DO DJs SURVIVE ON PROMOS OR DO THEY GET THEIR CASH OUT?

Over the last two decades, dance artists have become the new rock stars with crowds of fans eager to follow in their footsteps.

Today this dream seems even easier to achieve than ever before; home studios now cost a fraction of what they used to resulting in producers popping up all over the world contributing to the global dance music industry.

It’s no surprise then, that the choice of music on the digital shelves for DJs and music fans to pick from is vast and sometimes overwhelming task to sort through. (in this recent interview with Beatport they confirm they are adding up to 25,000 new releases a week!)

But what about active DJs who play week in week out?  Most of these guys are lucky enough to be on promo lists that secures them free music delivered directly to their laptop. But it this enough?

We conducted a survey with the DJs who are on our promotions company database and asked them Do DJs Buy Music For Their Sets? The results were astounding:

Q1---Do-you-Buy-Music

You read that right: 92% of DJs who play out regularly still buy music for their sets. We dug a little deeper to find out why.

Firstly, 36% of those who said they do buy music said it was to support labels and artistsKiss Fresh Friday night host Charlie Tee said “even if I’m sent a track on promo and I love it, I still want to support the artist”.

This sentiment was also echoed by Viper Recordings Drum & Bass don Cyantific who stated “I’ll buy things to support my friends” while Jungle mainstay Marvellous Cain added “It’s nice to show some support to labels”.

Secondly, 44% of those that bought music said they buy more when they discover new artists and labels. Canadian DJ Stickybuds summed up most DJs responses: “It’s always fun finding new artists or labels that I don’t know about, plus I play lots of different genres, so it’s fun exploring what is out there and I’m happy to buy music”.

One message is clear: DJs are music lovers first and foremost… and they always will be. UK Garage DJ Norris ‘Da Boss’ Windross sums it up neatly: “I would not just play promotional music alone as I consider myself to be a music lover and like to support in all ways”.

While 36% said they buy music as they didn’t receive the promo. It’s worth pointing out here that there are a variety of reasons for this: DJs may have missed the promo, they may not have been on the list at the time or it was outside the genre they’re perceived to be associated with.

Danny Byrd told us “some stuff you never get sent! Or it’s outside your genre.” While Dan from The Qemists states “I never got it, or I missed the promo”.

A lot of DJs are expanding outside their known genres like El Hornet from Pendulum “I don’t often get sent Big Room House and sometimes I feel like playing a bit of that :)”.

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In some cases getting a promo can inspire a DJ to search out for more as Jez from Utah Saints explains: “Not everything gets picked up through promo companies. Promo companies do give me a nudge to go and check out new releases on Beatport and the charts on iTunes etc”.

Reid Speed said “I buy music because I don’t receive every song I like on promo”. Broadcasting stalwart Dave Pearce told us “there are always going to be the odd tracks you don’t have on promo” while house legend Todd Terry was clearly just keen to get the music as soon as possible:“if I like the track, I can’t wait for promo to arrive”.

Q2---How-Much-Do-You-Spend

These results are very encouraging.  There’s a common perception that DJs lord it up by getting free music and being paid to play it. According to the DJs we spoke to, the old cliché is far from the truth.

In fact, 68% of the DJs we surveyed spend up to £10 ($15) a week on music while just over a quarter of them spend between £10-£30 ($15-$50) and 5% spend more than £30 ($50) per week.

That’s an average spend of over £1300 ($2000) per week per 100 DJs.

Q3---Where-Do-you-Buy-Music-From

No surprises here – Beatport, iTunes & JunoDownload have long been leaders in dance music digital retail. Though it needs to be noted that 13% of the DJs we surveyed still invest in vinyl. Passionate about vinyl, Hypercolour said “I enjoy discovery through my own traditional methods (Vinyl). Going to record shops!”

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Digital sales have been on the decline for a few years now as streaming services start to take the lead, but it’s good to see that DJ’s who every week get sent free music are still contributing financially… and for all the right reasons.

ARE YOU A DJ AND DO YOU BUY MUSIC?

IF SO WE’D LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU BELOW IN THE COMMENTS…

Researched & written by Jay Cunningham, Edited by Dave Jenkins

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On The Rise DJ Academy is owned and run by Jay Cunning and Terry from Atomic Hooligan, both have been professional DJs for over 15 years each. Jay - http://subslayers.com/jaycunning/ Terry - http://terryhooligan.com/

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7 Responses

  1. barry ashworth

    Agree with the survey, always have and always will buy music.
    Slightly surprised DJ’s are buying from iTunes maybe thats albums rather than club ammo!

    Reply
    • Jay Cunningham

      Nice one Barry, I’d say cost is one factor as you can get a track for only 0.79p!

      Reply
      • Roma Khanov

        It was allways interesting for me. Why do services like google play or itunes have such different prices comparing with juno or beatport. At first time I thought it’s all about the quality of audio files (aac on itunes and 320 kbps mp3’s on any other online stores). But when I started using google play, I noticed that the format of files is 320 kbps mp3 too. What’s the difference?

      • Jay Cunningham

        Hi Roma, Firstly for digital files you want to go for the highest possible which is WAC or AIFF (uncompressed). For a cheaper option go for compressed, you’ll want to go for 320 kbps MP3’s on most sites and 256k M4A files on iTunes. We’ve got a great article which helps you understand these here: http://ontheriseacademy.com/djs-understanding-bitrate-audio-quality/

        As for price I can only assume that stores like iTunes & Google have cheaper prices as they have a much bigger catalogue and can afford to sell cheaper to the masses. Sites like Beatport & JunoDownload are more specialists sites.

        I hope this helps.

  2. James Flibble

    Great article. Im a DJ and I also write music reviews, but first and foremost, im a music lover. I’m not fortunate enough to be on any promo lists so all of my music is purchased. Most of it is vinyl.

    Reply
    • Jay Cunningham

      Nice one James, it’s been great to see there’s so much support for buying music.

      Reply
  3. Wayne Chester (WayneDjc)

    I play various radio sites including a local Southampton FM radio station Voicefm103.9 playing Techno / Techhouse / House / Disco / Psy Trance and Breakbeat. Although i have DJ’s sending me stuff to promote on my shows i still support artistes on sites like Beatport, Juno and Bandcamp. Having DJ’ed 35 years i find it all too easy to forget that behind the tune somebody has put in hard graft to produce what you as a DJ are playing. With vinyl and before the digital age arrived i was spending £100 + a month on tunes and support for Artists was 100%. Digital has produced piracy on a huge scale compared to bootleg Vinyl of the 80’s / 90’s . I just wish technology hadn’t evolved in the way it has now leaving most producers out of pocket

    Reply

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