DJing with acapellas is a great way to add some uniqueness to your DJ sets. It’s something that I’ve not utilised as much as I should of but I really enjoy mixing into my sets when I do.
How do DJs get Vocals for Their Tracks?
- AI Separation
- Manually separate vocals by inverting the instrumental on music production software
- Download from websites and platforms
- Record labels
- Record Vinyl Albums
Here are the top places in which DJs can get hold of vocals and acapellas for their DJ sets. Whether it be for DJing or producing, acapellas can be great fun to work with to make your DJ sets way more interesting.
AI Separation with Lalal.ai
There are websites and software options out there that simply allow you to upload music tracks that separate vocals from the original track.
Lalal.ai is a simplistic website that allows anyone to drag and drop a music song onto their website and it will split the audio into two parts, the instrumental and the vocal track.
After testing out the service myself the vocal track does sound slightly gritty, sort of like the putting a bitcrusher effect onto an audio track in Logic Pro.
If you want something that’s quick and easy then it’s definitely worth a shot with this. Using Lalal.ai could be a good option if you just want a small snippet of the vocal too. Check out the website here: https://www.lalal.ai/.
Separate Vocals using Instrumental & Main Music Track
If you know how to use music software such as Logic, Ableton and Audacity for example, then this process might be the one for you to get hold of acapellas.
The requirement for getting the vocal track is that you will need two tracks of the same song:
- Main music track: vocals + instrumental
- Instrumental music track: instrumental only
The trick is to load both tracks 1 and 2 in line with each other perfectly in the music production software. When I say perfectly, I mean precisely without a blemish of difference in timing between the two.
Next the final part in the process is to invert the audio wave of the instrumental track. In doing so this helps achieve cancelling out the instrumental part of the audio wave of 1. the main music track.
By process of elimination, the vocals are left standing when played back using the music software. You can then export the audio wave as whatever file you require, usually I recommend mp3 320kbps or Wav.
- Line up two tracks, 1 being the instrumental, 2 being the normal track (vocal + instrumental)
2. On the second track, click ‘Effect’, click ‘Invert’ the audio. This flips the audio wave so that the instrumental cancels out the instrumental on the track with the vocal. The result = only the vocal can be heard.
3. Save and export your audio file, and now you have an acapella to play in your DJ sets or make a mashup / remix if that’s what you’re into.
Buy or Download from Online Music Stores
- Sample based for music producers & DJs
- High quality audio
- Costs money to buy vocals
Loopmasters is a go to website for a lot of people when looking for acapellas, vocals and vocal stabs. Simply go to the website and type in ‘acapellas’ into the top of the search bar and you will be greeted with a tonne of different vocal acapella sample packs. Cost is mostly around £20 to £30 mark.
If you’re after acapellas from famous songs then Loopmasters does not offer this. You can get hold of acapellas that are originals and are mainly focussed on music producing. Having said that, you can sure use the vocals on there to make your own mashups with famous instrumentals and original acapellas.
- Vocal samples based for music producers & DJs
- High quality audio
- Costs money to buy vocals
Splice is website that I’ve started to notice a lot of people talk about in recent times. You can try the service for free, once the free access is over you will need to pay £7.99 a month. Pretty decent price for a the amount access to samples and acapellas.
NOTE: if you have been to Indaba Music before, it’s now part of Splice, you can access all of the music sample content from there.
- Sample based for music producers & DJs
- Medium / Low quality audio
- Recorded by artists on the website
- Can cost money sometimes
Looperman is an interesting platform to get hold of acapellas. Original and cover acapellas for you to use. Particularly cool if you want to make a mashup of an original track. You can easily take the acapellas from here and layer over an instrumental track to play in the clubs. Check the details of the acapella for commercial use however.
- Highly appropriate for DJs
- Acapellas from popular music
- Website slightly slow in speed for downloading (not a deal breaker though)
- Free downloads
Acapellas4u.co.uk is one of the best websites I’ve used in the past. You’ll find professional commercial acapellas on there. It’s easy to navigate to find acapellas of songs and easy to find artists with some of the vocals available.
