Unfortunately the days of ringing an agent, getting placed on their books and sitting back and letting the work roll in, have long gone, such is the competition and the fact that Dj's are generally now considered ten a penny all leads to the fact that these days Agents generally seek out new and creative talent and will come looking for 'you'.
In a lot of areas, the number of available DJ's exceed the number of available gigs, this means that competition is fierce and its basically a buyers market.
A genuine agent will want a track record and references of clubs / pubs / venues / agents for whom you have worked for previously, some may even want to watch you at a gig. Very few agents will just pluck a random stranger with no actual prior club or pub experience and ask them to go out and represent them - it just doesn't work like that. Would you let a stranger with no experience represent you and be the front man for your business reputation?.
Also if you work for an agency does this mean you have to become self employed ?
Yes of course. If you accept money in return for providing a service then you are in business and effectively self employed and will have to conform to all of the red tape which follows with it. There is no difference between taking money from an agent or taking it from a client or venue who books you directly. Of course whether you have to actually pay Tax and N.I and how much depends on personal circumstances and whether you already have income from other business(s) or a day job and how much profit your new business makes.
I have looked at several which all charge a lot and a few that are relatively cheap
A proper agent won't charge you anything upfront, they only get paid when THEY find you work. So if they don't find you work, then they don't get paid.
Entertainment Agents work on a commission basis, for example they will agree to get you work for 20% of your fee. So if they get you a gig worth £200, then they will deduct 20% from that £200 as their commission. So in this £200 example, you would be paid £160, after paying the agent their 20% (£40) fee. They would also supply a written contract. Its also a legal requirement for businesses in the UK to have contact information and addresses on their websites. I'd avoid any agent, or indeed any business which didn't have this information available.
I would also expect an agent to get me a gig which was worth a little bit more than what I would charge the customer if they booked me directly, otherwise what is the point of paying them a chunk of commission and working for less than I normally would charge?.
So no, my advice would to avoid any 'agencies' charging an upfront fee with a barge pole. If they are genuine businesses who have faith in their own ability to find you work and have plenty of work to offer, then they should demonstrate it by working on a commission basis, then they only get paid on results. Far too much risk of them pocketing your fee, and then you never hearing from them again.
Edited by McCardle, 18 January 2014 - 05:32 PM.