How DJs find and discover music
Do you want to know the best way to discover and download music in practically any genre? Read our guide to find out.
I have covered lots below, but realistically you'd only need a few methods of finding music. SoundCloud.com and YouTube.com would be a good way for most DJs to discover music.
Finding music online
Let's get the easy stuff out of the way; if you want to know what are the latest trending pop songs, then you can probably listen to mainstream radio and/or TV music channels. Radio and music video channels are all over the internet, too.
Billboard.com has the latest US charts for pop songs. If you need to know what the charts are in other countries, then you can just search Google.com for "pop charts country name here". You can also use Google to find genre based charts by searching "genre name here charts".
Top-charts.com can be a good resource for finding charts in other countries. It also has genre based lists.
To acquire mainstream tracks; see our section on Apple Music and Amazon.com.
YouTube has many ways to find music.
If you're entering a new genre, then you can use the search function.
If you need the latest songs, then you can click "Filters" and set the results to the last month or even the last 24 hours.
Alternatively you can search for "genre month year". For example if I wanted to search for drum and bass tracks released in June 2022, then I would search for "drum and bass june 2022".
You can also subscribe to your favorite artists and monitor your subscriptions.
If the channel is official they will usually tell you where you can buy the track in the video's description. Official music channels usually have a music symbol next to their name.
I also sometimes listen to mixes on YouTube. Many of the track names can be found in the video description, and if not maybe an app such as Shazam can identify the track.
Additionally it has radio shows such as "A State Of Trance". Some radio shows have their archives on this website, so listening back to your favorite shows can discover some gems.
You could also search for "royalty free" music, but be mindful that just because it says the music is royalty free doesn't necessarily mean it is. You don't need royalty free music unless you're producing music.
BandCamp.com is an online store for musicians, and it was created by a musician. It specializes in electronic music.
Out of all the stores on the internet Band Camp is the best one for artists as they take the least amount money from sales. Artists usually upload music directly to bandcamp opposed to a label or show uploading them. If the artist that you like is on Band Camp, then purchasing the music from the website is the best way to support them.
It has downloads in loads of formats, including MP3, FLAC, ALAC (Apple Lossless), AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WAV and AIFF.
SoundCloud.com and MixCloud.com
These are popular websites artists use in the electronic music industry. SoundCloud.com is used for single tracks, albums and archives. MixCloud.com has mixes.
They're not related to each other, they just have similar names.
You can follow producers and DJs on both websites. These websites have a search function.
Tracks on SoundCloud.com sometimes have a free download link. Be aware that sometimes you could be downloading bootlegs, these are not official version of tracks. If you download bootlegs, then I would recommend buying the original track too so the original artist(s) get compensation.
You shouldn't sell bootleg tracks, but they're OK to use in your DJ sets.
Musicians put their music for sale on this website. It has downloads in loads of formats, including MP3, FLAC, ALAC (Apple Lossless), AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WAV and AIFF.
This has genre based charts. You can search songs by BPM (Beats Per Minute) and key.
Apple Music and Amazon.com
You can use these for buying songs. These would have mainstream songs and many E.D.M. tracks.
Amazon.com would have a large selection of CDs and vinyl, too.
Apple popularized buying music online with their iTunes store, Apple Music superseded this outlet.
With DJ pools you get access to thousands of tracks in exchange for a monthly fee. Record labels and artists send tracks to the DJ Pools for them to distribute.
Many of these websites provide MP3s at 320Kb/seconds.
Not all DJ Pools are created equally. Some cover E.D.M better than others.
Many DJ pools restrict you to downloading a certain number of songs per month, but others are unlimited.
Some DJ Pools force you to rate tracks before you download, and some people would find this annoying.
Many DJ pools do a poor job of creating "clean" versions of songs, some "clean" versions would still have explicit language in them. This seems ridiculous to me.
DJ pools don't seem to be popular and some view them as ripping off the artist.
This has a selection of tracks for sale and it has lots of house music.
Boomkat.com and Boomkat.com have a selection of music. They sell electronic and physical copies.
This website has a selection of music, including many E.D.M. tracks.
In most cases DJs wouldn't play the song directly from Spotify, but it can be a good place to discover genre related playlists. Many record labels would have playlists too.
You can join genre based Facebook groups and people usually share their tracks and mixes in them. Some producers may request others to message them in exchange for their tracks.
You can probably enter your genre name into the search box in Twitter.com to find tracks.
