Smart DJ Tips: Should You Ever do Free Gigs For “Publicity?”

December 21, 2017 by Jason Rubio

We’ve all been there. We get an email or phone call from a business, non-profit, school or someone, who needs a DJ and they want the lowest possible price or usually, free. They promise to add you to their flyer or website (but rarely actually do) and promise you lots of “publicity.” Bottom line: they want a free DJ and therefore, don’t value your work. What do you do? The answer is completely your choice, of course. My answer is: it depends (as usual). 🙂 Let’s discuss this further.

Regardless of where you are with your DJ business, someone will ask you this question at some point, every year. As you become more established, people will stop asking you to do it for “publicity,” but will still ask for the best price possible. People rarely ask us to do events free, anymore, but we’ve had our fair share over the years. So what should you do if someone approaches you about working for free?


Think about your time. How many hours will you be at the event? Be sure to include the setup and breakdown time, too. Many people often mistakenly think, it’s just a 4-hour event. When you factor in set up and breakdown time, it’s about 6-7 hours of your time, not to mention the drive time to/from the event. If it’s a great event that you believe will be worth that amount of time to you, to do it free, then sure, take it!


What equipment will they need? Are they contacting you simply because they need a large PA system and don’t want to pay a sound company for it or rent it themselves and have to deal with setting it up? How big of a set up will they need? Is it a major event with thousands of people? Will they need multiple setups? Multiple wireless microphones? These are all things you should consider when taking the gig.

What’s Really in it for You?

I hate to bring this point up, but it’s necessary. Everyone operates on the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) principle. You may say, “no, I sincerely want to just help for a great cause.” Yes, that’s a great reason, but what makes you want to help that cause? Most likely because it is personally meaningful to you (which means there’s still something in it for you). It may not be monetary by any means, but people always do something because there’s something in it for them.

Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re well established, good publicity is always a great thing! Just think about what work you’re putting in and if the event is a perfect fit for you and you’re willing to do it for free, then by all means, do so!

What are your thoughts?


Jason Rubio Jason Rubio (85 Posts)

Jason Rubio is the co-owner and founder of Austin’s Best DJs, a professional DJ & photo booth company that provides music and entertainment for hundreds of weddings and events in the Austin and central Texas area. Jason started his DJ career as a mobile DJ, at age 13, and has since DJ’ed thousands of events, providing music and entertainment for clubs, bars, radio, concerts, festivals and various other events. In addition to writing for Mobile Beat, Jason also writes “The DJ Insider,” and has been featured in Canadian Special Events Magazine, Wedding Planner Magazine, and numerous other sites and publications. Jason is also a graduate of Texas State University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education, as well as a Master’s of Public Administration, from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Contact Jason Rubio at

Filed Under: Mobile DJ Business, Mobile DJ Performance Tips, Mobile DJ Sales & Marketing