If you’re starting out and just getting into DJing, getting hold of music is definitely on your agenda for sure. The thing is, getting hold of music can be a bit of a minefield in terms of keeping costs down, getting quality audio files and getting hold of classics or getting new releases in your library.
Where to Get Music for DJing?
- Music Streaming Service Subscriptions
- DJ Pool Subscriptions
- Buy & Download Music
- Free Music – Illegal
- Free Music – Legal
I’ve put together this guide to give you the best of the best at this current day in age for acquiring music to DJ with. I want to share the most insight possible for you to understand the positives and negatives of building a music library for DJing. Hopefully this guide covers enough for you to navigate the world of building your music collection to DJ with, whether it be for a hobby or professional DJ.
To set the scene, music formats have changed somewhat from DJing with record vinyls as you may of notice (blatent point here). However it feels like yesterday that I remember hearing of DJs being interviewed years ago on Radio 1xtra commenting on how they used to wait outside record shops waiting for producers to drop of white label dub plates to DJ with that night.
Digital music has transformed the DJing world and has changed the game in which DJs get hold of music.
If you’re into DJing for fun and as a hobby then how you get hold of music to build your library will be different to one of a professional DJ playing in clubs.
Firstly it’s important to know the different areas in which to get hold of music. There are certain genres in which aren’t as prominent on different platforms to acquire music, so it’s important to know what the situation is with different methods.
Advice & Tips for Researching Music
To really hone in on crafting an amazing library of music it requires a sense of research. The ways that I do my research is by creating playlists in Spotify, like tracks on Soundcloud and Shazam.
My playlists generally look quite niche in topic, so for example:
- House: I create playlists for
- ‘Funky Melodic House’
- ‘Summer Club House’
- ‘Chilled House’
- Drum & Bass: I create playlists for
- ‘D&B Rollers’
- ‘Liquid D&B’
- ‘Jump Up / Nero D&B’
This process allows me to curate different libraries of related music with the right vibe that I’m after. I find this really helpful when seeking to build out track lists for specific venues I’m going to play.
Another trick is to listen to other playlists that are similar to the ones that you’re creating. I do find myself simply adding to my playlists when I’m naturally browsing through existing curated song playlists that catch my attention.
Top Places to Get Music for DJing
1) DJ City
DJ City is a very popular place where DJs from different genres build their music libraries. They offer a 3 month subscription for £60 with unlimited downloads to tracks. It’s easy to search for tracks and build crates in which you can download music.
DJ City offer a great desktop and mobile app that you can use to download multiple tracks at the same time. The mobile app can be paired with the desktop app too. I find the website a bit basic to use, but the desktop and mobile apps are way easier to use. The mobile app is in sync with the desktop making for great user experience when accessing just one music library.
- Type: DJ Pool Subscription
- Music: Trap, House, R&B, Hip Hip, Dance
- Website: https://www.djcity.com/uk/
Currently available in Beta version, Beatsource is the offspring of a music service collaboration between Beatport and DJ City. This is not currently a subscription service. The music service is targeting open-format DJs providing a range of genres and curated playlists.
- Type: Individual Purchase
- Music: Dance, Hip Hop, Latin, Pop, R&B, Reggae
- Website: https://www.beatsource.com/
TIDAL is a streaming service, in fact it’s similar to Spotify in terms user experience. The unique aspect of TIDAL is it’s compatible with Serato DJ, so you can curate all your DJ playlists in TIDAL and then sync them to Serato DJ. Serato DJ Lite and Serato DJ Pro are both compatible at this point in time. I believe you need to be online to access the music, however an offline version can be requested to Serato from the TIDAL website.
- Type: Streaming Service Subscription
- Music: Wide range – Check out yourself here https://listen.tidal.com
- Website: https://tidal.com/partners/serato
Soundcloud offers streaming service for DJs to access their large database of music. Streaming services have nearly become the norm for general music listeners, but however seems to be evolving more within the DJ scene. Integration of Soundcloud is being achieved with brand partnerships such as Virtual DJ, Serato, Native Instruments, Pioneer and Dex.
- Type: Streaming Service Subscription
- Music: Wide range
- Website: https://creators.soundcloud.com/dj
5) BPM Supreme
A solid record pool offering by BPM Supreme. What I love about this record pool is the fact you can preview the audio wave of the track, it seems that a lot of other record pools don’t offer that on their websites. The quality of MP3 downloads are 320kps which is great for DJing with great audio quality.
Genres are fairly wide in offering, there’s a strong sway towards Dance and Hip Hop which I’m seeing as a trend for a lot of US based record pools. A nice feature is BPM Supreme offer curated playlists and also music split out by decade.
