Perfecting the art of the seamless mix is really only the introduction of your journey to becoming a DJ. The single most important aspect of your DJ career is the selection of DJ music that you play and your ability to play to the crowd, ultimately keeping the dance floor pumping. Whatever genre or blend of genres you decide on, this should be the goal as it is the responsibility of the DJ to keep the dance floor going.
Finding DJ music isn’t just about searching one definitive location to find what’s hot in the charts. It's important to keep a regular fix on a wide range of music content as musicality like any art is about influence, where you get it and how you can turn your influences into a craft of your own.
Here’s my personal list of the outlets that I use on a daily basis to find all the music that influences and eventually becomes part of a Stafford Brothers DJ set in some way, shape or form.
Beatport is the number one online store for extended versions of ready to play DJ music in all genres of electronic dance music. Beatport has an estimated eighty-five per cent share of the marketplace, which has encouraged record labels to offer their releases as exclusives, despite Beatport’s many competitors. The site is categorised within specific sub-genres with charts available that allow you to see what tracks are popular on a daily basis. You can also subscribe to your favourite artists, set up email alerts and add tracks to your shopping cart.
iTunes is the world’s largest online music store. While it isn’t the most effective website to purchase DJ music online, it's a very accurate indicator of what music is popular. The iTunes chart system updates in real time and you can search music categorised under the main genres. Dance music is one genre available and all sub-genres fall under this category. Regardless of the type of music any DJ plays, at the very least, popular music inadvertently influences all musicians, producers, singers and songwriters. It’s important to have some knowledge of what’s happening in popular culture.
All over the world and in the USA in particular, there are hundreds of music blogs dedicated to dance music. Different people create blogs for a number of reasons but all have the same intention; to present music selections to an audience attracted by the regular posting of fresh content. Some blogs have earned the reputation of a music 'tastemaker' and artists and labels are now offering their music to these outlets for exclusive previews prior to official release. Monitoring these blogs is great way to source brand new music for your DJ set, especially because tracks surrounded by a lot of hype are likely to be posted on several music blogs around the time of their release.
Shazam uses your mobile phone's built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of music being played. An acoustic fingerprint is created based on the sample and is compared against a central database looking for a match. If a match is found, information such as the artist, song title, and album are saved inside the application as tags. You can then link directly through to iTunes, read the artist’s biography and even check out tour dates. The application is a helpful tool when you're out at a club, in a bar or listening to the radio and want to know the name of the song playing.
SoundCloud has become particularly popular in the dance music industry. It's a simple solution to hosting audio files for public or private syndication. SoundCloud is mostly used for original music, bootlegs, remixes and DJ mixes and users can comment, share or favourite content and in some cases download music for free. A-list international artists use SoundCloud to preview samples of new releases not yet available to the public, so it’s a great idea to set up your own account and follow your favourite music producers.
Spotify is a commercial music streaming service that provides content from a range of major and independent record labels, including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal. Subscription is only $9.99 per month and streaming is unlimited on all devices. A free subscription is also available which features advertisements in between song selections. Services like this have opened up the opportunity to have a much larger music collection that's also affordable. Playlists made by other users are also readily available and you can follow your favourite artists, which is great for finding to music you may not have heard previously.
DJ or not, everybody with a computer has used YouTube as a means for searching music at some point in their lives. It's the number one music search engine in the world with millions of video uploads including music videos, audio samples, bootlegs, remixes, DJ mixes, crowd videos, behind the scenes footage and promotional adverts. When I’m looking for a track and I already know its name, I use a simple Google search and more often than not end up navigating through to YouTube.
1001 Tracklists is an online archive that hosts tracklist metadata of popular DJ sets all over the world. The site includes information surrounding each track title such as how many plays it's received, who’s playing it and when. Essentially showing you a track’s true popularity among the dance music scene as opposed to what music is simply being commercially purchased. Often DJ’s will buy tracks produced by big name artists but the lifespan and success of club track is generally not told in its sale. Some of world’s leading DJ’s have weekly radio shows like our own #SomethingBIG and the tracklists from these shows can be found on this site.