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The Mix Syndicate

[OPINION] The Politics of DJing

Life is full of politics. Whether you turn on the TV, radio or social media, there are tons of political statements and propaganda flooding us all everyday. But as a DJ, the politics that affect us the most are not taking place in our government, but in the club. As a matter of fact, the music business as a whole is full of so much politics and shade.

“Industry rule number four thousand and eighty, record company people are shady”

Well Q-Tip was right about that, but guess what…the night club business is just as bad.

With the combination of my experience and those of my fellow DJs, I am here to tell you that dealing with people in the night club industry is often a huge challenge. As if it’s not hard enough to deal with all the drunk (often ignorant) customers barking requests down our throats, we also have to often deal with the staff and management’s (sometimes) unrealistic views of what they think we should or shouldn’t be doing and playing.

Opinions are like @$$holes…everyone has one.

The DJ doesn’t ever tell the bartender how to make a drink, so why is it that some people think they know better than the DJ?

Many of us spend years and even decades perfecting our craft. DJs spend time researching music and preparing crates often hours before arriving at the gig. Yet still some club workers, owners, managers and patrons think they know better then the DJ. Guess what? You don’t!

So many times there is no respect for the DJ and if someone has it out to get him or her on a personal level, it can often result in the loss of that gig. We often work as self employed contractors. We don’t receive sick time, holidays or health insurance. Most venues want to treat us like we’re self employed on paper but when we’re working, some want to micro-manage and put unrealistic expectations on us.

Some DJs are getting paid peanuts but have to bring all their equipment, promote, make the flyer and be held responsible for what the crowd looks like that night. And if you are part of the lucky few to make more decent money, Uncle Sam wants to take 30% – 40% at the end of the year.

Often the DJ is the first to get blamed for things that go wrong. People leave…”uh oh must have been the DJ” that caused that! Showing up and murdering it for the crowd isn’t enough. No, the DJ has got to please the staff, the manager, the owner and the crowd. This is often next to impossible.

On top of all that good stuff, we got to worry about other DJs trying to weasel their way into our spots. Some do it by undercutting you. Some do it by kissing @$$ to the check writers, managers and staff. Some do it by talking sh!t about you and pointing out things about you. Whatever the case, sadly it has happened to all of us one time or another.

If you are a DJ and this has not happened to you, it’s probably because you’re the weasel on the other side!

President, The Mix Syndicate

The Mix Syndicate is an international fraternal music entertainment network of industry tastemakers & trendsetters.