As a DJ, you should have a signed, agreed contract between yourself and the client, every time, without fail. If you are working for an agency or directly for a venue, you should have a contract with them.
A contract is a written agreement that basically details what service you will provide and how you will be paid for them. Should anything go wrong, both parties can refer to the contract to confirm what was agreed.
I will go through the five main items that need to be in your contract and why.
Disclaimer: This information is purely a guide – it does not constitute as legal advice.
Please have your contract drawn up or checked by a legal practitioner.
1. DJ Information
You should include your company name and contact information. Business address, DJ name – especially if it is not you but one of your team providing the service.
2. Personal Details
The client’s full name, address including zip code (postcode), email address and contact telephone number. For weddings or other joint bookings, it is a good idea to get contact details of both parties. These details form part of the legal arrangement.
3. Event Details
Detail what the event is for: wedding, birthday party, corporate event… If you offer different setup packages, specify what is included. Include the date and time of the event, including both start and finish times, and setup and pack-down times. Detail the full name and address of the venue, and if possible, a contact name, email and telephone number of a duty manager or events manager. Try to get a number of guests expected and include that in the contract, making sure the venue allows that number.
4. Fee and Payment Terms
One of the most important things on the contract is the fee and payment terms. This is how much the client will pay you for your services, including a breakdown if you are offering more than one service, or any add-ons you have agreed. Make sure you detail when you will be paid, and whether you will take a deposit, will full details of how much and when. You will also need to include what happens if you or your client has to cancel for any reason, and what happens to all or part of the payment made or pending.
5. Terms and Conditions
Usually at the bottom of the contract will be the terms and conditions of the service agreement. You could list the insurances and licences you hold, such as Liability Insurance and Electrical Testing. Detail what is expected from the venue such as time to set up and pack-down, space required for your set up, number and type of electrical sockets. Detail what you will do to ensure the safety of your client and their guests, and how you expect them to respect you and your equipment.
Why is a contract important?
Unfortunately, things can go wrong, for a number of reasons. The contract is like a written version of a pre-event meeting. Everything you have agreed with your client is written down and signed by you and your client. If the client refuses to pay you based on something they believe you should have done, you should be able to refer to the contract.
Deposits, Payments and Refunds
Some people recommend taking a 50% deposit at the time of booking, though you can decide on a lesser amount. This is to make sure the client is committed to the event and there is much less chance of a cancellation. You will need to have certain clauses to detail how much of the deposit is refunded in the event of a cancellation by the client if any. You can have a sliding scale – for example, they receive a smaller percentage if they cancel up to 28 days before the event.
Always get the full balance paid and cleared before the event, preferably a couple of weeks before, just in case there are any delays for any reason.
Include what happens if you have to cancel, due to sickness or any other reason. Usually, I would offer a full refund, and offer to find a suitable alternative DJ.
Don’t forget to add information for cancellation due to acts of weather or other events out of your control.
In all cases, have everything agreed and make sure you keep the contact updated with anything that may affect the event.
Overtime and Additional Fees
I have played a number of gigs where the client and their guest want me to stay an extra hour or so. Include your overtime rate in your contract so you are not having to agree on a price with drunken clients on the night.
It is a good idea to check with the venue if this is possible at the beginning of the night, or even before the day. Some venues are only licensed until midnight.
I like to allow an hour to set up and an hour to pack down. This is included in my fee. For some events, especially weddings, the clients may want you to set up in the morning and then come back later in the day. This is an extra, chargeable cost, for the added time and travel.
Think about everything you might need from the client and the venue when you arrive. Make sure you detail how much space you require for your set up – I have played in some small venues and found that I have less space than I need for the setup. I can usually work with most situations, but if the client has paid for a large setup and then you can only fit a smaller one in the space provided they may not be happy. If you have stated the required space in the contract, you should be covered.
My contract states that I need at least two 20-amp plug sockets near the setup area. Do not run all your equipment from one outlet.
Make it clear that you require the music choices before the day, and how long before. I don’t stream music from YouTube or from someone’s smartphone as it is poor quality. If you are happy to take requests on the night, make sure you have the means to do so.
Policies and Insurances
You should have some sort of Public liability Insurance, in the unfortunate event that a guest is injured by you or your equipment, or if there is a fire or other damage to the venue due to your equipment or negligence. Most venues will insist on this.
Make sure your electrical equipment is tested at least annually, to reduce the risk of any failures or fires.
Make sure you have adequate vehicle insurance and breakdown cover, should you find yourself stranded.
You may look at getting equipment insurance in case anything breaks down or gets damaged.
Signing the Contract
Ideally, the client should have a printed copy of the contract, signed by both the DJ and the client.
There are services that allow contracts to be digitally signed, which is fine, just make sure it is clear that it has not been physically signed, and that the client has received it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I write a DJ contract?
You can write a DJ contract yourself using a simple Word document or online document application.
It should include the following areas:
- Names and contact details for DJ and Client
- Event details
- Fee and Payment terms
- Terms and Conditions
- Signatures with dates
What is a DJ contract?
A DJ contract is a formal, written agreement outlining the services to be provided by the DJ to the Client. It should include names and contact details of both parties, event details, terms and conditions, and be signed by both parties.
What makes a DJ successful?
A successful DJ is one that provides a good service to their client and guests. They play music according to the client’s requirements, whilst also maintaining a good crowd on the dancefloor, operates professionally and is courteous at all times.
What equipment do I need to start a DJ business?
A Mobile DJ will need a full set up. This will include the following:
- Playout system – Turntables and mixer – or – DJ controller
Whether printed or digital, it is crucial that you have a signed contract with your client. It sets out the service you have agreed to provide the client and what you expect from the client.
Everything should be laid out and written down, signed by you and the client and then, ideally, printed.
There are a number of templates and contract creation services available online. It’s a good idea to have your contract checked by a legal professional.
- DJ Information
- Personal Details
- Event Details
- Fee and Payment Terms
- Terms and Conditions
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