Music Discovery Tips

Even though many DJs have an insatiable desire for new music, the Internet is so awash with listening and downloading options that without direction, you could fritter away many hours of screening music without netting anything to use in your sets. While everyone has favorite recording artists, there are many online tools that will help you keep up with those artists and find new music in similar styles that you’re likely to enjoy. We pulled together the music discovery habits of several DJ Tech Tools contributors to compile a list of sites and tips that is sure to keep you flush with usable new tracks. You may already know and use at least some of these, but a more well-rounded and complete routine will definitely keep you covered with all the new tunes you can handle.

NEW MUSIC DISCOVERY

INTERNET STREAMING

A lot of traditional Internet radio sites, such as KCRW.com, simply mirror or archive their companion terrestrial radio shows, but can still be a reliable source for quality new music. However, more innovative and dynamic Internet music streaming services are out there.

pandora

Pandora is a free Internet radio service that will customize an ongoing playlist according to whatever artist or song title you feed it. So if you type in the Bloody Beetroots, for example, you’ll get their songs and others that are determined to be good for fans of the Bloody Beetroots, such as Boys Noize, The Toxic Avenger, Justice, etc. Pandora uses the Music Genome Project — an ambitious effort started 10 years ago — to analyze up to 400 musical attributes and find songs compatible with each other. Give chosen songs the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to further personalize your station. You can access the service at Pandora.com or on their popular iPhone/iPod Touch app. However, Pandora is not available in every country.

Spotify.com, although currently only available in select European countries, is a downloadable app that lets you stream just about any music you want over the Internet for free. You create your own playlist or browse by genre. Listening to the music offline requires a membership with a monthly fee.

soundcloud

SoundCloud has blown up from a wispy little cirrus to a devasting tornado of music in a relatively short amount of time, and that growth in popularity is entirely deserved. This music storage, discovery and distribution site has a highly functional yet eminently usable interface. Music uploaders can post as many tracks as they want, full DJ mixes with tracklistings, and so on. Widespread industry acceptance of SoundCloud means that the listener can find countless DJ mixes and single tracks in every conceivable genre. Many of them are fully available to the public for streaming or even free downloading, and you’re likely to find some music that isn’t available (yet) anywhere else. Subscribing to Soundcloud groups that follow music you’re into will keep you happily listening for hours a day.

See also: Last.fm

RETAIL DOWNLOAD SITES

Most digital download stores include genre charts, recommendation engines, DJ top 10s or other ways to help you sift through the infinite supply of music and find what you actually want. Sites such as Emusic and Amazon give you recommendations based on your past purchases that are remarkably useful. It’s almost spooky how well they can match up your musical tastes to new music you’ll like after only a few purchases.

In many stores, you don’t have to purchase anything to get useful recommendations. Electronic dance music stores such as Traxsource, Dancetracksdigital and Beatport offer bestseller charts for very specific genres, DJ charts so you can see what familiar DJs are playing, and lists of other tracks that people also bought in addition to the track you’re looking at on the site.

PODCASTS

There are a ton of free EDM mix shows available as podcasts online. A little searching on iTunes or Google will have you swimming in them, or check up on your favorite DJs, magazines and music sites to see if they offer podcasts. Many of them offer tracklistings, so you can take note when a track really catches your attention.

EMAIL

Want fresh tracks right off the cutting room floor? Hook up with other burgeoning producers and become part of their “feedback pool.” One DJTT staff writer shares his tracks with friends and receives a bunch of tracks in return, offers feedback on them, and plays them out if they’re good enough. Exclusive tracks aren’t just for Oakenfold or Cox anymore. Anyone can make a quality track in their bedroom and then email it out to their network, so get in on it.

PAY SERVICES/POOLS

dmsOne Tech Tools contributor recommends Direct Music Service (DMS) a paid download site just for DJs that covers all types of genres, including hip hop, R&B, rock, 80s, pop, reggae, mashups, and others. DMS offers only DJ-friendly mixes with intro and outros, many of them exclusive edits. There are three tiers of subscription rates ranging from $29.95 a month (or $269.95 a year) for 40 downloads a month or $64.95 a month ($449.95 a year) for unlimited downloads.

Also, check out our recent Digital Record Pool Round-Up.

