DJing is the best job in the world. You get to play music you love for other people, and seeing them dance to it, smile and enjoy themselves is a huge reward in and of itself. Add to it the sheer glamour of being the “Mr./Ms. DJ”, and getting paid for your work becomes an afterthought at best. So much that you might be willing to play for free just to get another fix of being behind the decks. It all helps your exposure, you tell yourself.
Don’t do it.
Don’t get me wrong – I know that most of us are in DJing for the love of music, dancing or both. But DJing is real work, and it deserves to be paid for. Here are 4 reasons why I believe that you should never DJ for free.
Now that we’re clear that DJing for free is not an option, should you always insist on being paid in cash, or getting a free drink or a taxi ride home instead is also OK? I prefer cash, but whatever the case may be, you should always be getting something tangible in exchange for your work.
You might think that playing for free is bad enough, but you may actually be offered to pay for a chance to get your foot in the door of the DJ booth. Paying to play comes in many forms – from an actual cash payment to playing an out-of-town gig for free where you have to pay for travel and accommodation yourself. Mixmag has a whole piece on the evils of pay to play, but the bottom line is the same: don’t do it.
To sum up, I can’t think of many situations where it would be OK to play for free, apart from maybe DJing at a family event. Otherwise, DJing for free hurts yourself and others and is a burden to your DJ career. Do us all a favor and stay away from it.
Would you DJ for free? Have you ever been offered to pay to play? Share your stories in the comment section below!
JM has played open-air gigs, shared the stage with the likes of ATB and had mix albums released commercially. He has been teaching DJing since 2008.
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