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.