Friday, April 17, 2009

DJs Don't Fall for Unscrupulous Nightclub Tactics

DJ's please don't fall for these unscrupulous Nightclub Owner and Promoter Tactics.

We were perusing the internet looking for music news, concerts events and DJ news in general and we came across a Craig's list posting that really made us mad. It was basically one of the many ways Bar Owners and Promoters try and take advantage of up and coming DJs. The infamous "DJ Competition for a residency gig" The nightclub owner or promoter is simply looking for a way to try and jump start their new night by getting a ton of DJs to show up "with friends to cheer them on" without having to pay any of the DJs for the night. Then they will supposedly pic One DJ from the bunch to offer the residency position for that night as a continual gig. Hoping all the people that came that first night will continue to come and support the "CHUMP-PEON" who fell for this tactic and "Won" Often this shady tactic tends to backfire as the nightclub receives a bunch of weak DJs that cannot retain the crowd and often leads to an empty night in the long run. The One time success is quickly replaced by week after week of empty nights and empty promises to the new resident DJ. Lets face it if they were too cheap to pay DJs for their Audition time they will be too cheap to pay a good price for a good DJ.

This is one of the most unscrupulous tactics in the Nightclub business, and it wouldn't be so bad if it lead to a lucrative gig that paid $500+ per night but most of the owners or promoters that utilize these types of tactics are inherently cheap at heart. Lets face it most of these gigs will pay less than $300 and even go as low as $50-100. So as a professional DJ, is it really worth the time for any DJ to fall for such a shady tactic? NO!!!! Do Not Fall for the DJ Competition tactic!

DJ battles can help DJs gain recognition and also make DJs really work towards building their skills.
However, some DJ battles just aren't worth entering. If it lowers the quality of the DJ/Entertainment pay rate in your area, if it gives a club owner a free night of performances, if you have to "pay to enter" rather than be paid to perform, or if there is no set organizational skills involved like "15 minute performance" it's probably not worth your time as a respectable DJ. This also might show you as a desperate DJ, which means your ability to negotiate a reasonable rate will be diminished.

This tactic is also one that is utilized by lazy nightclub owners. They don't want to take the time to research local DJs and national acts, they aren't willing to evaluate and compare the various demo mixes dropped off by local DJs. I mean seriously, if you are going to own a nightclub at least be versed in the music you want played at your club. Find the best DJs you can afford, be willing to pay properly for your entertainment because that is who is ultimately going to retain your customers and draw even more customers to your venue. You simply cannot skimp on your entertainment if you are going to be a successful nightclub. Yet time and time again you see nightclub owners that don't know how to evaluate DJs other than by price. Lets face it some DJs are simply worth more than others. You cannot chose based on price tag alone. If you skimp on costs of important elements of success, you will not really be saving money but rather losing it instead. In the end your bottom line will be what really suffers. And your bottom line is ultimately what is most important. Keep that in mind for the future when you don't want to pay your DJs properly, it will be you that suffers the most.

Scenario 1: Hire DJ X - a second rate Local DJ that can hardly blend and lets songs play all the way through, has no crowd control and no excitement at a rate of $150 per night. Watch painfully as week after week he drives away your crowd and alienates your customers.

Scenario 2: hire DJ Y - A decent local DJ that knows her music fairly well, knows how to read and control the crowd and does a decent job of mixing and retaining most of your customers. This DJ may cost a few dollars more ($250-500 overall) but your nightclub sells more alcohol and cover charges and makes more money overall. You pay an extra $100-400 but your nightclub makes an extra $1,000-4,000 per night each week as time goes by.

Scenario 3: Hire DJ Z - The dopest Local DJ you could find. He really knows how to put on a show, knows how to scratch, mix and add flair to any routine. Knows how to really move the crowd and keep them entertained the entire night. This DJ creates a real buzz with your crowd, has them coming back week after week and has them telling everyone they know that your nightclub is the place to be for the best music and the best time. Pay him more money to make sure you retain him, but at the same time your nightclub makes way more money than if you would have paid for a cheap low class DJ. You paid an extra $300-1,000 but your nightclub made $3,000-12,000 more per night over time by having him there exciting the crowd, instead of a chump DJ that drives them away.

