3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Planning for the New Year

Before planning for the new year, I like to reevaluate the previous year. I do this because it gets me to question just how efficient I am being with my time, money and energy. It’s not an easy task mind you, because it’s one where we must be TRULY honest with ourselves and it’s easy to make excuses. If however you can be direct in finding those answers, the benefits will far outweigh the slight discomfort. Moving forward you can really start to change the behaviours that are not working. I find it best to write these answers down starting with the question:

1. What did you set out to accomplish this year?

2. Why or why didn’t you achieve these goals?

3. How can you do differently moving forward?


More awesome ADVICE 4 DJS

How To Be A Happier DJ

Are you waiting for success to bring you happiness? Well it should bring you some excitement to know that happiness actually brings on more success. So you don’t have to wait any longer. Nope. Actually the more you believe that you are in control of your life, the happier and more successful you can be. If this sounds like unicorns and magic potions read on. If it is not, then you probably know someone that could use this article, but feel free to read it anyways.

“You Validate Your Ideas By Pursuing Them” – Mel Robbins

1. Listen to music from the happiest time in your life

I took this straight from Eric Barker’s blog and for good reason. One, you’re a freaking DJ. Two, imagine how this effects others, too?! Some of my most popular mixes have had those ‘throwback’ tunes people loved from the 90’s or 2000s. It totally makes sense why people go wild at weddings and socials listening to the Spice Girls and other timeless music that reminds takes them back to a emotion in time. Cool thing is that neuroscience backs this idea.

2. Make Your Dreams Bigger Than Your Fears

It’s probably been quoted by more than a few celebrities at this point, but it really does work. I know for me, sometimes I find myself obsessing or stressing out one particular task, but when I shift my focus and think about the bigger goal I feel less fear about the hurdle ahead.

I grabbed this one from Eric Barkers blog about the happiest people having goals. He quoted this book.

Via Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful Life:

“In his studies, the psychologist Jonathan Freedman claimed that people with the ability to set objectives for themselves—both short-term and long-term—are happier. The University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson has found that working hard toward a goal and making progress to the point of expecting a goal to be realized don’t just activate positive feelings—they also suppress negative emotions such as fear and depression.”

3. Let Go Of The Outcome

There is only so much we can control in this world. When we let go of the things we can not control, we can find some peace. This is where you can refocus your energy on the things you can control. For example, I can’t control the weather. It might rain during one of my outdoor patio gigs. I can however bring tarps, have additional sound inside ready to go and a plan of action if we must make a quick change over.

On the topic of not being able to control things like people’s opinions of you, I chat here in a vlog about why you should probably keep doing the things people are making fun of you for. 

4. Remove the distractions that aren’t really helping you

You really can use laziness to your advantage. We are naturally drawn to things that are easier, not what actually makes us happier. The satisfaction out of creating and finishing a new mixtape feels wonderful. However staying at home and watching t.v. is easier and what a lot of us end up doing. So while starting that new tune seems like a lot of work when picking up your phone and checking facebook for the 30th time today may seem easier, in the end it’s not making you happier. It may be time to shut off that wifi or delete the apps that are distracting you, cancel the cable and have your music stuff ready to go, plugged in and right in your toolbar.

Want to figure out how to stop procrastinating? I dive more into that here.

The REAL Reason DJs Dislike Branding And How To Get Past The Marketing Myths

If you’re like I was, you probably cringe at the word “marketing.” It sounds so damn corporate. But what I if told you it doesn’t have to be? That it’s not about saying, “buy my latest record” or “listen to my newest mixtape.” Promoting your brand can be authentic, it can bring value to others and even make you feel good about what you’re doing. But there is just one thing you have to do first. Get out of the mindset that marketing is a bad word so that you can take control with ease and STOP making excuses. Yes, I said it. Excuses about why you aren’t putting the effort into marketing. Let’s start with something easy.

1. The myth about marketing

Here is the good news. Marketing your brand doesn’t mean spamming people. Here is the bad news. It still takes effort on your end. Which should actually be good news to you because you can stop feeling like paying for likes is enough to get you a dj gig. It’s NOT. Stop telling yourself this is what people do, just to justify not trying. We are the rule not the exception and if  you focus on the exception of your perception you will feed into those beliefs.

2. You have more time then you think

djs need More time

It takes 5 minutes to check out a few local promoters, show your support and DM them on Instagram. Heck, you can do this while pooping. I’m not saying you should tell them to book you, (nor run your marketing from the bathroom) but start off by getting on their radar. People notice when you’ve just subscribed to their pages, commented on their recent content and show up to some of their events. It’s about focusing on the effort not the outcome. Keeping it small but in motion.

