We all now DJing has changed a lot since the 90s.  I started in 1996 and only had my records stolen once in 99, at a place I never would have expected it – from the dj area behind the decks at a lovely party on Vancouver Island, Canada.  Of this crate of about 50 loved vinyl records I was fortunate to recover 80% of my vinyl records from local record shops who had bought them from the thief.  About 15% I found new in other shops.  3 of 4 I never recovered.


These days I rarely travel with vinyl, typically playing from USB.  I’ve had my USBs stolen before, but I’ve always had the music on my computer, so it’s a different kind of theft that leaves me with a smaller monetary loss than vinyl, just the maybe $20-40 cost of the USB vs hundreds of dollars on vinyl to replace – I think replacing my vinyl pretty wiped out my dj fee from the event they were stolen from.


But then there’s the other part of theft, the violation and injustice.  The thought that someone stole the music you paid for and organized, and presumably is going to use in their own sets.


I always figure good fucking luck imitating my style or career just because you have my music because you still won’t have the either the mixing or networking skills that got me where I am.  I assume thieves are largely lazy, and not skilled enough to make it honestly or else they would be putting in the work.


But then there’s also a greyer area.  Where it’s not outright stealing, but rather my absent-minded-for-life ass who left his usb after his set and opened the door for a more subtle version of theft.  This version may not start out as theft.  It may start out as accidentally taking the wrong usb (they sure look similar!) or of being the “lost and found” at the end of the night, sound tech or whatever (98% are djs too) who recovers the leftover usbs.


So you foolishly left your usb this time and now someone finds it.  What do you think they do?  Well first they will probably try to identify it.  And if they are honorable then they will try to return it.  Maybe it’s clearly labeled and that’s easy.  Maybe it’s not and then they look at the event page and see if one’s missing.  Maybe they don’t have a lot of time to chase down the mystery and just sit on it.  If it seems like no one is ever going to claim it maybe they repurpose it and put their own playlists on it.  But what about the other djs playlists?  Is it ok to use them?  Or maybe just the tracks?


This just came up in Oregon where a dj ended up with another’s usb at the end of the night. Supposedly he couldn’t figure out whose it was and then started using the music.  The mystery of whose USB it was got solved last weekend at a festival where he played from the usb and the rightful owner was there on the dancefloor hearing all her songs played from the same playlist.


People got really outraged about this and while it’s not really a serious felony or anything it obviously strikes a chord with people in our community that this should not happen.  It’s equally apparent that it DOES happen though, and since it ties nicely into my last Modern DJ Musings topic – Sharing is not always Caring when it comes to music – I thought I would take on the topic of how DJs can protect themselves against modern music theft.


So let’s work backwards and say that maybe this USB would have been returned if it were more clear whose it was.  If you’re reading this and you have USB drives that are unnamed go ahead and give grab yours and see what they are named right now.


Here, I am doing it too, let’s see what we have…

The first one I popped in is called Patriot.  That’s a horrible name because it’s the original name the USB comes with.  So we are changing it to BenAnnand18 because it filled up it’s 128GB last year and I use it not for new playlists, but for it’s vast variety of old ones.


How to do this?  Well on my Macbook Finder I right-clicked the USB icon named PATRIOT and chose ‘rename PATRIOT’ from the popup menu.  One note is that there is a character limit for renaming the drive – BenAnnand2018 was too long but BenAnnand18 was okay.  Looked it up and yes there is an 11 digit limit.  I guess there’s a way to get around that too but seems more sensible to stick with 11.


Anyway the point is at least now if someone finds my drive they have the opportunity to do the right thing and return it.  It’s not hard to search Ben Annand and find me.


But if I were Mike Smith and not well-known, that would present another layer of difficulty – not what we want when we are trying to get something special returned to us.


And even though Ben Annand is easily searchable I want to make it even easier.  So, back to the Finder.  Create a new folder.  Rename the folder IF FOUND PLEASE RETURN TO BENANNAND@GMAIL.com or 626-___-___


Now I have made it extremely easy to do the right thing and return this USB to me.  I’m going to pay your postage too of course.  And thank you and hook you up when I see you.


We have to do our part as DJS to make it easy to return our USB to us.  The other part is we have to do our best to NOT LEAVE them behind.  It’s hard, because a lot of times we are not exactly sober when we finish a dj set.  Lots of room to be sloppy.  So just make a rule.  Never leave the dj booth before the next dj mixes out, and you get your last USB back.  Get your USB back and put it back immediately into a zippered pouch in your dj bag.


Got other ideas or tips on the subject?  I’d love to hear in the comments 🙂