Where do DJs get their music?
Well, if you’re an aspiring DJ or a seasoned pro, then you’ll know that sourcing new music is essential.
However, that’s easier said than done, as sourcing a steady flow of new tunes can be a real headache.
So, after researching all the places DJs can source music, we’ve come up with the following:
The majority of DJs get their music from paid and free online resources. They purchase music, per song, per month on a subscription basis or download it legally for free. DJs also receive music from record labels and use their own if they’re also producers as well as DJs.
Here’s a comprehensive list of some of the best places to download music as a DJ.
Let’s get started!
Discover New Music
First things first, you’re going to need to know what music you want.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources online for you to browse through, so you should be able to put together a list of tunes in no time.
Here are some of the best places to download music:
SoundCloud is the world’s largest music and audio website. It allows anyone with an account to upload, share, and promote their audio.
The platform enables you to discover various creators’ music from around the globe and connect with them directly, which is a feature unique to the platform.
It also allows artists to receive detailed stats and feedback about their music straight from the community, which is great for DJs looking to stay on top of what’s hot and what’s not.
SoundCloud lets you follow your favorite artists to stay up to date with their new releases, find up-and-coming independent artists who are looking to establish themselves, and download lots of remixes from established artists to use in your sets for free.
Spotify is a music and streaming service that was founded in Sweden in 2006.
It’s one of our personal favorites and has a clean user interface that makes finding DJ music a breeze.
You can explore pre-made playlists, search for artists and tracks using the browse feature, and save your favorites to playlists ready for set.
Artists and record labels use music streaming services like Spotify to update their playlists with new tracks quickly.
So, by following these playlists, as well as some other user-generated ones, then you’ll easily be able to stay ahead of the trend.
There are all sorts of playlists to look through, which are categorized by genres and moods, so you’ll be able to find the songs to fit your sets in no time.
Spotify offers free and paid subscriptions and has a smartphone app, which is excellent for finding DJ music on the go.
YouTube is an online video sharing platform and one of the world’s best search engines for finding music.
Since it began in 2005, YouTube has become a behemoth of a platform for video content.
In a similar fashion to SoundCloud, YouTube allows users to upload content, view, rate, share other people’s content, and subscribe to their favorite channels.
You’ll find all the most prominent artists in the world on the platform, as well as emerging talent, which is why it’s a great way to discover fresh music.
By following your favorite channels, you’ll be able to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s trending, but also search through their back catalog if you want to put together an old school mix.
Another great feature of YouTube is the “suggested video” section, which can help you discover new artists or tracks from a similar genre or style. You’ll also be able to find tons of tracklists and mixes from some of the best DJs in the world.
Lastly, you can see what some of the biggest DJs are playing at festivals, events, and parties as they’re typically recorded and uploaded to YouTube.
4. Social Media
It’s also great for communicating in groups in your chosen genre, as people tend to discuss the latest music releases and what other tracks and albums are in the pipeline.
You can also ask for people’s opinions about playlists you’ve put together and tracks you’re thinking of playing, which can act as a handy second opinion to make changes or tweaks before you play your set.
You’ll find that people are more than happy to offer recommendations and general advice, as long as you’re respectful of the group’s terms and conditions and actively participate and help others yourself.
As the music industry adapted to digital, record labels also had to adjust to social media to promote their artists. So it’s now become a vital part of their marketing strategy.
So, in short, use social media to stay up to date with your favorite artists and to gain advice from other DJs or consumers about your track selection and setup.
Podcasts are an excellent way for you to find music as a DJ.
Why, well, if you follow your favorite DJs podcasts, then you’ll often hear them discussing the latest trends, playing new songs, showcasing and previewing upcoming material, and providing insights into tracks they’re playing in their own sets.
Two of the best platforms for listening to podcasts are Apple Podcasts & Spotify. Apart from listening to your preferred DJs, these two platforms also help you find a plethora of other DJ-related shows to listen to.
It’s also highly likely that you’ll find music to add to your playlists pretty quickly as your favorite DJs’ podcasts will be playing music that you’d want to play to your audience.
