seems to be the king database to find music tracklist information.

3. Listen to Music Producer Playlists on Spotify

One of my favourites to find new music is to find and seek out playlists or “record bag” playlists in Spotify. You can do this on Soundcloud and other platforms too but I find Spotify is one of the better ways to find these sorts of playlists.

For example I follow Disclosure and they have their ‘Disclosure’s Record Bag’. It’s awesome! Gives a great insight into lots of different vibes and genres.

I find it’s a great way to find new music while playing the Spotify playlist in the background when I’m doing something else. When a tune pops up that I like then I save it to a particular folder on my Spotify and usually buy in say Beatport for example later on.

Rudimental have a similar playlist where they chuck in all their favourite tracks. This is a great insight into listening to other artists music tastes and can really get you thinking about different styles or sub-genres within your scene.

A great way to discover music you’ve not heard before, especially enhanced set of music from professional DJs and music artists that are in the music industry.

4. Follow Individual Artists on Soundcloud

Following a big list of artists on Soundcloud can really help you on your quest for finding music for your DJ mixes.

If you’re familiar with Soundcloud then you’ll be aware that when you follow an artist by clicking on the ‘Follow’ button music from all of those artists will appear on your stream every time you log into Soundcloud. Any new music those artists release will appear in the stream.

If you want to be broad with music genres then do it, but if you want to be specific make sure that you’re super selective in who you follow. Especially if you’re getting into DJing within a specific scene or genre.

Extra Tip: If you really like a track and you want Soundcloud to do the rest of the work for you, click on ‘Station’ button next to the track. It might be hidden by the ‘More’ button. This will spit out lots of related tracks that you can listen to and pick out your favourites.

5. Join a Record Pool

Record pools are subscription based services in which you pay a monthly, quarterly or yearly fee allowing you to download as much music as you like.

Different record pools offer various weightings of music genres but usually you can still pick up a decent catalogue of music per genre.

Check out DJ City for example, they have a some great pages of music:

Obviously if you sign up you can get hold of all the music listed on the above playlists.

6. Beatport Top 100 Releases by Genre

Beatport is one of my favourite websites to buy music that I’ve not heard of before. The Top 100 Releases are featured and categorised by genres which is really helpful for you to pick the genres you DJ.

I mostly DJ House music these days, so check it out here for the House releases currently. I use this list on a monthly basis to check out what’s hot and see which tracks suit the DJ sets or categories of House music that I like.

7. Beatport DJ Charts

This one is similar to the Spotify playlist curated by DJs except this is on Beatport created by DJs. Also you can buy and download that tracks which makes it easy for you to find new music and build you music collection.

Check the DJ charts here on Beatport. I highly recommend using this method as I’ve found a lot of tracks that go well with my DJ sets from other DJs recommendations. It’s like a pick and mix for music in my opinion 🙂

8. Shazam Music When You’re Out and About

A somewhat obvious but easy way to find out the names of music tracks you’ve not heard before.

When I’m out and about shopping, grabbing a coffee or listening to the radio I still find myself using Shazam to get the names of music tracks that I love the sound of. Especially if the tracks can sit well in a DJ set for example.

What I love about Shazam is that you can sync it to Spotify and listen to the tracks on there if you like. Another tip is that if you’re playing tracks from Soundcloud into your DJ software, for example Rekordbox, then it’s easy to transfer those tracks from Shazam to Spotify and then to Soundcloud via Soundiiz.

9. Friend Recommendations

Honestly, when people know you’re a DJ, especially since promoting myself more online with live streaming as a DJ, friends and family have started recommending tracks for my DJ sets.

Don’t get me wrong here, when I say “recommendation” this is not a “request”. My friends have genuinely suggested great House music tracks that would suit my “sound” as a DJ.

So if you’re not DJing on a live stream e.g. on Mixcloud like me, or promoting yourself much as a DJ, even to friends, then do so now! You’ll more than likely start getting some recommendations. If not, then start asking around to your friends and see what they come up with. The most recent recommendation for is a track by Boyz Noise – Mvinline.

10. Watch YouTube Mixes of DJs that You Love

I’m obsessed with listening to my favourite DJs and their best DJ sets online via YouTube.

Notable DJ sets that I listen to are usually featured on DJ Mag, Boiler Room, Cercle or Mixmag channels.

DJs that I listen to the most are Bondax, FatBoy Slim, Bonobo, Disclosure, Sam Divine and any sets on Defected usually.

The point to this tip is that usually you can find the track listing in the description of each video or there’s usually some kind person that’s commented on the playlist themselves. When the timestamp links are in there you can click on those to check the name of tracks match up and even use Shazam or Beatport to varify.

