Last Updated on August 17, 2022
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Are How Much Does It Cost To Become A Dj For An Event
A DJ provides the soundtrack to the party at bars, nightclubs, concert venues, parties, raves, and music festivals. DJs must constantly work to refine their craft and to produce new music under their own names if they want to stay competitive. They must have a deep love and knowledge of their chosen genre in order to keep the crowd on the dance floor.
The term “DJ” originally referred to people who worked at radio stations playing records on air (vinyl disks) but the role has now expanded widely to describe those who mix music from any recorded source, such as vinyl, cassettes, CDs, or digital audio files, including music sampled from other sources. While the earliest DJs used record players and cassettes played on boomboxes to create their mixes, there is now specialized music software available that allows DJs to listen to and manipulate digital audio files.
Different types of DJs specialize in different areas of the music industry; for example, there are DJs who perform at weddings, private and corporate events, while others specialize in producing music mixes under their own name and performing in clubs, at raves, and in residencies. Contemporary DJs (usually branded into musical categories such as House, Techno, or Hip-Hop) also create and mix their own beats, bass lines, and loops, which are then used by Rappers as the backing track for their live performances.
DJs perform in many additional genres, such as Dance Hall, Reggaeton, and Dub, and some DJs also sing. Turntablists often “scratch” records, and use specialized equipment to fade from one track to the next, or even play multiple tracks simultaneously. Turntabling is considered an art form.
There are Mobile DJs, Producer DJs, Bedroom DJs, and Celebrity DJs. There are still on-air Radio DJs who play records and specialize in fading from one record into another. Some Radio DJs have been considered historically important since they ultimately get to choose the (new) music that people get to hear over the airwaves.
The role and art of DJs have evolved and expanded over time and continues to develop and change as the music industry changes.
To learn what it takes to become a working DJ, we talked to DJs performing in a variety of musical genres, including:
Is it hard to become a DJ?
It’s not easy to become a professional DJ who makes money with DJing only. You need to have talent, work hard on your skills, be a bit of a business person, too–you have to be a bit lucky also!
Yes! I think it’s easy to assume it’s all parties and fun–yes, it’s an amazing job and I feel so lucky to be able to do this as my career–but it is also super grueling both physically and mentally. We’re constantly traveling between time zones, giving all our energy into performing the best shows we can and missing friends and family. I think it’s important to recognize the tough parts of any job, as well as the positives.
There are so many DJs out there. How do you get the gig over somebody else? Do you have a Booking Agent that really kicks ass? Are you really active on social media? How do you get the attention to actually get the job?
I think that’s something we’re all trying to wrap our head around still to this day because algorithms change all the time—social media, technology, it’s always changing. How do you become somebody who can make a living at it?
It’s important to just go and make your mark in different situations and different areas. Like I said, I try to take the gigs that are more like nightclub experiences, and then I also try to take the gigs that are more performance-based and experimental, and [I ask myself] how can I be there? How can I be in front of this audience? How can I be in front of that audience? How can I be everywhere?
Adapt to each situation because that’s what’s going to give you longevity. If this market’s filled, then these people will call you, and vice versa. So if there aren’t festivals, and there aren’t performance-based things, or if I’m not producing music that keeps me out campaigning my own brand as an artist, I can still go out there and do nightclubs and keep my skill set razor-sharp as far as having a dialog with the audience and still do my performance skill set in the context of that, too.
I think now it’s almost, like, influencer-based. I don’t know if they’re an influencer and a DJ, or if DJs become influencers, probably a little of both. That seems to be the goal. You want to influence people. You want to share what you love about this craft with as many people as possible.
I see a lot of friends of mine who started DJing in the influencer context really take off with it, and they’re everywhere. They’re always doing things, flying to exotic places: fashion shows to normal nightclubs to performances. They have their hands in a lot of different things, and I’m watching that, and I’m like, “Yeah, that’s the way to do it.”
You’ve gotta have your hands in so many different pots and just keep it rotating. I think that that’s important…and it’s not boring. If you keep doing a residency over and over again, I think anybody would get burned out just doing the same thing over and over again, playing the same, “Okay, what’s the hit this week? What are the hits this week?” Then next week, it’s gonna change, and when you do that for a year, you’re going to be like, “ugh.”
I guess this also massively depends on how quickly you learn and understand the workflow and mixing process in general. Again, there are probably people that can learn to become a DJ within a week, and then there are other people that need a little more time.
How do you start a career as a DJ?
Alison Stolpa (Careers in Music Staff)
Here’s a real basic step-by-step of how to start your DJ career:
Decide what genre(s) of music you’ll play
Listen/watch your favorite DJs in action
Determine if you want to play records or use DJ software
Train yourself on DJ software and/or turntables
Practice, practice, practice!
