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Was I too Harsh and General Gripes for all

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Hi….I have been a watcher of this Forum for a while. I find it quite amusing, and have made the odd post. Having looked through some old posts whilst sat on the train I have decided to voice my opinion on a few things DJ related. I have just about retired from the end of December, in total I have been a practising DJ for about 25 years. Mobile, radio, and clubs. Professionally (as in my only occupation for about half of them). I have seen countless DJ’s come and go. I also know a few long-stayers who like me have found the longer you stick at it the easier it gets. I quit at December as I no longer enjoyed it, and was getting fed up. If your in it purely for the money you ain’t gonna be any good !


This posts contains my opinions they are probably all b.l*o’ks. But it’s been my way of working, and has served me well.



Like many I guess, I get hacked off with many things in the chosen PROFFESSION of ours. My main gripes include being talked down to by club managers who place us between rats and bands somewhere. Being undercut by tossers who have spent £50 at Argos to put a disco together and start to complete with us people who take things a little more seriously, and (big breath) DJ’s who complain at any type of expense. I’ve read it here, complaints about insurance, PAT testing, Copyright, Vehicle Insurance the list is endless. Guys the solution is not moaning. The solution is to act in a professional manner.


A good Disco, Roadshow or even Karaoke is a business treat it like that, and for goodness make life hard for the amateurs who take the *-ss out of us. Plant the seed of doubts in bookers minds. When you quote tell them that your gear is PAT tested, you carry backup of all the important equipment, tell them you have all the required insurance, tell them the will see copies when you sent conformation. You can bet you life the cheaper shows won’t offer this.


If you’re a middle of the road DJ you CANT become a Northern Soul Specialist by buying 2 ‘best of CD’s’. But if your honest ‘yeah I know a bit about it and I am sure I can provide enough to ensure everyone’s kept happy’ you won’t usually loose the gig. If you do, it wasn’t gonna be good for your reputation.


When your up against a client who says that he has been quoted £80.00 let the gig go but for goodness sake make sure your brochure falls on the mat of the venue the day that event happens. So when it goes **** up your name is at hand.


Bring on the licences, and other costs it makes us true pros. Ok so we have to charge more it will not happen overnight but surely we cant be frightened that the £80’ers can really compete with us can we?


All businesses have expenses….our prices have to be set with this in mind. Our reputations will allow us to charge more. But like any business it takes time to grow. As we know many attempt to use DJ’ing as a ‘get rich scheme’. Lets start making life hard for them. Let venues know about PAT testing remind them about PLI. And the hundreds of other things that make a peal pro stand out.


My views on the request post I read some place (for what its worth).


We have to listen to requests, and maybe be guided. I feel my clients book me for my style, if they don’t like my style I can’t really change it. If you book an ACDC tribute band they ain’t gonna play Dancing Queen are they? The definition of a request is usually some track that one person likes to listen to in the car. They are usually un-danceable and floor killers. So why do we allow our professional image to be compromised. BECAUSE WE ARE FRIGHTENED OF LOOSING THE BOOKING. The solution make it clear from the first enquiry ‘yeah we are happy to take and play requests if I feel that it will help the night along, but if I feel it will be detrimental to the overall atmosphere of the evening I may choose not to play it.’ Also stick this line on your conformation; Again it may cost a few gigs or you may upset a few workmates of the grooms brother, but you have maintained your reputation as a professional entertainer. It’s also worth remembering that just occasionally some one asks for a track you never play that turns out to be a real floor filler and you wonder how you never managed without it! Don’t give in to the person who asks for a totally unsuitable track ever. Lie say you haven’t got it that’s the ONLY way to stop them coming back time and time again.


I have pasted below some correspondence from a quy who booked me. I eventually refused the gig…Was I too harsh? (ps checkout the spelling of Spandau Ballet!)



Hi there,


My names XXXX XXXX and I'm going to be the best man at Stephen and Kerry's

wedding. They have asked me to get in contact with you about the DJ play

list for the evening bash.


First things first, are you aware that there will also be a band playing

that same evening and so it maybe an idea for you to get in contact with the

guitarist so that you can discuss anytime slot details etc. The guitarist is

the brides brother, his name is XXXXXX and you can contact him on XXXXXXXX


The style of music that XXXX wants playing is based closely to what I do

regularly at my Friday night DJ slot. It is a mixture of old and new with

the enforces on the 60's and 70's MOD and Rock bands, mixed with the Classic

soul tracks and 70's Disco of the same era. Within this mix there should be

a healthy blend of the more modern indie bands to keep the youngsters happy

mixed with some alternative dance bands (such as Jamiroquai, Morcheeba and

the Chemical brothers). There obviously should be some of you cheesy party

tunes aswell for example Wham, Spandal Ballad and YMCA etc.


