Everything you need to know to make your DJ business a success
Getting paid to party is top of the list of reasons for becoming a DJ. Awesome sets might see the bookings streaming in. But to run a successful DJ business, you’ll need more than just top tunes. You’ll need to plan ahead and ensure the paperwork is sorted too, or you could run into big problems. In this article we answer your questions about everything you need to know to make your business a success. And we answer the all-important questions about DJ insurance.
Is there a market for my business?
Before investing time or money in your DJ business, you should identify if there is a market for it. DJ businesses fall into two groups: DJs who perform live gigs at clubs and festivals and DJs who play sets at special occasions, like weddings and birthday parties, which are also often known as a mobile disco. If you’re planning to run a mobile disco, check out your likely competition. Are there other businesses doing the same thing as you nearby? And if so, is there likely to be enough business to go around?
What equipment do I need?
The type of equipment you need vary depending on what you plan to do. There are lots of options for equipment and software, so you’ll need to find the right fit for your level and budget.
As well as the basic need for decks, mixers, headphones and speakers you might also want to consider your lighting. You also have different purchase options. You could buy the kit outright. Or if you’re just starting out, you may prefer to rent the equipment until you’re getting regular gigs. Renting also has the advantage of meaning you won’t need to worry about maintenance.
Getting the paperwork sorted
Do I need any licences?
DJs need permission from the copyright holders (the people who create the music) to play it. You could contact each individually, but this can be time-consuming! Instead, by obtaining TheMusicLicence you can access the vast majority of commercially available music. There are some exemptions, so make sure you are very clear to avoid getting into problems.
Do I need to PAT test my DJ equipment?
The Portable Appliance Test (PAT) is designed to make sure that electrical equipment is safe to use. The Health and Safety Executive highlights that:
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. However, the Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently (ie they don’t make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement, nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually).
Whilst you don’t have to carry out a PAT test every year by law, some venues may ask for evidence that your equipment is safe. If you can’t they may not let you perform and you’ll lose the booking.
With Health and Safety an important concern for all venues, many will ask you to show them a risk assessment. For example, if you use a haze machine,
What DJ insurance do I need?
Insurance is designed to protect you and your business financially from a wide range of things that can go wrong. DJ insurance is a package of products specifically designed to meet the need of DJs. This could include:
- Equipment insurance
- Vehicle insurance
- Public liability insurance
Chances are you’ve invested some serious money in your DJ kit. If it is stolen or damaged, insurance will pay out, safeguarding your business.
You’ll need to insure your equipment against damage and theft whilst you’re working as well as when it is being stored between gigs. If you only play in the UK, make sure you tell your insurance broker, so you’ll get the best value price. But if you play sets abroad, you’ll also need to specify this, to make sure you are covered wherever you’re working.
And don’t forget to make sure your essential equipment is covered whilst in transit too. If not, you’ll be in for a nasty shock if something happens and you do need to make a claim. If you’re playing internationally, that means insurance cover on the plane. Even if your packages are marked fragile, there’s no guarantee that they will be treated that way. And the right insurance will mean you can quickly replace equipment and get back to work.
Top tip to protect your kit:
Whether you’re travelling to DJ abroad or are a wedding DJ, your kit will need to stand up to plenty of bashes. Invest in high quality cases for your equipment to keep it as well protected as possible. And make sure your insurance covers you wherever you go.
If you’re a mobile DJ carrying a full kit, PA system, decks, records and speakers, or even if all you need to transport around is yourself and your precious record collection, we’re guessing you’re not getting to your gigs using public transport. So it’s pretty certain that you’ll be using your own transport.
But while we’re also certain that you’ve got car insurance to cover your vehicle, have you got the right type of cover? Or are you leaving yourself open to not only a big bill if you have an accident, but also possible prosecution for not having insurance cover, simply by failing to read the small print on your policy?
What the average car insurance policy covers
Even if you plump for that slightly more ‘fully comprehensive’ cover, it may not give you the protection you need. If you read through a standard car insurance policy you’ll discover that there are some pretty important omissions in the times the policy will actually guarantee insurance – and one of those is using your vehicle for work related travel, including commuting to and from your place of work.
For DJs, their ‘place of work’ can be a pub, a club or a venue on the opposite side of the English Channel. And if you have an accident whilst driving to your ‘place of work’ then you could discover (too late, of course) that your insurance doesn’t actually cover you for that journey. The term to look out for is ‘domestic and pleasure use’, which basically translates as ‘this policy does not cover you for travel to and from your work, commuting or for travel connected with your occupation’.
This could also mean that you are effectively driving without the correct type of insurance cover, which could render your policy null and void. Not only would this mean that you could end up paying for the cost of an accident out of your own pocket, but you could also face criminal prosecution for driving with no insurance as well. That could put up to six points on your driving licence, as well as a considerable fine.
