It’s a known fact the ‘mobile DJ’ is not perceived in the same way as other ‘trades’ and professions, but that’s likely due to a number of factors which can not entirely be addressed in one article alone!
What I am going to cover in this article is ‘legality’ of the operating mobile DJ, and how it is a far better option than operating ‘illegally’.
There is nothing worse than the bite of the Tax Man as I was once told! When they dig their teeth and claws into your personal life, they are hard to shake off. But what attracts the Tax man in the first place? If there are a series of dead ends, discrepancies in paperwork or ‘odd figures’ on file – all these gain the attention of the revenues investigative arm to start off with!
The obvious course of action would be to amend bad business practice and make it good. Nobody said that a sole trading DJ needed to be a great accountant! There are simple steps that can be followed in business practice that can help even the most fretful or nervous individual when it comes to dealing with money or figures.
In fact, if you have a business bank account, you can set up an account that offsets money into another account which actually gives a little interest! This money can be used to pay off any Tax that you may owe at the end of the year, and is worth discussing with your bank adviser or manager at the earliest opportunity.
So by example, if you deposit £100 into the account which are earnings from the disco service, a percentage can be offset into the other account. This account may be referred to a ‘Business Call Account’.
The figure you offset can be arranged to be a fixed amount or a percentage. Ideally, you will need to discuss this in finer detail with the bank adviser who will work with you to determine an agreeable figure based on the level of income into your account, outgoings via Direct Debits, etc.
Something else worth considering about Tax is when you are required to sign paperwork by the paying venue or corporate client who then have to submit the paperwork to their accounts and ‘perusal’ by the Tax man!
If their accounts are ‘odd’ or attract attention, you’ll be flagged up in the system at some point so it’s best to keep records over and above the legal requirement in case of an indiscretion that is investigated.
Of course, this does not mean to say that you have done anything wrong, but in case the paperwork investigated states that you earned £1,000 a night when in fact it was only £100 a night, you’ll need to prove that the figures you know are on record – your paperwork!
Competition is good for any line of business but in the DJ profession, it can be very cut-throat! From as far back as the early 1990’s, there have been reports of DJs being reported to the Tax man for avoidance of paying their way – by jealous or upset DJ competition! Although not a very good idea to discuss your turnover and financial standing openly, there are those that have not learned the art of professional discretion or what amounts to having a good business sense!
This ‘old flame’ of ‘grassing’ on other DJs has been rekindled when the music licensing companies encouraged DJs to report on other DJs who were thought to be using illegal copies of music in their commercial operation as a business.
Openly inviting DJs to report on others to a contact telephone number or email address, it would seem that there is no end to the flame fanning by the licensing companies who are most certainly seeking to exploit their new found resource!
Good advice would be to not brag about your business! Healthy competition is indeed good for any business and should be one of the factors that drives you to develop and manage your mobile DJ service.
It’s not just avoiding to pay Tax that attracts attention. Music Piracy is not doing the industry any good, therefore measures have been taken to crack down on those who choose to exploit the artistes, singers, composers, song writers and musicians by not buying music, who instead pirate music.
Sadly, whilst the majority of professional DJ services in the UK would choose to use good sound quality recordings of music, there are many professed ‘professionals’ using low quality mass produced pirated material.
The attention of the music licensing companies to the mobile DJ has been generated by despicable operators who have boasted on the quantities of music tracks they hold on hard drive library’s, referring immodestly to possessions or achievements which has only cost them time to acquire in vast numbers, instead of financial investment.
There is no positive argument for what is basically stealing other peoples work for financial gain, however, there is an argument if the owner of originally purchased music chooses to utilise mp3 digital technology for convenience of media playback, when the original source may have been a different media format.
The music licensing companies have introduced a license for those who wish to convert their tracks from one media format to another (ProDub Licence) however, this is levied on quantities of tracks as opposed to the actual tracks copied, and therefore calls into question if the license is nothing more than a money generating exercise than an actual reward for the composer and artiste of the track/s ‘format shifted’.
There are thousands and thousands of mobile DJs in the UK yet only a handful have purchased the license, many through fear of losing work at venues in case they are turned away.
The bottom line, if you legally download music from a UK source (if you require mp3 format) then you do not need the license. If you buy music CDs from the shops or online via UK sources, you do not need the license.
Currently, under UK law, you are required to purchase the ProDub license if you format shift your music. Your details will be kept on the music licensing companies database, and you sign consent for a home visit / inspection of your computer equipment at your home.
Photo ID Cards
The mobile DJ sector of the music industry, business practice and fair competition is not regulated. Various avenues have been exploited over the years and since the internet revolution and technology has allowed further exploitation, traditional ideas have been adapted and introduced by the DJ Associates Association so that’s members all have photo ID cards which help fight fraudulent use of Public Liability Insurance.
The cards also have the Public Liability details and will soon include further information such as Portable Appliance Test expiry and registrations to third party organisations, including those that require ProDub.
As a side note, an agency based in Kent in the mid 1990’s was taken to court by several music companies for ‘copying’ music. The owner operator (DJ) nearly lost his house with the level of fines imposed, so please do consider carefully when you choose paths to follow. Oh, and he was reported on by a fellow DJ.
Ultimately, the decision is yours. In my opinion, operating legally is the best option as the fines imposed on someone caught avoiding Tax or using pirated music is not a good option at all!
Written by Dan Dukesy, UK Based working Mobile Disco and DJ service [http://www.pimlicodiscos.com].
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