Although, sometimes you will find unreleased tracks which can be annoying as they are only available on YouTube. Slightly frustrating!

11. Music Review Blogs / Websites

The below websites are the main websites I’ve used in the past for the music that I’m mostly interested in as a DJ.

Music review websites and Blogs can really help be a port of call for DJs trying to scope out top tracks. Mainly new releases can be the chat on these blogs with some chat of older tracks depending on the angle of the articles.

12. Podcasts & Radio Shows

Sam Divine podcast on Defected is one of the most common podcasts that I listen to for inspiration for my DJ sets.

The Nextmen have a regular podcast that I’m a massive fan of too as they always seem to play a variety of different genres throughout their podcasts, including Hip Hop, House, Dubstep, D&B and general electronic soulful sounds.

I advise you to get into radio shows on your Spotify, Souncloud, Mixlcoud or similar. Even if you’re not finding tracks you can add to your DJ sets every podcast, you will certainly find some banging tracks in the long term. Subscribe to some podcasts and get listening.

13. Attend Clubs, Festivals and DJ Gigs

Going to gigs and festivals are fantastic for finding out new tracks. DJs will always play their own music if they are producers, so that’s always one to look out for when at a gig.

Another point is that DJs can play some unreleased tracks, whether it be remixes or bootlegs, keeping track of those music gems can help you become aware of music pieces to add to your sets too.

Also, don’t forget Shazam can help you out here for getting the name of the track. Failing that, doing a search online for gig events for the DJ set listings is quite easy these days with fan websites or event websites.

14. Follow Artists on Social Media

Following your favourite artists, big or small, can help you find out some music tracks you’ve not heard before.

I’ve found some banging tracks that artists have created as a collaboration with other artists and as a result have been posted on social media with the YouTube link.

Get following your fave artists now and check your feed for now and then for some top tracks coming through. Add them to your DJ software and then get mixing.

15. Record Shops

Speaking with the record shop owner or guys and girls that work in there is worth a shout. With them all working around music all day long and some of them being DJs themselves it’s worth getting some ideas from them on what’s hot and what’s not.

Not sure if you’re into record vinyls these days, but it’s something that I still enjoy doing. You can certainly find some hidden gems in certain crates.

Although very nostalgic, it can be very time consuming and expensive.

16. Record Label Markets

There are record label markets that appear around the world now and then. I’ve found these to be very cool places to find music tracks that I’ve not heard before.

A lot of record labels are independent labels, and when they attend these dedicated markets it seems that they are there to impress. There are limited presses of old original tracks, remixes and new releases too.

All formats can be found from record vinyls, tapes, CDs which usually come with free digital downloadable music formats too.

Check out the record label market that I attend: http://independentlabelmarket.com/. They put on these events worldwide, so check out their events page.

Practical DJ Tips

17. Focus on Quality over Quantity

It can be very easy to get trigger happy with the download button and start downloading too many music tracks that you like the sound of. My main advice is to aim towards downloading a certain amount of music each day or week so that you don’t get too bogged down with managing music in your DJ software.

18. Stick within ‘Your’ Sound as a DJ (Don’t Deviate Too Much)

To compliment the previous point, when searching for new music, always have your DJ sound that you want to give off as a DJ. Focus on the sound that really represents you as a DJ.

Of course if you’re an open format DJ, DJing at parties and weddings for example, then you’re probably not going to benefit from this point.

However for artist type DJs, keep to your style or sound, and have a particular DJ set that you have in mind when thinking about downloading a track.

19. Soundcloud Streaming in Rekordbox to Experiment with New Music

A tip that you can practically start using is Soundcloud streaming within Rekordbox.

What I do is listen to tracks throughout the day on Soundcloud, add specific tracks to various suitable playlists that I’ve put together and then practice DJing with them on Rekordbox using my DJ equipment (DDJ-400 DJ controller).

Another tip that you can do is to simply click on Souncloud in Rekordbox and you will see a search bar on the top left of the table in Rekordbox.

Search for artists that you are familiar with and pick out tracks or remixes that you’ve not heard of before and try DJing with them. You might stumble across some top notch vibes.

20. Use Intelligent Playlists to keep Track of Your Music

If you are a trigger happy DJ when downloading new music into your Rekordbox DJ sofware, or similar such as Serato, then my best advice with managing new music is intelligent playlists.

Create lots of different intelligent playlists which have various filters in place to help you find those tracks in helpful ways.

By helpful ways I mean variables such as tempo ranges, artist names, BPM and Key.

These will help you find the tracks that you need at the right time. Intelligent playlist should update as you add more music to your DJ software over time, hence the name intelligent.

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