Technology has no doubt made our working lives a lot easier. We no longer have to haul crates of records to a gig anymore, and we can carry tens of thousands of songs with us on a laptop. In some ways it's a blessing...But I'll be real honest with you. The DJ game is pretty fucked up right now.
As all this technology and music is widely available, it means that any Tom Dick and Harry can become a fucking DJ. Once they've gone out and purchased a Serato/Traktor box and a laptop, and downloaded the Top 100 songs on Beatport or iTunes, they then automatically assume that they are ready to play out. As a result, standards are slipping. Before, we used to practise our mixing skills in order to make sure we were competent enough to perform in public. Nowadays, kids don't want to put the effort in. They don't want to practise. They don't want to learn how to put a coherent set together. They want to be able to start playing at clubs within a week of buying their first set up.
The number of DJs today are increasing at an alarming rate, and because they're all fighting for a spot to play out, and to prove their [lack of] skill, they are all willing to play for a cheap as possible, or even worse, undercut other DJs to get that gig.
Now, undercutting isn't new. It's existed for years, and is present in all other professions. But it really is at an all time high right now within the nightclub industry.
Not only do I find it morally wrong to use snake-like tactics to grab someone else's spot, I must ask you this. Do you not realise that by undercutting everyone and being happy to play for peanuts, you are in fact helping to drive prices down worldwide?
As I mentioned in my last post, you're only playing yourself if you are willing to DJ for £50; even if you are doing more than one night a week.
Now kids, you might think you're living the life by doing loads of gigs because you've undercut everyone, but let's do some simple maths and break it all down.
Let's say for instance, that you play up to 5 nights a week, from 10pm-3am (average nightclub opening times) for 50 quid a night. That's £250 gross income for 25 hours. You'll most likely leave for work about an hour before you're due to play, and will probably get home an hour later after you finish for the night. That's another 10 hours per week added on to your total.
You might spend a few hours a week getting new music, updating your social networks, etc. Let's say that takes around another 7 hours per week on average (1 hour per day). That's already 42 hours' worth of work per week for £250.
Now let's deduct the costs.
If you drive to most of your gigs, you'll no doubt have to fill up on petrol or diesel. The average person spends about £25 on petrol, so let's say for argument's sake that you spend £50, which also includes any car park fees that you might incur.
Unless you play really shitty YouTube rips in the club, you most likely buy your music via Beatport or iTunes, or a pay a subscription to an online record pool. £10 per week, maybe?
You might even fork out for food and drinks (depending on whether you get a bar tab thrown in), which might set you back another £10 per week, depending on how much you drink.
So with all those costs deducted, you work a 42 hour week for £180.
Divide £180 by 42 hours, and you get £4.29 per hour. Congratulations, you've just earned less than minimum wage! How stupid do you feel now?
Remember that DJ-ing can have its dry periods, so even if you are undercutting everyone to get work, you're not always going to have a regular income…
If you're one of those DJs who holds down a full time job however, and merely does this as a hobby, it's still no excuse to play for chump change. If you don't value your worth as a DJ, or aren't willing to take it seriously, then please stick to making mixtapes in your bedroom or playing on an internet radio station. Do not venture into our line of business, undercut those who do this as a career and fuck up their money. Not only will it hinder you from upping your fee later down the line, you could also earn the reputation as a snake within the DJ community, and even end up on the receiving end of a beat down. Trust me, I saw it happen to someone. It wasn't pretty, but that guy certainly learnt his lesson.
I propose that all new DJs must complete some kind of test or achieve some kind of legit qualification similar to tradesman, in order to go out and get legitimate work. That way, it'll separate the time wasters from those who want to succeed and build a career.
Overall, I know that as DJs, we are technically selling a service to venues and promoters. But please remember this - Cheaper does not always mean better. You get what you pay for.
Next time, I'll be addressing the issue of ticket selling bookings, and idiot promoters who expect you to play for free, seeing as they too are equally to blame for this current culture of £50 DJs.
Take care, and remember not to take any requests, even if they think "everyone will dance to it".