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Thread: Tips for Digital Digging

  1. #1
    Member mr_ragz's Avatar
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    Tips for Digital Digging

    I read another post on this stuff but I wanted to get more specific and give some tips. It was basic, but it can be read HERE

    Once upon a time, DJ's had to leave their homes and go to what was called a record store to find the music they wanted to play at their gigs. Though these record stores still exist, many people have taken a more modern approach and have started to find their music through digital platforms such as beatport, iTunes and the like.

    Here are some tips that will assist you in finding music that really sets you appart from the rest of the DJ's (or just help you suck less). This is mainly written for beginner EDM dj's but I think there is something for everybody.


    Before you start digging...


    What kind of DJ are you?

    This may not be as important to some DJ's as it is to others. Later I will write an article on the art of opening but for this moment, just know your spot in the pecking order. Are you an opening DJ? Do you just spin at home and friends parties? Are you the headlining resident of a well known club? When and where you are playing is very important in regards to track selection because nobody wants to hear peak time music when the party starts, for example. These questions are very important to have answered before you start digging because it will determine what type of music you need to look for.

    Know what music defines you as a DJ

    Do you spin house, electro, dubstep, etc? Its important because you will often hear a track that you like but may have nothing to do with what you normally spin. For example, I like trance, house and electro. However, I don't really play any of those genres proper, and the music that I play usually is a combination of all three, to a degree. If you play a mixed genre style of music, it is good to know what specific sub genre you are going to be looking for.


    When you start the dig


    BE PICKY

    My God, is this important. If you were to go back +10 years ago, dance music production required a lot of knowledge, skill, equipment, time and money. People put a lot of time and effort in to their productions and then it had to be printed on a physical medium, such as vinyl, which was pretty expensive. Since vinyl was expensive, crap music rarely made it to print.

    These days anybody with a laptop can access some of the most powerful tools of modern dance music production. With that being said, the rules for getting on beatport and the like aren't very strict and there is a lot of junk out there. One thing I often have in mind is that "if I can find even one problem with this track, I will not download it." This is a good philosophy to have and it will keep your library from being filled with crap.

    In the days of vinyl, it was difficult to justify spending +$20 on a single song if it didn't have the juice. Now, its pretty easy to justify spending $2 on a mediocre song. Spending $2 on a mediocre song may not be a big deal, but if you do that a hundred times, over the course of time you could have had a new piece of gear. I would much rather have a new piece of gear than a bunch of crap songs I never play.

    Never settle on a tune. We often talk about the "all killer, no filler" philosophy on DJF.

    Don't always rely on the top 100

    Disclaimer: this is 100% my opinion and wont always apply to hip hop DJ's, mobile DJ's and the like.

    Don't get me wrong, there is great music there. The number 1 song is number 1 for a reason. The problem with the number 1 song is that everybody is going to be playing it. You don't want to be just like every other DJ in town do you? Of course not. Its alright to take one from the top 100 here and there, but if all your playing is that stuff then all you will ever be is the typical dime a dozen DJ. You don't want to be just like every other dime a dozen DJ in town do you? Of course not.

    The one time I saw Porter Robinson every single song he played was a top 100 at one point and it was a complete snore fest IMO. I will likely never go see him again for that very reason. He is a very big name and can get away with it but I don't recommend it for "normal" DJ's.

    Listen to the whole song

    I have listened to some tunes that may start off really good and then after downloading them realize that there is a breakdown or a vocal that absolutely ruined the whole song for me. Beatport usually only lets you play a sample of it but you can go to the whole song and listen to several parts to be sure or just throw the title into youtube and usually listen to in its entirety there.

    You might get irritated

    Its ok to get frustrated by how much garbage is on these sites. It can be extremely difficult to find even one track that really stands out to you. Stop and get a snack and/or drink and continue.

    Especially with the rise of superstar DJ's, everyone wants to mimic them. Many of it can be good but a lot of has subpar production. One problem can be that it has a really hard to mix intro and/or outro (I have a couple). If you find one of the super amazing tracks that has one of these flaws, be prepared to spend some time finding the tune that mixes with it perfectly and/or the perfect mixing technique. Sometimes tracks like these can challenge you as a DJ and cause you to get better, which is always good.

    No expectations

    If you hop on beatport right now and say "I need 10 new tracks for my set on Saturday" I can assure you that 7 or 8 or 9 of them will probably be garbage. I like to hop on beatport and other sites with just a flicker of hope that I can find just one track that really, really defines my style of DJ'ing and would be thrown into my sets. Unfortunately, I usually must listen to AT LEAST 100 songs to find JUST 1 song that is truly magical in my eyes, nowadays.

    If you are a new DJ and have been listening to a certain type of music for years, you may just want to start off finding music that you already know to be to your liking.


    Ongoing Digging Techniques


    Follow Artists

    Certain artists may have a certain sound you like, and thats ok, but I recommend staying away from playing a whole bunch of tracks from one particular DJ or producer. You aren't deadmau5, so don't play 8 of his songs in your set. Staying up to date on the top artists is important because many people that go out to clubs like to hear the current music.

    Follow Labels

    You will find that many of the best artist have a tendency to put releases out on many different labels. For example, one of my favorite labels is Spinnin' Records. By going through the Spinnin Records library, I will find other artists that I like that I may have not previously heard of before and by going to that particular artist's page, I will find a whole new list of labels and artists that I may have never heard. This can go on ad infinitum.