You can use podcasts as a way of trying out new DJs to see if you like their material. If you don’t, no harm is done, but you just found a great new music source if you do.
Shazam is a mobile app that recognizes and identifies music for you.
Let’s say you’re out and about and hear a song you like. All you need to do is open the application on your phone, hit “Tap to Shazam,” and the application will present you with all the information about the song.
Shazam says, “it is the best way to discover, explore and share the music and TV you love,” which is pretty accurate as we’ve used it many times to discover new songs to add to our playlists.
It works by creating a digital fingerprint of the audio that’s playing and matches it against millions of tracks in its database.
Once it’s identified the track, Shazam presents you with all the information you need as a DJ, like the track and artist’s name, but also includes song lyrics, an artist biography, and a video.
Shazam also recommends new tracks based on what it’s identified for you and saves all your songs in a list so you can download them when you’re at a computer.
7. Music Blogs
If you’re on the lookout for music to use in your sets, then the chances are you’ve already come across several blogs dedicated to DJing and music.
Blogs are an excellent source of fresh music, as they’re usually bang up to date with the newest tracks.
However, the tricky part is finding good ones that consistently post content about new artists.
Pitchfork is one of the most popular resources for music and has categories like “Best New Music” and “Reviews,” which are great for helping you find fresh tracks to use in your set.
They also have an excellent Podcast, “The Pitch Fork Review,” that covers a lot of interesting topics in the music industry, from the current trends in rap, to how social media apps like TikTok are impacting the music business.
Today, there are thousands of blogs covering music-related topics, so much so that it’s almost overwhelming.
But, Feedspots Top 100 Music Blogs includes all the blogs you’ll ever need to check out as a DJ.
We recommend reading through them all, choosing your favorites, and bookmarking them for easy reference.
If we told you there’s a way to look through all the tracks your favorite DJs are playing, that’d be awesome, right?!
Well, we don’t like to disappoint, so you’ll be pleased to know there is, they’re called tracklists.
It’s not talked about often, but most DJs sets get track listed online, and those lists are accessible to the public for free.
Websites like 1001tracklists.com let you search for any DJ, listen to their latest tracklists and back catalog, and save them to your Spotify ‘liked songs,’ as well as pre-saving them for when they get released, which is a neat feature for cueing up tracks to get ahead of the game.
Radio stations are a go-to resource for finding the latest tracks.
They’re similar to tracklists in that they arrange songs as lists on their websites, which are typically called, A, B, & C lists.
Listening to relevant radio stations in your genre regularly is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse and gauge what people are into.
Digital radio stations like DI.FM, one of the first online music radio networks, allows you to select genres you enjoy, like hip hop and dance, and listen to the freshest tracks.
You can do this all for free and without signing up for anything.
However, if you want to save songs to your favorites, then you’ll need to set up an account.
Besides DI.FM, traditional radio stations like Power 105.1 FM, have great shows like ‘The Breakfast Club’ who usually tell you what’s Poppin.
10. Clubs, Festivals, Gigs, & Concerts
As a professional or aspiring DJ, you should be getting out and about seeing your favorite artists, as well as up-and-coming underground artists that have yet to make a name for themselves.
This all comes with the territory of finding out where to get music from, as if you want to stay ahead of the pack, you ought to be first in line to see the freshest tracks from artists within your genre.
It’s also a smart way to find out new insights into mixing and gaining ideas for your next sets, as you’ll be able to see how the audience reacts to certain songs and how well the DJ transitions and executes the drop.
Build Your Music Library
Now that you know where to discover new music, here’s how you can acquire those tunes to use in your sets.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got any money to spend, as we’re going to show you several resources where you can get free music.
But first, here are all the places you can purchase new music to use in your DJ sets.
Paid Music Resources
If you’ve got some money to spend on new music, here are some useful resources for you:
1. Record Pools
What is a Record Pool?
Record pools are subscription services that provide DJs with access to the latest promotional music and back catalogs.
