When you first become a DJ and get your first show, opportunities seem endless. You think of show ideas and themes to feature all of the music you think everyone needs to hear. You share with the world all the feelings, lessons, and experiences this music has given you over the years and overall paint a picture of yourself through the music that has shaped you. This is an incredible experience and is probably why you become DJs in the first place. This is all well and good but after a while, as I’ve discovered being a DJ for over two years now, You finally start to burn through your all-time favorites or find yourself repeating the same ideas. Here are some tips I’ve learned on where to find new and innovative music, as well as some ways you can add to your show to make it more engaging and fun for both you and your deserving listeners. This also applies to any music listeners who simply want to spice up their music life.
TIP #1 MUSIC PLATFORMS
This sounds redundant to say but there are countless places online literally made for the purpose of discovering new artists.
Sites like Last.fm and Turntable.fm make for great ways to have access to wide libraries and see what other music people are playing and enjoying. It is also a good idea to do some digging through music journalism sites with Pitchfork being my go to example. There are more people than just us who wanna talk about the music they find and love, and have built entire careers around it!
Bandcamp is also a go to for those wishing to see curated lesser known artists, from old record releases, to new cutting edge artists. It’s also recommended to find music subreddits for the genres and music scenes of your liking. These are communities dedicated to lifting up lesser known artists and highlighting forgotten gems of their genres and are my personal go to’s when I need to freshen up my music listening.
There are several more sites I could be listing here but you all have access to the internet if you’re reading this so use these as focal points to explore further!
TIP #2: USE THE ALGORITHM
As much as I and many other music minded people have problems with the streaming services at large in the music industry and their payment of musicians It can definitely be used to your advantage as a DJ to discover and highlight lesser known tracks.
Services like Spotify and Apple music are filled with algorithms that find music similar to what you already listen to. A great way to pinpoint this is by going through related playlists or radios based on specific artists. There are also release radars and discover weekly’s automatically updated to give you some new music which works but runs out quick but worth the check every now and then.
It can be very beneficial to use these algorithms but as a good DJ and curator of music it’s always good to make discoveries on your own too and not become dependent on these automated services. It can get a little stale if used too often, but nonetheless is a great way to keep listening to new sounds, whatever they may be.
TIP #3: GET LOCAL
Speaking of making discoveries on your own, your own local music scene is constantly churning out new music from the ground up.
Our college town of New Paltz is a great example to get started as far as an active music scene but also take a look wherever you’re from or have been. Most of the biggest local scenes are in more metropolitan areas but you never know live music finds itself wherever there are people. From Long Island through Buffalo in this state alone there are new artists practically everywhere who want to be heard!
Do these starving artists a favor! Get involved in the scene, make a fanzine, go to that local DIY show in the grimy basement. Not only will you find other like minded listeners but you may just find the new band you’ve been waiting for.
TIP #4: YOUR FELLOW DJS!
This last tip is to look inward at the station itself! There are other DJs in your exact same position, with their own histories and diverse music tastes and wanting more fresh music to listen to. Ask around and find out what other DJs are playing and talking about.
Better yet a way to spice up your show is to have guests! Other DJs not only already know the ins and outs of your studio but also bring fresh new voices to your show. Collaborating with others in the station could bring you new things you never heard of or find that you have a lot more in common with them than you think, and makes the whole station closer as a result.
There you have it! These are just a few of my tips to expand your music listening for yourself and your show. Dive deep into genres you love because there is always more to find and learn about the music you love. Keep an open mind too! There may be genres you’ve written off but I promise you there is a reason for each and every song you hear and someone that loves it. Explore and use these tips to introduce your own listeners to things they didn’t even know existed.