- Type: Record Pool
- Music: Wide range – Dance, Hip Hop, Pop, Rock, Remixes, Country, Reggae
- Website: https://www.bpmsupreme.com/
6) Franchise Record Pool
An American based record pool with a heavy focus on Hip Hop, R&B and popular mainstream music. They claim to add around 3,000 tracks per month to an already existing record pool of around 300,000 tracks. The cost for this is $19.99 per month, so not bad if you like DJing Hip Hop and mainstream popular music. I’d say at this price probably beneficial for a working DJ but also great for DJing for fun also.
- Type: Record Pool
- Music: Mostly Hip Hop, R&B & Pop
- Website: https://www.franchiserecordpool.com
7) My MP3 Pool
American based record pool, starting out as a vinyl record pool and CD distribution company, they’re now an MP3 download pool for DJs.
I like this DJ record pool, the genres on offer seem to be wide reaching from Reggae, Latin, Pop, D&B and Hip Hop. Another great genre that MyMP3Pool categorise is for DJ Tools, Transitions and Acapellas, this is great if you want to add in some creativity to your live mixes. You could argue that it’s a bit pricey per month at $19.99, the same as ‘Franchise Record Pool’.
Usability of the website is easy and clear. The tracks can be played as a preview and you can see important information such as BPM and key of the tracks. Simple to download the tracks too.
- Type: Record Pool
- Music: Mostly Hip Hop, R&B & Pop
- Website: https://mp3poolonline.com
8) Digital DJ Pool
As with a lot of DJ record pools, I find that the entry level price is steep without letting you test it out first. Fear not! Digital DJ Pool offers a great intro to their record pool, 5 days for $1. Once the trial is over you simply move onto a rolling $20 per month fee.
Slick website, easy on the eye and simplistic to navigate around too. The layout of the music genre charts is great to use and is similar to how Beatport lay out the page. Really great to see the artwork, BPM and reviews before downloading tracks too.
Finally if you’re into producing music, they offer a free trial for promoting and distributing your music, see page here.
- Type: Record Pool
- Music: Electronic, House, Hip Hop, Trap, Dubstep, R&B & Pop
- Website: https://digitaldjpool.com/
9) CD Pool
Love this site. I really like the way that CD Pool offer packages, this is a really great feature for ease of quickly downloading a set of music in a specific genre. Suitable packages include ‘Mobile’, ‘Radio’ and ‘Club’ DJ. For example: https://www.cdpool.com/dj-packs/club-dj-pack/.
The key unique point to CD Pool is that it focuses on giving you pre-release tracks, but at a cost of between £25 to £35 per month. Great if you want to stay ahead of the curve and are DJing in clubs all of the time. Different packages charge different rates, so see which is best for you.
Music is populated in this record pool from labels such as Virgin, Polydor, Ministry of Sound and even Ninja Tune. Searching for music is really easy, awesome pop up to preview the audio wave and click where you want to play the track for quick listening.
- Type: Record Pool
- Music: Dance, Urban, Club, Underground.
- Website: https://www.cdpool.com/
10) Mailing Lists
It is possible to get onto artist management or record label mailing lists. They will share with you pre-release tracks helping you to DJ with unique tracks in your live DJ sets. Targeted mainly at DJs the play professionally in clubs week in week out.
If you’re a working DJ then you’ll probably be aware of artist management companies that offer mailing lists. It’s likely working DJs are more likely to be added onto the mailing list as they have more of a reach in terms of playing the music live to people. New DJs just getting started, I’d recommend sticking to buying music to download, record pools or streaming subscriptions.
A great place to buy music and also stream it if you want to stream it for pure listening. Bandcamp is great for creating and finding other curated music collections, it’s got a community feel to it in that respect.
My point about why this is good is because you can really get into your niche genre that your DJing. Also you can keep on top of new releases which always a strong point for working DJs.
One thing that used to annoy me about Beatport is the limited amount of times you can download the tracks you’ve bought, Bandcamp removes that barrier which is awesome. Bandcamp is costly on terms of individual purchases, fair enough, but great for researching music and re-downloading old purchases.
- Website: https://bandcamp.com/
You can join music based groups or record label / artist pages where sometimes you get hold of free music that’s releases via their Facebook. I’ve seen before where you will have to download the free music from another web page e.g. an artist website or free music page on a record label website.
This is quite an interesting website for music producers and getting hold of music to DJ with too. Similar vibes to Bandcamp in the way that you can sign up, download free music or buy music to download and then stream those tracks too. Re-downloading music after purchase is always an option too.
As a lot of producers can sell their music on their own pages within Soundclick I think it’s quite an interesting way to get new music that might not of been heard that much before.
- Music: Wide Range – Electronic, Jazz, Dance, Urban, Beats & Instrumentals.
