DJs went from buying physical records in music stores to downloading digital audio files from digital stores and streaming services.
Most beginners will head straight to Spotify or iTunes as their preferred streaming service option with their DJ software until they realize these platforms do not support third-party DJ apps. So if you want to be able to play your playlist from your DJ software you need to buy and own your tracks individually.
However, there is a multitude of other ways DJs can obtain their music, from sources they can buy music and different streaming service options that are compatible with your DJ software. Bear in mind that you should not rely on a single source to discover new music. As you would source your vinyl records from a range of mainstream and independent stores, the same rule should apply to sourcing unique tunes in digital stores.
Let's have a look at all the sources where DJs can find their music.
Amazon and the iTunes store are classic options for downloading music but are often overlooked by DJs. One of these options (such as Amazon) may sometimes be omitted by some people, like me. I often forget amazon is another viable option to buy music tracks. You probably won’t find that specific Detroit underground track you've been chasing in these mainstream download stores, but most tracks will be there and these services offer a wide choice of music in a convenient place. If you are on the iTunes store, be mindful that (as opposed to its streaming service equivalent Apple Music, you’ll need to buy and download your music to be able to play in your DJ software or DJ gear).
At sites like 7 digital and HD Tracks, you'll find superior quality audio file formats. If you're looking for a place to download lossless music files, these two stores are a great choice.
Where do DJs download their music for free?
If you want to build up your music library but don’t want to spend any money, check out Soundcloud. If you search in ‘Free Download’, you’ll find loads of DJs and producers giving away their tracks for absolutely nothing. You can also try DMing some producers who’ve got their music up on Soundcloud to see if they’d send a download link. They may well let you have it for free, especially if you’re going to play it somewhere prestigious or on radio.
Best DJ download stores
These stores tend to have a better selection of tracks that are difficult to find elsewhere and you’ll find a range of genres that might be available on other platforms and independent labels.
Beatport Here you’ll find a great variety of electronic music with a mind-blowing selection of genres and sub-genres. It offers some great features such as DJ charts and a web-based DJ app, Beatport DJ.
Beatsource This is a great source for open-format DJs, so you’ll discover a wide variety of genres like dance, hip-hop, reggae, Latin music. One of the great features you’ll find in this store compared to mainstream download stores is that you’ll find audio tracks that are specially curated for DJs, so most of the tracks have been edited making them easier to mix with than their original version.
Sites like Beatsource often feature curated collections of tracks to help you find tracks.
Bandcamp is one of my favourite music stores and music streaming service sites. It's an artist-focused platform where they receive a higher commission compared to other sites and it offers them greater liberty in reaching out to their followers. The site also offers great features such as a weekly podcast show featuring the latest music discoveries.
Traxsource is one of the best download stores for house music with a particular emphasis on underground house music. Like Beatport, they also offer DJ charts.
Juno Download is “one of the largest independent dance music download stores in the world”. But they offer a wide range of genres too, so if you browse and dig deep, you may find that little gem that you might not have been able to find elsewhere. So this is a great site to bookmark on your web browser.
Boomkat are a specialist, independent online record store based in the UK. They sell CDs, vinyl, and download releases. This is definitely another underground music store that you may want to bookmark on your web browser for its potential to find that music track that nobody else has.
DJ download pools
These download sites are strictly reserved for DJs and are available on a subscription service. It is a great option if you are a DJ and want to discover versions of tracks that are not available to the public. In these record pools, you’ll find a score of genres that are not strictly limited to electronic music.
There's a load of great options with fairly similar catalogues and features, but some of our favourites are:
Digital DJ Pool
Download pools like ZipDJ have a great collection of tracks from many different labels – including the big majors and small independents.
Using acapelllas as a DJ can lend your sets a unique edge. If you don’t have the tools or technical knowledge on how to create your own acapella, third-party stores are a great place to find acapella and use them on your DJ set for your own mashups.
Many of the DJ download pools will have acapella available and there are specialist acapella sites too, such as Acapellas4u and Voclr.
The main streaming services like Spotify and Apple music won’t work to play music as a DJ as the music on them is protected but they are still great places to find new music.
DJ streaming services offer you a fantastic way to add a large volume of tracks to your collection if you start DJing and have a limited amount of music. Bear in mind however that these services come with a cost and a DJ software-compatible subscription will be required. You can start with TIDAL and Deezer as the mainstream streaming services where you’ll find the majority of the main classic music.
Also bear in mind that you’ll be restricted by the choice of the streaming service with your DJ software compatibility.
TIDAL and Deezer are the closest equivalent to mainstream streaming service platforms like Spotify and Apple Music but can also work with some DJ setups.
Beatport Link is the streaming side of the popular download pool Beatport and is everything you’d need as a DJ with the ease of being able to stream it over the internet.
Virtuoso members get 3 months of Beatport Link Pro worth £89.99 as a part of their membership so can start streaming the full Beatport library directly into rekordbox.
If you're ready to upgrade your music career, check out our amazing video courses and live sessions from today's best electronic artists and industry pros here at Virtuoso.