Tip the DJ Commercials

Tips and techniques of the trade

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Mystere88
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Tip the DJ Commercials

#1 Post by Mystere88 » Sun Sep 09, 2007 4:08 pm

Hi Everybody!

I can't keep up with all the bulletin boards out there, so I haven't posted here in a long time.

I recently got a new computer, and love it for everything that my last computer of 6 years couldn't do. While I'll never really be able to keep up, some of the new technological advances are pretty great! One of them being. . . .

With GarageBand, and I'm sure other programs, you can create your own podcasts or screw with tracks to make them easier to DJ with. I like ths idea of creating "teaching" tracks, where you can record over the music, etc. . .

Where I DJ, we have to make "TIP THE DJ" announcements if we are going to get any money whatsoever from the dancing public. We often run into trouble with microphones, and the like, feedback, or just stupid things that manage to happen while trying to make an announcement.

I thought of the idea of making "TIP THE DJ" COMMERCIALS, prerecorded, so I can just slip them into my set, and then I can have the announcement made several times throughout the night. I don't have to worry about anything, and one can get a little creative sound-wise.

I thought it would be even better if we all made a series of commercials, and seeing that they would be only 30 seconds long or so, we should be able to upload them and share them with each other. The varied voices would be great so people hear the "TIP THE DJ" sermon from different angles.

I'd be happy to share mine as soon as I make a few. But, please offer some feedback to the idea. We can really have fun and interact with each other as DJs in a very different way.

I'm suffering from a bit of a cold and see that this may not be coherent.

Adam - DJ Charles Stan from Milwaukee

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Ryan
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#2 Post by Ryan » Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:15 am

As a dancer, I would find that INCREDIBLY annoying. I understand your situation, but you would be better served probably by just posting a sign near the DJ booth or near the entrance if you have to post anything at all.

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CafeSavoy
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#3 Post by CafeSavoy » Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:33 am

Is it a free venue?

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Lawrence
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#4 Post by Lawrence » Mon Sep 10, 2007 12:05 pm

I have never heard of any venue where dancers tip the DJ. I understand the desire because we spend a helluvalot of money on music (most of us, anyway), and even the most successful Swing DJs out there still probably lose money. Our main venue started nominally paying DJs a few years ago, and I always looked at the money as a pittance and thought, "Well, thanks at least for the EFFORT."

That said, I agree that it would NOT be a good idea in anything except a free venue. Even then, it would be tacky and self-indulgent. Remember, the "tip your bartender/waitress" line from which you are borrowing often comes from the band or an MC, not the bartenders or waitresses, themselves.
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#5 Post by Toon Town Dave » Mon Sep 10, 2007 12:43 pm

Wow. I've never heard of an audience tipping DJs, swing or otherwise. I agree it's very tacky. The only situation where I'd think of a possibility of a tip would be fulfilling requests.

If you have volunteer DJs, I assume also have other volunteers teaching lessons, cleaning up at the end of the night, promoting the event, etc. who are probably just as deserving of a gratuity. I like the suggestion of a tip box or even passing the hat like some bands do at unpaid gigs.

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#6 Post by SoundInMotionDJ » Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:16 pm

Toon Town Dave wrote:If you have volunteer DJs, I assume also have other volunteers teaching lessons, cleaning up at the end of the night, promoting the event, etc. who are probably just as deserving of a gratuity.
The clean up crew spent $10,000 of mops, and brooms that they needed to clean up?
The free lesson was taught by someone who spent $3500 on private lessons in the last 12 months to stay "current"?
The DJ can offer "private listening" for $75 an hour?
The people promoting the dance need to spend 15 or 20 (or more) hours a week reading ads so they can put together a good ad?

The DJ is the only "volunteer" position that costs thousands of dollars to do, and has very few financial upsides.

I'm not disagreeing that a commercial is tacky...but to compare DJing to the other volunteer positions is to miss the point about the responsibilities of being the guy/gal with the music.

