Learn to Think Like a DJ
The most important path to finding great music is to put yourself in the mindset of a DJ, and learning how to “digital cratedig” – the modern equivalent of digging through a record store to find that killer track. Have you found a track that you like, which represents the sound you want to develop as a DJ? From here you can dig into the artist’s other releases, as well as the record labels they release music on.
In addition, check out that artist’s remixes, and the artists who produced them. Dig into those artists’ releases too, as well as the different record labels they’re released their music on. From here it can be a ‘choose your own adventure’ of music discovery, where you start with a track that you love and you end up in a completely different place. From there, you can start digging all over again.
Finding Music on Beatport
The majority of digital tracks for DJs are purchased through Beatport, and the platform also has a wide selection of resources to help you in find out about new music.
The Beatport homepage offers a broad overview of the new music that has recently been released. The Beatport Top 10 chart showcases the best-selling tracks worldwide, while the Hype Top 10 offers a curated window into the best new releases. Both charts can be clicked through to reach a ‘Top 100’.
When you want to get more specific with the kind of music that you’re searching for, the ‘Genre’ tab allows you to drill down to find the specific kinds tracks that you want to play in your sets. Each genre section also includes its own Top 10 chart and curated releases.
My Beatport is a great tool for staying connected with new release from your favourite artists and labels. To use this feature, you’ll need to “follow” your favourite artists and label (to do this, just click their name anywhere on the site and you’ll be taken to their respective pages).
Other resources on Beatport for finding new music include Charts section, where DJs share the latest tracks they’re featuring in their sets at the moment. The Best New Tracks section also offers a handpicked selection of new tracks that are curated by genre specialists and updated monthly.
Digging Deeper Online
Many digital cratediggers recommend staying across the other prominent electronic music retailers to make sure you’re across the more obscure releases.
Juno Download is another prominent download store for DJ-friendly music that includes a number of features to assist music discovery, such as charts and genres pages, as well as its New Releases and DJ Charts sections (which can both be drilled down into different genres). By clicking on the “eye” icon, you can also follow your favourite artists and labels so that you know when new releases arrive.
Traxsource is another prominent platform catering to DJs (with a specialty focus in house music), while many electronic artists also host their music on Bandcamp. And while neither iTunes or Amazon are tailored for DJs, and won’t always sell extended or intro versions of the track you’re looking for, they’re still a good place to start if you’re having trouble tracking down a particular track.
Music Discovery on SoundCloud
SoundCloud is one of the premier platforms for music discovery when it comes to electronic music. To start with, find your favourite artists and record labels and click on the “follow” button, and then keep an eye on your SoundCloud Stream. This will notify you of new releases from your follows, which will often include a “Buy” link that directs you to where you can purchase the track. Often artists will share music from other artists or labels they’re affiliated with, which represents a good way to dive into new music.
You can also explore the New & Hot and Top 50 charts to see what’s trending on the platform, and from there can drill down into specific genres via a drop-down menu bar. Exploring hashtags related to your preferred style of music (#house, #techno and #hip hop for instance) is another discovery avenue.
You can also explore the SoundCloud Discover section for a selection of music suggestions that are generated automatically based on listening activity, or otherwise hunt through the tracklists of DJ sets.
Diving into the Record Pools
If you’re getting serious about your DJing and want to boost your access to new music, record pools are subscription services that connects you with promos that are being distributed to DJs worldwide. They grant you access to a database of music across the spectrum of DJ-friendly genres, its subscription-based payment system allows you to acquire tracks for a much lower price than purchasing individually.
Popular options include DJCity, Club Killers, Direct Music Service, POOL by Promo Only and Live DJ Service. Check out the DJ Techtools in-depth guide if you’re keen to dive deeper into the area.
Finding Stems for Your Set
When you’re ready to begin pushing the boundaries of TRAKTOR, it might be a good time to explore Stems, the file format developed for live performances that allows you to take more creative control over your sets. A Stem breaks a track into different sections like vocals, bass, drums, and melody.
To get started, Native Instruments offer a range of stems that you can use in your sets free of charge. Additionally, the major retailers like Beatport, Juno Download and Traxsource all offer stems for sale.