DJs can use the music for club gigs, radio shows, and events, and they’re a reliable way of getting access to new music instead of having to download music individually.
However, record pools can be expensive, and most require you to agree to a disclaimer stating you’re a DJ, as they’re not for the general public to use.
So it’s only worth doing if you’re a full-time DJ and have the budget for it.
2. Apple Music
What is Apple Music?
Apple Music is a video and music streaming service which allows you to pay for access to over 50 million songs.
You can stream on-demand, save to playlists, or download music to be used offline.
The service was previously under iTunes but is now a separate application entirely.
It’s an excellent resource for DJs to find music as all the most prominent artists upload their latest songs and albums onto the platform, so you’re guaranteed to find the hottest songs for your playlists.
Also, Apple Music works with a lot of DJ software, making it a super convenient tool to connect your playlists into your setup.
3. Amazon Music
What is Amazon Music?
Amazon Music is a music streaming service that’s included with an Amazon Prime membership.
It gives you access to over 40 million songs, which are categorized into thousands of playlists, and offers a massive variety of music to use in your DJ sets.
In our opinion, it’s pretty similar to Apple Music and Spotify, and we look at it as more of a bonus if you’ve already got an Amazon Prime account. However, we prefer to use Spotify overall.
What is Beatport?
Beatport is an electronic dance music website for DJs and producers that lets you download and listen to new and exclusive tracks.
If you were to ask any DJ where they get their music, then we’d hazard a guess that the majority would say from Beatport, especially if they’re into electronic music.
It’s become one of the most popular resources for discovering and purchasing music since it was launched in 2004, and according to Beatport, it “is the principal source of music for DJs.”
Beatport offers suggestions based on tracks you’ve listened to and shows you what’s trending across multiple genres.
They have a large selection of new releases and an extensive back catalog, so you definitely won’t leave empty-handed after using their service.
With the introduction of “Beatport Link,” you’re now able to connect their music streaming services directly to compatible DJ software and controllers!
So, if electronic dance music is your thing, then Beatport should be one of your go-to resources from now on.
5. Juno Download
What is Juno Download?
Juno Download is an independent online dance music download store that’s been in operation since 2006.
It has a massive music library, spread across various genres within electronic dance music, and offers high-quality, uncompressed file formats, similar to Beatport.
As a DJ, you can use its “DJ Charts” and “New Releases” categories to scope out what other DJs are playing and identify tracks to add to your playlists.
And, you can set up “new release alerts,” which notify you via email when your favorite artists or labels release new tracks.
So, if you’re an electronic music DJ, then Juno Download would be a great addition to your arsenal of music resources, especially teamed up with Beatport, as you should be able to find any track you want using these two resources.
What is Traxsource?
Traxsource was launched at the beginning of the digital revolution as a primary resource for house music and house DJs.
The site was built by DJs and has since become one of the best online resources for DJs to acquire both major and independent music.
Aside from that, Traxsource has exclusive tracks that can only be found on its platform and regularly updates its top 100 and other categories with the latest cuts.
What is Bleep?
Bleep is an online resource that specializes in music downloads, vinyl, CDs, and cassettes.
The website mainly focuses on independent artists and has a comprehensive database of different genres, like hip hop and house, which makes finding music for DJs a breeze. Overall, it’s more suited for electronic house DJs.
Their “weekly roundup” helps guide you through the best new releases, and their “recommended” section will help you to discover interesting contemporary artists and tracks to use in your DJ sets.
What is Boomkat?
Boomkat is an independent online record store that supplies its customers with Vinyl, CDs, Cassettes, and Downloads via its online marketplace.
They offer a wide selection of music and don’t focus on one particular genre or style of music, instead choosing to stock what they class as the most “innovative, exceptional, interesting, and often overlooked music out there.”
You’ll find a variety of unusual underground music on Boomkat, and it’s beneficial for finding music from emerging artists and genres that are yet to hit the mainstream.
9. Last.fm Pro
What is Last.fm?
