By Tony Fernandez
Before we begin, let me give a little background…
I remember when record pools actually serviced RECORDS. They sent out boxes of vinyl. You’d get a box a month, sometimes two. About 20-30 pieces in the box. You’d get cool stuff, hot stuff, new stuff, white label stuff, and junk. Part of the deal was to listen to all of the product and give feed back to the pool director. This information would be passed along to the record labels so they could get grass roots/direct response from the streets and clubs.
Let me take a beat here and point out this isn’t about glorifying wax. Far from it. This is more about how record pools fulfill what a DJ requires nowadays.
Every week, if not every day, there are posts all over the DJ boards and DJ groups that ask…
What’s the best pool?
I have a Jewish wedding coming up; I need a pool that has Jewish music.
I have a Quinceañera, I need a pool for Spanish music.
I can’t find a pool that has the tracks I need, which pool does?
I can’t exactly pinpoint the moment things changed… when pools went from being a vehicle to service promotional releases to working DJs providing ANYTHING any DJ may want. And not only anything, but unlimited access to entire databases, back catalogs, site libraries, and remixes; all for $9.99 a month.
I’m not going to get on my soapbox (today) about how absurd and unrealistic that expectation is. But stop and THINK where else in the consumer market can you get unlimited access to obtain content (be it physical or digital) for $10-$20 bucks a month… and it’s OK?
Where do you think that pittance of a fee goes? How do you think these “pools” offer unlimited downloads for content that has bootlegs, unsanctioned remixes and older music that isn’t being worked by the A&R / promotional divisions of record labels?
DJs need to stop, think and realize that their $9.99 a month doesn’t entitle them to download the host server. And the “pools” that offer this service are doing NO ONE a favor. I’ll spell it out… Pools that offer the sun, moon and stars for less than an over the top lunch at Applebee’s are not operating completely above board.
But I digress…
What I am going to pontificate on is the expectations of DJs and how those expectations need to be grounded in reality not in desire, want, or need.
Let me make a quick stipulation here. I get that as DJs we need music. It’s at the core of what we do. It’s our life blood. Without music, we wouldn’t be DJs. I also get that as DJs, we will go through ALL KINDS of hoops, obstacles, mazes, and land mines to obtain tracks and (re)mixes to songs we deem important. We gotta have the dope stuff by any means necessary. I get it.
However…. It’s not the role of the record pool to stockpile your cupboard. It’s not the role of record pools to provide every DJ with EVERY possible piece of music, old, new, hot, different, ethnic or obscure. There aren’t Indian music record pools. There aren’t Psycho House Dubstep record pools. There aren’t 80’s music record pools. Guess what DJ’s? If you wanted 80’s music serviced to you, you needed to be born in the 60’s. If you need 80’s music today for a corporate event, buy it.
DJs need to realize that music content is a product. These products are items that require money in exchange for use. Money that goes to the artists that own the copyright. (And notice I said ‘use’ and not ownership. We don’t own the music we buy. The people that own the copyright do. We’ll go over that some other time…)
Bottom line… music is our inventory. We have to keep a fresh supply. If you’re savvy, you don’t count on one source or have a limited set of suppliers to keep that inventory intact. There is no single record pool that is one-stop shop. There is no record pool that is all things to all DJs. As such, you just might have BUY a track or three here and there. It’s not the fault, or the responsibility of the record pool if it doesn’t have a track you “need”. You can blame the record labels for not servicing the pools.
I gotta go do my homework and collect my new tracks. Keep ‘em spinning.
Based out of Richmond, VA, DJ Tony Fernandez has been a DJ, Remixer, Producer, Musical Soothsayer and Audio Gear Oracle since 1980. Find him on Facebook. Email firstname.lastname@example.org