Record Pools: What they were and what they are now

By: Tony Fernandez 

What is a record pool?

A record pool is an association of regional, local, and industry leading DJs in their respective markets. Members are: Club DJs, Mixshow DJs, Radio DJs, Program Directors, Music Directors, and highly influential Mobile DJs. A Record pool could have 10, 100, or + 1,000 members. Some Record Pools today, have members in the +10,000 range. The MAIN qualification was that you were a WORKING DJ in your area / market.

The concept of a record pool was started in the mid 1970s by the illustrious David Mancuso in NYC. The purpose of which was to establish a grassroots pipeline of communication between the record labels and the working DJs in high profile clubs that were playing to a lot of people and breaking music.

Record labels agreed to supply Record Pools with promotional (advance release) music and, in return, the record pools would provide feedback to the record labels that was derived from the pool’s membership of working DJs.

Back in the day of 12” records and remixes, a member would, generally speaking, pay a monthly fee; in return, the DJ would receive 1-2 packages a month. That could be 40-60 pieces of music a month. In addition, the DJ would have to submit back to the pool director a chart of what they are playing and feedback on the pieces of music they received.

The feedback would be collected by the director and passed along to the record labels. This information would be used to gauge the popularity of potential singles to be released and worked to radio.

Where we’re at now…

With the development of the MP3 and the ability to download music anywhere, anytime on almost anything, the “true” purpose of a record pool has become blurred. While there are still traditional pools that are viable and performing a service, it seems like with the ushering in of the digital age coupled with the attitude of “I want ALL the music…” pools have become a centralized clearing house of distribution for tons of music. People’s (DJ’s) expectations have risen to the level of entitlement and guaranteed expectancy of having every/any track they want.

We see online a plethora of “record pools” that offer DJs “unlimited” content for a measly monthly fee. These aren’t pools. These are distribution centers that collect a fee from any “DJ” willing to pay.

Allow me make a stipulation…

There are record pools and there are remix services. These two things are NOT the same. Record pools provide music to their membership for feedback. Remix services take popular songs, or soon to be popular songs, and edit, remix, and make them more “DJ friendly”. These are two entirely different things. Legitimate remix services have permission from the record labels to remix the songs on their issues. We’ll cover remixes / bootlegs another time…

DJs are always looking for an edge. Something different. Something to distinguish themselves from the herd. It’s the nature of the beast. DJs embody an “alpha” mindset and want to be unique. Nothing wrong with that at all. Just be mindful that there’s a business side to the music business and getting your music from a proper source is a good thing.

Also know, there isn’t going to be ONE record pool or ONE remix

service that will have EVERY song you desire. That pool doesn’t exist. If you do “belong” to that pool, it’s probably not 100% kosher.

Happy music hunting.

Based out of Richmond, VA, DJ Tony Fernandez, has been DJaying, Remixing, Producing, a Musical Soothsayer and Audio Gear Oracle since 1980. Find him on facebook. Email