Create demo mixes
Contact bars and clubs to get on their radar
Promote your DJ gigs online
What exactly does a DJ do?
A DJ is a person that is curating and playing music for an audience of people. Usually, DJs mix two tracks into each other so the audience gets the feeling of listening to a non-stop mix that includes several different tracks.
A DJ is mixing one record with another and creates a music set that makes people dance (if he does a good job), meaning a DJ is working on new music on a daily basis. Most of us DJs are also Producers who produce music for their sets and for the world music market.
I’m someone who performs their own material so I guess you could call that a performance DJ (as opposed to someone who does a residency at a nightclub). If I get a call from my Booking Agent that says “This club wants to book you” or “This event wants to book you,” usually it’s a stage environment where I’m performing.
The first question I ask is, “Is it a stage? Is it a DJ booth?” Just to kind of weed out the kind of things that are expected of the night so I can say yes or no—because primarily I want to express myself as an artist and do my own material. Not to say that I don’t do the other type of gigs but I just want to know what I’m getting into before I book the gig.
Let’s take the performance events. There was a time when I had to bring all my gear. You couldn’t advance it; there wasn’t a budget. Usually, if I’m on an album campaign, I have to bring all my turntables. Sometimes I can advance visuals; sometimes, I don’t. I bring my visual guy and there are screens. Sometimes we bring screens; sometimes we don’t.
I bring it to our Manager and book flights, hotels, [and] usually come the day of a show, do a soundcheck, depending on how big the venue or the event is. Sometimes it’s a festival. Sometimes it’s a three-day festival: things like Coachella, Bonnaroo, stuff like that. But most of the time, it’s a club.
We usually stay the night because it’s out-of-town. It’s pretty simple: you just deal with the Stage Manager and the Promoter and you advance the show. You let them know everything you need if they can advance gear; if not, you bring it. Then you perform for, hopefully, a nice sized audience that wants to hear you play your own material, and everybody walks away happy.
My name is Lost Frequencies and I’m a DJ/Producer–I make what I like to call “indie dance” music and as a DJ and performer, I’m lucky enough to travel the world with my music and bring joy to fans when I tour.
Well-established DJs can command huge fees for providing the music at events, clubs, venues, casinos, cruises, and raves. Popular DJs are like Rock Stars, and come with a strong loyal following of committed fans. Top DJs can earn six figures a night in places like Las Vegas, where they might hold down a residency of weeks, months, or even years. Like the rest of the music, entertainment, and sports industries, there’s a “winner-take-all” effect where a small number of highly successful people take home the majority of earnings.
DJs with an original catalogue of self-produced music can also earn royalties from licensing their music, just like any other Songwriter or Composer would. Recently, DJ David Guetta sold the master rights for his recordings to investors for a reported $100 million-plus. DJs who write and produce their own music have virtually unlimited earning potential, as they can earn licensing fees and royalties from having their music used in movies, videogames, TV shows, and on streaming services.
DJs who spin others’ recordings into live mixes on the spot and don’t produce their own recordings still can have good earning potential if they are good at what they do. Typically working in clubs, on cruise ships, and at weddings, bar mitzvahs, corporate events, and parties, they can bring home several hundred to several thousand dollars per night.
Many DJs travel around the world to stay constantly employed and might work for a season in a resort area somewhere offshore. They might command a weekly, monthly, or annual salary, but more often they are working as freelancers to earn their money.
How much money does a DJ make? According to Payscale.com1, the median wage for a DJ is approximately $49 an hour. The salary range for DJs runs from approximately $21,100 to $221,000+. Of course, superstar DJs like The Chainsmokers can make up to $46 million annually, according to Forbes2.
DJs earn money from performing, and those who produce their own tracks earn royalty money. Income from DJing can vary greatly, based on if you live in a major metropolitan area, how often you perform and how popular your chosen musical genre is.
Certain types of music draw bigger crowds and therefore have a greater demand, and the opposite also holds true. Income also varies based on whether you’re just starting out, or if you’re a world-famous DJ headlining festivals and raves across the globe. On average, a reasonably successful DJ can expect to make a few hundred dollars per show.
How do DJs get paid?
I do a lot of different things. I have an online store for merchandise. I have music that I’ve put out for twenty-five years with various groups and myself: Jurassic 5, Ozomatli, Cut Chemist. I sell shirts, I sell vinyl, I sell downloads, I have a subscription service.