Last.fm is a music website with a difference. It builds detailed user profiles using a music recommender system called “Audioscrobbler.”
Your profile contains details of your musical preferences by recording details about the tracks you listen to. This can be done on internet radio stations, your computer, or mobile devices.
Once it’s “scrobbled” your information, it then transfers it to its database via whichever music player you’re using and then displays it to you on your profile page.
It will then show you recommendations and suggest music files that most suits your profile based on your taste, and you can also interact with the community, which is a great way to discover new music as a DJ.
Last.fm offers a “pro” paid version, which entitles you to extra features, and benefits that might make it more helpful when looking for new music to use in your Dj sets.
DJs often overlook it as a resource for finding new music, but it’s well worth giving it a try, in our opinion.
10. Record Shops & Thrift Stores
If you’re looking to get more hands-on with your approach to finding music to use in your sets, then you can’t beat a good old rummage around a record store.
They’re pretty few and far between nowadays, but they are still around and usually take a bit of digging around online to find one within range.
There are tons of hidden treasures buried deep in the archives of old record shops, and by wandering around a thrift store or two, you might stumble upon a gold mine of Vinyl and CDs that are waiting to be snapped up.
Using stores like this also means you’re saving on shipping costs, and you’re helping support local businesses, which is an admirable thing to do in its own right.
You can also ask the staff questions, and they may even be able to point you in the direction of exciting new artists that you’ve never even heard of or show you a new genre that’s blowing up!
Free Music Resources
If you’re a bit strapped for cash at the moment, here are some of the best places to pick up music for free.
1. Free Music Archive
Free Music Archive is an online repository for royalty-free music.
Independent artists make all the music in their database, and you’ll easily be able to find tracks to use in your DJ sets, as their search functions make it super easy to look through an extensive range of genres and artists.
Bandcamp is an American online music company that allows fans, artists, and labels to buy and sell music between one and another.
However, they do give away free music files from time to time, and by signing up for some of your favorite artist’s newsletters, then they may send tracks to your inbox now and again, or you can determine how much you’re willing to pay for them.
Demodrop is a fantastic resource if you produce music and want to see what other DJs, producers, and labels think about it.
In short, they “connect young and aspiring music producers to DJs, artists, radio shows, and record labels.”
You’re able to get free music in exchange for providing your feedback and support about producers’ tracks.
If you’re an aspiring DJ, then using Demodrop is a no-brainer.
SoundCloud is an excellent resource for free and paid music.
As we mentioned earlier, once you’ve signed up for an account, you can search through their database of songs and identify new music and exclusive remixes to use in your DJ sets.
It’s worth putting in the time on SoundCloud, as there are thousands of artists on the platform that are looking to promote their music and usually are always more than happy to provide free music.
It’s also compatible with most free DJ software, making organizing your music library a lot easier.
5. Social Media
We highlighted the benefits of using social media to discover music earlier, but it’s also an excellent resource for acquiring free tracks.
Now and again, we’ve known some of our favorite artists to drop a free track or two in celebration of some sort of achievement.
When they do, they make it available to download on their social media accounts and send out the relevant notifications.
However, bear in mind that they usually make the downloads available for a limited time, so make sure to turn on notifications on each of your favorite artist’s social accounts so you’re first in line when they drop a free track.
Also, other up-and-coming producers use social media to promote their music to DJs, and you’ll often be able to pick up a lot of free music in Facebook groups.
It’s not always the best quality, but as long as you have permission to use it, then you can use it for all sorts of other things.
Let’s face it, without music, DJs would be up the creek without a paddle!
Music is the lifeblood of DJing, and discovering new tracks is one of the most critical parts of being a DJ.
So, hopefully, this guide has been helpful enough for you to understand how and where to source new music for your sets.
We recommend trying out all the resources we’ve mentioned that you have access to and doubling down on your favorites as your go-to resources.
Here’s a quick recap of the top ten places DJs can discover new music:
- Social Media
- Music Blogs
- Clubs, Festivals, Gigs, & Concerts