The Professional DJ

DeeRockDeeRock 1,836 Posts
edited May 2005 in Strut Central
This dj thing is wired, I went from having NO gigs at all a few months back to having too many now! I'm turning spots down etc. I can't complain because I would rather be working too much then not at all. I'm gonna quit in the next few years though. So I have been thinking about Career djs that don't work for radio or own their own marketing firm. What do you have or what can you do when retired etc. There needs to be health ins. etc. just like any other workplace. I want to form a dj union to see we all get paid right and have ins. savings plans etc. I know Chris Lighty is doing something similar to this but it is for a small core group of djs. I'm talking about the united states and really making it a real union and making it work. Any dj playing in a club, etc. would have to be in the union. It would be tough to start but what do you guys think? Most djs get paid under the table so it's hard to proove income and you don't get taxed. There just needs to be something done, it's a very overlooked profession and MOST people will say it doesn't take any talent at all and will compare it to Valet parking!

  Comments


  • RAJRAJ tenacious local 7,732 Posts

    AYO!

  • volumenvolumen 2,529 Posts
    One of the down sides would be taxes. Don't musicians/entertainment get taxed like 40% or some crazy number?? Like you said I think people assume it's so easy and you don't have to "work" at it. But obviously their is more to it that just standing their playing records for 4 hours. Maybe since (most) DJ's don't get paid like Aerosmith or Tom Cruse the tax wouldn't be so much. I think you have a great idea.



    It seems like you could also help good hard working DJ's stayed employed and not get bumped out by Tommy Lee. What the heck did he play that night anyhow?????

  • DJBombjackDJBombjack Miami 1,665 Posts
    Most djs get paid under the table so it's hard to prove income and you don't get taxed.

    I pay taxes right now on my DJ income. And I would totally support a DJ union... plus I don't mind being on the books if i'm gonna get a health plan.

  • Sun_FortuneSun_Fortune 1,374 Posts
    plus I don't mind being on the books if i'm gonna get a health plan.

    word, Ive got impending carpel tunnel, a bad back and bad knees.

  • keithvanhornkeithvanhorn 3,855 Posts
    i have thought about this before, but here are some problems:

    - 95% of djs are not "working djs" and therefore wouldnt want to pay union dues

    - most djs who have day jobs do not report their dj income

    - most djs have day jobs (see above)

    - plus, on the flip side -> would bars/lounges/clubs have any incentive to enter into collective bargaining agreements with a dj union? probably not. because there are so many non-working skilled djs, a dj union would have very little bargaining power.


  • emyndemynd 830 Posts
    i have thought about this before, but here are some problems:

    - 95% of djs are not "working djs" and therefore wouldnt want to pay union dues

    - most djs who have day jobs do not report their dj income

    - most djs have day jobs (see above)

    - plus, on the flip side -> would bars/lounges/clubs have any incentive to enter into collective bargaining agreements with a dj union? probably not. because there are so many non-working skilled djs, a dj union would have very little bargaining power.

    Good to see you're using your injury time off wisely, Kieth. I agree with all of this.

  • GrafwritahGrafwritah 4,184 Posts
    - plus, on the flip side -> would bars/lounges/clubs have any incentive to enter into collective bargaining agreements with a dj union? probably not. because there are so many non-working skilled djs, a dj union would have very little bargaining power.

    Well in theory if you had a place that employed multiple DJs, the DJs could vote in union representation and the employer would have no say so - they can't regulate unionization at all.
    So they'd really need just 50% + 1 vote of the DJs to vote it in. I don't think it would be realistic though because there are few full time DJs, and the benefit to part time DJs would be marginal - slightly higher wages, maybe. But there is nothing to force the unionization of an industry, so there is no leverage - DJs fall out of the sky, and the DJs could picket all day and I'm sure there would be another to take their place. So, best bet, find an employer that employs multiple DJs and unionize that way. Even better, you could attempt to unionize the whole club.

    On the flip though, with the temporary nature of clubs, there's probably nothing that I know of stopping them from legally shutting and down reopening as a new entity, thus starting the process over again.

    So as an industry you're fucked, I'm sure part time DJs would prefer under the table wages to a quarter an hour raise on the books. And how many full time DJs are there in the US, like, 3?

  • youngEINSTEINyoungEINSTEIN 2,443 Posts
    preme, you know this is a very tough endevour. given that promotors by nature are shadier than the music industry. stein. . .



    no offense to any promotors. . .

  • coselmedcoselmed 1,114 Posts
    Don't musicians/entertainment get taxed like 40% or some crazy number??

    Getting taxed at 40% of your income is not unique to musicians or entertainers; it's based on how much income you make as an individual. You probably have that figure in your head because a lot of athletes have referred to it.

    It's not like investment bankers, attorneys, doctors, etc. get a tax break just because they weren't blessed with the ability to shuck and jive.

  • soulmarcosasoulmarcosa 4,296 Posts
    Cosign with Keith "only 6 posts but dropping knowledge gems" Van Horn's points.
    I think you'd have better luck getting a dishwashers' union off the ground.

