“There’s nothing greater than owning a physical copy of your music” says anyone that grew up a few decades ago collecting tapes, vinyl or even CDs in the 90’s. Today, there’s nothing nostalgic about a zippyshare link or a youtube to mp3 converter. As a DJ over the years, I’ve learnt the importance of buying your music, and here why :

Quality over quantity

When you’re leeching off a free source, there is utterly no filter to tell you why you should not choose song A over song B (yeah ?! why not if I can get both, right ?). So you end up with a lot of music you might really have no intention of playing. When you start to pay, you’re automatically calculating a song’s worth over another based on how often you might play it or if you already have a lot of music that is similar or will it work with what you are currently into etc. leaving you to evaluate the shit out of the song before you pay for it.

Being better acquainted with your music

Sometimes you tend to find the music store samples a bit unconvincing, wondering how the rest of the track actually is, and this thought is only provoked because you’re paying for the music. So you should be looking for a full length version on YouTube to be sure you like every bit of it. You will also discover a lot of information on remixers, labels, other artists as you trawl through a proper online store. Sometimes you could even miss out on the gold in a particular EP/Album because your favourite pirate site made a mistake.

Avoid the impulsive buying

There are times when I’ve been so pumped in the hotel before a gig and just bought a bunch of tunes to find a few I’m not happy with having spent money for. So, letting the tracks stagnate in your cart for a day or two and giving them a fresh listen to reconsider always works. Any tunes that get rejected, open further budgets for new ones. Look through your collection constantly and see what you need more of, the openers or the floor fillers or the odd curveballs you need to throw down once in a while. So now you’ll definitely recognise that obscure label or artist that you once bought.

Work within a budget

Some producers might have a lot of extra income from all the ghost producing that they can channel towards a lavish Beatport budget sans any coupon codes, but for the lesser mortals, start with allocating a small percentage from your gig fee that you are initially comfortable with. If you manage to save something from your previous purchase, add it on to your next buy.

Desire to showcase your music

Buying music on a regular basis will always leave you with fresher material, it’s often very exciting to play music that just came out, this will also drive you towards recording mixes/podcasts and putting them out often even if you are a bit short of gigs, because obviously you don’t want the music that you bought to sit there and stagnate on your computer.

Audio Quality

You can be guaranteed that music you’ve bought from a legal store will be straight from the label’s mastering studio in the best possible quality, unlike pirate sites that sometimes take youtube rips and up-convert it to 320Kbps or WAV, leaving only the file size to increase and not the quality. Utilities such as Spek can help you determine the frequency content of your track to be sure you’re getting the right bitrate.

Correct Metadata

Metadata is ID3 tag information that audio files use for storing artwork, artist name, album name, genre, year of release etc. Today when music is being classified in a digital medium, this data serves a lot of purpose for you to be able to do a specific and accurate search. Most music from pirate sites are tagged with dubious metadata that basically advertises their site, the last straw of embarrassment you want is your CDJ/Traktor proudly displaying ‘www.piratesite.com’ when you’re playing. Although utilities such asMetabliss can help you organise your ID3 tags, that’s one extra job you’re saved off.

Free Backup

A few music stores like Bandcamp even let you re-download your existing purchases letting you have access to the music at anytime as long as you have an internet connection. Although Beatport has no such policy yet, at least you will be able to find a list of the music you’ve purchased. If you had bought them in mp3 though, you’ll be able to upgrade it to AIFF/WAV for a small conversion fee.

Vinyl isn’t all that expensive

When you actually consider that tracks cost anywhere between $1.99 to $2.49 each for an MP3, Buying a 12″ that has 4 tracks for about $10–12 works out to the same, provided you’re digging all the tracks on that particular release, and if it happens to be vinyl only with no digital release, it’s definitely added value for the purchase.

Certain Exclusivity

Have you been guilty of giving up on buying a track you really like because your didn’t find a free download link to it ? This is possibly one of the worst things you can do as a DJ, because by playing only music that is available (to everyone) you might not have any edge over your peers with your music collection.