- Website: https://www.soundclick.com/
14) Record Label websites
In some cases you can find that some record labels offer free music or competitions to at least try to get a free catalogue of music. Alternatively record label websites are a great way to find the new releases as soon as they are out especially cool if you pre-order the tracks before release.
Beatport is great, I love the website and how to use it. Electronic dance music vast in selection on this website. I buy a lot of my D&B music here and also dance music because I find they offer the selection of music that I require and it’s of a high quality audio file formats.
I really like how easy it is to browser sub-genres and labels within them. Also the curated lists of other DJs is a nice touch too for find new club bangers. Lastly, this website is great if you’re after stems and samples to add to your DJ sets.
- Music: D&B, House, Dance, Urban, Club, Underground, Dubstep & more.
- Website: https://www.beatport.com/
A classic way of getting hold of music and building up a collection of music, paid for music at a high quality guaranteed. Great if you already have a MacBook Pro for example that you’re using to DJ with too which makes sense. Easy to transfer and access the music library for DJing with on DJ software like Serato. A wide range of music is clearly on offer here, so always a good way to get hold of music.
A mention about Amazon and buying music. I’ve found that when you buy record vinyls usually it’s possible to download the MP3 version of the tracks too after purchase. Side note too, sometimes I’ve seen you can get the CD included with the record vinyls too. Large database of music, plus amazing delivery times too.
Used this website for a number of years now. Mainly used Juno for buying new music in record vinyl format, but now I get stuck into the ‘Back Catalogue’, ‘Coming Soon’ and ‘DJ Charts’ for inspiration. It’s handy to sign up to the ’email me when released’ featured for new music to purchase. You can certainly count on a wide range of music genres and high quality audio formats too.
- Music: Breakbeat, D&B, House, Dance, Urban, Funk, Soul, Jazz, Underground, Dubstep & more.
- Website: https://www.juno.co.uk/
19) Record Shops & Markets
For those vinyl lovers and potentially CD lovers too, you still can’t beat going to a record shop to listen to your tracks before buying them. The whole experience is great, although expensive, you’ll be buzzing none the less. You can find some super old classics too. There are record label markets too that you can attend, get stuck into new niche exciting records labels.
- Online Record Shop: https://www.redeyerecords.co.uk/home/
- Shop to try out: https://www.phonicarecords.com/
- Record Label Market: http://independentlabelmarket.com/
Free music can be accessed via YouTube where producers have uploaded “Royalty Free” or “Free Copyright Music”. It’s an interesting way to get hold of new music that’s completely different to what’s out there in the charts. Potentially adopting this way can help you stand out more as a DJ. Usually you’ll be directed to a download link to another website for a download link, sometimes with a catch e.g. social share or email subscription. Basically free music for a trade of data.
21) The Artist Union
A website platform that allows you to sign up and download free music from a variety of rising producers. Great for following specific artists that are fairly new to the scene or getting better known.
Main types of genres are Dance, House, EDM and a lot of other sub-genres within them. As mentioned about the free music on YouTube you’ll likely need to exchange something in return. Usually on The Artist Union you need to connect with SoundCloud or somthing similar. Requires some effort, but great for free music.
This basically the same principle as The Artist Union and allows you to search and download free music. Still has a good range of electronic music similar to The Artist Union. However HyppedIt requires an email in trade for a music download. Still free music though!
My advice would be to do the 5 day $1 trial https://digitaldjpool.com/ if you’re into House, Electronic or Hip Hop to get a flavour for DJ record pools. Alternatively if you know you want to commit to a record pool then opt for a £10 per month subscription, likely just as good as a higher priced DJ pool.
If you’re not into downloading and have a DJ Controller for example, then I suggest cracking on with Tidal or Soundcloud streaming services. This is probably the quickest and easiest way to integrate and get hold of music to start DJing for long term.
A quick point about certain genres and DJ record pools. Not all genres are featured in these pools. I feel that it’s because some genres are quite niche and rely more on music sales potentially. On the plus side streaming services seem to have a wider variety of genres available and also buying services such as Beatport offer a great selection too.
If you’re still buying record vinyls, fair play to you!
And finally, be cautious of illegal downloading and playing music live at gigs, the audio quality is usually not consistent.
Do DJs Have to Buy Their Music?
DJs are required to purchase music. Either in the form of purchasing music directly as a single or album. Or using subscription services such as DJ pools and streaming services are other methods DJs can acquire music.
How do DJ Pools Work?
Record labels and artists submit music to DJ pools allowing DJs to become subscription members. Subscriptions are usually charged monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription and in return record labels and artists are paid. The entire music pool is available to active members to download and DJ with.