    Go back in time

    Don't be scared to go back to the glory days of many artists. Some of their best music can be found from several years ago. While 2007 maybe considered ancient history, by some, in the world of electronic music, some of it can really hold value to a DJ and produce nice results on the dance floor.

    Youtube,Pandora, Digitally Imported, Podcasts and More

    Believe it or not, I have found sites like Youtube and Pandor can be excellent sources of music that you weren't even looking for. Get creative when creating a Pandora station and sometimes you will hear classics and stuff you have never even heard of that will be great for your sets.
    One of my secret weapons: There are radios NRG and FUN Radio out of France. They are sick and have apps for iPhone. Find a good mix of sources like this and you will play stuff nobody else does, I assure you.

    Dig often

    One thing you would want to remember is that a small amount of time on a regular basis is going to be more effective than a huge period of time very infrequently. Just like practicing. I have had a few different periods when I show up to a gig and I'm like "shit, I haven't found even a single new good song." For me, it can psyche me out because all I can think about is that everybody at my residency has already heard every song I'm about to play at least once.

    You get out what you put in

    Just like practicing, the more time you spend, the better the results will be. I can often get frustrated by how much crap is out there these days but I know that "persistance beats resistance" EVERY single time. So put in an hour or three every week and you should stay up to date as well as have some of the best stuff nobody has ever heard.

    Be unique

    Back when I was a non-dj party goer, there was something that was particularly amazing to me. I loved going to a show and seeing a DJ that I knew and hearing music I had never heard before and leaving the party knowing that I was never going to hear it again. There is something very magical to that, and wether or not people actually acknowledge it, they enjoy that. So do it.

    Happy Mixing!
    Quote Originally Posted by KLH View Post
    Welcome back, Ragz. You are always welcome here.
    Guys, this is the legend. Recognize the greatness.

  2. #2
    Member fueledbymusic's Avatar
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    Speaking of digging!

    This took me more than 10 years to build this collection of Good shit. I ended my digging at 1100 CDs basically, but pulled out all the "good ones" and now down to just 400. And I ridded the rest that I considered junk. BUT THE THING IS. Like you say. What is junk to me might be a GEM to others. And vice versa. Spending hours upon hours of digging at every imaginable place! And like you say, I come across tons upon tons of crap CDs. (buying many because I thought they were good, we could not hear them in those days before buying ). BUT anyway, when it came to the days of internet music, it made my digging MUCH MORE EASIER! I TELL YA! But in the old days, All the "good ones" would be gone when I would go to the thrift stores or blow out sales.


    One point of advice: NO ONE will ever like your (or our) music!
    What WE like, people STILL will tell us:
    "Can you play something with a beat, man! LOL
    Last edited by fueledbymusic; 04-06-2013 at 09:35 PM.

  3. #3
    When i started out i bought over 600 cds and did not even own a cd player at the time, but i knew that if i did not buy the records then and there i may not get another chance again.

    I took trips to great britain and cratedug alot, and at my local shops at home, thats what i miss the most, wandering around in these big shops containing records and heaps of other stuff.

    So yeah, dig alot, but dont throw the other records away, if you have time, space, patience to keep em, save them for a rainy day, they can be your lifesaver later on in life.
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  4. #4
    Member contra's Avatar
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    One tip, it's really easy to put a bunch of stuff in your cart initially, but BEFORE you hit 'buy', re-listen to everything in the cart to make sure you weren't just randomly filling the cart without being picky. I can almost guarantee that you'll delete at least two that you realised weren't as good as you thought the first time around.
    rape stork

  5. #5
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    How about tips for organizing your digital collection? I've been going through and separating releases that have multiple genres. This can get tricky, so I will probably separate further to really isolate all tracks of a similar sound within sub genres. Do you guys use artwork for releases to create a digital crate similar to how it would be if you were using actual records?

  6. #6
    Batman andymunro's Avatar
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    Sorting out the artwork is going to be the next step when I finally if ever (I've been at it since about 2010...no exaggeration) get my digital record box 90% currated. Depending on which release of the mp3 depends what artwork you get with it, and so a lot of them are useless to me.

    I intend to go through them one by one and updating the artwork on each that means something to me so I can go back to the days of knowing what it looks like and where it is rather than a list of meaningless titles.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by seang View Post
    How about tips for organizing your digital collection?
    I personally use Beatport pro desktop app. It allows you to easily import a lot of information in your ID3 tags, artwork included, for a rich categorization of your digital crate.

    You can use it even if part or most of your collection isn't in Beatport, since it allows you to edit the song tags quite comfortably.

    Very usefull imo.

    Enviado desde mi Moto G (5) mediante Tapatalk

  8. #8
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    So.. this is an old thread!

    TBH I am really finding Spotify great for finding tracks.

    Find a track you really like and -> create song radio.

    Better still, create a playlist with 20-30 tracks and then look at suggested tracks for the playlist.

    Some labels put out their own playlists with their releases, follow the labels you like.

    Beatport have playlists for new releases in various different genres, updated every few days.

    If you use Spotify regularly to listen and create playlists then it seems to get to know you very well. The "release radar" feature then becomes invaluable. I look forward to every new refresh of my release radar.

    Of course, not all music is on Spotify but there is shitloads. Once you find what you like, you can obviously then purchase from wherever you want.


    I am sure Deezer etc does the same kind of thing.

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