OLD MUSIC RE-DISCOVERY

KEY-ANALYZING SOFTWARE

mixedinkey4

Since the whole point for DJs of finding music is to find tracks that mix well together — whether it’s new music or not —  key analysis software such as Mixed In Key can help you re-discover how some of the older gems in your music collection will combine with others. This is a great way to re-vitalize some of your old favorites that have been absent from your DJ sets — by discovering how they may go well together with your latest floor-fillers. You should always test the mixes first before blindly playing them out simply because Mixed In Key placed tracks in a compatible key range, but key analysis software will definitely lead you toward some amazing musical  combinations between the old and the new. There are also a lot of other amazing “playlist” creation tools out there that group similar music in your collection, resulting in the re-discovery of great music.

THE OLD AND THE NEW

ITUNE GENIUS

itunesGenius2

Many DJs organize their music collections within iTunes, which makes the iTunes Genius feature very convenient. Once you turn on the Genius feature, you can open the Genius sidebar, which will pull up the top albums and songs on the iTunes Store by the artist you’re listening to, as well give you Genius Recommendations: suggested songs by similar artists available in the iTunes Store. It’s a very handy feature in a ubiquitous piece of software. However, I do have a complaint that Genius Recommendations aren’t always available. For many electronic artists, some of them as well-known as Crookers and Authechre, the Genius  sidebar only suggested top albums and songs by that artist, but no other similar artists.

You can also come across nice transitions between older and newer songs when you use the iTune Genius playlist generator, which creates a playlist out of your iTunes Library using songs that the function determines will work nicely together. Not everything that it spits out will be gold of course, but you’re sure to run into something that you hadn’t yet thought of on your own.

THE BLOGOSPHERE

This might be a little bit of nepotism, since DJ Tech Tools is itself a blog, but let’s face it: blogs have really taken over the mantle of influence when it comes to electronic music over the last few years. Because there are many thousands of music blogs, we won’t recommend single ones, but rather the aggregators and search engines.

skreemr2

For searching DRM-free MP3s that have been posted to blogs, we love Skreemr.com. The simple, Google-inspired homepage lets you search for music by song title, artist or album. Type in an artist name and hit the Similar Artists search button for a very comprehensive and accurate list. As an example, a search for artists similar to Joakim brought up a list of 100 other artists, many of whom we already knew, but also many other quality producers who were new to us. Clicking any of those artist links takes you to a ranked list of MP3s available from blogs. You can play and download tracks straight from Skreemr, or link to the blog that posted it. Use the Advanced Search from Skreemr’s homepage to search for music by genre.

Perhaps the most commonly used site across all the Tech Tools peeps is The Hype Machine, or HypeM.com. This MP3 blog aggregator lists songs as they appear in associated blog posts, and you can listen to the tracks right there, link to the original blog post, or search for music by keyword. If you want to cut straight to what’s poppin’ off in the blog-o-verse, you can listen to the Hype Machine’s monthly radio show of hot tracks, hit the Popular tab for the most listened to tracks over the last three days, or check the most tweeted music on its Twitter charts. One tip for the Hype Machine is to save your favorite searches as an RSS feed. Say you discover a new remixer and search for him on the Hype Machine. In the Search Results bar, click the RSS button, which will lead you to an option to save that search in an RSS reader, such as Google Reader. Any new search results for your saved searches will then show up on your Google Reader page.

YOUTUBE

At some point or other, everyone’s received a YouTube link to a video you used to love from your childhood and had forgotten all about, and from that point on, you realized that just about every video every made is on YouTube and proceeded to blow the better part of your day clicking around on all your old forgotten favorites. Not only that, but seemingly every new track gets uploaded to YouTube these days, whether it’s a full-blown video or just a low-res audio file with some still images. New music you like will lead you to more new music you like, and before you know it — boom — another day is shot.

REFERENCE SITES

Discogs.com has a watchlist feature for registered users, which gives you automatic updates on releases from your favorite artists and labels. The Discogs overall database is quite extensive, and a quick browsing of user reviews/comments often yields cool tips on similar artists.

Anyone who’s anyone has a Wikipedia page, right? Chances are you can look up your favorite artists on the online encyclopedia, and if you don’t find a list of similar and associated artists, you should at least get a discography of remixes, singles and albums.

