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For all the hype surrounding digital distribution, nearly all initiatives have revolved around the distribution of music directly to fans for pay or for free. Just a cursory surf across the Internet reveals literally thousands of websites that offer to help independent artists sell, distribute and promote their music. Even with the success of iTunes and the proliferation of digital music retail portals, little attention has been paid to the Web's potential to supply music to influence-makers such as DJs and radio programmers. That is until Trakheadz.

" establishes a reciprocal relationship between artists and one of the most important groups of decision-makers for new music, the working DJ at clubs and radio stations," explains Steve Keitt, Founder and CEO of

Trakheadz Feedback Screen
Click for larger view is the first online organization that provides a direct link between artists or producers and those who can put music into the public's ears: radio station program directors, radio station DJs, club DJs, touring DJs, party DJs, and other music professionals who are looking to discover the newest music.

"We've taken the concept of the DJ record pool and streamlined it, modernized it, and brought technology to it," states Keitt. "This is a new way of getting the freshest tracks into the hands of both radio and club DJs, rapidly, easily, and at a very low cost. These are the people who are out there every night, playing music for audiences who are seeking new music."

The model for didn't exist before Keitt invented it, but the idea began from studying an older method for introducing new music: the DJ record pool. There are many such pools, comprised of a community of working DJs willing to accept new tracks from a central source (the pool), to whom they report back their playlists, which are then used to create record pool charts. But these have tended to be cost-prohibitive for many DJs to participate in, hampered by rising shipping costs and very little interaction between the DJ and artist. tackles the issue by leveraging digital technology to not only securely deliver new music to DJs, but provide the artist with direct feedback from those DJs.

How It Works

Let's say you have a new music track that you want to test-market before you start putting a lot of money into radio promotion or distribution. The traditional methodology is to press hundreds of CDs or vinyl and mail them to the various radio programmers and DJs. The postage alone can run up a large bill, not to mention the pressing costs. And it assumes that your package will even be opened, let alone added to a playlist.

Contrast this with, which dispenses entirely with postage and pressing expenses by offering artists and labels an online platform connecting them with over 50,000 DJs worldwide. Once an artist sets up an account with, they can upload a selected track as an MP3 file along with relevant information such as the tracks name, length and genre as well as whether its available in CD and/or vinyl. A message is then sent to DJs who regularly play that type of music, allowing them to preview the track online, provide feedback and decide on whether they will add it to their playlists. Artists maintain full control over when and how long their songs are available for download and/or streaming.
DJ Feedback Screen
Click for larger view
In fact, the most powerful aspect of the system is the detailed reporting available through artists' online accounts. With the system, artists and labels receive a tremendous amount of useful data pertaining to each song's performance, including:

* the number of DJs who have reviewed the song
* the name of the club and/or radio station where the DJ works
* an individual score and an overall average DJ feedback score
* a list of DJs who have added the song to their playlist
* the number of "Spins" (the estimated number of times the DJ plays the song)

This type of data can be invaluable for any artist/label making marketing, distribution or touring decisions. If an artist receives positive feedback from DJs in a particular state or region, this can justify putting their promotional budget behind that song as well as approach local retailers and clubs. Reports can be printed and saved in MS Word format for easy review and incorporation in press kits.

If the response is not as favorable as hoped, an artist hears directly from the DJs on the front lines what it is about the track that isn't working for them. That analysis alone could make the difference in the entire approach to promotion and distribution of an album. In order to remain an active member, each DJ must provide written feedback to reviewed songs, so an artist knows relatively quickly how well their track is being received or what elements of the cut might need to be reconsidered for club play.

TrakHeadz Playlist Screen
Click for larger view

Keitt explains: "Our approach gets your track previewed by DJs who are working in front of crowds who enjoy your type of music, be it hip-hop, urban, dance, electronic, pop, or rock. You're not wasting your time or theirs. We only interact with DJs who are pre-qualified," he points out. "They have to identify what music they play, where they play it, how often, and so on. That way, you know you're reaching the right people in the business."

With the advances in technological tools for DJs, there are some who are making a living using playlists of MP3 files; which means that a previewed track can become part of a playlist in a club virtually overnight, without the cost of mailing a CD or a vinyl cut halfway around the globe. Some estimates show that as many as 80% of the world's top DJs use digital media along with vinyl while mixing live, and gives record labels and individual artists an extremely cost-effective way to take advantage of this trend.

Thanks to's affiliation with the NCIAA (National Club Industry Association of America), whose 43,000 members make it the largest trade club organization in the world, songs are automatically distributed to hundreds of DJs around the world; all of whom are guaranteed to be working DJs who have a significant club or radio audience in which to expose artists' music.

More on TrakHeadz
* Location: Teaneck, NJ
* Website:
* Business: music distribution & promotion
* Contact TrakHeadz

The company is also continually expanding in scope and adding new genres such as Hip-Hop: Mix Tape Raw, R&B; Neo-Classic Soul, Inspirational, Pop, Rock,Latin, and Reggae, thus encompassing a variety of musical tastes and styles. Coupled with the hundreds of other radio and club DJs who have joined the growing company, is becoming an extremely powerful weapon for artists and labels in their marketing and distribution campaigns.

"One great attraction for DJs," Keitt points out, "is that helps remove the hassle of sifting through hundreds or even thousands of songs. Our system is designed to let the most popular music quickly 'rise to the top.' This lets DJs move faster and be earlier in breaking the hottest songs."

The Man Behind The Vision

With his nearly two decades of experience in the music business, Steve Keitt has amassed an enviable track record. He produced and/or collaborated with such top recording artists as Kid 'n Play, Salt and Pepa, and TLC. Keitt has also written music for such popular films as "House Party III" as well as television shows including "NBA Inside Stuff" and the theme music for the hit television sitcom "Martin" staring Martin Lawrence.

While he continues to work with recording artists and is moving into publishing, with he has embarked on a journey that is opening new doors for emerging artists and producers in a multitude of genres.

Keitt maintains a love for music, yet it was one notable void in the industry that was the driving force behind the creation of his new business. "I have seen artists with great talent not make it because the dynamics of the music industry today do not always work the way they should," Keitt states. "There are artists who achieve some degree of success with a fan base, measurable sales and even distribution, but they don't always have the means to reach enough people with their music. I feel that is one great way to counter that problem."

"It is's goal to give independent record labels, producers and artists the same opportunities to have their music heard by the public that major labels give their artists," Keitt says. "With Trakheadz, the power to decide which songs are 'hot' and which ones are 'not' isn't hiding behind the desk of some executive, it's where it used to be: in the hands of DJs and, ultimately, in the hands of the record-buying community."

Adds Keitt, "The system is a tremendous opportunity for labels and artists at all levels to achieve mainstream success. With this system, everyone gets a fair shake."

Provided by the MusicDish Network. Copyright © Tag It 2004 - Republished with Permission