I'll send you a more detailed list of specificbands. But the balance should be based as follows:-







The Reply



Dear Gary.


Thanks for your e-mail which I read with interest, unfortunately with 24 year experience in this business I guess I have become a bit of a Primadonna. I pride myself on my ability to read the crowd and play a set to suit. Of course I am prepared to lean to a particular direction to suit taste, but unfortunately not to the extent of being given percentages of different musical styles to play. I think it will be best for all concerned if I pull out of this particular gig.


I generally get booked for my reputation and choice of music. Without the ability to do this I feel it would be like having one hand tied behind my back. I would not enjoy the event, and it goes without saying this is not a good situation for all concerned.


I will of course not leave you in the lurch and have checked with the following DJ's and they are currently available.






I do hope you appreciate, as a fellow professional DJ that occasionaly you get a feeling for a gig and its best to decline the invitation to perform.



Best of luck



Martin Nicholls




PS Your deposit cheque is enclosed.




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top chap


spot on all the way http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/thumbup.gif


N U F C Yea....

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I'd just like to point out that the "Dear Gary" that this letter went to, wasnt me! http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/biggrin.gif


Hmm you've not mentioned how close to the wedding this letter went out - obviously if it was months and months to go, and at a time of year where the couple could have found a replacement DJ in the notice offered, then its ok to say that you cant perform within the parameters that THEY believe are required.


For example, their percentages of the night (assuming a 2 hours in-between "backing/fronting" the band/30 tunes night) work out to be:


17 MOD/ROCK songs


3 INDIE songs



Expressed that way, the person writing the letter should see that his mistake was to try to pre-program the night, based on a few of the attendees, where, as we all know, the audiences and the nights cannot be pre-determined that way - (although I did hear a DJ with a laptop using the identical same playlist two weeks running at the same venue (now THATS what I call cheating)). The fact that the writer of the letter neatly drops in that hes a DJ with a "slot" (suggesting club work) could mean that like many club DJ's, he does indeed pre-determine his "set" way before he turns up at his "slot". Again - with mobile DJ'ing - it just doesnt work that way.


I'd have written back expressing the above eg: any group of people, on any night, is a play-it-by-ear collection of souls - that must be read by the DJ minute by minute and cant be pre-determined even by close friends, or even by a forwarded email of "what requests do you wanna hear at Johns do?" doing the rounds amongst SOBER versions of those attending (anyone else had this? - it doesnt work as people are different when in a crowd with a drink in their hand).


However, if above letter had come in close to the booking, I wouldnt have declined the booking - I would have only advised that I thank him for his SUGGESTED track/mood percentages but that I'd use my audience experience to adjust the percentages, if the audience were not favouring it.


I would disagree however, with both uses of the word "usually" in the comment of

The definition of a request is usually some track that one person likes to listen to in the car. They are usually un-danceable and floor killers.
. True there are a few requests that are only fit for the background music spots, but most favour a dance/party atmosphere.


Oh...but the fact that someone in the band was a relative of the bride/groom...just sums it up perfectly...cliché. http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/whistling.gif

Edited by Gary

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Very interesting. When I began to read your reply I thought you were going to be too harsh because, generally, I don't like the "...I've been doing this for 24 years..." speech. But you used it excellently on this occassion by referring to yourself as a primadonna.


In the rest of the email you explained yourself very well, were courteous and complimentary.


What was the outcome? Did the guy just book someone else or did the B&G get back to you?

[insert quirky comment]

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This has to be the best post I have read on here for ages.


Its not written by me, but is sums up the vast majority of my thoughts over a similar time span.


I will be interested toread some of the views that appear......

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Sounds good to me.


I don't know that I would have actually pulled out of the gig but would have said like you did, that I could not work to those paramaters and then give them the option of looking for another DJ who would, if that was there desire.


In may case I could have referred him to my terms and conditions which states that I will accept a pre gig playlist of up to 20 tracks.


