Let’s rewind back to the time where we used to download mp3’s by ripping them from various sites. Nowadays things have changed a lot, you can get mp3’s and wav’s of songs pretty easily as soon as they are even published this has been made possible by the use of the internet and technology.
If we really look at the timeline of what has happened in terms of DJs using music it has gone from various forms of audio players to now working with digital software that runs on laptops for playing music in a set for a concert.
You cannot really define legality when it comes to personal use, but this is completely different when the same music that was downloaded from a website on the internet is performed on a stage for a group of people.
Absolutely NO!! You don’t have to worry about that at all. When it comes to the commercial performance he careful about which music you use.in short the answer is,
Yes, and No. DJ’s can download music illegally due to the ability of the technology that we have today. It’s not advisable as they have acquired for the commercial performance of the song.
There are things and people in place to hunt down performance rights and the usage for the particular recording .does Justin Bieber going to knock your door if you play “baby” for a set of 75 people in your backyard?
What is illegal?
Let’s say you have downloaded a song from a YouTube video by converting it into a wav file. What is actually the legal way to use it to make a cover or even perform the song for a set as a DJ? And what is illegal?
Are there systems are a place that could come to us to collect the money we owe because we have used other artists’ songs?
These are some of the questions that come along with the title of this article “do DJ’s download music illegally?”
Listening to a downloaded ripped song without streaming on Spotify or streaming is illegal but nobody is going to come to you to ask money for it as the ripped song cannot be tracked at all, unless and until somehow they create a format where they can track a downloaded version of a song across the internet just like they track the software licenses, but even in that case there would cracks available right away.
The legal way of doing this is using the music licensing platforms to download the music legally and pay the performance fees to the music licensing company. Some people don’t take it seriously at first they get in trouble as they move along to perform in bigger stadiums where they are performing for 10,000s of people.
It’s a good habit to start this from the beginning rather at the end where you just get into trouble and owe record label heaps and loads of money that you can’t even pay in your lifetime even if you sell your soul.
On small scale it doesn’t matter on a big scale it really does matter, you definitely have to get a license to use a certain song in your set.
How is it called illegal?
It’s called illegal because the owner of the music is the particular record label that owns the master rights of the record and performing it without their consent is against the law.
In layman terms, it’s like coming into your home and taking your money and saying its mine.
People say sometimes like it’s just a song why do you worry about it.
These people in the highest level of work take their craft so seriously than some of us do.
Have you heard about the story of a guy who gave voice to the lion king refused the 2 million paychecks the record label who owned the masters offered him, he instead went for the royalties because it’s an international film and there is going to be so much performance royalties coming from it?
If this is the case for music soundtracks it’s really a fight when it comes to the songs and albums.
It’s no joke to mess with these labels as they have a group of lawyers ready to go to bust you out of any hell whole you are living under and get the money from you.
Usually, these record labels sue the other record labels and companies, that’s why these legal teams are setup.
It’s not a place you want to be as well.
Do it right and let karma respect you.
How to license music as a DJ
Licensing a song is pretty simple but in some cases, there are complications as well so bear that in mind before you take any steps in the performance of a song or an album.
There are websites where you can license music as a DJ, some include beat port and there are other websites where you can license music for cover songs as well.
People don’t understand that you have to have a license to perform a cover of a song.
This is the reason why in voice and American idol the songs are already given to the contestants so that the voice company can get the performance license for the particular song.
There is a rabbit hole of things that can be discussed and the funny thing is this varies from country to country.
In developing countries, there is not much accountability or tracking when it comes to performance rights or using the song illegally.
Do it the right way why do you have to suffer on unnecessary stuff. If you are starting and don’t have any money In hand you don’t have to worry some songs are available in stores that you can use with a free license.
There are multiple opportunities where producers give DJ’s songs that are completely new and ask those reviews and how the crowd responded as well.
It happens all the time.
Btw if you are interested check my article on what’s the difference between a producer and a DJ