This is a little late to the boat, but bear with me: Over the last couple of days I’ve noticed that DJ mixes sold through digital outlets are increasingly becoming a better financial deal. Since I tend to look for dance tracks based on other critics’ recommendations, I had noticed that labels like Defected often put their DJ-mixed compilations on eMusic and other outlets with the songs at their original length. But two recent mix-CDs–Carl Craig’s Sessions (K7) and Triple R’s Selection 6 (Trapez), each of which contains more than 20 cuts–have done the same thing, making this a trend worth endorsing.
The Craig mix is especially instructive. On eMusic, iTunes, and the Amazon store, Sessions‘ 22 songs are available in their full-length versions. eMusic’s subscription model means the full album price varies, about in the $5-$10 range; iTunes sells the whole bundle–including a digital booklet and two album-only tracks of the CD-length mixes Craig created for the brick-and-mortar trade–for $11.99. Amazon, which offers the same package minus the digital booklet, charges only $6.99. Beatport has the whole thing for $16.99. Say what you want about that price difference, though keep in mind that because Beatport caters to DJs it offers much higher bit rates (320 vs. eMusic’s 192 and Amazon’s 256)–and that it’s still only charging a third as much for the whole as it would track for track. Of those four outlets, Triple R’s Selection 6 is only available on Beatport (oddly, there it’s only a single-track mix for $11.99) and eMusic, which is where it’s available at full-length, song for song.
Obviously, dance labels make little enough money as it is thanks to the plummeting of the marketplace and the paucity of vinyl outlets (Ronan Fitzgerald recently wrote a column about the dance-vinyl marketplace here), and licensing tracks for mixes isn’t generally a high-end income source anyway, unless you own rights to the Beatles or Hendrix and can get away with charging an arm or a leg for two minutes of “Tomorrow Never Knows” or “Crosstown Traffic.” The Craig and Triple R mixes can do this because in the latter case, Trapez owns all the songs (the annual Selection mixes are showcases for the label), and in the former, half the songs are from Craig’s Planet E label. A hat-tip to both for taking their chances that some of us want to hear as much as we can for a very good price.