Pro tip: Take inventory of your time. How are you spending it and how can you spend it better? Are you on facebook too much? Read this article about what a social media detox could do for you.

3. You can create marketing content by doing what you love

Yes that’s right. You’re making radio a mix? Film it. Put it on your youtube channel. Boom, you’ve just created content for your video medium and guess what? It took 20 extra minutes of your life to set up a camera, record, upload it and write in a description and tags. You can get savvy and super creative with this. Think of producers that literally make tutorial videos out of music they are producing. Imagine gaining the kind of traction that gets these companies paying YOU to review their swag? Which leads me to number four.

4. Helping others IS promotion of your brand, too

Dj Investing in yourself FIRST

Do you like to help people? Does it make you feel good? Awesome! You’re able to market your brand this way too. When you give people something of value, you’re giving them a reason to come back to your brand’s pages. You’re someone they are going to think of when they need a DJ or knows someone that might need one.

Having trouble getting started? Read this article on how to STOP procrastinating STARTING now. 

5. Start being patient, now

Get it out of your head that people are overnight successes. Those are 10, 20 even 30 years in the making and you don’t know the full story about how someone got where they are. Heck you don’t know what crap they went thru to get there. How many failures they had to make, just to get that ‘big break.’ I know for me I’ve been a DJ for over a decade, I’ve had my ups and down and loads of experience. But when I rebranded 3 years ago, people that never knew me before the changeover were shocked that I already had a bit of a following seemingly, ‘overnight.’ I didn’t. And there is a lot about the new image that put me at square one. So don’t judge a brand by its facebook fanpage and then give up before anything really had a chance to happen.

6. Less really is more

If you have 10,000 facebook friends but rarely anyone comments, likes or shares your content; let alone comes to your shows, it doesn’t mean much. But if you have 100 fans and 70% of them show up at your events, share your mixes and stay in touch, you’ve hit the jackpot! It’s always better to find your niche rather than try to make EVERYONE happy. So stop worrying about the numbers and start executing on the things you can control.

All you can do is focus on yourself. If you focus on others but you don’t dive into their story or you allow it to prevent you from ever working any harder, well… that’s on you. Not them. It’s not our responsibility to change others. All we can do is be the change we want to see in this world. And don’t feel bad if after reading this you STILL don’t want to market yourself. Not every DJ wants to tour the world or get their music out there. Some just want to play music and chill with friends and that’s totally cool too. Just try to remember there are those that want more and that is okay too. That doesn’t make all marketing, bad marketing. So if anything please remember to encourage your friends and their dreams. You never know who might be the next big act and you don’t ever want to be the person that motivated them by saying they couldn’t do it.

Do you think you may have a fixed mindset? Do you need a psychological adjustment so you can let go of what you can’t control and start taking action today? Read this article here.

How To Find Your Good Vibe DJ Tribe

You meet another DJ and think, “Cool we have something in common. We are both disc jockeys.” But as you get to know this person they may not be on the same page. Maybe they aren’t very passionate about music or maybe they are totally business driven. Whether you decide to add them to your good vibe DJ tribe or not, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself FIRST.

1. What sort of vibes does this person give me?

How To Find Your Good Vibe DJ Tribe

Do you feel energize after speaking with them or do you feel emotionally drained? Think about it. Maybe you went to a business meeting and you thought you were both on the same page about things, but when you walked away from the conversation you felt exhausted maybe even a bit stressed out. This is likely your gut telling you, slow down. Something is off here. Whether the vibes are electrifying or not try number two.

2. Can you learn from this person?

How To Find Your Good Vibe DJ Tribe

Do you feel like this person has a lot of experience and knowledge to share, maybe on a topic you’re not quite sound on? Do they seem open to share that information or do they hold their cards close to their chest? Maybe they ask you questions about the way you run your business that gets you thinking about something you haven’t really dived into before. But don’t forget in turn to ask yourself the third question.

3. Can this person benefit for YOU?

How To Find Your Good Vibe DJ Tribe

Relationships need to be a two way street. You need that balance of give and take or else someone’s going to feel taken advantage of. (Yes, could be you.) So show people the love, help where you can and see how you can make this relationship mutually beneficial. No matter how much more experienced you feel they are,  you still have something to give. What is it?

