Up until this point, everything we’ve been discussing about DJs and the law has been about how to protect yourself from getting sued. There is a flip side to the issue, however: While music copyright law can sometimes prevent you from doing what you want, it can also benefit you, especially when you get into the world of making your own DJ mixes. The good news for DJs is that learning how to sell DJ mixes legally can help you make a bit of extra cash online. The bad news, however, is that the money you make in most cases won’t add up to very much. Here’s what you need to know about how to sell DJ mixes legally so you a) don’t get sued, and b) have the chance to earn a few bucks by selling your mixes online.
How to Sell DJ Mixes Online
DJs have been making mixtapes for decades, but only recently have we had the option to actually make money from DJ mixes. Currently, Beatport Mixes and The Future FM both allow you to legally upload mixtapes for sale online. The problem, however, is that since DJ mixes are composed of original songs written and performed by other artists, there are several other people who need to get paid if you want to do everything by the book. This leaves the DJ with only a small chunk of the overall profit once everyone has been paid out.
On Beatport Mixes, for example, mixes are sold for $9.99 each. DJs take home 10% of this amount, while 60% is set aside for record labels, and the remaining 30% goes to performing rights organizations. This is good news for the major rights holders, but doesn’t leave much for the DJ.
Sharing DJ Mixes Online for Free
Sharing your mixes online is a much simpler process when you’re not asking for anything in return. If you’re not making any money from your mix, the chances are pretty slim that anyone will try to hunt you down for copyright infringement.
Typically, even if you do run into copyright issues this way, the worst thing that could happen is that you could be asked to take your mix down. In most cases, however, record labels are happy to have their artists’ music included in DJ mixes, since you’re basically promoting their artist for free by including their song in your mix.
You also have a much better chance of reaching a wider audience when you’re not asking them to pay for your mixes, as most people have become accustomed to getting music for free these days. Historically, DJs have used their mixtapes as more of a calling card than a direct money making tool anyway, whether that means passing out actual tapes for free at gigs, or uploading them to a site like Mixcloud or Soundcloud, so there’s nothing particularly new about this method of self-promotion. In fact, we talked last year on the blog about how releasing your DJ mixes for free is actually the best way to make money from them.
Audience and Source Material: The Two Key Factors
Ultimately, the basis of how to sell DJ mixes online comes down to who your audience is, and what types of songs you’re using. If you happen to have 50,000 Twitter followers and you’re selling a mix of top 40 hits, then you’d better be sure you have all of your legal bases covered, or else you could en up in a lot of hot water.
If, on the other hand, you’re like most DJs and you’re putting together a mix of songs you like – some underground and some mainstream hits – to sell or distribute for free to your audience of 5,000 fans or less, then 99% of the time, you don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to legal matters. Just keep on making great mixes and using them to build your brand and your career.
Want to improve your DJ mixes so you can use them to build a following online? Check out our lessons on DJ Tricks for tips on how to make your mixes more interesting, or consider signing up for our Online DJ School for only $19.95 per month.
Let’s face it: a lot of what DJs do on social media is a waste of time. Will it really help your career to tweet 50 times a day when you could be using that time to practice? Probably not. However, there are some social media strategies that really do work for DJs, and can help to build your career without taking up too much of your time. One of those strategies is learning how to get more SoundCloud followers.
Why Soundcloud Isn’t a Waste of Time
As opposed to most social media platforms, SoundCloud has a singular focus: creating and sharing music. With that focus comes a community of users who are plugged in to the music community and actively searching for new tracks, artists, and playlists to listen to. This makes SoundCloud a great place to reach new fans and build a presence as an artist. Many of today’s big DJs like Skrillex got their start on SoundCloud by using it as a tool to grow their fan base and make a name for themselves online.
