Contractors Protection, Payment, Insurance, and Mechanic License

    HomeDJing Contractors Protection, Payment, Insurance, and Mechanic License

Contractors Protection, Payment, Insurance, and Mechanic License


When you work as a DJ contractor, you are a self-employed person.  This means that you pay your taxes and that you will have to declare any income that you make.  It also means that you can deduct your equipment as well as other expenses for your business.  The smartest thing that you can do when you become a DJ is to incorporate your business.    It can have a tax number, and it can open up a bank account, it can be sued.  You will also get a tax break if you decide to incorporate your business as opposed to operating as a sole proprietor.  You can take off gas mileage and even a van for you to carry your equipment around in when you do your taxes. It would help if you had a tax accountant prepare your taxes.  If you plan on going into business for yourself, do it right.


You should also have insurance.  For example, if something falls on someone, you can be insured against the liability.  You should always be prepared for anything when you work for yourself as a general contractor. 


Get your money up front, or at least get a deposit before you book any engagement.  This is the number one rule for anyone who is acting as a DJ, especially for a party or a wedding.  It would help if you had all of your money up front before you even start to perform.  You should ask for a deposit to hold the date and then ask for your money before you start to perform.  One of the groups of people who get cheated the most often, unfortunately, are performers.  The wedding is over, the bride and groom have left, and the father of the bride is mad that you didn’t play a song that he wanted that he didn’t even tell you to play.  And he’s had a few drinks.  How do you get your money?  Taking him to small claims court costs you time as well as money.  You are better off to avoid this from occurring by getting paid up front.  Many performers ask for a cashier’s check or cash before they will perform to stop this from occurring. 


Have a contract available for anyone to sign if they engage you to perform.  Spell out all of your duties beforehand and then have the person who is hiring you sign the contract.  You sign a copy as well so that each of you has a copy of the contract.  It should spell out the fee, the terms of payment and the duties that are to be performed.  Make sure that you fulfill the obligations under the contract. 


These are rules for anyone who wants to start their own business.   Many people who start out as a DJ want to earn some cash on the side and will not take steps to protect themselves.  You are better off to start out your DJ business as a legitimate business from the start.  Not only will you be protecting yourself, but you will also appear to be more professional in the eyes of others. 


If you work in a club, you will most likely be hired under contract or, in states that are hired at will, you will not have a contract but work from week to week.  You should always push for a contract for a specific period.  Smaller clubs may not offer this, but the larger clubs will usually offer contracts for their performers.  A hire at will state is a state in which someone can be fired at will, without notice, and for any reason.  Find out if you live in a hire at will state before you begin performing. 


If you are unsure about a contract that you are signing, take it to an attorney who will be able to explain it to you.  A contract is a legally binding agreement.  If you sign a contract with a club owner, the chances are that the contract will be drawn up in favor of the club owner.  The more of a following you have with the club, the more negotiation powers you have when it comes to earning money. 


You should also make sure that you are getting paid by the club on a regular basis.  If you see that business is falling and you are not getting paid, it may be time to look for a new club.  One of the unfortunate things about working in this industry is that new clubs open and close all of the time.  Usually, those who are cheated are those who are owed money, such as the contractors.  So be sure that you get paid when you are supposed to be paid. 


Protect Yourself

Protect your interests when you are a DJ or if you are in any other type of business. You may love music.  You may love performing for other people.  You may love the club atmosphere and the adoration of the club.  But if at the end of the night you are not getting paid, you need to look for your money or find another club.   A contract is the best way that you can protect yourself from getting stiffed when you are performing as a DJ.  Unfortunately, if the club goes bankrupt, you will most likely not see your money.  That is why you should make sure you are paid on a regular basis when you work for a nightclub owner. 


Wait a minute, and you are going to perform other people’s music to make a profit?  There is one thing that you need to know before you become a hot, hot, hot DJ.  You need to have a license for this.  A mechanical license or mechanic license enables you to perform a song for profit that is under license by someone else.  These are not difficult to get at all.  Nor do you have to negotiate with the person who owns the catalog in most places. 


Because the songs that you are using are most likely under copyright, you do not want to risk copyright infringement by performing these songs without a license.  If you are performing music at your sister’s wedding, the chances are that you can get away with it without having a license.  But if you get to the point where you are well known and are making big money as DJ, then you should have a license to use the music to make a profit. 


While you are at it, if you come up with a mix that people like, you should copyright it yourself.  You can do this easily by sending your music to the copyright office.  It costs a fee to do this, but no one else will be able to use your music for profit unless they pay you.  That means that even if the song is played on the radio, they have to pay you royalties. 


If you have any questions about copyright law or how to obtain a license for songs that you want to use for profit, you should speak with an attorney who handles intellectual property law.  Again, you may not need to do this when you are first starting out – it is unlikely that anyone will come after you for copyright infringement if you are working a small club or playing at weddings.  But as you become bigger in the industry, you will want to be sure that you understand how copyright works, protect your work as well as make sure that you protect yourself from claims of copyright infringement.  In most cases, the worst thing that will happen is that you will get a Cease and Desist order if you are using a certain song.  However, the bigger you get and the more money you make, the more you stand to lose if you are infringing on copyrighted material. 


You can become a DJ if you know music, a love of music and a desire to perform.  You can get started with just a little bit of equipment and start to get paying gigs right away, most likely right in your town.  You can experiment with music so that you get the sound that you like.  If you have a natural affection for music and like mixing sound, this may be the ideal career choice for you. 


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