You may also find that being in the entertainment industry could also push your premiums through the roof, as the entertainment sector is regarded as a ‘high risk’ category by many insurance companies.
What can you do?
Talk to an experienced broker who will be able to find you the right kind of motor insurance as part of your DJ insurance-specific package. You may have to pay a little extra on your premiums to cover you for travel related to your occupation, but the additional cost on your premiums will certainly be worth it should the worst happen. Check your current motor policy and if you do see those ‘domestic and personal use’ clauses, get onto your insurance broker immediately to put the right kind of insurance in place to cover you for your occupation too.
Income Protection insurance
It pretty much tells you everything you need to know in the title, but here’s a quick breakdown of what income protection insurance covers, and how it can help you:
Firstly, it doesn’t cover you for the loss of your kit (we’ll look at that in a later blog). IP insurance was previously known as permanent health insurance. Simply put, it’s insurance that pays out a fixed amount if you are unable to work due to a long-term illness or serious injury.
Previously, IP insurance would pay out up until retirement, death, or your return to full-time work. However, because of a more ‘flexible’ and transient workforce, short-term IP insurance is now available for lower cost premiums, which can be more suitable for self-employed people like DJs.
Factor in the waiting time
IP will not pay out if you are made redundant, a contract is terminated, or if the gigs simply don’t come in for a while. Also remember that there is usually a waiting period before the insurance starts to provide you with any form of income, so make sure you factor that into your calculations. The amount paid is usually based on a percentage of your earnings (normally 50-70%). As the majority of DJs are self-employed, you will need to discuss your specific needs and status with an experienced and qualified broker, who can advise you on what type of IP insurance would suit your circumstances.
So what’s the point? Well, none of us ever know what’s around the corner. If you’re serious about your DJ business, you need to be serious about your insurance, and protecting the assets you have – and that includes your ability to actually perform. If illness or injury incapacitates you for any length of time you can quickly find that household bills go unpaid, and the additional worry can impact on your ability to recover.
Income protection insurance isn’t an essential, but it’s certainly worth looking at in more detail.
I’m a DJ. Why do I need public liability insurance?
Equipment and vehicle insurance may be obvious essentials. But what you may not have considered is your need for DJ insurance with public liability cover included.
You’ve probably heard about workplaces and large venues needing public liability insurance to protect themselves in the event that a member of the public injures themselves or suffers loss. But it’s not just venues and public spaces that need it – anyone who comes into contact with the public in their line of work can benefit from public liability insurance. And that’s why it’s a prudent move for DJs to take out public liability insurance.
Public liability insurance – the key to getting DJ work
There is also one very specific reason why DJs in particular need public liability insurance – so they can get work. Many venues, especially the larger ones, will insist that you have it and will not book a DJ that doesn’t have DJ insurance with public liability cover. Though venues will generally have their own public liability insurance, in the event of an accident caused by the DJ’s actions or negligence, they would much rather that it is his or her premium that takes the hit rather than their own.
At this point you might say something like, “but I’m just a DJ, what could possibly happen?” There are in fact a number of things that could go wrong, and by having the correct DJ insurance with public liability cover you can avoid having to pay a potentially substantial bill. Risks while DJing, whether at a wedding or a large public event, include:
- A member of the public tripping over a cable and injuring themselves
- Injury or loss caused by a fire sparked by a malfunctioning piece of equipment
- Speakers or lights falling from their positions and causing injury
At best, if you don’t have public liability insurance you could find yourself struggling to get any gigs. At worst, you could actually get the gigs and end up paying a large amount of compensation.
How much public liability insurance cover do I need?
The amount of public liability cover you can take out varies. £1 million, £5 million, and £10 million are common upper thresholds. The level of cover you might need varies depending on the size of venues you play. If you’re playing at venues owned by public sector organisations, such as government-owned buildings, you may find that they demand higher levels of public liability cover.
Top tips to get the right DJ insurance:
- Always check through policy documents carefully, or talk through your cover with your broker, to make sure you have got the level of cover you require.
- Make sure you take out enough public liability insurance to match your clients expectations.
- Carefully work out the accurate cost of replacing your equipment if it is damaged. If you under insure you could be left unable to replace you kit if it is stole or damaged. And that will leave you unable to work.
Finding cheap DJ insurance
Finally, to make your DJ business a success, it pays to find the best value DJ insurance. That means insurance that covers everything you need it to, at the lowest price. To make this easy, so you can concentrate on your music, use a specialist independent insurance broker, like Park Insurance. We’ve been helping DJ businesses for 30 years to find the right level of cover at a great value price. We’ll tailor-make your policy to cover exactly what you need for your peace of mind. And we’ll shop around some of the UK’s biggest names in insurance to get you the best value price. Call our friendly team for a free quote on 0117 9556835 or get in touch.