4. Does this person motivate you?

How To Find Your Good Vibe DJ Tribe

Now this doesn’t have to be a direct act of someone trying to push you towards your dreams nor cheer you on, “You can do it!” But it could be someone that strives for greatness in themselves, someone that will keep you on your toes in trying something a little out of your comfort zone. Sometimes for me it’s just being around someone that it always interested in learning and trying new things. Maybe it’s an instrument or taking a production workshop. It gets me excited and thinking about what I can do next. How I can do MORE.

But Kilma, why must I feel incentive?
Look, you may think you’re doing well because out of all your friends you work the hardest… but if the hardest is just an extra hour of practice here and there it’s not really enough. When you have people around you doing more or simply things you’re not doing it’s incentive to learn, to ask questions and to make you weakness your strength. And to add to that, sometimes we keep certain people in our life because it makes us feel like we are doing well because we are doing better/more than them.

How To Find Your Good Vibe DJ Tribe

The last note to keep in mind; sometimes the people in your tribe are NOT djs. Maybe they are a sound engineer or restaurant owner. Some of the people in your tribe may just be industry influencers that you watch from a far, read their books and take their webinars. There are many different ways to create our tribe, but mostly it’s about keeping that good vibe going while surround ourselves with people that are just as if not MORE driven then us so we can continue to strive for greatness. 

Winnipeg DJs – What To Know, What To Ask

Whether you are looking to hire or are the dj yourself there are a few really important questions both the customer and artist needs to know and ask one another. So let’s dive right in!

Disclaimer – No, you don’t have to be from Winnipeg for these to apply but this article will have a few Winnipeg entertainment companies mentioned for locals looking!


Winnipeg DJ

Customer to the DJ: What can you offer for the theme of my event?
Is this a wedding, fashion or art show? Maybe this is happening within a club environment and you need country music only! Your entertain will need to know this information and you need to know if this is within their realms of services. Don’t assume every DJ has ever track ever made, nor that all djs offer all the same services.

Disc jockey to the Client: What is the theme of your event?
If you say YES to the gig not realizing they needed folk music and all you have is hip-hop you might not be the person for the job or silly enough not prepared for the day of the gig. Find what sort of atmosphere they are going for.


Winnipeg Disc Jockey

Customer to the DJ: What services do you provide?
Do you need music, games and someone to coordinate between vendors? Maybe it’s for your wedding and you’re in need of dj to direct the photographer as to where you will be entering the venue, as well as speaking with the catering company about when dinner will be served. (Extra tips on wedding djs here.)

Disc jockey to the Client: What services do you need?
Maybe the venue is expecting you to bring your own sound and gear and doesn’t realize that your rider sates that they are to provide the equipment. You may be an electronic music artist that allows for artistic freedom and they are looking for someone to cater directly to their needs outside of your brand. Knowing this allows you to offer the right entertainment company if this is NOT what you provide.


Winnipeg djs

Customer to the DJ: What would I be looking at paying?
Keep in mind the artist will need to know what exactly you need, ie. sound, hours djing, music style etc. to give you the right price.

Disc Jockey to themselves: What is a fair price?
This is more of a question towards the entertainment company themselves. This is where your “DJ Fee Calculator” comes in handy. You’ll need to figure out the amount of hours you’ll spend preparing, money spent on music (if you need additional) rentals and promo including the hours spent setting up, performing and taking down gear.

Previous Events

Winnipeg DJ

Customer to the DJ: What experience do you have?
If the price is a little too good to be true, you may want to question their experience. As it’s said in the industry, “Good djs ain’t cheap and cheap djs ain’t good.” That isn’t to say there aren’t some great ones under valuing their services, but take the time to find out what previous events this djs has been involved with. This can include checking out their website and social pages to see what sort of feedback and projects they have been involved with, to reviewing their press-kit.

Client Tip: If you are a club owner and you are on the look out for DJs that are also great at marketing their events, or running special themed nights, find out if your dj has a press-kit with reference to previous work.

Disc jockey to client: What experience do you have as an event coordinator?
If you are playing for a first time promoter that is stating they are providing sound equipment, there are some things that can go wrong if they aren’t aware of whom they are hiring. It’s not to say this person isn’t capable of throwing a great event but you’ll want to ensure the person has the knowledge and support so that the event will run as smoothly as possible. As an artist there are few things that are worse then showing up at an event where the sound engineer does not know what they are doing and YOU end up looking like the unprofessional one while playing.

