Your Questions: Is Insisting On A DJ Contract Costing Me Gigs?

Christian Yates
Read time: 3 mins
Last updated 24 March, 2018

Digital DJ Tips reader Sphephelo asks: “I want to find out the basics of making a proper DJ contract. I’d like to know, for instance, what I should I include in it. I made one myself and sometimes after showing my contract, the trail goes cold and I lose the gig. Am I doing something wrong?”

Digital DJ Tips says…

This is a question that many DJs will ask themselves at some point – good on you for raising it, Sphephelo. Of course, it’s hard to comment on whether you are doing anything wrong without seeing your contract, but depending on the type of gig you are doing, DJ contracts don’t necessarily need to be as detailed as the formal contracts you might associate with big business deals and attorneys.

That being said, if you are doing bigger events like weddings it is important to make sure both parties are in clear agreement of what your service entails. There are lots of useful templates you can find online for free that you can tailor to meet your needs.

The contract should specify the venue, date and time at which you are booked to play. The specifics of what your service entails (what equipment you are to bring and for how long you are playing) should also be included. Don’t forget to include the time at which you will arrive at the venue to set up and the time you need at the end for packing up. This will need to be agreed with the management of the venue as a member of staff will need to be present to let you in and out. If you want to scope the venue out ahead of time, put that in there as well.

Naturally, you need to have how much you are to be paid written down. Also the payment schedule: when you will be paid (eg half upfront, half at the end) and how you should be paid (cash or otherwise). You don’t want to worried about these things mid-gig or end up scrambling around at the end of the night chasing your cash. Don’t forget to include details of insurance and who is liable to pay should any of your gear get damaged during the course of the event. Lastly, just make sure that they sign it, and you have a copy each.

If you think people are being “scared off” by your contract then it could mean that you dodged a bullet. Not everyone is out to screw you over though. Maybe your prices were too high and they simply lacked the courtesy to get back to you.

Also, bear in mind that some people just don’t deal this way – if they aren’t used to reading and signing contracts when arranging events, it may be enough to “scare them off”. In our experience, the majority of smaller gigs are done via verbal agreement. Usually, you will still have a text message or email confirming any fees or perks and this should be enough to cover you should anything go awry. That’s just the nature of the game at the bottom rung.

If you are consistently missing out on gigs and think it is just because you are asking them to sign a contract, why not just take a chance and see how it goes? Especially if the gigs are small events with lesser fees. If you are left out of pocket, let other DJs in your area know about any unscrupulous promoters or club owners. Obviously, don’t attempt this if you are being asked to DJ a wedding hundreds of miles away from home…

Do you have a DJ contract? Is there anything we forgot to include here? Can having a contract cost you gigs? Let us know in the comments below…

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