Top Resources For Finding Songs for DJs

One of the most fun parts of being a DJ is not even performing, it is the hours of exploration to find great music to spin at your next slot. It is the one thing, regardless of equipment or level, that is common to all DJs. We all need songs.

I have below, my top 5 sources of music. They are ordered, not in order of favourite, but of convenience and access. This post is especially for beginner DJs looking for new places to get songs, needing the biggest and most convenient resources to get started. There are of course other ways, however they are harder or less legal.

Another thing to remember, this post is as much about finding songs as getting them so some of these resources won't (or shouldn't) provide you with downloads. Find appropriate ways to get the music if that's the case.

The main thing to consider when reading this is never compromise quality, you don't have to have exclusively lossless files, or even limit yourself to 320kbps MP3, just be aware that some resources may not provide the best quality, use your ears.

1. Youtube

I'll probably receive hatred from some for saying this, but I do believe Youtube is the best resource for finding new music. It has a fantastic suggestions system where you can find similar tracks and by subscribing to record labels, you can get the very latest releases. I have DJed with songs that had been released less than 10 hours prior due to seeing them as soon as they were released.

For me, and so many others, this mix sent me on a spree
of searching for new songs related to the video.

You can also watch DJ's perform whole sets at festivals or during sessions and find new tracks from them. Many Youtube videos, especially those by the labels have links to where you can buy/download the track in the video and so it is a great resource for those wanting to get easy access to music. There are also Youtube to MP3 converters which are free at the expense of sound quality and legality. I'm stating the possibilities without endorsing any.

2. CD pool

One resource for DJs is a CD pool, this is where you subscribe a monthly fee and you get CDs with the latest music, chosen by that CD pool. This is good if you have the money, and want to just amass a large collection of songs. Some allow unlimited free downloads under the subscription, many offering a trial period so if you are short on cash try using the trial for getting a collection of songs.

My issue with CD pools are that you aren't actively searching for music in the same way and if that sounds convenient, you still have to listen to all of the tracks you are given to know what you like. This is a good resource however if you are a commercial DJ wanting to keep up to date with the charts, perhaps one that wants to accommodate requests in the club by having a large collection of all the up to date music. 

3. Shazam

My girlfriend tells people we can't go out without me using it at some point. The great thing about Shazam is, almost every time, you get a result. You can be anywhere and hear a track you like, you are going to want to know the name. If you don't have an internet connection, it saves the snippet of audio for when you do. The only times it fails to turn a result are if the song is truly obscure or, if there is too much other noise.

With a really simple interface, Shazam is essential 
in my opinion for when you are out and about.

One thing to consider, is that DJs can get very defensive of their music which they've spent hours collecting. Don't brandish the blue logo in front of the DJ or their mates, and certainly don't hover round the booth trying to catch the song title. Most DJs are cool but some may take offence.

4. Soundcloud

Soundcloud is a good resource for finding music, it is hard to get started as you have to subscribe to the right kind of music for you. I recommend record labels and producers/DJs you like already and they will lead you on to more.

Soundcloud offers an option to buy the tracks (if the artist enables it) and likewise can offer free downloads, though often with a catch e.g you have to repost in return. Websites like Hypeddit pick out all the free offers and pool them together if you only want free tracks. There are often really good tracks in amongst the crap, click here for a review on how it works.

Most major artists have a Soundcloud page, countless
smaller artists also have one so it is a great 
resource for you to check out.

5. Second-Hand Record Shop

This one is always going to be special to people, there is nothing better than going to a record store with some money and just browsing for what feels like hours. It is good in that the store can only have a limited range of stock which may guide you in new directions, you may find an underground gem but you are just as likely not to.

When I was younger, very Friday after school, I would buy a 
new CD from this place. There is something so therapeutic about
digging for new music.

If you play with CDs or Vinyl, this is your best choice, especially since the prices will be low (you can buy a CD for the price of downloading one or two of the songs on it from Amazon/iTunes usually).

Bonus: Sharing With Other DJs

This only works if you both agree, but you could offer to share all your best tracks with a fellow DJ in exchange for theirs. It's not technically legal but over USB nobody would know. You can get some killer tracks this way as well as giving a friend some too.

This method of acquiring music is good because you have to learn their stuff. If you try playing their tracks exclusively, you may find it requires a different playing style and so you could also learn from it. 

My last words are don't be a dick, people don't like dicks and you won't impress any DJs who could help in the future. Try and be legal and keep the audio quality as high as possible. But those two things are excusable if no-one knows so make your own moral choices.