Who Gets Paid?

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swinginstyle
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Who Gets Paid?

#1 Post by swinginstyle » Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:34 pm

Do most DJs on here get paid or compensated for their services, whether they be local or national?

And what's people assuming that they don't have to pay for our services and that comping will satisfy you?

These questions arise from recent gigs I've taken where I'm comped into the event, but nothing else is covered. No airfare, no food, no hourly wage earned. Granted, part of this is my fault, because I didn't set parameters. But c'mon? Why, after all this effort of purchasing and organizing music, appropriating software, etc and culling through music to make sure their dancers have the best time of their life, why do I have nothing show? Why do event organizers offer nothing?

A good DJ is well worth the expense.
Don't take swing underground!!

SoundInMotionDJ
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Re: Who Gets Paid?

#2 Post by SoundInMotionDJ » Mon Feb 04, 2008 8:15 pm

swinginstyle wrote:Do most DJs on here get paid or compensated for their services, whether they be local or national?
I won't try to speak for others, but my guess is that the vast majority of DJs here do not make enough to "break even" on the expense of being a DJ. I doubt that many can even cover the direct expenses of attend an event to work, let alone the additional overhead of running a business.

I do get paid to attend an event, with travel, hotel, meals, and pass covered. At a typical event, I will "take home" between $200 and $500 after direct expenses...but that's not anywhere near enough to cover the "overhead" of music, insurance, equipment, etc, etc.

As a result of setting my rates at a level that gives me that kind of income, I am invited to a very small fraction of the events that I was invited to when I charged less.

I run a mobile DJ company and take on wedding and corporate clients that does a lot more than "break even" on my DJ expenses. I have not made enough playing for 'dance events' to break even on that incremental expense in the last several years.
swinginstyle wrote:And what's people assuming that they don't have to pay for our services and that comping will satisfy you?
I wish I knew. The Lindy, westie, C&W, and ballroom scenes do differ slightly... At this point I think that the best explanation is "tradition."

In the past, events did not make enough money to pay anyone, so well meaning and generous people donated their time for all manner of services - DJing, registration, judging, teaching, etc, etc. After a few years, it becomes very hard to change that basic economic structure.

Most events in the westie, C&W, and ballroom world give away HUGE cash prizes to the competitors. That is what they choose to do with their "profit." At one recent event, over $30,000 was given in prize money to the winning competitors. I was told that there was just not enough $$$ to pay the DJs more than we were getting.
swinginstyle wrote:Why, after all this effort of purchasing and organizing music, appropriating software, etc and culling through music to make sure their dancers have the best time of their life, why do I have nothing show? Why do event organizers offer nothing?
The event organizers do not pay because they do not need to. There are dozens of "qualified" DJs who are willing to attend the event and work "for the love of DJing."

Why would a business pay more than is required to secure reasonable and customary services from any vendor?

The majority of DJs I have spoken with do not run their service as a business. Most probably do not have a good accounting of their fixed expenses. So, it would be difficult for them to set a fee schedule that would allow them to recoup their expenses and break even.
swinginstyle wrote:A good DJ is well worth the expense.
Agreed.

-Stan Graves

Nate Dogg
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#3 Post by Nate Dogg » Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:34 pm

With MP3s, ripped CDs, cheap mobile music devices, and downloadable music (both legal and otherwise), there are plenty of dancers who call themselves DJs these days. As a result , the value for a DJs services has diminished and a lot of people don't feel inclined to pay DJs what they made in the 1990s and earlier, when there were more barriers of entry into the dance DJ world. There are exceptions here and there (certain night clubs, certain events), so sometimes we do get paid closer to something fair. But, for the most part; a DJ's time, effort, costs, etc... has little or no impact on what most people are willing to pay.

The only time I make money is DJing weddings (usually by request of dancers who are getting married). I make a small amount per hour DJing locally for dancers, but the amount would be laughable if not for the fact that we actually get paid at all.

So, my advice, lower your expectation to be in line with the reality of today and you will probably be happier. I don't see things getting better, in fact it will only get worse.
Nathan

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Lawrence
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Re: Who Gets Paid?

#4 Post by Lawrence » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:45 am

SoundInMotionDJ wrote:
swinginstyle wrote:Why, after all this effort of purchasing and organizing music, appropriating software, etc and culling through music to make sure their dancers have the best time of their life, why do I have nothing show? Why do event organizers offer nothing?
The event organizers do not pay because they do not need to. There are dozens of "qualified" DJs who are willing to attend the event and work "for the love of DJing."

Why would a business pay more than is required to secure reasonable and customary services from any vendor?

The majority of DJs I have spoken with do not run their service as a business. Most probably do not have a good accounting of their fixed expenses. So, it would be difficult for them to set a fee schedule that would allow them to recoup their expenses and break even.
That is it in a nutshell. It is simple supply and demand. Where supply is abundant, the price goes down. Combine that with the fact that most people in our target audience are cheap lindy vagabonds who barely make ends meet, and you do not have a formula for making any kind of money.

The only exception is where a DJ has a good national following. If a promoter of a National-wide event can expect that 10 to 15 more people will come to the event because this or that DJ will be there, then they have the luxury to afford paying airfare and such. Otherwise, it doesn't make any sense.
Lawrence Page
Austin Lindy Hop
http://www.AustinLindy.com

SoundInMotionDJ
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Re: Who Gets Paid?

#5 Post by SoundInMotionDJ » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:01 am

Lawrence wrote:The only exception is where a DJ has a good national following.
The other exception is the DJ who has sound gear. I have a professional grade sound system that can accommodate even the largest ballrooms at "rock concert" SPL levels...if required (it never is). I have pro grade CD players, limiters to keep the volume at a reasonable level, backup equipment, and so no. There is still some $ available from events to pay for a good sound system....that is why I am hired by almost 100% of the events that I work as a DJ.

As a cautionary tale about setting your rates, consider this: Two years ago, I doubled my "dance event rate." It is now about 25% of my "corporate rate" for "similar" services. I went from working 18 dance events one year to 4 the next.

--Stan Graves

texas-eddie
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#6 Post by texas-eddie » Mon Feb 11, 2008 2:23 pm

I must admit that I find it a little weird to get paid (which I do up here in the Bay Area), but that may be because I came from a place where the DJs didn't (free venue). Initially, when I was approached to be paid to DJ at a local venue I turned it down, but was told that "all DJ's that work for me get paid." Since then I've done a couple of national events here and there and gotten paid, with free admission and/or cash. But I do understand that what we do is of value to others (although there are some DJs who I wonder about) and agree that a good DJ is worth the cost.

Of course the money I get for DJing doesn't even come close to paying for all the music/gear I've started to accumulate, but I do have a rule that all the money I get from DJing goes into DJing related costs.

And, at the same time, DJing is a "job" that takes me away from valuable dance time (which is a Catch-22, since at the end of the day I'd prefer to dance to my own set; instead I end up minding the booth most of the night).

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Swifty
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#7 Post by Swifty » Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:03 pm

If you're working, you should be getting compensated for it. Plain and simple.
"Dance like it hurts. Love like you need money. Work when people are watching."

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Mr Awesomer
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#8 Post by Mr Awesomer » Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:13 pm

Swifty wrote:If you're working, you should be getting compensated for it. Plain and simple.
Define "work." :D
Reuben Brown
Southern California

Toon Town Dave
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#9 Post by Toon Town Dave » Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:54 pm

From Merriam Webster:
1 : activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something
I think dancers do this.

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