All these things help, and then with DJing and performance being the main thing that I do, touring is, I would say, probably seventy-five percent of my income, with merchandising and stuff like that, because I’m out there promoting it online, sales are better. People go to the gig, if I don’t have merch there, they go to my site and buy it because they saw me play.
I think you can create a brand that’s marketable, create a logo, maybe a slogan, have a website. Have it be simple yet effective, where people can buy merchandise or stream your music or watch your videos. I have a YouTube channel. Have your various social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and just really pound it hard as far as information and content, but have it be unique and figure out what your own lane is so you’re not competing with other people that sound like you, or that you sound like them.
When you find that unique voice, you may find that you have a smaller audience, but it’ll grow. People have to be patient and just stay the course. As an artist, if you want to create a voice and say something that’s uniquely you, that’s why you want to be an artist. To find a response when you send out that mating call, it might take a while to get a response, but when you do, it’s gonna be real, and you’re gonna have a real dialog with that audience, no matter how big or small. That’s what I’m in it for.
I squeak by. I make my living. It’s very humble, but the audiences that I get are people I can really sit down and enjoy conversation with them. It’s like an intimate dialog. I’m not like Tiësto or DJ Snake where I can go and play for like a hundred thousand people, but I love the dialog that they have with their huge audience. I’m just over here with my little two to five hundred club capacity of people and totally loving it.
This is quite a tough question as we artists massively depend on playing live shows, which have all got canceled for this year. Of course, as an artist, you also make money from releasing music and selling merchandise online, but I’d say most of us artists are having a really hard time financially due to the corona crisis.
It varies very much–an established DJ headlining a major festival event will undoubtedly make more money than a smaller club resident, for example, but most DJs make their income via touring over music. On the other hand, a smaller DJ might be able to do more shows as they don’t always have to travel that far.
Everyone is trying to promote their music worldwide on their socials. Livestreaming was the main tool during lockdown, now everyone is trying to find concepts on how to DJ (have parties) with keeping the corona distance rules.
In Germany, we are very creative and have had drive-in festivals, now we have beer gardens where people are allowed to party in groups at their tables and a lot of artists are now pushing merchandise more. That is the only way to survive.
Let us know which career you are most interested in. Start here
Most DJs claim very high job satisfaction. They really seem to love what they do and feel grateful to be earning their living in the music and events industry. It’s important to consider that DJs (and most musical performers) are a part of the wider entertainment industry, and are also connected to the events industry since they are usually working in venues or on stages in front of large groups of people.
People will always demand live entertainment for events, so having a career as a DJ can provide good job security for people with the right skills. As long as there are parties and other types of gatherings, there will be a need for live music, and DJs provide this service to meet the demand in the market.
With the lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic coming to an end, many are predicting a flowering of the live music and entertainment sectors since there will be a huge pent-up demand as people start going out to concerts and clubs again. It’s likely a good time to be working as a DJ and the next years should see positive developments and the live music and events sectors should predictably see strong growth. It’s always a great time to be in the music industry, and for right now, even more so!
For those starting out, investing the time up-front to learn the required skills for a DJ is a recommended logical first step. Learning about the gear used, and what the sonic possibilities are, as well as learning about music should be top priorities. It would also be smart to follow the leading DJs and study what they do in order to be so successful. If you can shadow someone locally that can also be a good learning experience.
Getting a job as an Assistant will teach you to set up the gear, including lights and sound reinforcement. You could also take a few classes or private lessons from more accomplished DJ performers.
Setting yourself up in business as a DJ also requires you to learn about business and especially marketing. Starting a company and attracting clients (and fans) is part of the art of the music business. If you are willing and eager to put in the work required, it’s possible to build a solid business as a DJ performer, Composer, and Producer, and earn enough income to support a good lifestyle.
What kind of lifestyle does a DJ have? Many DJs work weekend nights, with the most popular nights being Thursday through Saturday. Shifts are usually a few hours long.
Beginner DJs usually hold down day jobs and start off by playing slower nights whereas superstar DJs play to massive crowds.
Depending on the event, DJs will works with Promoters, Bookers, Talent Buyers, Club Managers, other DJs and his/her/their Manager.
how much does it cost to hire a dj for a birthday party
Do you know why most people prefer DJs to live music? DJs add convenience, better volume control, authentic song versions and diverse music selections to your event. They also work with your theme and create playlists tailor-made to fit your occasion requirements.
However, estimating the cost of a DJ for a particular event can be challenging. So, if you are in such a fix, worry not. Below is a comprehensive DJ Cost Guide 2022 that will clear all your uncertainties on the cost of hiring a DJ.
