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How to Get a License to Be a Mobile DJ

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A mobile disc jockey plays music on vinyl, CD or a computer and entertains a crowd at private events. With no fixed business location, the job is nomadic by nature. The DJ travels with a sound system, copies of recorded music, headphones and a microphone to wherever the next gig is located. Common gigs include office parties and wedding receptions. When a show is at a private club, the venue pays for a license, but at public events the DJ is responsible for licensing.

Performance License

Music is copyrighted and registered with performing rights organizations like BMI and ASCAP, which pay songwriters their royalties. When a DJ plays copyrighted songs in a public setting, it's considered a performance that requires a performance license so songwriters are paid. A mobile DJ can obtain a festival and special events license from SESAC.

Digital Software License

The fee for many computer software DJ programs includes a music license to transfer tracks from vinyl, cassette and CD onto a hard drive. During performances, DJs use software to spin, scratch and mash-up electronic music files. Serato is an example of DJ software that either includes or adds on public performance licenses at the time of purchase.


Kate Stepanski has been a professional writer since 2006. Her writing has appeared in media outlets like "The Oakland Tribune," “Mun2," “Not For Tourists," “Burner Magazine” and “San Francisco Bay Guardian." She holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from San Francisco State University.

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Eugenio Marongiu/Cultura/GettyImages