TORRENT SITES

Using torrent sites is definitely a vice that way more people partake in than admit to. Even in a time when many artists will boast about how popular they are on blogs, which also give music away for free, torrent sites can still elicit feelings of shame even in diehard downloaders. But if you are going to get music from torrents, you may want to specialize. There are private torrent trackers out there that focus on certain types of music, and you can gauge the quality of the music by how many people in the community have downloaded and commented on it.

Huge props go out to BentoSan, Cam, Deraadt, DJ Solomon, Ilya, mikecharles and Rolfski for their input on this article.

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  • Josef

    http://neighborshateus.com/
    Has helped me tremendously as of late.

  •  
    When
    youre
    young, new music is everywhere: radio, Facebook profiles, borrowed iPods, or
    even burned CDs. It’s not hard to find tunes you love. The music appetites of
    13- to 21-year-olds are voracious and the consequences of being musically
    unhip can be punishing.

    Then something happens: you get older; work a full-time job; get married;
    have a mortgage; have children; adopt a particularly demanding parrot; and so
    on. You wake up one day and realize your taste in music hasn’t budged since
    your early ’20s and the prospect of discovering good, new music now seems
    like an overwhelming chore, fraught with disappointment. I know, I’m living
    proof.

    We’re all familiar with the long, depressing list of activities that seemed
    easy in youth that now take effort. Fortunately, finding good music isn’t as
    tough as working off that middle-age gut. Since its inception, the Internet
    has helped us–mostly illegally–discover new music. Finally, tools for legal
    and efficient online music discovery are hitting their stride. 

  • what about finding music for (happy hardcore)

  • what about finding music for (happy hardcore)

  • Thank yo for sharing this useful info.
    i was looking for this .
    keep going on.

  • for those of you on the blog search, check out……
    http://house-language.info/

    it’s an awesome house music blog, but there’s lots of tech-house/minimal/techno etc….give it a go.

  • Thank you markkus for the great article. I too was just thinking that I needed a better way to keep up with all the music out there. Thanks everyone else for the other sites as well. Peace.

  • Menace

    slacker.com is another radio service similar to pandora that lets you listen by genre or make custom stations. it’s been around longer and has more music in its catalog than pandora, though i’m sure there are a few things each will have that the other does not. what is GREAT about slacker is that you can download the stations to play on your smartphone and some mp3 players so you don’t have to stream, as well as listen to on the web for free. i’ve used it for years to discover new tracks. you can’t save individual songs, but you can mark them as favorites then go back and look at your station list to purchase them later.

  • atticus18244fsas

    [quote comment=”28360″]Once again, your uncanny ability to post freakishly helpful articles at the perfect times is in action…

    Stop spying on my through my webcam now 😛

    Hahaha, thanks for yet another awesome post, and thanks to those who contributed aswell![/quote]
    It is honestly so weird how they always post the perfect articles at the perfect times.

  • Drew A

    i was listening to my bloody beatroots playlist on pandora as i read this article… pretty trippy haha

  • djrjh

    If you guys checkout the Scallydandan’s Fidget Dubstep Electro Podcast on itunes there is a lot of good artists in this mix and these mixes are also fun and relaxing to listen to… totally free

  • I have found many great tracks on http://www.legalsounds.com!! One of my favorite sites. Very CHeap :,) Thanks for the great article!

  • Man you guys are like mind readers on this site… I’m always trying to find more efficient ways to find new music. I’m with DJ Kurt that a lot of sites like last.fm have a ton of old tracks, and are hard to find good new ones through.

    I’ve got a show on DI.FM, and when I first started playing electro house this site was my inspiration. The individual tracks they play are often old, but the mixes that stream on there are usually bangin! Lots of the DJs put their track lists up also, so you can pick and choose.

    I’ve got a lot of new stuff to try because of this article. You guys rock.

  • BusterLee

    [quote comment=”28382″]I used to listen DI.FM a lot…
    Now I cant because it was forbiden to buffer audio and video at my job.
    But the live shows are really awesome…

    http://www.di.fm

    I second DI.FM. Some great live shows, and a lot of the DJs post their set lists in the forum.

