Beatsource’s Fully-Licensed DJ Edits Have Totally Changed The Game
Beatsource’s Fully-Licensed DJ Edits Have Totally Changed The GameFebruary 22, 2021
For the first time ever, DJ edits will be available on the Beatsource LINK DJ streaming service for open-format DJs. The news will surely be welcome for millions of open-format DJs, who rely on DJ edits of popular tracks to fill in their sets. But there’s more to it than that. To get the full picture of exactly what this means for DJs, producers and labels, we talked to Beatsource president Brian “DJ Quickie” Wong, about the solution to this “massive problem for DJs.”
Beatsource just announced licensed DJ edits will be available on the store. For those who may not understand, why is this such big news?
Since the beginning of DJing, DJs have been playing modified versions of songs. These versions allow a DJ to play a song differently than how another DJ might play that same song. The most basic role of a DJ is to keep the dance floor moving, and that can be accomplished by putting two songs together. Whether that’s a long seamless transition or a more dramatic cut-over, a DJ needs access to these versions to get creative with their mixes.
Traditionally, these versions were delivered on formats like 12-inch vinyl or CD maxi singles. There could be a main version, a clean version, an extended version, an instrumental, an a cappella, dub mix, TV track, and any number of remixes. Over time, as technology improved and digital formats became the norm, these versions stopped being provided, so DJs found alternate sources of this content. Some DJ edits were provided unofficially on compilation DJ packs, or as digital downloads on promotional DJ record pools.
As an operator of one of those record pools, DJcity, since 1999, I can tell you firsthand the challenges of licensing DJ edits as downloads. We have promotional agreements to provide new release content, but when it comes to explicitly authorizing the creation of DJ edits of that content, it starts to get very complicated. The general consensus from most record labels goes something like, “We understand DJs need special content, and we would love to authorize you to make these versions. However, we (as a record label) are not even authorized by our own artists to make this content ourselves, let alone authorize a third party to modify the content.” In almost all traditional artist agreements, the artist retains creative control of their music. So this is a huge restriction to DJs.
The impediment is so obvious that we even send our DJ versions to the promotions departments at record labels since the label sometimes can’t even officially provide this content to their own staff, whose job is to make sure DJs are playing their music.
I’ve had friends tell me that it’s an impossible problem to solve, and that it would require a massive shift in the way that music licensing works. So we went straight to our independent label partners to help us finally solve this massive problem for DJs.
What’s behind the partnership with Create Music Group and EMPIRE? And can you tell us a little bit more about who they are and what they do?
Create Music Group and EMPIRE are both big independent distributors who have had a lot of success by disrupting the traditional music industry. They are two of the most forward-thinking companies in music, and they’re nimble. Create helps artists maximize their income, like collecting unclaimed revenue, for example. DJ edits is a great example of this. With Beatsource LINK, plays of DJ edits are now monetized. None of this data was being collected and reported on before we had a brainstorming session with Ethan and George at Create on how to solve this problem.
EMPIRE focuses on creating technology that helps artists get their music directly to the consumer, so it made so much sense that we partnered with them to use Beatsource’s DJ streaming technology to get their music directly to DJs. EMPIRE has a strong connection to the hip-hop community and they have always understood the importance of DJs. There’s a solid argument that music discovery has radically changed with the recent popularity of streaming services supplanting commercial radio, but you’re still not breaking a new hip-hop artist without actual DJs playing your record. EMPIRE has known this for years.
It’s only with the help of our forward-thinking partners like Create and EMPIRE that we are able to take the first steps to solving the DJ edits problem.
What will this mean for DJs?
While the regular consumer listening version you hear on the radio or streaming service may be fine to listen to, we DJs often spin an entirely different version in our sets! We are used to having endless choices.
And it makes sense for a consumer streaming service — why would someone want to listen to an a capella version with no music? Or an 8-minute extended intro version of a song? That format really doesn’t contribute to a great lean-back listening experience. But a DJ will absolutely cut up an instrumental version as a DJ tool in their mix.
This doesn’t mean that it will be the wild west and DJs will suddenly be able to go crazy with bootleg remixes and mashups, but it’s a crucial step to open the door for more DJ-specific content that DJs absolutely need. The DJ edits catalog will constantly be growing, and eventually we aim to have DJ edits for the entire catalog. Any song a DJ might ever play, including the classics, we want DJs to have all the edits.
And how will this impact creators, like artists and labels?
The promotional aspect of DJ edits may be even more important right now than ever before. With the democratization of music, where tens of thousands of songs trickle out into the world everyday, DJ platforms are an essential tool that creators can use to feature their music and cut through the noise.
Currently these DJ edits are still serviced in an unorganized way, sometimes by email or file sharing links, and there is no central DJ-specific platform where these DJ versions live — until now. Content owners will have more data on who is playing their music and where, more transparency and control of these authorized DJ versions, and most importantly, these edits will be monetized. Previously, when a DJ edit was officially sanctioned, it was either delivered as a promo or offered as a one-time download. DJ edits will now pay out each and every time they are played in a nightclub or bar, whether it’s played one time or one-thousand times. It’s really exciting stuff.
Do you think this will change how DJs use Beatsource LINK?
Absolutely, but the shift will be gradual. Veteran DJs have spent their entire careers building a library of music including unique custom versions. Beatsource is not replacing an existing library of DJ music, but supplementing it.
As internet access becomes more ubiquitous and we add more DJ content to the library, I think a lot of DJs who have not spent years purchasing music will find a lot of value in being able to access the massive catalog of DJ content that Beatsource is working on. DJing will become less about shopping for music and hoarding records, and more about each DJ’s curation and knowledge of their personal playlists and crates. Our goal is to give DJs as much access to the right music as we can, so they can focus on their musical creativity. We just gotta get the right DJ content in there. This opens up a world of imagination for the next generation of DJs.
Any final thoughts?
It’s been a long journey. We are pushing the boundaries of what content can be officially provided to DJs. We are DJs here at Beatsource. We know about DJ problems, and we’re the team that’s going to finally fix these issues for us all.
Licensed DJ edits are available for Beatsource LINK subscribers to stream in DJ software. Get Beatsource LINK here.