Available for Art & Fashion Shows In Winnipeg
Kilma (Electronica)
Cherry Tree Productions

Available for Club / Lounge In Winnipeg
Kilma (Electronica)
Bomb Squad Entertainment (Top 40 – Electronica)

Available for Weddings & Socials In Winnipeg / Manitoba Area
Kenny Beats
Bomb Squad Entertainment
Gudlite Entertainment
Cherry Tree Productions
Special Request Weddings

Available for Bar Mitzvah Djs
Cherry Tree Productions

Throwing a Wedding Social? Here is our 2016 list of places that donate!

7 Tips for Great Promotional DJ Photos (Press-Kits)

Kilma DJ, Radio Host, Female artist, winnipeg dj house techno and edm

Photo by Aaron Kostiuk

Many of us have seen those awful headphone shots, those cheesy glamour photos, turntables unplugged and the awkwardly posed dj tangled up in cords. These high quality press-photos are often used for a multitude of promotional material from websites and flyers to swag and magazine interviews. But what if your don’t properly showcase your brand? You’ve seen those perfectly place shots with the headphone and think, “I could do that.” But when it comes to promotional pictures it’s easy to make the common mistakes other hopefuls  have made.  To organically incorporate your personality in your shots, let alone find the right photographer can prove to be a challenge. So I’ve set up some key tips on getting those pictures that leave a lasting impression, both of your brand and your personality. So let’s begin.

1. Know what you want (or at least have a good idea.)

Chances are when you walk into a tattoo shop, you’re going to want some examples of artwork to place on your body. You’re not going to expect the tattoo artist to KNOW what you want. Your promo shot ideas need just as much direction. You can bring clippings, show online photos and let them know what you’d like to incorporate from those photos in yours. (Ahead of the shoot date.)

“It is not simply enough to rely on the photographer for the ideas because in most cases the photographer does not know you. Once you build the rapport and work together a few times, then it is different, the photographer will have a better idea of your personality and style and can collaborate with you easier on your project.” – Aaron Kostiuk


Cam Nikkel Photography

Photo by – Cam Nikkel of P&S Zine

2. Location, location, location.

“Often some of the best photos are the result of the photographer meeting up with the subject in a location that they’re familiar with such as an artist’s studio, a DJ’s practice space, a musician with their favourite instrument in their own jam space. No props supplied by the photographer, no locations that aren’t relevant to the subject. Simply discuss the desired end result, hang out, get comfortable, find the right lighting, point and shoot!” – Cam Nikkel from P&S Zine

Like Cam pointed out, don’t use locations or props that aren’t relevant to the subject (YOU!) Let the photo speak of your interests, which could be your favourite local shop or a park you often visit.

3. Sometimes Less is more.

Unless you typically show up at the club wearing a gold grill, banana hammock, loads of bling, while holding a blow up doll… you may want to ease up on the props. Think about what this photo says about YOU. “S/he is goofy, fun, seriously, polished or maybe a bit quirky.” These shots are used for a multitude of promo. Having at least a couple options for a graphic design to crop or edit at their desire make an easy choice for website artwork and flyers.

This also includes how many photos you put out. You don’t need to or even should share 15 photos of you in the same outfit, in the same area with a few different poses. Often photographers are taking 400-500 in a couple hour shoot. Many will only show you 4-5 really amazing shots in different outfits. Trust them to pick out the most flattering but don’t be afraid to work with them to find something you like. Numerous edits of the same looking photo is redundant. Again sometimes less is more!

Charmaine Mallari Photography

Photo by – Charmaine Mallari

4. Practice Your Poses.

“Come prepared and practice your angles and poses beforehand. I had one DJ say at the end of our shoot ‘I have more respect for models now.'” – Charmaine Mallari

The way you think your face looks when you make a pose, vs how it looks in the mirror is very different. Know your angle, but also trust the direction of your photographer as you go. And if the photographer finds a shot that work perfect, KEEP THE POSE until they tell you to move.

Given Ideas Photography

Photo by – Given Ideas Photography

5. Communication with your photographer

It’s important both you and your photographer are on the same page about your ideas, while understanding your brand and what you’d like to portray.

“Your photographer’s goal should be to portray your personality and style to develop unique and dynamic photos. Communicating details about yourself along with your vision for the photos will go a long way in preparing the photos that tell your story.” – Given Ideas Photography

Photo by - Whiting Photography

Photo by – Whiting Photography

6. Know your photographer.

Like genres, there are numerous types of photographers. If your photographer specializes in glamour or fashion shots, it does not mean they are experienced in motion and underwater photography. Find someone that it the right fit for your ideal photos. Do your research.

