It has been nearly four and a half years since we took a look at one of the hidden gems of the record pool world: ZIPDJ. Since our last review, a lot has changed for the company. It sports a brand new website, a new logo, and even more music than before. We figured it was about time to revisit ZIPDJ for another deep dive, as the service has been redesigned and improved in almost every way.
If you’re new to the concept of a record pool, most provide unlimited downloads of high-quality digital music for a set monthly price. Record pools are both a market research and promotional tool for record labels. There are often rules to be members, such as how they need to be working DJs (clubs, radios, etc). This intention is so that they get a return for their music in the form of play time in front of a wide audience.
ZIPDJ works closely with record labels, providing them with valuable metrics and promotion through its members in return for the music that makes up the library. This attention to the core purpose of why record pools exist seems to have been rewarded by their over 2000+ listed label partners. The benefit? ZIPDJ members are often on the cutting edge of music promotion and get to break new records to their audiences first. This give-and-take is how legitimate record pools provide value both to their members and to the record labels that provide the music.
- Record Pool: ZIPDJ – www.zipdj.com
- File format: MP3
- Bitrate (Kbps): 320
- Record Label Partners: 2000+
- Price: Starting at $25/month
- Bottom Line: ZIPDJ has an extensive library of music for digital DJs and one of the best selections of electronic music. Further, their brand new website fixes nearly every complaint we had about the service in the past.
ZIPDJ: a lot has changed…
- ZIPDJ released a brand new website in 2020 that was rebuilt from the ground up.
- Performance and usability are greatly improved.
- More powerful options for filtering and sorting.
- Better preview player and ability to queue up tracks.
- Unique links for artists, labels, releases, etc for easy bookmarking.
Right as nightclubs and other venues around the world shut down due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, ZIPDJ, a record pool for working DJs, released a brand new website. Cursed timing? Or serendipity, perhaps, as DJs (for better or worse) have more time than ever to work on their libraries?
If you used the old ZIPDJ, you’ll know that what really made the service worth it was the library – the website itself was often clunky and difficult to use. While the music is still the major selling point, the website now does the awesome library justice.
Gone is the janky search, gone are the often long load times, and gone are the text based comments required to download some tracks.
- Access to music from over 2,000 major and independent record labels.
- Hundreds of new releases added every week.
- Every genre of music you could possibly need, with the best selection of electronic music we’ve seen from a record pool.
- One of the few record pools that can service everyone from club/bar DJs to festival DJs and everyone in between.
Before we dive too deep in to the website itself, let’s talk about the most important asset a record pool has: its music. To give you an idea of what sets ZIPDJ apart, let me break down the genres of some of the latest uploads to the platform:
- Hip Hop
- Tech House
- Afro House
- Deep House
- Latin / Reggaeton
That’s just from the first page of the newest releases and should show you what sets this pool apart.
Now, don’t let what you know about other pools mislead you. When I say there’s techno on ZIPDJ, I’m not talking about “Lady Gaga ft. Ariana Grande – Rain On Me (TECHNO MIX!!)”. I’m talking about proper techno. I searched for one of my favourite techno artists, Ben Sims. Although there’s only a few results, he’s on there.
Worry not if your needs are more mainstream. ZIPDJ has Top 40/Pop, Hip Hop, R&B, Rock/Alternative, and plenty of remixes to fit your particular style. Looking at “Rain On Me”, for example, you have the Original, DJ Intro version, multiple BPM transition edits, and dozens of remixes. Whether you want the thumping house sounds of Dark Intensity, the almost-glitch hop of DJ Break, or the unique sounds of Ladato, it’s there.
Over the years, ZIPDJ has been my primary source of music for gigs at dance clubs, hotel lounges, music festivals, and after hours parties. No other pool I’ve ever seen has the variety and quality offered by ZIPDJ.
Display and Preview
Music on the website is usually displayed as a “release”, which could be a single track, a number of versions of the same track, or a handful of related tracks. At the top of a release, you’ll see the release name, artist, record label, main genre, and date added. Below, you’ll see the individual tracks with the mix name, the specific genre of the mix, the track length, and a rating – which I believe is how often that particular mix is downloaded compared to others in the same release.
