Building your DJ brand involves many different components. From creating your logo to marketing yourself with a press kit, having a DJ career is essentially the same as running your own business. The bigger your business becomes, the more necessary it becomes to put things down in writing. By creating formal documents like contracts, invoices and riders, you’ll take your DJ business to the next level.
Do I really need a contract for a gig?
The answer is yes! Accepting a DJ gig and neglecting to send a contract or agreement is like gambling — you’re taking a chance on whether or not the client will pay you for your services. Even if it seems a bit formal, and maybe you prefer verbal agreements with clients who you consider to be friends, creating a contract for your gigs will ensure that your time and hard work are taken seriously.
It’s all about managing expectations – what you expect from the client (timely and full payment) and what the client expects from you (professional service and great music). By putting down in writing what you expect and what the client will receive, there will be no surprises and the event will run as smooth as possible.
A contract doesn’t have to get into too much detail, but just cover important details. For example, you should include a cancellation policy and outline what will happen if either you or the client has to cancel the event. Does the client insist that you agree to a radius clause? This should also be added into the terms of the contract if so. Be sure to mention that any additional hours that you play outside of the original terms will require an extra charge. It’s best to put a specific amount per hour so that there are no disputes later on about overtime charges.
If you have a residency at a venue, it’s especially advised to create a contract in order to hold those dates in advance on your calendar. Outline the event dates and a fee schedule with deposit due dates. Presenting a contract will make you look more professional and prove that your services are worthy of the fee associated.
Now that you’re convinced that sending a contract is necessary (we hope), let’s take a look at what a contract includes. This handy word document can be edited and used for your next gig!
An invoice can accompany your contract and be sent once a gig is booked. In an email, send the client your press kit, rider(s), a contract and an invoice. The invoice should include a payment schedule that details how and when you’ll be paid.
In a perfect world, you’d receive your payment in full right away or before you play the gig – but this is rarely how it works unfortunately. The client wants to ensure that you’ll hold up your end of the contract as well. A common and fair payment schedule requests 50% of the fee due at the time of booking and 50% due on the day of the event (no less than an hour before the performance time).
A deposit gives incentive to the client and to the DJ to uphold the booking. If a venue or club refuses to send a deposit (or just plain ignores you) it’s wise to include a clause in your contract that states that they will owe 50% of the booking fee if the date is cancelled 48 hours or less before the event time. You can also add that a proper rebooking is required if the event is cancelled.
There are many great tools to help automate the process of sending invoices and contracts, such as Wave or Dubsado. Dubsado can even set up a payment schedule for you that divides the full fee into a deposit and balance payment. Depending on how many invoices you send per month, it may be manageable for you to send them on your own via email. In this case, a simple invoice template will be your best bet. Check out the sample invoice below and try using it for your next gig:
Remember, things happen and not every event will go as planned – that’s why it’s important to take a few simple steps to protect your time and business. The more you work, the more routine it will become to send contracts and invoices. Why take a risk on your hard-earned money? Stay organized and make getting paid a priority.