“Don’t hire some just because they are your friend, hire someone that you know can deliver your vision.” – Charmaine Mallari

“Asking someone that does profile shots, to do live actions shots is like night and day. Make sure you’ve seen examples of someone’s work before you hire them. Are they a night club photography or fashion? Can they do both or specialize in one?” – Whiting Photography

7. Choose your outfits, hair style and makeup artist in advance.

Lastly, but just as important as the rest. Yes, I’m talking about you too guys. It’s totally normal for men to wear makeup and often do when it comes to t.v. and promotional photos. Think of hair, makeup and your outfits like “mastering your track.” You’ve got a great product, you just need to polish it off so you can let that track really stand out for what it is.

Bring a couple options for shirts, pants, shoes and even accessories. Depending on the setting one colour or pattern might work better in one background than the other.

Quick Hint: On a budget? Don’t your know foundation colour and aren’t ready to commit to a bottle of foundation girls/guys? Swing by a Sephora or Shoppers Drug Mart and ask one of the lovely attendants if they can help you find your colour and “test it out for the day,” as you are undecided. You might even find something you like. Many makeup stores will give you a full on makeover if you spend more than $40, or you can hire an artist.

(Check out The team to find my personal favourites to work with in hair and make up. )

Was this article helpful? Do you have any great tips? Maybe a funny story of how your shoot didn’t go as planned but ended up perfect! Let us know in the comments below.

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.


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

Don’t Get Screwed! – A DJs Guide in Dealing with Bad Promoters

Having to deal with unprofessional event coordinators is awful.  You really have to wonder if is ever 100% preventable.  We can do our very best and still run into problematic situations. Sometimes there are red flags, while other times you don’t realize what’s going on until it’s too late. My Mom always told me, “When you make a mistake, make sure you learn the lesson.” That my friend is what we are talking about today. How to hammer out details in advance, negotiate and make that paper while keeping your dignity intact. So let’s jump right into it.

The Booking
Anytime someone offers you a gig, STOP yourself from saying yes before you get the information you need. This is your chance to find out what sort of preparation and experience this person has.  You’ll want to ask about the party theme, musical style being booked, and what sort of equipment will be supplied. Is there a set time they’d like you to play and any of the headliners and supporting acts already on the bill? Stuff like the ticket price and venue capacity will also help you figure out a fair price. Lastly and especially if this is a newer promoter, ask them how they will be advertising their event.

Warning Signs
– There is no promise of pay or you are required to sell tickets in order to be paid. Incentives to sell are great, but at the end of the day you need an hourly rate. $50-$100 is not an unreasonable rate for supporting acts or use our Fee Calculator Here.

– If the promoter is in anyway hinting that other DJs are giving them a better deal and/or bringing their own gear. Negotiating a rate is normal but sharing personal details on what others are being paid is totally unprofessional. It’s not your problem if someone is playing for 50 cents an hour and supplying sound. You need to set standards.

– If there is no plan of action in promotions, the event is quickly approaching and no headliner nor other DJs have been confirmed.

– No one has heard of this person, promotional company nor know what they look like. You may have experienced it yourself. You search their profile put no personal photos. Sometimes many friends in common but no one has met them face to face.

– If they expect their talent to bring their own gear, ie. CDJ’s, turntables mixer and sound. It’s not uncommon now days for many DJs to bring their own computer or controller. Industry standards like Technics Turntables, Pioneer CDJ’s and DJM900 mixer are found at many top nightclubs. For one off events, it is the responsibility of an event coordinator to supply gear which often means they are renting and hiring their own sound engineer too.

Note: When asked to bring your own gear (if you feel comfortable bringing) always ask for a rental fee.

When running your own mobile DJ business doing weddings and corporate events this may be a part of your fee and not as uncommon for those artist to bring their own equipment. You may have a sliding scale depending on how many hours you play and some side gigs will supply sound but you need your own equipment. This is why you hammer out details in advance including your fee, to avoid confusion and issues later.

The Negotiation
Once you have enough information you should be able figure out a fair price that works well for both of you. This is a very important time because, even if in the kindness of your heart you think doing a free gig “for the music” is a good idea, often it is not. When people don’t have to pay for something they do not appreciate it as much. Gifts are wonderful from a friend but from the business side of things it can give the impression that you do not value your service. This includes the “nothing to lose” mentality. When event coordinators do not have to worry about paying their talent and equipment fees, there is no risk for them. This usually means that there is no real drive to put work into promoting their event.

