We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about how to play great DJ sets, and for good reason – knowing how to perform well is a big part of becoming a successful DJ. Today, however, I want to talk about another aspect of DJing – releasing your music online – and how this can be one of the best ways to make money as a DJ, but maybe not in the way you thought.

Sites to Help You Make Money from DJ Mixes

Since Beatport launched “Mixes” – a platform that allows DJs to legally sell and share their mixes online – it’s become easier for DJs to sell their mixes without worrying about copyright infringement.  In addition to Beatport, DJs can also release their mixes through other sites like Soundcloud, Mixcloud, MixCrate, MixDJ, and others. If you’re worried about copyright, Soundcloud appears to be the most notorious for generating cease-and-desist orders from record labels, although this only really seems to be a problem if you’re trying to make money from DJ mixes directly on Soundcloud, which, as we’ll see, isn’t actually be the best strategy for making money through this type of site.

Why the Best Way to Make Money from DJ Mixes is to Release Them for Free

In today’s music economy, the most successful artists are the ones who understand how to harness new technologies and think outside the box. And that’s why the best way to make money from DJ mixes is to release them for free.

How can you make money from something by releasing it for free? Perhaps the best explanation of this concept comes from Jay-Z’s DJ Young Guru in this video:

Did you catch what he said at the end? “The biggest thing is not to go for the quick buck, but to go for things that will sustain you and will add on to your legacy and allow you as your brand to build.”

How DJ Mixes Can Help You Build Your Brand as a DJ

In this case, trying to make money from your DJ mixes directly through a site like Mixcloud would be the way of going for the quick buck. Not only are the profits for mix sales through sites like these typically pretty low for most DJs, it can also be a major headache to make sure you have clearance for every track.

So instead of going to all that trouble, why not release your mixes for free and use them to build your brand as a DJ? As Young Guru says, “The artist now adds value to themselves.” Your DJ sets shouldn’t be something that you hang on to and try to squeeze every buck out of; instead, they should be a tool you can use to build up your brand and your online following.

With the way the music and entertainment industry is going these days, those who are trying to hang on to the old model are quickly getting left behind. If you want to stay ahead of the curve and build a sustainable career as a DJ, you’ll have to come up with new and creative ways of making money, and often that involves giving things away for free.

Stay tuned to the Spin Academy blog for another post on this subject in the coming weeks when we’ll talk about some more specific ways of making money by giving your music away for free. Also, be sure to check out our online DJ school, where we’ve got plenty of lessons on how to promote your brand and build your DJ career.