Music Collections: How To Build Up Your (Formidable) Personal Dance Music Collection

Ever been to a dance party, performance or competition and wished that you can dance to some of the most awesome music more often?

Or perhaps you’ve envied people who seem to have some of the best music tracks in their collection?

Instead of wishing, you can also build up your own awesome music collection for your events.

How to build up a personal dance music collection in 8 steps.

1. Look at the backs of compilation albums.

Your favourite dance compilation CDs will have artist and song names next to their listings. If they are original tracks, note the names of the artists, because chances are, if you enjoy listening to their song, you’re likely to enjoy their other songs. Which leads to…

2. Do a search of the artist on sites where you can listen to samples.

With today’s technology and powerful search engines, it’s very easy to do an online search of the music artists and listening to samples of their work. Below are some of my preferred search locations for narrowing down specific selections:

  • YouTube: With many major record labels and artists owning official YouTube channels, being able to hear artists’ songs through videos is a good way of listening to several song titles to add to your collection.
  • Amazon.com: A hubspot for music samples, previews are enough to get a feel of an artist’s music. Also, by registering with Amazon, you will also receive recommendations based on your search terms as you’re browsing.
  • Spotify: Primarily, Spotify is a playlist generator based on your mood of choice, but it’s also an excellent site for listening to full songs legally for free (especially when using their web player in a browser).

3. Ask your dance friends for suggested songs.

All dancers are bound to have their own collections of songs for different dances. One of the things I enjoy doing is asking about some of their favourite dance songs. More than often, they will have a few titles and names of artists that they are willing to share with you.

4. Ask the DJ what they’re playing on the stereo.

This happens often when at dance socials when a fantastic song plays and you don’t know the title to the track. Your best bet is to head up to the DJ booth during the time the song is being played and ask for details.

5. Let the genre run its course.

As mentioned above in point 2, sites such as Spotify can act as a radio station streaming music tracks. Sometimes, simply by inputting certain genres, different artists that you’ve never come across before would pop up. Here are the following recommended genre terms and the main danceable results they yield:

  • Jazz: Foxtrot and Quickstep
  • Swing: Jive and Quickstep
  • Big Band: Quickstep
  • TangoBallroom and Argentine (Salon) Tango
  • Milonga: Argentine Tango Milongas
  • Tropical Latin: Mostly Salsa, Bachata and Merengue with some hits for Samba and Cha Cha and the odd Reggaeton
  • Latin Jazz: Mostly Cha Cha and Rumba with some odd Salsa and Samba
  • Bossa Nova: Rumba
  • Latin Pop: More of a wild card search term for Samba and Cha Cha
  • Zouk/Kizomba: Music for these two dances tend to be interchangeable in their own genres
  • French (or Parisian) Cafe/Accordion: Viennese Waltz, (mostly Argentine) Tango, a few Milongas, and sometimes Foxtrot

6. Listen to song covers.

You’ll be surprised that some song covers are much more danceable (and usually more appropriate for younger crowds) than their original versions. This is common for popular oldies and recurring hits.

7. Go to live gigs.

Especially for jazz and Latin music gigs, the possibilities of encountering musicians that perform music you can dance to is tremendous. Many musicians in these music genres are likely to be singing their covers to popular songs. Where possible, ask a technician for their set lists at the end of the concert.

8. Search through sites that specialize in niche music categories.

There are certain music sites that specialize in introducing various music genres that contain plenty of niche material that are rarely found on mainstream media. The following are some of my typical go to sites:

  • WRD Music: A top leader on producing quality music CDs for dancing and in strict tempo, it’s a highly recommended site for sourcing music that is commonly heard in international Dancesport competitions.
  • NPR Music: The National Public Radio (NPR) covers a tremendous range of music related podcasts that introduce many different artists that one would otherwise not encounter. A fabulous site for current jazz and Latin music.
  • Latino Music Cafe: Primarily a blog site for various Latin music reviews, but it contains frequent updates of the latest releases covering music from the Latino culture, mostly Salsa, Bachata, Reggaeton, Bolero and Latin Jazz, but also contains features such as Spanish Rock and Vallenato.
  • Todo Tango: A site declared by Argentina as a national interest, Todo Tango covers substantial information on the Argentine Tango. Aside from recommended song titles, the site also includes articles on Tango related personalities, from famous dancers and composers to poets and singers that have shaped the Tango through the ages. Site can be viewed in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and German.
  • DSI Australia: Dancesport International Australia by far has one of the most complete collections of Dancesport music available in digital format. The site, powered by Casa Musica, is especially useful for searching older titles that are no longer produced on CDs.

Did you find these music sourcing methods useful? Share this article with friends who are looking into building up their music collection! Let me know in the comments about your favourite places to learn about new dance music!

Image source: Cam Evans

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