(although I did hear a DJ with a laptop using the identical same playlist two weeks running at the same venue

I sometimes think that I go over the top with trying to be different. If I'm doing a gig where I know the same people will be attending, I take printouts of the playlists from any previous functions for these guests and try to play different tracks. This is one advantage of using a laptop.


If you’re a middle of the road DJ you CANT become a Northern Soul Specialist by buying 2 ‘best of CD’s’. But if your honest ‘yeah I know a bit about it and I am sure I can provide enough to ensure everyone’s kept happy’ you won’t usually loose the gig. If you do, it wasn’t gonna be good for your reputation

In this respect I'm probably too honest.

I recently turned down a gig for a particular themed gig because I felt I was not experienced enough in the type of music they wanted. I explained to the customer that I will only take on bookings where I am 100% sure that I can provide a good service.

Quitting Smoking & Drinking doesn't make you live longer


It just feels like it.



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Just out of sheer curiosity, what gap was there between the above letter coming in to you, and the gig itself? http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/huh.gif

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3 Weeks !?!?!? YOUCH !!!


With only 3 weeks to go before their big day, I'd have done the booking - but with my proviso above about how I'd keep their suggested percentages in mind, but that I'd adjust the percentages to meet the audiences mood on the night.


If they couldnt have agreed to my proviso, then I would have said that I would have to decline the booking - reactively, rather than simply sending the deposit cheque bacK - even with a disco "handy" for the night in question.

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http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/notworthy.gif Top noch sir I with you all the way I started in the year sp25 turn tables where the dog's floopy things and if we can't read a gig by now it's time to put the sp 25 up in the loft and the Vox colum speakers in the garage. http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/toot.gif http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/goodjob.gif

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='font-size:21pt;line-height:100%'><span style='font-family:Impact'><span style='font-size:21pt;line-height:100%'>KEEP THE FAITH</span>

M.U. Member





PLI YES £10,000,000


0845 46 DISCO / MOB 07703011164






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3 wks is extremely close....from what Ive read...and I realise no one else heard the phone calls...I would have done the gig.


If it was 6month + off it would be different...however you did your work well in finding other dj's that were available then I may have looked at that option. Ive done these kind of gigs before, I think they are increasing aswell, and Ive had briliant nights and shockers!!!


I think overall it wasn't too harsh in principle...just the time scale worries me!



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Maybe they were just wanting like a generally guideline surely they didn't want you to work an exact percentage out for how many songs you play etc.


I mean wasn't it more a guideline, surely at their big day they can really ask for a selection of songs 'they' would like to listen to.


I mean maybe a lot of the guests might have liked that music etc etc.

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I'm gonna go against the grain a bit here. It does seem to me that you passed on a gig that you didn't like the look of to another DJ who ended up with a bad night. I can understand anyone turning down a gig at the enquiry stage or even after the deposit as long as it is agreed by both sides but from what I have read you didn't even give them the option of agreeing to you pulling out of the gig - simply returning their cheque (or was it a refund by your own cheque) and then giving them names of others DJs who would have to fill in for you at short notice.


We all have to do gigs that, when taken seem OK, then closer to the date fill us with gloom but as professionals we have to take the rough with the smooth, grit our teeth and get on with it. I certainly wouldn't pass it on to some other poor unsuspecting soul unless all parties were in agreement.



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I think you were right to do what you did.

As the author of the letter made it clear to you that he was a DJ I got the impression that his inital "percentage" suggestion was the thin end of the wedge. This is upheld by his saying that he would get back to you with "specific band names".

I can`t help feeling that you would have been plagued by this person for the whole gig continually telling you; "well, I would have played this now" and ;"I don`t think that`s a good choice of music at the moment - didn`t you read my list?"


I had a gig the other week that was Hell.

A 30th birthday - that`s fine, no probs.. Except.... the Birthday Boy is singer in a heavy rock band and he had his band members an hangers-on with him. (No gear so they weren`t playing at the gig).

All they wanted all night was rock and more rock. This was to placate about twenty people. The sad thing was, there were about 150 people in the room and a lot of them were aged 50+ (some into their 70s+).

Consequently 75% of the audience didn`t get any of their music.

There were times I had to physically remove six or seven people from behind my gear as they were searching through lists & CDs and pestering the life outta me.

If I had been told of this in advance I would not have taken the gig.