  • Kupujte_Pytle

    Finding great Torrent tracker and get subscribed to it is sometimes harder than looking for a fart in a tub 😉

    Another solution how to get to a source of same releases is to use “warez community forums/blogs” that specializes in your music genre/scene. Typicaly on these sites you will find links to share servers such as Rapidshare etc. however these are all totaly illegal, so use them personaly and then buy what you like (a typical pirate release contains a nfo file where you can find link to a site where you can buy legally) – this way you can download almost everything in your genre/scene and try it at home, then buy everything you like or need

    i can recommend two sites

    http://www.corebay.com
    http://www.0daymusic.org

  • Super tips for genre based searching:
    http://www.musicovery.com

    Somewhat limited, but you can come over some tracks that you never thought of. 😉

  • Anonymous

    Another great site is Gigacrate for the DJ on a budget. Leave feedback and download tracks.

  • DJ R3 Bonaire

    i was readin and came on rolfski’s last part, YouTube..I found a convertor from youtube to MP3, works fine for me but it is in it’s Beta Version. http//www.dirpy.com copy and paste the YT URL and dirpy wil dload your song onto your computer……Poor is that you can only do one by one….

  • Eastcoastams

    Not shitting you, i have all those as pandora stations, and they are almost in that order minus the beatles hahaha eerie

  • Shane

    Getting mixes from the producing artists is huge for me when it comes to finding music. It could be from the artist’s myspace page or it could be from sites like OMGITM. Typically I will hear banging tracks before they are even available to buy or steal. Which makes it frustrating at times.

  • clubsauce

    I second Rolfski’s suggestion for soundcloud. I have just recently begun to figure out how much great music is on it and it is organized in a way that is very intuitive to use. I just find an artist I like and then see who they follow and who follows them. After doing that for an hour I can find 10 great artists and lots of good tracks, often downloadable at 320kbps.

    Also, as someone else mentioned, elbo.ws is a great site.

  • TJ

    *times

  • TJ

    [quote post=”5270″]But I’ve also found music from blogs that I can’t find for sale anywhere on the Internet, and in those situations I have no reservations about using the free track.[/quote]

    Yes…how many time have you wanted to buy a track from Beatport only to receive the Territory Restricted notification??

  • Mr.Nicklebe

    Finding new music is pretty time consuming for me. I listen to radio 1’s specialist shows here in the UK which get all the newest and best music there is for any genre. Then i follow all my favourite artists on twitter and facebook where they post new tracks they like or have just released. Then I scour hype machine and blogs as well for random finds old or new.

    Alot of the time I end up with only one decent new track i like after like an hour of searching through playlists or whatever. Also i maybe possibly rarely find new tracks on beatports featured palylist things.

    Occationally friends tell me about new tracks too, but usually i find myself telling them about tracks 😛

  • 2YLITE

    cool… the pic at the top is of Ricardo Villalobos’ living room…

    see the rest here

    http://www.thelastbeat.com/archives/dj-wohnzimmer/

  • Hey everyone, thanks for all the extra suggestions for music-finding. Please keep them coming. Bento also pointed me to a good post in the forums on this topic:

    http://www.djtechtools.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9120

    I agree with what has been said about watching out for the quality of music you get from blogs, etc. You definitely run the risk of having low-quality compression from blogs, along with any remorse you may feel about not paying the creator. To answer DiGiTaLFX’s question about blogs getting permission to post music: different situations apply. Many tracks you get off blogs were submitted by the artist or promo staff in order to drum up buzz and publicity for the music. However, just as many or more songs off of blogs are posted straight away without asking for permission. Most blogs will remove music if requested. Also, some blogs work directly with artists to post, say, a low-quality 128-bit MP3 and then link to the full-quality track on Beatport or other pay site.

    What I usually do is use blogs and aggregators to find music I like, and then if the quality is sub-par, I’ll buy the download. To me it’s worth a buck to not play a crappy quality file for people. Or I’ll take a couple free tracks from blogs and then buy the rest of the album somewhere else. Lala.com or Emusic.com are great for filling in the missing album tracks.

    But I’ve also found music from blogs that I can’t find for sale anywhere on the Internet, and in those situations I have no reservations about using the free track.

  • Dj Kurt

    I am a blog fanatic, checking on a few favorite blogs everyday, but there are sooo many of them out there, God only knows what I am missing out on. Another great post as usual.

    As to the “it’s still stealing the music” argument, it basically is, there is no way to sugar coat it, but I have bought plenty of songs because I cannot find them in the desired quality on blogs.

