Let’s Agree on Agreements

August 29, 2017 by Dave Ternier

Have you ever received a phone call like my friend Brian Harris of Brian Harris Entertainment in Dayton, Ohio did the other day?

BRIAN: “Brian Harris Entertainment, this is Brian.”

CALLER: “Yes, I wanted to see if you were available for a Valentine dance, and actually it’s tonight.”

BRIAN: “Oh no, I have an event tonight myself. What happened with the DJ that you had?”

CALLER: “He canceled on me an hour ago.”

BRIAN: “Did you have a contract?”

CALLER: “No, just a verbal contract. He’s a friend. (Quickly throws in…) He’s a professional DJ, but he is a friend.”

Mobile DJs all over the place receive phone calls like that far too often. They may not always be on the day of the event like this one, but many times for events that are just a few weeks or sometimes only a few days away. With a written agreement (or “contract”) between the DJ and the client, a lot of these types of phone calls would disappear.

The moment we have to put something in writing or add our signature to a document, in part because of the legal weight that a signature carries, we become more committed to what that document describes. This is true for both the buyer and the seller. The work that we do as mobile DJ entertainers should be treated with this type of commitment. All mobile DJs should be using written agreements.

Maybe you already use written agreements with your clients (good for you!), but there is a massive number of DJs that do not use written agreements with their clients.

If you do not currently use written agreements with the individuals and companies that are hiring you to work with them on their parties, I strongly encourage you to start doing so. (You are going to get a copy of my agreement, just for reading this!)

For approximately the first 11 years of my mobile DJ career, I did not use agreements. I simply didn’t know any better. The use of an agreement had never been mentioned to me and truthfully, I didn’t really understand the “business” side of running a DJ business. I was just a guy trying to have fun playing music for people’s parties!

After meeting some other DJs in the business about 9 years ago, I started using written agreements. I don’t remember any particular conversations that led to my using written agreements, but I had a feeling the public would take me a lot more seriously once I started to. The ease of use eWebmin provided to create agreements for each event also helped me get started with them.

While going through the application to earn my WED Guild designation a few years ago, I was reminded how important a proper and fair agreement was. Part of the application required that the DJ’s name be written on the agreement as a show of personal commitment to performing at that function. I was also advised that an important part of the agreement was that it should protect my interests AND the interests of the client. It should have balance to it, with regards to safeguards for myself and for my client.

I have read through many different DJ agreements over the years and have seen them go from a single page agreement to multi-paged detailed documents. The agreement I use has been kept to a simple one-page document with only the essential details. Following is a link to a PDF copy of the agreement template I use with my wedding couples.

As my agreement demonstrates, there are many protections in there for both me and for the client. I had none of these protections when I didn’t use agreements. And neither did my past clients.

If the general public was provided more education on this topic, maybe fewer fly-by-night DJs would let people down like the earlier example of Brian’s phone call. And if you happen to know a “weekend warrior” type DJ (as I once referred to myself) who doesn’t use written agreements, maybe just suggest to them they start using them. After all, I was once that fly-by-night DJ too. I just didn’t know any better.

Maybe the value of having a written agreement with a mobile DJ is something all of the DJ associations could work on promoting with the general public. That might really help things.

Always use a written agreement.

~ Dave

Dave Ternier Dave Ternier (26 Posts)

Dave Ternier began his DJ career in 1997 as a self taught, part time, mobile DJ. Since 2011, Dave has gone full time as a single operator DJ/MC for his company, Special Request Weddings. He is a proud Canadian DJ, MC, member of the CPDJA and recipient of the international WED Guild® certification. Family life is kept busy alongside his beautiful wife Kathryn and their two daughters, Kiana and Marika. Dave is also the founding author of www.aDJthought.com, an industry blog focused exclusively on mobile wedding DJs.


Filed Under: Mobile DJ Business