You can follow DJs on Facebook and Twitter. MySpace.com is meant to be a music oriented social network but I believe that it isn't widely used.
Occasionally DJs may message you tracks that they like; they'll probably just message a YouTube video. DJs would only do this for their good friends.
You may find some CDs and vinyl on Facebook Marketplace, but there's probably a ton of piracy with this.
Reddit.com is a global forum. Segments of Reddit are called subreddits. You can probably find a subreddit for your genre with links to tracks/mixes.
There may be blogs in your music genre to that can alert you to new tracks.
Many DJs and music critics have podcasts that could be useful for finding tracks.
Record label websites
You can probably subscribe to record label email newsletters to get notified of new tracks. Some indie record labels and independent producers probably won't have email newsletters.
These are usually small tracks or loops. You can get them at LoopMasters.com, Splice.com or BPMCreate.com
Most DJs wouldn't bother using stock music but several websites exist for downloading stock music. Pixabay.com has a free music section, but people usually go there to download free images.
eBay.com and other auction websites
You could order CDs and vinyl from online auctions. However, it's possible that the music would be pirated, but you may be able to find some legitimate copies.
You may be able to find some packs, too.
Online classifieds websites
You may find vinyl and CDs on online classified websites. These could come in packs.
Finding music offline
Shazam is an app for smartphones which can recognize songs currently playing.
Clubs and festivals
You can go to clubs and festivals to discover music. You're more likely to discover remixes that you haven't heard of; Shazam may not be great at identifying remixes.
This may seem obvious but people will request tracks when you're DJing. You may want to write them down. This tip is not very helpful if you're away from the crowd and/or don't do requests.
Shazam will probably be useless in this situation.
Record shops and garage sales
You can still buy CDs and vinyl at record shops. Such shops are less common widespread now, but they still exist.
Some garage sales may have CDs and vinyl, but this is probably an inconvenient way of acquiring them.
Producing music is an option but usually only experienced DJs do this. Alternatively you can pay a ghost producer.
SoundCloud.com could be a great place to discover lesser known artists.
However, these days, people can easily release music independently, so you can stumble upon lesser known artists on almost every platform.
Costs of acquiring new music
You wouldn't pay more than $2.00 for a mainstream song and no more than $5.00 for an E.D.M. track. You may want to budget $20 for tracks, but you could probably budget less.
I suggest relying on YouTube.com and SoundCloud.com as much as possible to preview tracks, and only get the good ones. If you find a track on another website, then there's nothing stopping you from searching it on YouTube.com and SoundCloud.com and seeing if you can preview it.
You may want to buy more at the start of your career, and then reduce your purchasing once you have a good collection of each genre that you play.
Some DJs would be a member of a DJ pool, and this typically costs $20 a month. If they have a membership, then they would still need to buy digital downloads. I don't recommend joining a record pool, and I have explained the drawbacks in a section about DJ pools above.
Bootleg and illegal downloads
You may stumble across unauthorized remixes on SoundCloud.com, YouTube.com and other sites. I believe that you would be covered if you just buy the original song or original remix.
It's possible that the bootlegs would have other elements not authorized, but this may be a problem for a minority of original tracks, too.
Also if you suspect you have illegal elements in your tracks, you should not put them for sale.
Some pirated music would be low quality, and shouldn't be used to play music in clubs.
Buying music legally helps to support artists and their families.
Genuine Free Music
As stated above, you can find some genuine free tracks at SoundCloud.com and BandCamp.com
Not all of the tracks at the above websites are free, but some are.
As stated in our stock music section, Pixabay has free music.
Should you download MP3s?
If you are playing at a club, then you shouldn't download MP3s for your set. These can be lower quality than uncompressed versions such as WAV and FLAC.
Digital Rights Management (DRM)
D.R.M. was introduced as a way to combat piracy. However the technology has been largely abandoned. People today have multiple devices, and it's too much of a headache to deal with. I believe that you should avoid websites with D.R.M.
Most websites don't have D.R.M. so you probably don't need to worry about this.
Using the music of others in your own original tracks
In most cases you can't legally use other people's music in your own tracks unless you have an agreement with the rights holder. This is technically true for remixes, but DJs who make remixes are generally not sued, unless they sell the tracks.
In some cases, this would be easy as websites such as Pixabay would give you the agreement automatically.
You may find some royalty free music on YouTube.com, but you should verify that it's actually royalty free music.
Thanks for reading
As I stated above, you'd only need a few methods of finding music, so don't feel like you have to explore every option.