    I have used Last.fm on my Xbox and it is a cool service, using “artist stations” like dirty south, steve angello, avicii, (hmmm I wonder what kind of music I like, lol). The onle problem I find with it is u get a whole lot of older music. I have yet to find too many songs played from the past year. Planning on buying an iPod touch (if not the Iphone) in a couple months and I have been wanting to try Pandora. Hopefully more up to date than Last.fm

  • Steve

    [quote comment=”28373″]A word to the wise about snatching songs from blogs and other “free” sources, make sure to pay attention to the sound quality of the track. I hear a lot of DJs playing tracks that sound horrible and it’s usually because they found a low bit rate copy on a blog.

    Poor quality is especially apparent from some of the blogs that focus on remixes. There are a number of remixers out there that are working with poor source files to begin with and then further compressing them which results in a crap product. A remix is not really at 320kbps if all the samples were at 160kbps and poorly mastered.

    Blogs can be great sources but just be mindful of how the track will sound on the dance floor.

    http://hypem.com/ is an awesome aggregator of blog postings.[/quote]

    I have noticed this problem too. Use Platinum Notes or a similar song-editing service to fix choppy tracks and correct any audio issues (either too high or too low).

  • yeah, Last.fm needs to be in this list.

    Also, anyone visiting a lot of music blogs will love this greasemonkey script (firefox only) that turns any mp3 link on a webpage into a flash player, so you don’t have to wait for the shitty mp3 to load.
    Just google “greasemonkey inline google player”.

  • B

    elbo.ws

    The best blog aggregator for electronic music..a musthave bookmark

    Cheers

  • Vinícius Hoffmann

    I used to listen DI.FM a lot…
    Now I cant because it was forbiden to buffer audio and video at my job.
    But the live shows are really awesome…

    http://www.di.fm

    http://www.sky.fm (for non EDM music)

  • [quote comment=”28378″]Half of the article is about getting music for free with no legal rights to them.

    LAME[/quote]
    I completely disagree… as Dj’s we can make music more popular by spinning it at our gigs. If anyone deserves free music its us…

  • the man

    Half of the article is about getting music for free with no legal rights to them.

    LAME

  • A word to the wise about snatching songs from blogs and other “free” sources, make sure to pay attention to the sound quality of the track. I hear a lot of DJs playing tracks that sound horrible and it’s usually because they found a low bit rate copy on a blog.

    Poor quality is especially apparent from some of the blogs that focus on remixes. There are a number of remixers out there that are working with poor source files to begin with and then further compressing them which results in a crap product. A remix is not really at 320kbps if all the samples were at 160kbps and poorly mastered.

    Blogs can be great sources but just be mindful of how the track will sound on the dance floor.

    http://hypem.com/ is an awesome aggregator of blog postings.

  • And, of course, there’s always The Hype Machine > http://hypem.com

  • Anonymous

    http://www.last.fm is also a great site to search for related artists and music.

  • DiGiTaLFX

    So I’m interested… Isn’t just downloading music off blogs actually breaking copyright in the same way as torrenting them? I realise there are some blogs like rcrdlbl and xlr8r that get the artist’s permission etc but I’ve also come across a lot of blogs that seem to just be a user posting their favourite tracks. Do people actually buy music if they then want to use them or just play out the free tracks downloaded?

    Not trying to say I think it’s wrong. Just looking for a bit of clarification really.

  • “DJ Mebbe” is far the best within urban music on torrentsites..
    check download.djmebbe.com

    or search for “DJ Mebbe” on the piratebay torrent site.

  • etch

    excellent article as ever,

    loving skreemr

    just a quick heads up, pandora has become U.S. only,

    not that thats an issue if you read the proxy server article a while back!

  • Dutch

    Another quality article, perfectly timed. EAN has an incessant capability to deliver the goods! Big up to the DJTT crew for the assistance too!!

  • Phil France

    Love that Skreemr ,Thks

  • Once again, your uncanny ability to post freakishly helpful articles at the perfect times is in action…

    Stop spying on my through my webcam now 😛

    Hahaha, thanks for yet another awesome post, and thanks to those who contributed aswell!

  • Nice article 🙂

  • I also compiled a custom blog aggregator based on a thread on the DJTT forums a while back:
    http://pipes.yahoo.com/digitaldj/music