Do You Need a License to Become a DJ - public performance license requirements

Do You Need a License to Become a DJ?

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A lot of people nowadays are taking an interest in becoming a music producer or a DJ.

Because DJ gear is more accessible than ever, more people are given the opportunity to learn the basics and build a foundation for their skills.

Becoming a DJ may sound easy on paper.

All you need is a collection of music, a computer, and a DJ controller.

Nowadays, you can even DJ without a laptop and use your phone or tablet.

Becoming a DJ

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In the old days, you will need a massive collection of records, and expensive gear like turntables and mixers.

Becoming a DJ back then is much harder, because to learn how to become a DJ, you will need to invest.

As a kid in the 90s, it would take a lot of convincing for your parents even to consider buying you a set of turntables.

Those days are over now, because access to gear became a lot more affordable, and I’m not complaining.

Do You Need a License to Become a DJ?

It depends if you are just DJing for fun, or you are DJing as a profession.

When you start to earn money as a DJ, getting a DJ license is mandatory in most cases.

Just like any profession, a license will give you access to more gigs, which will equal more money.

It also depends on what kind of DJ you want to be.

4 Different Types of DJs

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Here are the 4 types of DJs – the requirements for each will vary:

Club DJ

A club DJ is a DJ that plays bars, pubs, and small clubs.

This type of DJ does not usually need a license depending on the person who will hire them.

Although they should get a DJ license, it is not precisely mandatory in most cases.

Being a club DJ means you will only get paid per gig, which can amount to $250 to $300 depending on your experience and the city you live in.

If you are planning to make DJing a full-time profession, maybe you can start working on getting a license as soon as possible.

Mobile DJs

Being a Mobile DJ is more of a business rather than an individual DJ getting hired.

Usually, a mobile DJ will need a business license to operate, as they are not only selling their services, they also rent out mobile sound systems for weddings and other private events.

Producer DJ

A producer DJ, who plays their own songs, does not need a digital license.

However, if you create official remixes using sampled tracks from other artists, you will need a permit, and you will need to pay royalties if you plan to release the music as your own and monetize on it.

Radio Station DJ

A radio station DJ might not need to get a license, as the company you work for will already have the licenses to play music from the record companies.

Types of Licenses

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As a DJ, you might need to get two types of licenses.

A digital license allows you to play copyrighted music and a business license, which will enable you to operate as a business.

A business license is not really mandatory, but if you want to file taxes, you are probably going to need it.

However, if you work as a Club DJ, you can file your taxes as an independent contractor or freelancer rather than a business.

Digital License

You would not need a digital license if you purchased the songs legally.

Whether you bought the songs online or from a record store, you can legally mix these songs and play them in certain countries.

In countries like Finland, Canada, or the UK, you will need to file for a digital license to play and mix the music for live shows legally.

Business License

Business licenses depend on the state you live in.

It is best to go to the city hall and consult with the civil registrar to find out the necessary requirements you need to get a business license.

However, if you are only working bout two nights a week as a club DJ, you don’t need to get one.

As long as you file your taxes as a freelancer or independent contractor, everything should work out.

If you get paid through Venmo, bank wire transfers, or cash, you will not need a business license.

As a responsible citizen, you should probably declare these earnings the next time you file your taxes.

Conclusion

As beginner DJs, we don’t really think about licensing at first.

I know it’s easy to just cross the bridge when we get there, but there is nothing wrong with preparing in advance.  

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