Step 1: Share Inside and Outside of SoundCloud
Not only is SoundCloud a great place to tap into a community of die-hard music fans, it’s also a great way to share your content on other social networks. So when you post a new track to SoundCloud, remember to share it with all of your other networks. It’s easy to set up an embedded SoundCloud player on your own blog, and SoundCloud even provides a tool for automating your new posts so they get sent out to all of your social media profiles.
Step 2: Make Connections
Like any social network, SoundCloud isn’t meant to be a one-way street. A great way to get more SoundCloud followers is to simply to follow other users, listen to their music, comment on it, and even send direct messages (without demanding or expecting anything in return). If you show that you’re truly interested in other people’s music, you’ll quickly start to get more likes and comments on your tracks, and you’ll start to see your followers increase as well.
Step 3: Give Your Tracks Away for Free
Giving away free stuff is a great way to get more SoundCloud followers. After all, who doesn’t like free stuff? This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to make all of your tracks available for free download. Many artists are protective of their creations, and that’s understandable. However, posting the occasional track as an “exclusive giveaway” is a great way to create buzz and get more shares.
Step 4: Submit Your Tracks to Groups
One great way to reach new people is to submit your tracks to groups. SoundCloud groups can be based around a genre or location, and many have over 100,000 followers. Having one of your tracks accepted by a group will give you instant exposure to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people who may never have heard your music before.
Step 5: Be Patient
Growing your SoundCloud community isn’t something that will happen overnight. If you want to create a real, organic following, you’ll have to exercise some patience and diligence. Applying these tips, however, should help you stay focused, so you can grow your following without spending too much time online.
Ultimately, the best way to get more SoundCloud followers is to connect with people organically and have fun with it. Listening to other people’s tracks and sharing your own is a great way to spend time, so if you see SoundCloud as a real community rather than just another promotional tool, you should have no trouble growing your following over time.
Want to learn more about how to grow your DJ career online? You can follow our blog for weekly updates, or better yet, you can subscribe to our online DJ school for only $19.95 a month and learn about everything from basic techniques to booking gigs from some of the best DJs in the world.
So you want to learn to DJ hip hop sets? In the last post in this series, we talked about how to get into the right mindset for playing hip hop sets, as well as some basic techniques you can use to get you started. Getting into the right mindset is important for playing hip hop music, as hip hop has some fundamental qualities that set it apart from other electronic music genres. If you really want to set yourself apart as a hip hop DJ, however, the best thing you can do is learn some basic DJ scratching techniques.
The Baby Scratch: Where It All Begins
For someone who has never scratched before, the thought of mastering any DJ scratching techniques can be intimidating. The best way to learn to scratch, however, is the same as the best way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.
If you’ve never scratched before, the baby scratch is the best place to start. To perform a baby scratch, you simply stop a spinning record with your fingers, then push it forward and pull it backward in time with the music.
Advanced DJ Scratching Techniques
Once you’ve mastered the baby scratch, you can move on to learning some of the more advanced DJ scratching techniques like the chirp, the crab, and the orbit. You can even get creative and start coming up with your own scratching moves.
To help newer DJs master some of these advanced DJ scratching techniques, Spin Academy has produced a set of videos with none other than turntable superstar Mat the Alien. Nowhere else will you find in-depth tutorials on scratching from one of the world’s leading scratch DJs.
What If I Don’t Have Turntables?
With all of the playhead simulation technology available these days, scratching isn’t limited to DJs who spin vinyl. However, there is a difference between using a simulation and the real thing.
Vinyl playhead simulators can be found on everything from CDJs to mobile DJ controllers to iPad apps. Many of these will work just fine for giving you a way to incorporate basic scratching techniques like baby scratches into your hip hop sets. However, it’s when you start to get into more advanced DJ scratching techniques that you may start to feel the limitations of the playhead simulators. After all, there’s nothing like the real thing.
Turntable moves are not essential for playing hip hop sets, but if you’re serious about becoming a hip hop DJ, then mastering at least one or two basic scratches is a must.
To wrap up this series, we’ll be talking about how to come up with the perfect set for a successful hip hop gig, so keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks.