I’ve been doing a lot of surfing on DJ and related dance music culture Web sites lately. I guess I got the buzz again. It’s been a long time coming.
I haven’t done much talking about Web sites here, so I thought I’d better put together a preliminary list of Top 10 DJ sites I’m feeling pretty good about. These are robust, content driven sites that have really transcended the early days of static HTML pages. They are self-sufficient, running on open-source platforms in .asp, .jsp or .php/mySql. Some are better at news, others online radio and still others DJ lists, directories and communities.
This is by no means a list of the best sites, it’s just a list of sites I’ve come across that I feel like talking about and introducing you to.
One things for sure, some of them are extremley well done and have set a new standard for all DJ culture sites to follow (even Netmix!).
Here are the sites in no particular order:
1. ResidentAdvisor.net – (Sydney, Australia) – Current news, artist profiles, label profiles, reviews, dj pages, forums, photos galleries from all over the world. This site is on top of the DJ news like no other. Simple design, ease of use, timely and relevant stories. Great photo gallery. Interesting to note how a lot of the world’s nightclubs are still smoke-filled, but you see a lot of the New York club photographs are clear and crisp. Now you can see why a no-smoking ban is a necessary evil.
2. ClubPlanet.com – (New York, NY) – The Citysearch.com of New York nightlife, Club Planet has come a long way. Based on aggregating guest lists for many New York nightspots, Club Planet has survived the dotcom shakeout and is still relevant today. News, reviews, tickets, club schedules…it’s all here to plan your night out on the town. There’s also a pretty robust photo gallery. The one thing this site lacks is a social networking feature. In order to grow and retain users, they’re going to have to build out new features to compete with sites like Friendster and MySpace, who may end up offering the same types of services.
3. MinistryofSound.com – (London, UK) – After all these years, Ministry of Sound is still alive and kicking. The company has become a global brand, which is reflected in its Web site. Still the only nightclub Web site to approach the level of most major music portals in terms of features, MOS offers wireless, downloads, tech reviews, club guides, a shop, games, streaming video and online radio sets. The site has been around in its current iteraration for a few years. It may be due for an update. I’m not a big fan of the color of the nav links, but that doesn’t have much to do with overall usability, which I’d say is pretty high on the ease of use scale. Just my own asthetic viewpoint, for what its worth.
4. Beatport.com – (Colorado, US) – The best DJ download store hands down. Blows everyone else out of the water, without question. Main reason…Flash audio samples. Forget using Real or Windows for your audio samples. This is the way to go. The site is relatively fast. Love the fact that you can keep a list of tracks you’ve purchased for later download. Should both your computer and external drive fall into a pond while on the way to a DJ gig, at least you can dip back into your account with a borrowed laptop to download what you’ve lost. Prices are getting a bit expensive for downloads, but there really isn’t any pricing competition from many competitors yet. The biggest downside; no major label tracks or remixes. You have to go to iTunes for that. I think that’s because Beatport sells straight MP3’s with no DRM. They can be forgiven for the time being since they don’t bow to major label monopolistic policy, but in order to grow, they’re going to have to one day. Hopefully, one of these days major labels will let remixes go out as straight MP3 with no DRM. That would be helpful to many DJs who want and need interoperability.
5. Grooveradio.com – (Los Angeles, CA) – Swedish Egil continues to be a leader in online dance music radio. Grooveradio, while not feature driven like some of the relatively newer sites is consistent in its delivery of online radio, reviews and news. Egil is to dance music online and over traditional radio as Wolfman Jack was to Rock and Roll in the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s. If you don’t know Egil, then you don’t know dance music history. Get on the ball, people!
6. WorldDJ.com – (Auckland, NZ) – Another site from the lands down under, WorldDJ.com is the passion of one Paul Spain from Auckland. He’s constantly monitoring the site, answering questions, posting news. The site’s strength is its DJ Directory, community features, blogging and photo gallery. As a walled community, it’s great, but the site lacks a lot of partnerships and tie-ins that other sites are able to offer their users. Most likely, it’s because of the companies distance to any major market. Even though the site is very well done, you need the face time and relationships in New York, LA or London to really embed it into the fabric of DJ culture. Technology can only offer you so much. Paul recently asked me what I thought of the site and if I had any ideas that could help it grow. I guess the one downside of a site using the name WorldDJ, is that you’ve kind of paint yourself in a corner as just a DJ site. You’d have to find growth within the DJ and nightclub industries and you really can’t expand beyond without changing the brand.
7. TheDJList.com – (Orlando, FL) – One could give this site the top nod for DJ culture sites. At last count, the site boasts 67,648 DJs and, oddly enough, has Tiesto listed as the #1 DJ, with Paul Van Dyk running a close second. This runs counter to DJ Magazine’s recent Top 100 Poll, which has Van Dyk #1. My biggest concern about the site is its on-demand DJ mixes page. According to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, on-demand programming containing copyrighted recordings need to be licensed differently then live programming. Each track in a mix show has to be licensed seperately from the label that owns it. Until Web sites realize they have to obey the laws of the land, they’ll never be able to properly take investment, because it’s all technically illegal. (Netmix is licensed by ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for Internet Broadcast through its partner technology provider.)
8. DJAdvantage.com – Pretty robust Web site. It feels like the Yahoo of DJ culture. Lot’s of lists, top sites, limited downloads, forums, Mobile DJ documents, DJ news and books, as well as links and a DJ directory. The site is extensive, but the directory isn’t as deep as The DJ List. It’s a great resource for the beginning DJ to get his or her feet wet.
9. DJMag.com – (London, UK) – Web site companion to the famous magazine. Home of the Top 100 DJ poll. The site is not as robust as Ministry of Sound and it doesn’t have the same types of features, but that’s okay, it’s more of a real punters gathering point for recent info than it is a commercial enterprise. Most magazines that publish web sites are hesitant to offer any of their print content online for fear of losting sales at the newsstand. Subscribe to the RSS feed…I couldn’t find one on Ministry’s site…and if it was there, it wasn’t in a high visibility area. (I’m writing this at 3 AM, so I don’t much feel like going back to check, lol.)
10. m1Live.com – (New York, NY) – One of the most popular dance music stations on iTunes Radio, m1Live.com is still in its infancy, but the sites founder, Richard Cowell, seems to be very adept at programming a variety of dance music tracks through his streaming partnership with UK-based streaming radio provider, PlanetWideRadio.com. The site lacks many features of the bigger web sites, but its playlist makes up for it.
This list should give you something to do over the weekend! Surf-away!