To show all the DJs, promoters and Nightclubs what were talking about
Check out the weak Craigs List posting by Denver's Own Blue Ice Nightclub/Lounge below:

"DJ Competition,

• We're looking for New Genre Blends consisting of Disco-House /Trip-Hop / Euro-Dance, and Rock, Classic Rock, and hip-hop "Influenced Electronica” or similar genera combinations.

• Competition starts WED. April 1st. Battle for nightly prizes and a final Grand Prize, including residency at hosting venue.

• $20 Entry Fee- can be paid via check, cash, or money order. Must be paid on or before March 25th in order to compete.
All money will be put into the pot for the grand prize along side of a residency position at hosting venue.

• Bring a min. of 10 people to audition night to qualify- some exceptions apply. Email us for any questions on this.

DJ's can spin vinyl or cd or both

• Must have all registration information approved before audition night to qualify.

• $3 cover starts April 1st for Wed. nights only.

• RSVP list is free (No Cover) for each DJ and must be emailed the day before the audition or the day before competition night so we can create a door list. Any person not on the DJ RSVP list will have to pay cover after the competition starts. Remember (max 10 people on your RSVP list)

• Music must be in club format i.e. - Electronica based mix.

• The ability to spin original and energetic ele./rap, ele./rock, ele./jazz, ele./anything, etc. will be key in winning the competition.

• Must have valid ID and be 21+

• Audition Dates are as follows; Wednesday Feb 25th - Wednesday March 4th - Wednesday March 18th - Wednesday March 25th

• Audition blocks are 30 minutes long and will start each Wednesday night at 7:00. APPLY EARLY! SPOTS ARE ALREADY FILLING UP."

Come on now, not only are these DJs not going to be paid for their time, but they also need to pay a registration fee? So now they are paying the nightclub owner to play for the club. To add insult to injury, it's not like it's a One time deal, this competition goes on for weeks. So now the club gets 4 weeks worth of FREE DJS all battling it out over and over just for a mediocre residency position and some prizes.

It's One thing if the prizes are at least good ones and they are announced ahead of time like they do for the certain battles including the DMC Technics DJ battles. If it's known that the $20 fee will go into a pool of money to be paid to the winner plus tickets to Jamaica or Vegas or gift certificate for $500 to Guitar Center etc... But there is no mention of what these prizes might be. Could just be a shirt, a bag etc... The contest is too vague and really takes too much advantage of hungry and starving DJs that simply are trying to find a spot willing to give them a shot at a gig.

DJs I know times are sometimes tough, especially in today's economic slump, but events like these can really hurt the DJ community more than it will help it.

DJs need to boycott this type of behaviour or the entire DJ industry suffers. Club owners need to learn how to judge DJs for themselves. Take the time to listen to each one and really understand which ones stand out from the rest. Do some research online, go to other club nights and hear other DJs, listen to the demos they recieve, maybe try out a few DJs on a paid basis and finally once they find a good one do what they need to make sure they retain that DJ.

Another style to watch out for is the "This DJ vs That DJ week after week after week style competition." This style of DJ battle is more of an ongoing promotion of just alternating DJs rather than a real competition. Now there's nothing wrong with this format so long as each DJ is compensated properly for their time. If however it is simply another ploy for the nightclub to get "Free DJs" each week then by all means please boycott these style events at all costs!

We also found this event/competition invite on craigslist for an on going DJ competition at Bases Loaded sports bar in North Denver (Federal and Speer Blvd). We thought his was a decent flyer and we will be looking into this one to see if it is a legitimate weekly party that pays it's DJs or whether it is just another tactic.

Being that this one expects you to submit a mix, we suspect it might actually be a more legit competition for a guest spot style paid DJ gig. We will check on this and update you on future postings. The location is not as lucrative for real recognition as it is not a higher paying nightclub style location, but it is still worth looking into. As always make sure you are aware of the pay situations at any events that are listed as DJ Competitions and be aware that some are of benefit to the DJs and others only try and take advantage of the notoriously competitive nature of most DJs. So DJs, leave your ego's at home and find only the gigs that are worth while. Don't settle for $50-200 gigs make sure you are compensated real market value for your skills, time and efforts or your cities prices will continue to deteriorate until no DJ can eat off their own efforts.

- V. Vanguard - The Great Hip Hop Blog

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