Earlier in the year, when the coronavirus first reared its head, I wrote an article for this publication titled ‘Will You Be Ready For The New Normal?’ While I still believe in what I wrote, sadly the reality is that we are still quite a way away from that new normal, both here in the United States and over on your side of the pond. Until a vaccine is not only available but widely distributed, we are going to be living with the risk of contracting this virus at events and those events are going to look very different.
While I know that parties with DJs haven’t yet been permitted to resume in the UK, some are taking place here in the States. So I thought that sharing my experiences of DJing at these events may prove useful for you when you are able to get back out there and play music to make people dance.
Instead of a synchronised nationwide re-opening, individual states over here are re-opening on their own timeline. For me, this has its pros and cons. On the one hand, as a destination DJ, I am able to still perform in certain areas (whereas in my home city of NYC, events are done until 2021). On the other hand, the risk of spread is very real and concerning (especially as a new dad to a 6-week-old baby girl at the time of writing).
Wherever you stand on performing, or not, during this time (assuming it is lawfully-permitted), it is a personal choice and I don’t judge a person either way. There are folks like me who will be on the bleeding edge as guinea pigs trying to figure things out on the fly and others who will wait until things are a bit safer and protocols are established. Operating under the former, I realise that the advice below is a first draft of what may prove to be many when it comes to determining best practices. That being said, having now worked a few events during this pandemic, here are five things I have put in place so far:
#1 CONTRACT ADJUSTMENTS
I have updated my contracts to include some ‘COVID Stipulations’. The first is that, assuming masks are optional, my staff has sole discretion over whether we wear a mask. If we feel our safety is potentially compromised, we may decide to wear masks and clients have to be OK with that (generally, our team wear them for the entire event unless we’re making announcements). Second, we have a testing policy. Our staff will take one test before the event and one test after the event. This allows us to be sure we don’t bring the virus to the party and detect if we contract it while there. This plays into our ‘escrow account clause’. We take an extra payment (20% of the overall agreed price) that we hold pending the final COVID test. Assuming the test is negative, we will return that payment. If the test is positive, this payment goes towards covering quarantining expenses.
#2 PRE-EVENT CALL
We now set up a dedicated call at the beginning of event week with all the suppliers involved to establish a baseline of how the event will unfold so we have a united front. This may cover arranging staggered arrival/set-up and tear-down times, what the staff is doing mask-wise, layout concerns, flow, etc. Everything we agree is documented and we all sign off on it. I must tell you, this has been a game-changer. There are no questions or doubt where we all stand when they arrive on site as we have all talked it through, agreed to it and can hold one another accountable.
#3 NEW DJ SET-UP / GEAR PROTOCOL
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 103, Pages 52-54.