Do DJs Have To Pay Royalties? A Complete Rundown.

Are you venturing into deejaying as a career? Do you have all the technical equipment and a gig or two ready to go? If yes, you are in the right place!

Most aspiring Djs know that to succeed in this industry they have to create unique playlists of music that suits the different demographics of people they will be serving in events, entertainment spots, or on social media channels. For this unique playlist to serve them well, they also need to get special rights, also known as royalties, to use this music.

In today's posting, we'll answer the following questions about music royalties and if DJs have to pay them to use music in events:

  • What exactly are royalties in the music industry?
  • Why do I need to pay royalties as an upcoming Dj?
  • How does one pay music royalties when you are an upcoming Dj?
  • How do I calculate the royalties to pay for music?
Do DJs Have To Pay Royalties? A Complete Rundown.

What Exactly Are Royalties in The Music Industry?

What Exactly Are Royalties in The Music Industry?

When I first decided to start deejaying, I thought it would be as easy and simple as getting the right equipment and a packed schedule of booked events to kickstart my new career. I did not give much thought to music and what investments I needed to acquire good music to use in my events.

To acquire quality and reliable playlists for my gigs, I had to pay royalties for my music. Royalties are the payment you make to get a license or permission to use the music created and copyrighted by other individuals and companies who legally own them. 

There are many music royalties that one can pay depending on how they intend to use the music in question. As a Dj, you must pay performance royalties for the music on my playlists. Performance royalties allow you to mix, store and play the musical assets of others in public events or gigs.

Why Do DJs Have To Pay Royalties If They Are Up And Coming?

Do Dj's Have To Pay Royalties?

Creating music is an art that takes a lot of talent, skill, and time to perfect. It also costs money for musicians, composers, producers, and publishers to come up with and market a song properly to hit the airwaves. 

Therefore, any piece of music, however small or popular, should be considered an asset belonging to one or all of the people involved in its production. It is only fitting that if you intend to use music that you did not create to make a living for yourself, then you should respect the right of the owner/s to also make a living out of their creation and assets.

You should also note that you need to pay royalties to avoid legal run-ins with the copyright firms, resulting in court cases or damage payments. The last thing you and any up-and-coming DJ would want is a ready gig with no music to play because of copyright issues.

How Do You Pay Royalties As An Up And Coming DJ?

How Do You Pay Royalties As An Up And Coming DJ?

Paying royalties is not as hard as it may sound on paper. Many musicians are signed up with Performance Rights Organizations (PRO's), like ASCAP( American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers) or BMI ( Broadcast Music Inc) in America, and SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors & Composers) in Europe. While these PRO's have an international reach, other countries also have their own PRO's where musicians and producers sign up.

These PRO's are tasked with collecting royalties on behalf of their signed-up members. You initiate paying for the license to play the particular song or music by different artists. 

Depending on the laws of your country, you can buy royalties as an all-rounded Deejaying license from the PRO's of the land, or you can also pay these PRO's royalties per song or musician. The deejaying permit allows you to download, mix or play other musicians' copyrighted songs as you wish.

These PROs also issue licenses for venues that intend to use their members' music at their premises. This venue license comes as a relief to many budding DJs as they can play without a worry in these gigs. However, it is not wise to depend on these licenses as a DJ because that limits the scope of gigs you can perform at to only licensed venues.

How Do You Calculate Royalties For Music Compilations As A DJ?

How Do You Calculate Royalties For Music Compilations As A DJ?

Individual PRO companies set royalty rates. These rates depend on various factors, such as the exclusivity rights set for a particular song and the technology used in the song's production. Sometimes the release date and length of the music are also considered when setting its royalty rate.

As a Dj, you use many songs from different musicians, and all these have different royalty rates as well. Therefore, you have to consult the PRO's concerned with collecting royalties for the music used and have them calculate the rates for you. Once you have the total amount payable for the playlist, you can then adjust the playlist to add or remove some songs to an amount you can afford to pay.

In Summary…

To sum it up, I would advise any up and coming Dj to play on the safe side with their career and pay royalties for their music. Paying royalties saves you a lot of worries and gives you the freedom to expand your career as you wish, for only a tiny fraction of what you stand to gain out of another person's talent and skill.


About Author

Arielle P

Arielle P

Songwriter | Music Producer | Engineer.

With a background in music production and a strong passion for education, Arielle is dedicated to helping emerging artists navigate the music industry. She has worked with a diverse range of artists, from indie rock bands to well-known hip-hop and grime artists. Arielle's unique approach to teaching focuses on empowering artists to take control of their brand, ensuring they retain creative ownership throughout their journey. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new sounds in her home studio and sharing her insights through music production tutorials and workshops.

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