7 Reasons You Should Never Do A DJ Gig For Free

Never do a dj gig for free

Negotiating wages and benefits in your career not only helps secure a living but sets standards and requirements for the people you work with. This idea appears to be lost on many artists. All too often people put those requirements aside because it doesn’t feel like work. What many fail to see is how it can negatively affect not only the value others put in them but the quality of their local scene. While disc-jockeys seem to have many more responsibilities now a days, all too often they are not being fairly compensated. With no real risk or obligations set for many of these promoters we find an over-saturated market with a quantity of underwhelming events. These are the 7 reasons I believe you should never do a dj gig for free.

never dj for free

1. Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?
Are you handing out the goodies for free? For some, djing has turn into the dating world’s faux pas.  People become questionable about the product or service they are getting when they get it for so cheap or even free. It’s important to set standards for oneself and that means a reasonable price, with requirements that everyone can be happy with.

never dj for free

2. Hobby vs. Pay Cheque
To you doing a DJ gig might just be this fun thing you do that feels really great. For someone else it’s not just their passion but income. If you lost your job tomorrow because someone was willing to do yours for free or even half the price, what implications would that have on the quality of your life?

Never Dj For Free

3. Quantity vs Quality
When there is an over saturated market of promoters cutting corners wherever they can and artists so desperate to play they will dj for free, everyone misses out. Quality events have less attendance, quality DJs often are missed out on and it brings down the overall experience people have when they go out to these parties.

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4. Undercutting Other DJs:
I like to use the example of sweatshops vs. buying local.  When clubs can get their DJs for cheap or free they often stop focusing on quality artists. It’s not just a pay cut for you, but for everyone. This often means that you’ve got DJs that may need a bit more time practicing before playing out those headlining slots.

Note: While it’s not uncommon for a newer dj to do a few opening slots in the beginning of their career (year 1) as they get used to playing out live, it’s not good practice when it’s headlining slots with no pay as well.

Never DJ for Free


5. Giving the DJ a bad name

While someone with more experience can create a really great atmosphere noting the settings that they are in, some of the less experienced DJs can create almost an underwhelming or overload of bad choice in music ruining the experience for others. For example: Playing heavy hitters in a lounge environment where people are drinking wine and eating their dinner.

Never dj for free

6. Your Value
If someone asks you what your fee is and you low ball it or offer it up for free, they may question your abilities. It’s like the photographer that offers you a ridiculously discounted rate, you may be questioning if they are capable of coming up with a product worth sharing in the first place.

never dj for free

7. No Risk No Gain
Ever hear someone say they are “doing it for the music.” What if you were actually causing more trouble for the “scene?” When there is little to no risk for a promoter there is no real drive to deliver. As talked about in Don’t Get Screwed, when djs don’t establish ground rules some promoters will walk all over them. This may even mean the djs themselves are not putting as much work into their DJ sets or promotion with no promise of pay.

never dj for free

When is it okay?
Sometimes your have to make a mistake in order to learn this answer. For example someone might tell you that it will be great exposure to come out and do a gig for free but fail in doing any real promotion for their event. At the end of the day, there is always a payoff. Even for the dj that does the free gig and no one shows up. To them it’s the chance to practice, put another date on their booked sheet or maybe they got some great networking done and landed paying gigs. At the end of the day you must know your value and what is worth your time. Maybe it’s helping out a friend, maybe it is trading work for work. Anytime you decide to do free work, it’s important to ask yourself, “What’s in it for me? How might it affect me in the future? What impact will it have on my scene?”

Never dj for free

Creating The Scene You Want To Be In:

While some people think undercutting djs will get them ahead, in the long run it won’t last. When a group of people stand together and require better treatment it is a very powerful thing. As we don’t have a dj union it’s important that as individuals you set your standards. Sharing that success and knowledge to band together is just as important too. In order to create equal opportunities for all we must be the change we want to see in others. I am a true believer that when we stand together we make an impact.

Other helpful articles you might dig!

5 Reasons Djs Need Bigger Goals
Are You The Weakest Dj?
Djs Stuck and Going No Where Fast
The Difference Between a Good DJ and a Great DJ

Tips on how to have the BEST DJ SET live… EVER!

(Warning: Taking this advice in no way makes me responsible for your actions. Use them at your own risk.)

If you have a sense of humor, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this. If you don’t, it’s best you back away slowly.

1. Play bangers all night.
Did the guy before you play that Lady Gaga song? Play it again, you can never play a popular tune too many times. That’s why they play it on the radio every 20 minutes, right? Playing banging tracks all night will keep the energy high. No time for breathing room.

 

From FierceGifs on Tumblr.com

2.Dance around lots.
I’m not just talking those Jesus rockstar poses, get right in there with your arms waving around, clapping. Hell, jump on the table and show em’ how serious you are about getting the party started! If you’re going to werk it, you might as well twerk it.

By: Vera-Trace on Tumblr

3. Use every effect on that mixer.
Really throw your elbows into it, so everyone knows how hard you are working. Don’t be a boring DJ that only uses that cross fader with long progressive mixes, EQing each track. Flanger, Robot, Echo, Filter… don’t know what it does? Learn on the fly. What better place to try something new, then with the whole crew!

By: TrippyLightsAndRaveMusic on Tumblr

4. Throw your levels into the Red.
The Redder, the better! That’s what I always say. If it’s not lighting up like a Christmas Tree, you’re not doing it right.

By: AngelOVast on Tumblr

5. Throw some cake!
The plastic cup of beer will do if you don’t have cake handy. People won’t think you are a Rock Star unless they get some food or a drink thrown in their face. We don’t want them to miss out on a good time, right?

 

By: Fnk-Rage on Tumblr

 

6. Get Krunk and Stir Shit Up
You’re the best thing since sliced bread. I mean, you’re a DJ for fuck sake. You might as well be on the cover of Rolling Stones. You got this. So who cares if you fall off the stage and chip off your front tooth? You are Mother fucking DJ Swanky-As-Fuck.

They got nothing on YOU!

Let’s be serious for a moment: I was doing some late night, online research to check out the tips being given to some of the newer djs. Some of the articles were on point, while others were just ridiculous. I had to write my own “Tips” that clearly should not be taken seriously. However it is clear to me that someone, somewhere thought they were in the KNOW when giving tips like this in a very “serious” manner. I just couldn’t help myself.

Here is the even funnier part, I had so many choices of Aoki throwing cake and the only thing I search was, “Aoki.”

There is literally people that look so excited about getting cake in the face their is a group for it.

As far “DJ Mixer” most Gif files that popped up were all completely Red-Lined too! Go figure.

TrippyLightsandRaveMusic

Steve Aoki throwing Cakes – Tumblr


May God have mercy on our soul.

Like it? Share it. Have a funny story, reply in the comments.

How I came to be a DJ.

Funny story time.

I went over to a mutual friend’s place and the guys were playing on a pair of technic turntables. I was pretty excited and asked if I could try. Their response, “It’s too technical for you.”
I was intrigued. Some might say a bit determined and I just had to try. The very next day I found a friend willing to let me try it out. Wouldn’t you know I was hook immediately!

Kilma Music

Who would have thought almost 10 years later I’d experience touring across North America, get to visit other countries, release music, sing, host multiple radio shows and even start my own business helping other DJs? So many blessings I was able to experience because of my curiosity and drive.

The message I want to leave everyone with it that, regardless of what people say if you really want to do something, you have the ability to make it happen. Heck, being told you can’t, might even push you to do it that much more.

Do you have a similar story? Make sure you let me know below.