I knew it was going to be a bad night when the guy`s sister came up to me at the beginning of the night, looked at my grey hair and said; "Do you play any new stuff? You haven`t even heard of The Libertines and White Stripes, have you?"

http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/mad.gif http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/oops.gif http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/wallbash.gif http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/188.gif

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I agree - a good thread.


A member of the forum once said to a client "give me a pound coin and I'll stick it up my **** if you want me to be a juke-box" (I love that!!!)


It may not have been the most 'professional comment to make', but I personally agree with the philosphy!


I'm not going to attempt to shoot holes in your decision - it's done now!


But to the question of


"would it be right to pull out of a function if you felt you were not the right type or ideal entertainer and would pass on other ideal entertainer contacts and return the client deposit?"


Well, my reply would be yes.


Look forward to more of your reflections and experience!






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Been a while since my original post.....


Love the replies here are my thoughts



Well I guess I have a bad attitude, no thought for others and should retire totally. If somebody wants to talk down to me both as a professional and a person, I have no want to work for them PERIOD. If they want to treat me like a 1966 Wurlitzer and press buttons and their selected tracks come out, I have no want to work for them PERIOD.


I will be led in a direction we all have to...

I will use my experience, thereforenot be governed to tightly...



And giving a bad gig to somebody else. I'd have been crap at it. I had a bad attitude for this event, and it was clear that best man didn’t like me (or maybe any dj that wasn’t him in general) ALSO i'm not desperate for the money. So what’s wrong with passing it to somebody who was happy to work within those restraints? OK they may have had a bad night but they went home with a stack of cash in their back pocket.


Come on guys.....stop being talked down too.....don’t let people treat you like s:cense:t. Stand up be proud, earn respect and lets pull this profession up to where it belongs. We are Entertainers; we make or break an event. Remember it.......




Where’s you backbones and confidence…..


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Don't understand this reply; cos from what I've read, the vast majority of the people who replied agreed with you; so what's with these closing statements http://www.dj-forum.co.uk/html/emoticons/533.gif

Anthony Winyard Entertainment www.awe-dj.co.uk, Entertaining London & the South-East!


Click here to LIKE The Funky Penguin on Facebook.


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You are right of course! However it is very hard to believe that there were a few poor misguided souls who didn’t totally agree with me.


These guys need saving. I hate to think of them joining the 80 quidders and being pulled towards the big black hole, the hole created by agents and bookers alike pleading poverty and low fees. My friend Eskie if we all join hands and channel our thoughts, we can make poor treatment and poor money a thing of the past.


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it is very hard to believe that there were a few poor misguided souls who didn’t totally agree with me.


Why? I am not in the 80 quidders bracket and I don't think I'm misguided. I'm not saying you shouldn't have make your misgivings about the booking known but to turn it down with 3 weeks notice and without discussing it with the B&G first is not the way I would have done it. How would you have felt if the tables were turned and they rejected you with this amount of notice?



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The way you word things, sounds like you have been on the American boards - DJA?? or even DJ Chat.


I totally agree, and have been fighting for better conditions for DJ's for many, many years, more recently as secretary of the NADJ. First we need to educate the DJ in good business practice, then we can start educating management and the public. It will be a long slow process.


..playing all the hits for you...

....whether you may be....


Why can't I see what i going on???

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quit at December as I no longer enjoyed it, and was getting fed up. If your in it purely for the money you ain’t gonna be any good !


Oh really ?



A good Disco, Roadshow or even Karaoke is a business treat it like that



lost me here as it seems to be a bit of a contradiction of the first comment, surely not all businesmen are in business for the enjoyment ?.


Where the letter from the best man is concerned ,to be absolutely honest i would not have replied to it in the way that you did. The guy is making an effort to let you know what the bride and groom require , i would have thanked him for the letter and information and informed him that i would take into account what he had said, and would make an effort to play some of the music he lists but would also base my playing on the guests who were there. The b and g hired the dj to give them the service THEY want in the same way that i am sure that they hired the people who made the cake because they would make the type of cake ordered not a chocolate cake because they preferred it themselves. I seem to be about the only one who doesnt agree with the reply you made but then thats me but i will say that if as a potential customer i saw such a reply then i wouldnt hire you ! I didnt think it was professional or business like. Please do not take this as a personal attack on you as it isnt.


I must be very lucky because its many years since i have been treated as some kind of secondclass person because i am a dj.

Edited by C.S

I will try anything,once!


The Cornish will arise again !

Manager of the Andy Harris Fan Club.

Keep pasties Cornish

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