How to discover new music for your DJ sets

Are you bored with your current tunes? Been playing that same record forever? Are people leaving the dancefloor in disgust? (smh.) Then, yup, you need to find some new music.

Fortunately, on the internet, there are tons of ways that you can discover new music. Here are some ace ways to find new tracks for DJing which will absolutely sizzle on the dancefloor, like a hot grill of bacon.

Find your sound, then go down the rabbit-hole

When you’re looking for new music for your DJ sets, you’re usually looking for a certain sound or a style of music that you like. It might be disco, house, Gregorian chant, or whatever. You’ll know when you’ve found it, because you love it, and you’ll want to find lots more music like it.

But here’s the thing:

You’ve got to find that music first. It usually starts with hearing a track in a club, a bar, on a mix, or even in a store (yes I have even discovered new music in Tesco).

Once you’ve found the name of a track that you like, you can start finding other tracks like it. For example, you could:

  • Look for other tracks from the same record label

  • Find DJ sets where this track was played

  • Find other music from the same artist

This is what I call the DJ rabbit-hole. And once you’re down the rabbit-hole, you’ll find tons of music to buy digitally and add to your next DJ set.

So what are the best ways to enter the rabbit-hole? Here are some ideas.

Vinyl record

What are the best ways to find new music?

Here are my favourite ways to find new music and go down the rabbit-hole. Make a brew, pull up a chair and start exploring.

Shazam a track in a club (or anywhere)

Shazam is a phone app which identifies songs playing around you. It’s free, just download the app and hold your phone to the music. It’s a really great way to discover new tracks when you’re out and about, in a club or even a cafe (just don’t ask the barista to stop making so much noise, so you can hear the track.)

Places to Shazam: The club, the radio, the supermarket.

Follow DJs, artists and labels on SoundCloud

Soundcloud is the social network for music. You’ll need to register for an account (free) but once you’ve done that, you can follow DJs, artists and labels and see their new uploads in your feed. Check Soundcloud from time to time, to see new tracks. Also, make sure you view DJs profiles, so you can see who they’re following, follow them too, and basically fall into an endless musical vortex.

Use Bandcamp to find independent artists

Bandcamp (aside from being part of a great punchline in American Pie) is an app and website for buying independent music. (It doesn’t mean indie music 💇, it includes music of any genre.) Bandcamp is like a direct fan-to-label or fan-to-artist platform. There are lots of labels who publish exclusively on Bandcamp, and you can also buy vinyl and other merchandise on there as well. A great place to find stuff!

Great labels on Bandcamp: Toytonics , Shall Not Fade

Listen to DJ mixes on radio stations

Radio stations which play dance music, like BBC Radio 1, usually publish their tracklists online afterwards. So if you hear a track on a DJ mix that you like (I like the long-running Essential Mix show) then you can find it, and add it to your shopping list. 🛒

Use Spotify Radio to find similar songs

Radio is the absolute killer feature on Spotify. It finds tracks that are kinda-quite-similar to the one track you’re playing now. It seems to do this with magic and a bit of algorithmic fairy-dust. This makes it really easy to find a bunch of tracks you might like.

To get to Radio: find a track (in a playlist, search result or album), then tap the three dots → Go to radio. This will create an instant radio playlist of songs just like this one. Hit play and start auditioning your next dancefloor bomb.

Find playlists on Spotify

There are lots and lots of excellent playlists on Spotify now, curated by real people, and with constantly changing tracks.

Playlists can be hard to ‘discover’, so here’s my tip to find them: search for an artist on Spotify that you like, then scroll down, and it will show you some playlists featuring the artist. Then just keep browsing to discover more music.

Spotify playlists I’m currently loving: Afro Psychedelia, Rave Classics, and Funk and Disco Zamaan

Browse through DJ charts

A lot of DJs compile lists of their current favourite songs, and submit them to various websites. This is a tradition that goes back a long way to DJ magazines. It’s a good way for the DJs to promote themselves, and it’s also a great way for you to find new music too.

Good places to find DJ charts: Juno Download, Traxsource

Reboot your library!

Are your DJ sets going a bit floppy? Stop! With these tips, you’ll surely find some decent new music (or some old classics) to add pizzazz into your sets.

So next time you want to give your DJ music library a bit of a makeover, now you know how to do it!

See you on the dancefloor!

Your comments

What do you think? You can use Markdown formatting in your comment.