As a DJ what I find useful is searching through this website you can find out the tempo and key of the track that the acapella is related to. This helps you to figure out how to do mashups and mix vocals over instrumentals in your DJ sets. Otherwise the vocals might clash because the key is not compatible.
- Usually free to download
- High sound quality
- Can take a while to find acapellas
Soundcloud is always worth a try to find acapella vocals, simply type in acapella, maybe even the name of an artist of song.
Sometimes vocal only tracks appear, usually you’ll see them show up on an artists page of a record label Soundcloud profile. Frequently acapella tracks are available due to an artist providing the stems available for remixing. But we all know this is a great opportunity to use the vocals to mix over the top of another track or make a mashup for example.
- Great range of popular song vocals
- High quality
- Free and paid
- Easy to find acapellas
Voclr.it is decent, the website is simple to use, they present key, bpm, artist, label, genre filters so well. You get five free downloads per month, otherwise you get unlimited downloads for £4.99 a month, sounds like a great deal to me if you’re into DJing with popular music vocals over other instrumentals.
DJ City (Record Pool)
- High audio quality
- Costs per month for downloads
- Limited range of genres for vocal acapellas
DJ City seems to me quite a popular record pool to find DJ music and also you can get hold of acapellas too.
The range I feel is quite limited to certain genres, so you may be better off searching elsewhere for specific music vocals. Otherwise if you’re simply browsing to get ideas then DJ City is a great way to start.
Record labels seem like obvious places to contact to get hold of vocals of popular, however getting hold of vocals could be less successful in gaining them.
If you don’t ask you don’t get!
It’s always worth contacting a record label if you’re after a specific vocal acapella. Especially if you’re a DJ producer looking to make a mashup or remix to DJ with then there’s a possibility the record label will share it with you. Let’s face it, it’s great promotion for their music out there to the masses.
Record Vinyl Albums
Albums in the format of a record vinyl are common to offer the vocals of the music on the album. This is a great opportunity to get hold of acapellas that might not be available in the digital realm online.
Most DJs and producers will likely be focussing online to find their vocals so it makes total sense, if you’re into vinyls that is, to find some hidden gems. In doing so you’ll probably stand out more as a DJ when using the vocals you found on a vinyl.
Now you could go down the route of playing the actual record vinyl with the acapellas on in your DJ set, which is totally the DJ Shadow vibe.
Alternatively, just get the vinyl recorded onto your laptop in a digital MP3 or WAV format to gain more control over it. That way your can potentially chop up the vocal to suit how you want to play the music in your DJ set.
Get crate digging and see what vocals you find, you never know there could be a diamond in the rough somewhere out there that you love.
To help narrow down the finds try Discogs, HTFR, Juno, Phonica Records for example. It might help reduce the amount of time you spend at a record shop, unless that’s your thing.
There are a lot of places to find acapellas online, some the real deal from existing popular Dance songs and Hip Hop commercial music. Others you will find on sample websites for music production.
Depending on what you creative DJing goals are with acapellas and vocals, there’s plenty to achieve including:
- mixing acapellas over instrumentals
- making DJ drops, vocals and saying your DJ name
- creating pre-recorded mashups (similar to point one, but already recorded on a music production software such as Ableton or Logic)
- playing vocal chops with performance pads from a DJ controller
- creating your own proper remix to help get your name out there as a DJ Producer
There’s a lot you can do with vocals and acapellas. Enjoy the creative process and get DJing to show off your unique talent and skills.
Acapella Copyright Laws
Most DJs play vocals in their DJ sets and legally should in theory be covered by copyright of the premises that they are playing at.
Most acapella websites are simply platforms for DJs and others to download vocals from but don’t expect that it’s all fully legal when you start being creative with vocals.
If you’re going down the remix, mashup, re-edit route which means recording a music track with someone’s vocals, then you will need permission from the record label in order to do this.
A lot of DJs can like get away with a personal bootleg of their own using the vocals of a commercial track. You sometimes see YouTube edits of tracks that are “bootleg” versions. Back in the day I used to stumble across these sorts of record vinyls as white label tracks marked as “bootleg”.