So you have graduated from being considered a “bedroom DJ.” Although some claim that as soon as you get some sort of pay you are considered to be a ‘professional DJ’, I do not personally agree with that statement. For the most part, a DJ who will be working for bar managers, public events, and promoters will need to protect themselves against being ripped off and taken advantage of. Although this article addresses DJ’s, it also applies to many others who are self-employed offering their paid services and if you plan on protecting yourself, consider getting a contract.
In the 80’s and 90’s while spinning my vinyl 12” records in Canada, most DJ’s like myself were employed by the club and either on a payroll or paid at the end of the night and things were quite different then! Nowadays, promoters have taken over and you see different DJ’s every night in clubs, for the most part, many traveling from different cities and countries.
I think those still working off of verbal confirmations for their gigs may be setting themselves up for a rude awakening at some point. Be smart about it and get yourself an online template and have it signed by both parties prior to the event to know exactly what to expect. A contract will not guarantee that you will be paid for your services but it will give you clear recourse in the event that you need to legally take action against a club or promoter to get paid.
I often read blogs and boards about DJ’s saying how useless it is to have a contract as most promoters and club owners frown upon it and consider some DJ’s who use them to be “difficult” and will not hire theme if they ask for it. My personal opinion is that this is a red flag and if presented with the scenario then I would simply walk away unless I was paid in advance prior to starting my set.
Some larger venues will sometimes have a board and committees setup to take care of talent and you may find yourself dealing with one person who is, in fact, relaying the information to a third party who is actually the person hiring you. In this process although it seems very clear, always protect yourself by following up with the 3rd party vendor prior to the event to ensure that you are all on the same page and that the numbers mentioned are accurate and that you will indeed be getting paid for the event (get a contract signed).
I have had this experience recently and although I assumed that all of the information was accurate when relayed to the 3rd party vendor, I received an email containing the conversation welcoming me to the group and that they were happy to have me perform. The issue is that nothing else was mentioned about payment which I had been told by three different board members prior to the event (even if they are people you know and friends, never assume). After the event, the promoter said he would be in touch to follow-up which never happened. After two messages asking about payment I was sent a message stating that the event was on a volunteer basis and included ‘free drinks’!
Although I went through he said she said, “Not our problem,” etc, it would be tempting to publicly out everyone involved on social media as many do to warn everyone to proceed with caution when dealing with this group. But the fact of the matter is that ultimately, I should have protected myself and the biggest mistake I made was to “assume” and not follow up and not have a contract signed prior to the event.
I was wronged, yes, that is clear, but I could have done more to avoid this and didn’t, so I take full responsibility for what happened. That said, In this day and age where promoters are hiring for single events which many times involves land or air travel, accommodations, set payments and more, I think it is absolutely necessary to have a written contract.
Do a quick “Google” search and you will find many free templates to use. I now personally use a service like Rocket Lawyer which is a great online service but there are many others available offering similar services. When doing anything creative, you may make mistakes. A popular quote taken from Google reads as follows: “When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.” – Unknown. Sometimes you will get knocked down and you will get discouraged but how you deal with it will build your character.
I recently did a bootleg remix of “Chumbawamba’s – Tubthumping” which I debuted at “Pride Fort Lauderdale and I guarantee you that when I get knocked down that I will get up again! Enjoy!
In conclusion, as an exclusive treat, here is a mix I did to kick off my 3 part series with Kinkster MAG! Enjoy! Welcome to my tribe!