    - DJ "solely self-employed DJ & freelance designer since December and yes I report it all on my tax returns" Marco

  • DelayDelay 4,530 Posts
    This dj thing is wired, I went from having NO gigs at all a few months back to having too many now! I'm turning spots down etc. I can't complain because I would rather be working too much then not at all. I'm gonna quit in the next few years though. So I have been thinking about Career djs that don't work for radio or own their own marketing firm. What do you have or what can you do when retired etc. There needs to be health ins. etc. just like any other workplace. I want to form a dj union to see we all get paid right and have ins. savings plans etc. I know Chris Lighty is doing something similar to this but it is for a small core group of djs. I'm talking about the united states and really making it a real union and making it work. Any dj playing in a club, etc. would have to be in the union. It would be tough to start but what do you guys think? Most djs get paid under the table so it's hard to proove income and you don't get taxed. There just needs to be something done, it's a very overlooked profession and MOST people will say it doesn't take any talent at all and will compare it to Valet parking!
    Ive been saying this shit for a minute. Not only for the benefits, but also to keep the cornballs out. If clubs and promoters felt pressure to hire union members, it would hopefully raise the bar a little. too many hipster dudes with cd collections taking jobs from real WORKING motherfuckers.

  • Sun_FortuneSun_Fortune 1,374 Posts
    This dj thing is wired, I went from having NO gigs at all a few months back to having too many now! I'm turning spots down etc. I can't complain because I would rather be working too much then not at all. I'm gonna quit in the next few years though. So I have been thinking about Career djs that don't work for radio or own their own marketing firm. What do you have or what can you do when retired etc. There needs to be health ins. etc. just like any other workplace. I want to form a dj union to see we all get paid right and have ins. savings plans etc. I know Chris Lighty is doing something similar to this but it is for a small core group of djs. I'm talking about the united states and really making it a real union and making it work. Any dj playing in a club, etc. would have to be in the union. It would be tough to start but what do you guys think? Most djs get paid under the table so it's hard to proove income and you don't get taxed. There just needs to be something done, it's a very overlooked profession and MOST people will say it doesn't take any talent at all and will compare it to Valet parking!
    Ive been saying this shit for a minute. Not only for the benefits, but also to keep the cornballs out. If clubs and promoters felt pressure to hire union members, it would hopefully raise the bar a little. too many hipster dudes with cd collections taking jobs from real WORKING motherfuckers.

    I agree with Delay -- if there were some way to insure that Djs passed a certian minumum requirement to join a union, then it might, in theory, have power. Like the writers guild. They're crafty and powerful as hell.

    But it wont work. Everybody will scab out for three drink tickets.

  • soulmarcosasoulmarcosa 4,296 Posts
    I like the idea in theory, but what the fuck would the "minimum requirements" be?? That you can scratch? You only use original pressing vinyl? You've been DJing for X amount of years? You have your own equipment? Bleh.

    Any kind of "standard" would be way too esoteric. There's lots of great DJs that would be excluded simply because of some bullshit "requirement." I know good CD-only DJs, and good DJs that don't scratch.

    When it comes right down to it, if you can rock a party, can get people in the door, or sometimes just show up when you're supposed to, then you've already beaten the fly-by-night DJs to the punch.

    Conversely, if Mr. "Just Started DJing Yesterday" can pack the club to capacity while Mr. "I've Been DJing for 15 Years, Give Me Props" can't even get the dancefloor going, then you can't really blame the clubs for the decisions they make in favor of the newjacks.

  • DelayDelay 4,530 Posts
    I like the idea in theory, but what the fuck would the "minimum requirements" be?? That you can scratch? You only use original pressing vinyl? You've been DJing for X amount of years? You have your own equipment? Bleh.

    Any kind of "standard" would be way too esoteric. There's lots of great DJs that would be excluded simply because of some bullshit "requirement." I know good CD-only DJs, and good DJs that don't scratch.

    When it comes right down to it, if you can rock a party, can get people in the door, or sometimes just show up when you're supposed to, then you've already beaten the fly-by-night DJs to the punch.

    Conversely, if Mr. "Just Started DJing Yesterday" can pack the club to capacity while Mr. "I've Been DJing for 15 Years, Give Me Props" can't even get the dancefloor going, then you can't really blame the clubs for the decisions they make in favor of the newjacks.
    how about if a panel of well informed union members vote you in? not so much a series of requirements, as much as acceptance by your peers. a jury type of thing.... real democratic like.

  • kennykenny 1,024 Posts
    how about if a panel of well informed union members vote you in? not so much a series of requirements, as much as acceptance by your peers. a jury type of thing.... real democratic like.

    thats usually when shit gets ugly, jealous cats being saying 'such and such' don't deserve to be in the panel, then go on and on about how biased shit is.

    for prove? DJ battles. similar theory

  • hogginthefogghogginthefogg 6,098 Posts
    Everybody will scab out for three drink tickets.



    REALEST TALK. That's the bottom line right there, folks.

  • And if you wanted health benefits or anything like that, you'd have to be salaried or some shit, right?

    I don't see this happening. Ever.

  • can you write off records if you report djing as a main source of income???

  • BsidesBsides 4,244 Posts
    Everybody will scab out for three drink tickets.



    REALEST TALK. That's the bottom line right there, folks.



    hahaha, yeah, i just dont think its gonna work yall.


  • HAZHAZ 3,373 Posts


    We'll probably see a weed dealer's union or a union of unlicenced carpenters/plumbers before we see dj's get theirs. Its a good idea, though.

    WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!


  • ayresayres 1,452 Posts
    can you write off records if you report djing as a main source of income???

    you can write off records, cds, equipment, mix cd duplication costs, record bags & cases, shelves, a percentage of your rent (if you have a home studio or even just a room you keep your records in), a percentage of your utilities, travel expenses, car maintenance, etc.
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