Experiments with tip jars have been poor at best. In the local west coast swing community, the only effective way for a DJ to be paid is to get a cut of the door.

--Stan Graves

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#7 Post by CafeSavoy » Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:41 pm

SoundInMotionDJ wrote: Experiments with tip jars have been poor at best. In the local west coast swing community, the only effective way for a DJ to be paid is to get a cut of the door.

--Stan Graves
True, that statement about tip jars.

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#8 Post by Toon Town Dave » Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:19 pm

We probably don't need to turn this into a who's worth what discussion, there are a couple of other discussions here on Swing DJs about what a DJ should be paid; here and this poll/discussion.

I do have a question for the original poster; why is there no admission charge, why are the DJs reduced to groveling for dollars? How much money are you expecting? Do you provide the sound equipment? Is there a way to justify an admission charge or cut of the admission charge? How big is the audience, is this a big formal dancer or just a few friends getting together or something in between?

Perhaps having a membership to participate in the dance, free dances for a year with $20 membership, $5 otherwise or something like that. Membership money provide a small gratuity to the DJ.

Another tacky possibility, look into sponsorship from local business. Announce their business. The sponsors are providing the money in exchange for a service, much the same way a listener of commercial radio tolerating ads compared to ad-free, for-fee satellite radio.

Mystere88
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#9 Post by Mystere88 » Tue Sep 11, 2007 12:41 pm

Wow! This is just great! Thanks for all the interesting feedback.

We, in Milwaukee, are not afraid to TIP nor ask to be tipped. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with it, even if you pay admission, one can always feel free to ask. I think not asking is more the crime than bitching about the workload it takes to do a good job.

The specific venue is Thursday nights, at a bar, with the intent to be a dance club. It has a nice large dance floor, and caters to dancers specifically. The bar does not charge a cover, and if there is no lesson, there is really no cost to dance. The bars makes its money off drinks alone.

The DJs who come in are volunteer, and luckily, the sponsors allow some of us to have a nice start there. The other venue in town does not invite guest DJs. This has allowed the scene to hear very different tastes in music, and it also garners different types of crowds, and alters the dancing as well. Its really a good thing, because the sponsors have some nights throughout the year where they can stay home and relax, and people like me cna spin the music we want to dance to.

The venue has consistently had 50-60 people out on a regular basis. Sometimes there are 100, sometimes there is only 20. Regardless, we as the DJs, are not paid by the venue in any way, and appreciate compensation.

I will typically DJ a 3-4 hour set there on a Thursday night, and I will make an announcement typically every hour about tipping the DJ. I find it interesting that most of you are quite against this, as people here at home continually tell me to keep beating people over the head about, as they find it important to remind people to tip the DJ.

In this vein, my most successful night was around $90, and when I first started and never asked, I would make $8. Now, if I ask, I typically get $20-$35 in tips. Its nice, and I don't think there's anything wrong with asking for a tip.

What I've grown to do is to say:

"IF YOU'VE HEARD ONE SONG YOU LIKE, OR HAD ONE DANCE YOU'VE ENJOYED TONIGHT, PLEASE TIP THE DJ $1" If everyone out dancing would tip the DJ $1, total, not for each great dance, or great song, it makes the process of DJing a bit nicer.

Also, I think that it holds the DJ to a responsibility of playing good dance music, and not just anything. I built my principles of DJing on improving the quality of the music in the scene. Maybe some of you are used to spinning or hearing good dance music, but that typically is not the case here.

I guess for those who might find it annoying, or for those who think it tacky, fine, but I'm an entrepreneur whose basic philosophy is "I'm always available, but never free." I give my time to DJ because I truly enjoy it, but getting a little cash to buy a few drinks makes it all worth it. I think coming out to dance and paying nothing is a real crime.

If the venue charges a cover, or there is some charge associated with the evening, then this of course is different, and I wouldn't be asking for tips.

Setting a jar out, and leaving a sign does nothing. If this has actually worked for you, I'm amazed. I've even seen people here walk around with the tip jar as a means to solicit tips.

