In many cases, the place you research what tunes to buy and where you buy them from are exactly the same place. Online download sites and high street stores can all give you lots of information about the music available. Follow these DJ Tips…
MP3s have taken over as a music format, not only for the DJ but also for a huge amount of the population, for the simple reason that because you most commonly buy them online, they’re easy, instant and cheap to buy.
Downloading iTunes software from www.apple.com/itunes and accessing the iTunes store is a fantastic way to purchase and download a wide variety of popular and rare genres of music. The great benefit is that you can buy single tracks on an album you like instead of the entire album. Spending 0.99 on one track you like instead of $15 on an entire album saves a lot of money in the long run.
For a similar approach aimed more towards the electronic dance music DJ, download sites such as Traxsource (http://www.traxsource.com), DJTUNES (http://www.djtunes.com) and Beatport (https://pro.beatport.com) work in a similar way to iTunes and have a large range of electronic music tunes available.
Most online music download sites enable you to preview the track before buying it, just to make sure it’s the tune or mix that you want to buy – and that you like it! These previews are usually a small snippet of a tune, so if you haven’t heard the entire thing, be careful – you may be running the risk of it going somewhere strange! A little research (see ‘Choosing what to buy’, later in this chapter) can help with this, however.
Avoiding musical holes
If you’re relying on a review or recommendation to pick out a tune you haven’t heard, or have only heard a preview of online, try to find a way to listen to the whole thing to make sure that it doesn’t have a ‘musical hole’ in the middle. (Radio shows, clubs and Electro WOW may help with this.)
What I mean by a musical hole is that a tune can be beautiful for the first couple of minutes, but then turn to musical mush in the middle. For some ungodly reason, the artist decided to kill everything and play 20 seconds of a car alarm going off.
This point has further implications if you’re buying tunes to play that evening in a club or at a party. Unless you really trust the person who’s recommending the record, be sure to listen to it from start to finish.
Choosing what to buy
You can find a lot of music on the market, and you need a way to find the good eggs and avoid the bad. Start reading music blogs and DJ magazines and pay particular attention to the record reviews. You may make a couple of mistakes and go on wild goose chases, but eventually you’re likely to find a reviewer with the same taste as you. You can trust what he or she says about a new record so you can pay particular attention to that tune next time you go shopping. You needn’t die by a reviewer’s advice, but write-ups are a good place to start.
Try listening with an open mind to specialist radio shows, such as Pete Tong, Judge Jules and Zane Lowe on Radio 1 (www.bbc.co.uk/radio1) where you can listen again to the show online and read the tracklist. Going back and listening to the show again is a good idea because you can get distracted the first time around and miss the little hook in a tune that turns it from okay to wahey! And face facts, sometimes the DJ says the title or artist a bit too fast to catch so you need to hear it again, or read an online tracklist.
Online DJ charts (such as those at www.dmcworld.com/charts) can give you a great deal of information about what’s popular in a variety of different genres. DJ homepages, online forums and MP3 download sites like Beatport contain charts from popular DJs too, so you can take a look at what your favourite DJ is currently playing and pick out tunes you might like to play.
Eventually, to supplement the advice you get from radio shows, magazines and websites, you may end up standing in front of a huge rack of records or CDs, or navigating an online MP3 store library, reading the blurb the store has written about a tune and trying to decide whether you’ll like it or not.
You can supplement what the store writes about a tune by considering the label and artist. When you’ve bought enough music, listened to enough radio shows and read enough magazines, you’ll start to show an affinity toward certain labels and artists. If most of the records you like are released on a simi- lar range of labels, always focus on them first. Even the big labels sign a few turkeys, but going back to a familiar label is a good way to thin out a lot of rub- bish that gets released.