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A woman sitting in front of a piano. A woman sitting in front of a piano.

What are remixers and DJs?

3 min read

Understand the role remixers and DJs play in songwriting.

Remixers and DJs take existing musical works and put a new spin on them, whether in a live setting or studio.

In their possible songwriting roles, and rearrange or combine existing to create new versions, known as , , or DJ sets. Under , these may be considered and thus if the remix or mix is .

Remixers and DJs may use parts of musical , and sound recordings in any combination to create the version or sound they want.

What does a remixer do?

Remixers create new versions of sound recordings called remixes. They usually receive the original recordings, called , to create a new version that is different from the original.

What does a DJ do?

A DJ creates new and unique versions of existing and sound recordings, or a set of such, called mixes. They do this, for example, by mixing multiple sound recordings together, changing the , , and , or adding sounds to transition from one recording to the next. Typically, they are not changing the actual multi-tracks, or stems, as a remixer might.

Why can remixers and DJs be considered songwriters?

Remixers and DJs can be considered songwriters even though their work exists solely in relation to existing musical works and sound recordings. In some cases, their new versions of musical works can be original enough to qualify as derivative works, making the remixers or DJs songwriters, and thus . But in any case, all the original need to agree.

If you are a remixer or DJ and you make an original contribution modifying an existing musical work, you may qualify as an and thus a co-author of the derivative work. See our page on Adaptors to learn more.

Copyright ownership for remixers and DJs

If a remixer or DJ modifies a pre-existing musical work and sound recording, and the modified work qualifies as a derivative work, the remixer or DJ will co-own the in the modified work but needs to obtain authorization from the authors of the original work, and the rights holders of the original sound recording, to use the derivative work.

Learn more about derivative works in our topic Covers and Derivative Works.

To understand authors' rights in more detail, visit the Music Creators' Rights topic.

Video Credit: Tiffany Orvet, Dilun Riad Edmon, Daniel Hjellum, Tim Ljungstedt, David Lebna, Artu Kontkanen, Tobias Leo Nordquist, Ponny Höijer, William Engström, Parapix