Perhaps I've unleashed a larger issue than intended. But, I love the discussion, and urge more to reply. Thanks again for all the feedback.

All in all, I was really hoping that a large crew of us would be able to tape such simple things that might sound like:

"Hi, I'm Swing DJ Charles Stan from the great city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, asking if you've enjoyed tonight's music, to please tip the DJ."

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#10 Post by SoundInMotionDJ » Tue Sep 11, 2007 1:16 pm

I have been down this road many times...here is an exchange from several years ago about the subject of tipping the local DJ.
>FYI, there is not a single west coast swing DJ I know who could come
>even close to making a living based on what they are paid to play for
>dancers. If there is anyone out there, who is a full time
>"professional" west coast swing DJ, please correct me.

>Why not tip them for finding your favorite song and getting it on
>their playlist?

Because they don't do it to make a living. As you aptly stated, they
do it as a labor of love. I don't hear the other dance DJ's out there
whining and asking for tips.
That pretty much sums up my experience with asking for tips.

--Stan Graves

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#11 Post by GemZombie » Tue Sep 11, 2007 1:22 pm

I used to DJ at a free venue where it cost me to run the venue. I put out a tip jar (actually some of my students made me a custom one). That's the only thing I'd recommend, and only in the case where you do more than DJ. The commercials would be annoying, and could actually have some negative repercussions, in my opinion.

I have seen Westie DJ's do this more often, however.

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#12 Post by Ryan » Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:49 pm

Why not just start charging a small cover for those dancing? 3 dollars a piece at 20-30 people on average (which is small) would net you a meaningful amount. I mean, who would balk at a 3 dollar cover? Fuck do it at 2 dollars and you'd probably be okay. Especially if the bar is cool not taking a cut of the door.

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#13 Post by fredo » Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:32 pm

Personally, I hear enough prerecorded commercials during my life that I just tune them out. Its hard to imagine that you'd get more tips from a recording than from a present human voice, with a face, and a smile. Who knows though, perhaps subliminal messages slipped in between songs over a period of time will brainwash crowds into mindless tipping.


Alternatively, I think two better options would be to invest in a microphone for your announcements, and also see about getting a portion of the drink tips from the bar.

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#14 Post by Lawrence » Tue Sep 11, 2007 6:23 pm

fredo wrote:Personally, I hear enough prerecorded commercials during my life that I just tune them out.
Actually, my experience is that people generally tune out announcements at a dance, in general. They should always be kept to a minimum, if made at all.
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Mystere88
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#15 Post by Mystere88 » Wed Sep 12, 2007 4:29 pm

I still find it interesting that there is no suport for the idea of making short recordings about tipping the DJ, and how a few of you seem vehemently against getting any monetary compensation.

To answer to a few of the ideas stated, which is from this perspective and in this situation. A. The Bar wants everything it gets, so a cut from the bar is a no-no. B. If there is a cover to be charged, then someone has to work the door in order to collect the cover. In this particular situation, the bar would then want some kind of cut of that too. Also, in this town, a number of people would NOT come out if we started to charge.

I would like to simply state that I'm not trying to wedge any more money out of the situation of DJing. I find it to be one of the few things I really enjoy doing around the scene. Since I've gotten into DJing, the other DJs in town have had to perk up and improve their sets as well.

I do not mind making announcements and will continue to bring my mic with me when I go out. Its interesting here and people don't respond well to any announcements it seems. Its just the way it is.

I also want to let some of you know that I think its interesting here in my scene that there are a number of people who come up to me now demanding to give me a tip. They find it important to tip the DJ. They want me to keep making this announcements, and continue to encourage others to tip the DJ.

I'd love to know if anyone has any change of heart regarding this matter, and will now try to start getting a little something. I figure to ask for $1 a person, for those who care to give, is great. Good luck.

Thanks again for all the interesting feedback. This did not go in a single direction I ever thought it would. I thought all the DJs out there at least got tips!

Adam

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