‘Pay-to-play’ Is Not OK: Stop The Dodgy Promoter Tactic Exploiting Young DJs
Status: Available Now!
Type: Blog
Date: Wednesday 24 April 2019, 12:00 AM
Media: Mixmag

About the organization Mixmag:
Type: Business
Sub-Types: Magazine, Record Label, Event Production, Website, Event Promotion, Press, Picture Hosting Agent
We’ve all heard people talking about DJs who ‘sell tickets’. Book Carl Cox and you’ll sell out your club, weeks in advance. Right now, Peggy Gou is a sure-fire money-maker for any promoter that can tempt her to their city. But a lesser-known DJ means the promoter has to work harder. You know, promoting. But in the last few years a new twist on the formula has taken hold: DJs having to sell a shed-load of tickets themselves to earn the privilege of getting a set low down the bill at festivals and clubs. ‘Pay-to-play’ is how many festivals and club nights are building the bottom end of their line-ups. It’s a case of getting budding DJs to play, but only if they buy a ticket to the festival themselves and sell maybe 10 to their friends. And some of the stories will make you wince. For example, the guy who agreed to sell tickets and buy his own for a festival in Scotland but couldn’t shift (quite) all the tickets he had to. “On the day,” he told us, “I had about four, maybe five, tickets left to sell after shifting twenty-three. I got to the festival, spoke to the promoter and they stated that it wasn’t good enough... as ‘a real DJ has to be able to sell tickets and mix tunes.’” Another DJ told us about being shocked by another global festival company’s similar demand. When she decided not to go ahead with the ticket deal she also exposed the festival, later being told that she’d ‘burnt bridges’ by doing so. Then when her friend backed out too the promoters demanded money, threatening them with visits from debt collectors. Another DJ still playing this particular festival claimed to have received their fee already, but admitted that they might be the lucky one in all of this. Anyway, “Every man and his dog can DJ,” he told us. But why should those who are willing or able to do the promoter’s job for them be first in line? How much talent are we missing out on, and how does any of this improve the experience for us punters?
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