2018 New Year Resolutions for DJs

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
by Tat

We are into the second week of the year when all those good intentions about being fitter, slimmer and all round nicer all start to fall away. The start to the year is always a good time to think about reshaping aspects of your life ahead of the forthcoming 12 months. It is also about making sure you make efforts to move away from potential ruts, especially when it comes to being creative. Below are three resolutions any DJ and music lover can do to enjoy their music more and help support their respective music scenes.

Buy your music

If decks, mixer and controllers are a DJ's tools, then music is their materials and for some it is a material they are reluctant to pay for. It is no secret that some 'DJs' have rarely paid for a piece of a music thanks to the ease of availability of illicit free music. The temptation is strong to avoid spending money on music when you can freely pick them up via torrent sites and using ripping software. The problem with purely ripping and stealing free tracks is that you are undermining the scene that you claim to love. Of course most artists and labels appreciate that they are never going to make a great living from their art, but they are investing time and money in the scene you love. By never paying for music you are purely just undermining the scene and just reliant on those who do pay for their music. Society is full of lots of people who believe artists, writers, photographers and musicians should create art for free as it is a hobby. This attitude is very damaging to the creative industries and in time could destroy many talented careers, by paying for your music you help support these artists continue.

Vinyl may have become unaffordable for many DJs in 2018, but there are options. There is a huge second hand vinyl market for those not tied to the very latest tracks. Whilst those funds do not go directly back to the artists, it does often go back to a music fan or seller who in turn buys more new music. Whilst buying digital is very affordable and if you can afford a basic DJ setup, you can probably afford to pay for a few legitimate audio files. Whilst relying on illegal music you are potentially running into a blind alley, quality-wise. Imagine you get used to ripping low quality audio files and you start to get DJ gigs. The first time you try and play a set using low quality audio files on a high quality PA might be your undoing as other DJs play higher quality audio files. Of course that might not happen, but consider how it would feel if you were then to start producing your own music only to see it appear on torrent sites. You might be fine with that, but the reality is that many artists are not - so show them some love and support by paying for the music they make.

Imagine what it feels like to be a hard working artist or label to see your latest tracks spread across the web for free before you have received your first royalty payment. There is no doubt that 'free stuff' is often of a lesser quality than content we pay for, whether that be software, films or music. Nevertheless there is plenty of music out there that is freely available that is really good quality if you search hard enough. Sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud (both used by Trackhunter) are great places to find free or inexpensive new sounds. Bandcamp has a 'pay what you can' option, although we would recommend you return that generosity by at least giving a little cash back in return.

Have a spring clean

Whether you are a analogue or digital DJ, the longer you collect music the more you have to sift through. This is especially the case if you play a mixture of new and old music, your USB stick or record box could change from week to week. In time this becomes problematic; for the vinyl DJ it becomes an issue of space as they struggle to have enough racks to store their plastic hoard. For the digital DJ it can be even more problematic due to how many files you can now store. The temptation is to grab every audio track you can and if you are lucky to be on mailing lists that could mean hundreds of tracks each month added to the hard drive. The more music you own, the more effort it takes to organise it, and no one wants to spend all their time sorting through their collection, tagging, moving and sorting. Nevertheless, there is a good argument for having periodical clean outs. That might mean taking a load of records to the charity shop, second hand record shop or putting them up for sale on Discogs and Ebay. For the digital DJ it is a case of going through your files and folders and having a good weed. Like growing a garden, weeding is one of those less pleasurable tasks, but it is essential. You do not to delete the tracks, perhaps just create an archive or backup drive of music you care less for. Failure to weed out mediocre or poor tracks could result in owning an out of control collection that in time will take even more work to sort out.

Explore further afield

Whether you are a specialist DJ or an eclectic one, there will always be lots of music that you will have never heard before that you will love. Even the most niche of DJs would find some new genres, labels or artists who would bring a wealth a new and exciting music they would enjoy. In the age of cross-pollinated music there is little excuse to feed your music habits with just one specialist genre. If you don't, then you need to ask yourself why? Good DJs explore the boundaries of their sound, for example, a good hip hop DJ explores soul, funk, reggae and jazz, a quality house DJ will seek out disco and soul. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules about this, but if you are listening to just one style of music, you probably aren't the passionate music fan you think you are.

My final resolution is to find more music with Trackhunter

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