Beside each track is a play button, which allows you to preview a snippet in high quality using a persistent player at the bottom of the site that follows you even as you navigate. You also get the option to put the track in to a queue to preview later.
Download and Quality
Downloading is where ZIPDJ’s name comes from. As you browse the site and hit the download icon next to tracks, they’re added to a download queue rather than downloaded immediately. When you’re ready, you access the queue and download everything as a single .zip file.
What’s actually in the zip file once downloaded are full 320kbps MP3 files, tagged and ready to play. Tracks on ZIPDJ even have cover art preloaded that will display in your DVS or on your controller/CDJ if supported.
Using the website
The new design is speedy and responsive. Pages are incredibly fast, previews start near instantly, and the website looks good at any screen size.
Search and Filter
Search, by far the weakest part of the old site, works like a proper search query now. I searched for Green Velvet and it presents me with artists, tracks and release, and a list of record labels that match my search keywords. I can also put quotes around “Green Velvet” to make it literal like any proper search box. (To answer your question, YES! They have La La Land.)
The search box still has an auto-complete feature, but unlike the old site, you’re not forced to use it – it’s just there to guide you. Oddly, selecting a suggestion doesn’t make the search literal. When I picked “Green Velvet” under the artist suggestions, it still give me other artists with “Green” or “Velvet” in their names.
Beside the search box, there is also now a genre filter. This allows you to limit your view to either a genre group, or something more specific like Breaks. The only caveat here is that the genre is whatever the label says it is – so sometimes you’ll find something that’s probably better labeled as say “Tech House” under “Deep House”. But I’m perhaps more picky than most.
Now, one issue with how the filter works is that I can’t seem to combine a search and a filter. If I search for an artist and then select “Tech House” as a genre, the artist results disappear and I am looking at the Tech House results. Likewise, if I am filtering for Tech House already and search for an artist, I see lots of results from other genres even while the filter still displays. I can filter the new releases, charts, top downloads, etc., but I can’t seem to filter search results. Hopefully that’s something they fix in later versions.
In web design, “breadcrumbs” are links that can be followed. The new ZIPDJ platform makes things like the release, artists, genre, and label clickable so you can more easily find related content or bookmark things for later.
As far as opening links in tabs is concerned, unfortunately as of writing this review, I can’t. Whether I right-click, ctrl-click, or middle-mouse-click, I can’t get the breadcrumbs to open in a tab. I can open a link, copy the address to a new tab manually, and then go back – but hopefully they fix whatever is blocking normal new-tab behaviour. The constraints of the old website that limited it to a single tab are gone so I’m not sure why the links won’t easily tab on the redesign.
For folks in a hurry, there are quite a few ways to find tracks on ZIPDJ besides digging through releases and searching:
- Top Downloads, sortable by date range and genre.
- Trending, sortable by date range and genre.
- Curated Charts.
New to this version of ZIPDJ are “packs”, for the DJ who’s really in a hurry. Packs are things like “zipDJ Essentials :: Urban Vol. 149 :: Compiled By Keif Doyle [Clean]”, which contains 10 radio edits of Hip Hop/R&B tracks.
Packs are constantly being added and cover things like essential old school jams, classic party rock, club hits, different genres, etc. There’s an intriguing library that exists here already. For example, there are (at the time of publication) 74 different packs of just Latin music each – with 10+ hand picked tracks.
Let’s address the thing that always comes up when discussing ZIPDJ: the price. ZIPDJ is not cheap at $50 on month-to-month billing for their top unlimited plan. They have regular introductory sales and a limited $25/mo option, but there’s no way real way to spin it when there are $10/mo pools out there. Let’s just say that you get what you pay for.
ZIPDJ’s value comes from what is, hands down, the best library of any record pool on the market. I have reviewed and/or personally used over a dozen pools, including ones that used to send you a couple records or a CD once a month in the actual mail. ZIPDJ is worth every penny.
If you’re looking for a pool that can cover you – whether you’re at a college bar playing Top 40 or a dance club playing house or techno – ZIPDJ has the music you need. I’ve been personally singing their praises for years, and finally the website matches up with the quality of the service itself.
There are a few little bugs here and there, like trying to filter search results or open some links in a new tab – but I’m sure they’ll be fixed soon enough. As as for the website, it’s easy to use, fast, and is the window to an amazing library of music.