How I Lost My Gig When Someone Offered to Play for Free

The DJ industry in the Philippines has long been competitive. DJs are constantly competing for gigs and exposure in order to showcase their abilities and grow their fan base. However, in recent years, the industry has faced a growing issue of devaluation, with some DJs willing to gig for free or at a significantly lower rate than the standard.

This trend is not limited to the metro Manila area, but also to the provinces. Club owners and event organizers in the provinces face the same dilemma of finding DJs willing to perform for a fraction of the price. As a result, the standard rate for DJs is being reduced, and the industry is experiencing a decline in quality and talent. It is not only event organizers and club owners who are to blame for the industry’s devaluation. Fellow DJs who undercut each other by offering a lower fee or, worse, performing for free are also contributing to the problem. This type of behavior fosters a competitive culture and diminishes the value of DJ work.

The same thing happened to a DJ friend we know who had a last-minute cancellation because the organizer got a proposal from another DJ who would play for less.

I was devastated when the club cancelled my gig just a few days before the event. They had found another DJ who was willing to play for free just for the exposure and free food. It’s frustrating because I had already prepared my set and was counting on the payment to cover my bills. I understand that clubs are always looking to save money, but it’s a difficult moral dilemma. Is it really fair for them to cancel on me just because someone else is willing to work for free?

Khim Custudio – Manila

When DJs accept gigs for little to no pay, they not only undervalue themselves but also their peers. This sends the message to club owners and event organizers that they can get away with paying less, resulting in a race to the bottom. Other artists in the music industry, such as MCs, musicians, singers, and performers, are also affected by this devaluation and struggle to make a living wage.

This devaluation has had a significant impact. The quality of music produced and performed can deteriorate, affecting the audience’s overall experience. Rushed and subpar performances can result in an unsatisfying experience, which can harm the artist’s reputation and career.

To tackle this problem, artists must band together and agree on a standard rate for their services. This helps to prevent undercutting and ensures that all artists are fairly compensated for their time and effort. A unified approach sends a message to club owners and event organizers that artists are serious about their craft and expect fair compensation.

One solution is for artists to form a union or organization to set industry standards and guidelines. This can help to prevent undercutting and ensure that all artists are treated fairly. It can also provide resources for artists to expand their skills and knowledge, thereby improving the overall quality of the industry.

Another solution is for artists to collaborate and work together on events, showcasing their skills and supporting one another. This can lead to a stronger community and a more supportive environment, reducing the need to compete on price and focusing on the quality of work.

To clarify, the issue of DJs dropping at the last minute due to another DJ offering a lower talent fee or simply wanting exposure is a complex one that affects the entire music industry. The devaluation of artists’ services leads to a drop in quality and a race to the bottom. To combat this, artists must band together to support one another, demand fair pay, and set industry standards. The industry can only thrive if artists are valued and fairly compensated for their hard work and dedication.


Hey, I'm a music producer, DJ, and event curator for BASS N' BACON, and run a record label. I can speak English, Tagalog, and Bisaya, and I enjoy writing about music and culture. Whether it's through my music or writing, I bring a unique perspective and lots of experience to every project I do. Thanks for checking out my work!


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