Note: Some DJ’s enjoying trading work for work. For example some may trade graphic design or a professional photo shoot for a 3 hour DJ set. Make sure, if you are not getting money, you are negotiating fairly traded work.

Don't Get Screwed by Bad Promoters

Late Red Flags
Sometimes you do not notice the warning signs until it’s too late. Maybe your negotiations went smoothly and this person seemed legit but there were a few things that started to make you wonder about their motives. The following list are signs that you may be in for a nightmare and should enter with caution:

– You are quickly approaching the event date and there is little to no promotion, none or a poorly done flyer.

– You find out or notice they are simply spamming people’s walls and bugging all of your friends. As frustrating as little to no promotion is people don’t enjoy being overwhelmed by annoying emails or Facebook posts.  If the patrons just feel like another number they may be turned off by the event all together.

–  Other signs may be that the promoter is unresponsive and missing in action when you need details or have questions about equipment and ticket sales.

– They don’t show up at their own event. Like I said, too little to late warning signs. But there is good news because you can protect yourself even in these situations.

don't get screwed by bad promoters

Protecting Yourself: Out of Town Bookings
Never, ever confirm nor do an out of town booking without a contract and a 50% deposit in hand. Whether its fee plus flight, or a flat rate just don’t! My friend said it best. “Even if it’s your best friend keep the friendship by signing a contract.” It’s true and it’s saved me a lot of hassle many times. That means if you show up for your gig and the promoter did not supply the proper gear and you were unable to do your set, you still get paid. That also means if they cancel your show 2 days before the event, you still get paid. Why? Because you could have missed out on another booking, you prepared and fulfilled your end of the bargain and deserve to be compensated.

Protecting Yourself: Local Bookings
Only give as much as you are willing to lose. If you are working with a new promoter and you feel confident but know anything could go wrong don’t spend $100 on new music when you might not be seeing that $200 pay cheque. If you are following the steps about getting the details in advance often this prevents you from working with someone that has no clue about what they are doing or trying to scam you. On the slight chance it’s about manipulation and the end of the night rolls around and he/she flakes out, reach out.

Approach it with a firm “benefit of the doubt” attitude, requiring payment and a reasonable due date to pay.

Example Email:

Hello (promoter name),
I require a $200 payment for my services Dec.17 2014 from 7:00pm-11:00pm. As stated in your email I was to be paid in cash at the event however you were not there. I must have the payment by Tuesday Jan.06 2015. You can make a payment by cash or wireless money transfer to this email. (Invoice attached.)

Thank you.
(Name and contact phone number)

Don't get screwed - dealing with bad promoters

Your Responsibilities

As a part of a tightly knit community it can feel important to ensure that other DJ’s do not experience the same unfortunate situations. However, this can be a tricky thing to do while protecting your own image. In particular, situations where you have many respected faces looking up to you, a public slamming can come off extremely unprofessional. Even when you feel totally warranted in your reaction there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. You need to ask yourself if you took this gig blindly. If you were taken advantaged of because you did not take the proper steps to protect yourself, complaining about the situation publicly can actually make you look unprofessional. Even though it was wrong what this person did, it’s important to take the lesson from this situation. What were the red flags and what would you have done differently knowing what you know now.
  2. Noting that even when you protect yourself to the best of your abilities some things happen out of your power. This is the time to either take legal actions or learn to let go of the situation all together. If you’ve taken the time to use contracts and secure deposits, you are often protected in taking those steps. If you are well connected it’s easy enough to fire off an email to your close friends to let them know your experience and to protect themselves if they choose to work with them. At the end of the day it’s about teaching your friends how to protect themselves from any potential scam. This guy may have duped you today, but this will eventually happen again with someone else. It won’t however happen to the dj that is taking those additional steps in the first place, or legal steps after the fact.

Ending Notes: Attack The Behaviour Not The Person
In many of these situations there are warning signs. As mentioned above, there are steps you can take to protect yourself in the future. Become more knowledgeable on what you watch out for, how to set yourself up, and share that knowledge. I believe that together we can create a scene where this doesn’t have to happen but we need to learn how to help one another out in ways that improve the quality of our night life. If you decide for whatever reasons the best route is to share the promoters name, understand the repercussions that will come with that and either let it go or do things differently the second time around. In ending this article I ask that you share this with the friends you believe can benefit from this information, so that we can help create the scene we want to thrive in.

Was this article helpful? What mistakes have you made and what did you learn from them?
Other articles you might enjoy: Why The Club Promoter Fails
Top 6 Promoter Pet Peeves

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