In Winnipeg alone, there are hundreds of self-proclaimed dj’s. I can’t give you solid numbers as to how many exactly have enough varied experience, skills and maturity to have their peers call them actual disc jockey’s, but I know the percentage approaches somewhere around 70% of the total. More to the point, the remaining percentage have purchased a small controller, a hundred tracks for a specific crowd, or more likely a streaming account - and suddenly they’re calling themselves dj’s.
There is a very big difference between the two segments.
The ones with years of experience, a high skill set for entertaining in many areas, professional maturity with clients, their guests, other vendors, and respect from their fellow peers, etc. are the ones that are considered professional dj’s, or m.c’s. The majority of these people also have insurance, perform to the best of their ability and charge for their experience and services accordingly. The remaining segment can que up a track, turn up the volume, and party and drink with the best of them. These are not professional dj’s – they’re partiers. They are also doing it illegally.
Any music company worth its salt must be a registered entity with the government. Yes, a company can be one person as the owner, but the company must have financial records and expenses, overhead, a gst # (if expecting to make $30,000.00 or more per annum), and most important – they must be licensed to play legally in Canada.
ReSound out of Toronto is one of the entities that license all recorded public performance music in Canada on behalf of (the CTRC empowered) Connect Music Licensing. Other associations allowed to license on Connect’s behalf, are the Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association and the Canadian Disc Jockey Association. Both have their own memberships and licensing packages for member dj firms.
What the annual license allows is the right to play back (ie: broadcast) for public performance, the music that has been produced / recorded by labelled musical artists. There are some exceptions to what cannot be played, but this is minor. This allows artists whose material we have in our possession, and the labels to be paid where otherwise, they would not be paid. Hotels and other venues also have responsibilities for paying Socan (of Connect Music) on their own terms.
There is much more to the legal rights associated with licensing, but I won’t go into it here. Briefly though, I will mention that the penalites are severe if a Connect Music enforcement agent catches an unlicensed dj performing at an event (of any kind). They include the complete (and legal) erasing of the dj’s hard drive or media the music is stored on, and a fine up to $15,000.00. Yes, this is real ... and not fun. The penalty is even worse if the venue is caught not submitting their fees to Socan as well. It is well worth it for every venue to double-check the DJ company's licensing ahead of time before they start playing in their hall.
The importance of our license goes beyond legality, because it tells our clients and the venues we play in that we aren’t messing around. We’re showing them the time and effort we’ve made in establishing our music service full of equipment, lighting and songs and our intention to grow.
At medallion sound, we license every year and obtain our music only from approved sources. We have many varied styles and genres of hard to find songs that our clients have requested. This allows us to play events where an average dj firm might not have the same music at their disposal. In short; the license, our music selection, experience and skill set for making people dance, have kept us successful for many years.
Clients are sometimes surprised when they learn we have to be licensed. But, once they’re informed of what it entails, they always leave with a better peace of mind than when they arrived. Client’s have told me, “to know the DJ you’ve hired is a real licensed professional who knows what they're doing - is perfect stress-relief - worth every penny!”.
So here’s to Winnipeg’s mobile dj scene (raised hand with wine-filled glass!). May those of us who have put in so much effort, continue to be successful and make all of our clients happier than ever, as we learn and grow.
After all - we are licensed to play! Cheers!!
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