I remember when I first started to learn Djing and when I bought my first DJ gear, that was very exciting but, not very cheap when you 18 years old and still in university.
I needed to make some money with my new passion but I had the same question every time with no proper answer: “Excuse me, how much for a DJ?” NO IDEA AT ALL!!!
Should I take £30, £100, £500 or more? Absolutely no idea.
After trying different prices and perform in a lot of events I’ve found the right balance.
In this post I’m going to explain you how much you should charge, how long and where you should play and for which specific performance.
Your First Gig, Your First Penny
I know how you feel, you must be very exciting to start your first show and finally get paid for it. There is not a lot of things in world better than earn money with your passion.
But if you just started, I’m going to show you the quickest way to earn money as DJ: TAKE EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING !!!
Except your family and close friend there is not a lot of people who know you as a DJ.
Where? : Go in your neighborhood and ask if you can play music in the afternoon or in the night. It can be in a bar, hairdresser, shopping center, school party, friend’s birthday or restaurant. ANYWHERE, you need to make contact.
When? : As much as you can!! All these night performing will make you ready for the next step, so be hungry.
How Much? : Sometimes you have to give something first before you get something back. You know the restaurant or bar from your village since all your life because you’ve been here every weekend, but why should they pay for a service they don’t need, because they didn’t ask for it. Exactly they don’t have to, so just do it for free in exchange of a free meal and drink.
If the first night the bar or restaurant make more money than the other night of the week, guess what ? They going to call you back and this time, they NEED you my friend it means you can ask for something in return, but how much ?
Well, if you just started and you just brought your DJ gear first pack (Controller, Laptop, Headphone and speakers) you can go between £20 – £90 + Free meal and drink. I’m telling you, there is no better feeling such as earning some money because you’ve played some music.
Ask yourself this question: What is the best ? Ask 50 times to play in a Club or Play 50 times for £50 in your favorite bar or restaurant ? You’ve done the maths ? Very easy answer.
Give something for free => More contact => Make some Money => Invest in Better Equipment => More Gigs => More contact => More money => Invest again => More Gigs => More contact => MORE MONEY=>….
Keep doing this until you finally got your name and you’ve invested in some equipment, you need to learn as well how to analyze your audience juste here
Working In Nightclub, Things Getting Serious
This is it, after a couple or a lot of gigs everywhere in your town, you are ready to take it to the next level : The NightClub
But this time is going to be harder to get the job, so what do you have to do ?
- Step into the nightclub, don’t send e-mail and wait for answer, show them you are motivating. Record a music set of yourself, upload it on your USB and be ready to give it away as a DEMO.
- Much better for you if you know someone who’s already working there.e.g, bar tender, actual DJ, bouncer. Let this person introduce you to the manager and give it a free go
- Don’t forget you are about to sign a contract, a real job, so take it very serious even if the job is super fun.
In a NightClub you’ve got two different types of DJs
1- The Resident DJ
Is the one you see every week-end in the DJ booth, is the official DJ of the nightclub and a full time employee.
Where? :If you don’t have a nightclub in your town don’t be afraid to drive a few miles to find one. Are you willing to drive half/hour or an hour twice a week to make a monthly income? I’m sure you are.
When? : Usually every Friday and Saturday. Then you have the bank holiday and all the special events who can take place in the club. You’ll start around 11pm and finish after 5am, the average hours of work is 5 to 6 hours.
How Much? : All of this is gonna depend on of your experience, the club and your notoriety. You can make between £14000/year to £110000/year. If you become as well a producer of your own song the price can change but what you have to remember is: You are earning a consistent income while doing your passion.
Because you are an employee, you might also do some cleaning, video making for trailer or decorate the night club for the night.
2- The Guest DJ
The guest DJ like is name says, he’s a guest, so is only performing once in the club or a couple of Saturday per year.
Where? : Everywhere, it can be in a club, in a festival, in a different city or even in another country
When? : Anytime you want, you can perform 4 times per year or 365 times per year. You are you own boss, so you’ll have to sell yourself, your name, your BRAND.
How Much? : You can earn some decent money as a Guest, most of the time the people are coming to you because of your playing style, your craziness, your mixing skills or the quality of your equipment.
You can make the DJ resident’s monthly income in a day. If you want to hire Calvin Harris for one night, is going to be a six-figure check my friend. If you just start and don’t have enough notoriety yet, I recommend you to ask around your DJ friends how much they charge to stay at the level of the market.
I recommend to start as a resident and get some experience before going as a guest. Monthly recurrent income guaranty and you are going to meet so many people. If you can make the difference between the other DJ you’ll be successful for sure. Then when you’ll be a guest, make sure the people are following you. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and even Website are going to be very important in your business to grow your notoriety.
The DJ Mobile: Ready For Any Events
This one is as well totally different but a real business. I’ve learned and practice all my skills as a DJ mobile.
A DJ mobile is the one entertaining birthday, wedding, venue, exhibitions and all kind of event where sound system, music and light are provided by the DJ
Where ?: Anywhere but this is up to you. Choose your radius from home, there are so many DJ mobile nationwide so stay in your area i.e around 40 – 60 miles radius.
When ?: Most of the times during week-end, Friday, school holiday, bank holiday and summer. A Lot of DJ mobile are doing this as a second job and only on Saturday. You are your own boss, so same as a Guest DJ, you can work whenever you want.
How Much ?: Do some research to know the market in your area but don’t be afraid to take at least £300 and up to £2000 for one day. Yes you are not only working during night.
Ok let’s break this down for you shall we:
- You are getting your equipment ready for the day, buying new battery and maybe renting some more equipment for a big event (you’ll charge them for this of course)
- You need to take out everything from your car and sometimes the stage is miles away, set-up and disassemble your equipment on your own.
- Decorate the room with your light, buy some music if specific request, entertain and announce everything in the MIC
- Sometimes you have to be at the event for 12pm until 6am, yes this is 18h
So yes I know it’s a lot of work, but please don’t do this for free, sometimes people don’t understand, they think it’s easy and you are just playing music. Yes it’s fantastic to play music, but it could be no music if you haven’t learnt how to connected speaker to amp or if you haven’t heard of RCA, XLR or Pole Speaker.
So the price must be worth your time as well, if you stay 18h and you are asking for £300, you’ll be on almost £17/h. I recommend at least £40/hour when you start.
Usually you would come around 5pm and finish at 2am, so that’s 9h of work, much more reasonable.
As a DJ Mobile I was Making between £600 and £4500 per month while I was a student as well, so only working Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.
Everything is possible, it’s only a matter of motivation!!!
You can see here how to entertain a wedding
DJ It’s A Real Job
As you understand now, you’ll have to put some work on before making your first penny. Like every single business you gonna have to invest some money in order to earn some money. Make sense yes?
The first step is not easy, mixing in front of a lot of people or even a few it’s a very tough challenge. But if you don’t try, if you don’t ask, if you dont take the risk, how could you know if you are not the next Armin Van Buuren, Paul K or Carl Cox. The worse answer you can get when asking is a NO. Remember this, and you’ll never afraid to ask anything.
So ready for it? Which DJ do you see yourself? Which one is your favorite? Did I miss something in this article? You can tell me by writing a comment below and I’ll be happy to read you.