DJs far and wide spoke out about the choice and need for unionisation to Future Female Sounds. The not-for-profit organisation is a global community with a mission: to make DJ culture accessible to women and gender minorities. Although possible in the UK and Denmark, there are very few countries where DJs can join a union to meet their needs and feel the benefits. Over the past few months, Future Female Sounds has raised awareness of the situation.
Tia Korpe is the director of Future Female Sounds and runs a booking agency exclusively focused on female and gender-expansive DJs. Spinning the decks should bring great joy. However, there can be negatives Tia finds hard to accept. “I think the time has come to demand better working conditions for DJs.” There are multiple factors. DJs don’t always earn a standard fee. They struggle to get insurance and have nowhere to turn to with work-related mental health issues. Also, women often feel unsafe in the workplace.
In Denmark, DJs can join the Musician’s Union with the same access and rights as artists and musicians. “However, there is no collective agreement for minimum fees. It leaves DJs powerless as we have no legal framework to refer to when negotiating fees.” The solution? Access to guidance and support for proper contracts to make the industry a fairer and safer place.
“It’s important because DJs are currently vulnerable in the industry, and we know from our community that female and gender-expansive DJs are especially unsure of their rights.” Korpe hasn’t uncovered any unions standing up nearly enough for DJs. “It requires a lot of advocacy, and for the narrative of a DJ being someone who ‘just plays music at the party’ to change to DJs viewed as artists in their own right.”
Founded in 2012, Future Female Sounds has worked hard to train over 1000 new DJs through programmes and workshops in electrifying cultural places: Paris, Copenhagen, Berlin, Cairo, Tunis and Beijing. Providing emerging and established DJs with skills and access to opportunities, It’s an 8000-strong community. There’s even the chance to join their online DJ Academy in partnership with Beatport. So, there’s always plenty going on.
Future Female Sounds wants music unions to play a proper role by embracing DJs and enrolling them as members with the same rights as other artists and musicians. “Music unions should let DJs join. There’s a need for legislation and a framework specifically for DJs. Unions can help foster more focus on safer spaces for especially vulnerable groups in the industry such as women, non-binary and trans artists.” The Future Female Sounds mission continues.