In this DJ Cost Guide 2022, we discuss:
- The average DJ cost for four hours
- 9 things that determine DJ’s prices
- The difference between a cheap and an expensive DJ
- Extra services that affect the DJ cost
- Finding a great DJ at the right price
- Average wedding DJ cost
- Average DJ costs for birthdays and other parties
- So, is it worth it to hire a DJ?
- Frequently asked questions
The average DJ cost for four hours
The average cost of hiring a DJ for four hours is around $400 in the US. However, this may fluctuate depending on your specific location and the type of event you are hosting. For example, a wedding reception that lasts four hours may cost an average of $500, while a 4-hour corporate party may cost around $300. Additionally, the event’s location also affects the DJ cost per hour. For example, DJ services at a wedding event in Texas may cost around $320 for four hours, while one in Chicago may go for up to $400 for an equal number of hours.
To ensure you get an explicit DJ cost estimation, feel free to use our Average DJ Cost Calculator on top of this page. It calculates the estimated price based on your event’s location and the estimated number of hours you plan to hire a DJ. This calculator helps you budget your event conveniently, allowing you to relax amidst the pressures of planning.
9 things that determine DJ’s prices
Like most other services, DJ services vary depending on several factors. Below, are nine common factors that determine the cost of DJs.
DJ prices vary from one area to another depending on competition and the availability of experienced DJs. When the competition is high, prices hike and vice versa.
2. Type of event
The type of event also affects the cost of DJ services. For example, a wedding may cost higher than a birthday party. The setting time, professionalism and personalized touch required for a wedding may take more hours for the DJ than it would in a birthday party.
3. Size of the party and crowd
A professional DJ reads the atmosphere to gauge whether the audience is thoroughly entertained. This includes testing their music preferences, using various equipment, lighting, and sound systems. With a larger crowd, all these activities increase the cost of delivering DJ services.
4. Performance duration
Performance duration may include the number of hours they will take to get to your venue, unpack, connect their equipment, perform, pack their gear and travel back. The longer the performance duration, the higher the cost.
5. DJ experience
Like any other profession, DJs charge higher depending on their experience levels. Experienced DJs charge higher since they have extensive music libraries, can entertain a large crowd and add top-notch professionalism to your occasion.
DJs with quality equipment are likely to charge higher than those with poor equipment. Budget accordingly if you desire your occasion to have an epic sound system with well-balanced volumes.
7. Special request = increase in preparation time
The cost of a DJ covers more than just spinning songs at your party. It also covers the time your DJ uses to prepare and tailor-make your special requests. Obscure music requests also increase the cost of a DJ, especially if it requires them to buy new songs.
During High pick seasons such as Christmas and New year holidays, DJs tend to raise their prices. Consider setting your event during a low pick season to save on cost.
9. Travel fees
Travel fees are part of your DJs package. If a DJ has to cover a long distance to arrive at your venue, they will likely charge more than if you hired one near your venue.
The difference between a cheap and an expensive DJ
The main difference between a costly and a cheap DJ is quality. Although both may provide the musical experience needed for an occasion, a costly DJ will likely offer a more memorable experience than a cheap one.
Having discussed the factors that affect the cost of a DJ, it is clear that an expensive DJ will ensure they thoroughly entertain the crowd regardless of its size and provide high-quality equipment reducing gear-related disruptions. On the flip side, a cheap DJ may not afford to use quality equipment, which may ruin your long-awaited event. However, it is important to research to ensure the cost of your DJ corresponds to their level of professionalism and experience.
Extra services that affect the DJ cost
In addition to the 9 DJ cost determinants mentioned above, extra services offered by the DJ also affect their prices directly. Below are additional services that may affect the DJ cost.
The total cost of a DJ may rise if they offer both DJ services and act as your event’s master of ceremony. The roles of an MC include giving directions, announcing activities, keeping the event on the schedule, and other related activities. Before hiring your DJ, let them know whether or not they should provide MC services on top of their DJ services to avoid confusion.
To learn more about DJs working as MCs, visit our post about why you should hire a DJ for your wedding.
2. Light shows
If your desire your event to have light shows included, be ready to dig deeper into your pockets. Light shows require a range of equipment and power to be successful, which adds to the cost of your DJ. This equipment includes disco lights, fog/smoke machines, lasers, and strobe light.
3. Video projections
It costs extra to have your DJ offer video projections. Video projections, like light shows, require additional equipment, which adds to your DJ’s cost.
4. Sound system included
Some people prefer hiring their sound systems separately, while others hire DJs together with their sound systems. If you settle for the latter, you may end up paying your DJ more than one who hired a DJ alone.
5. Playlists for dinner or reception
DJs charge more when you request tailor-made playlists to correspond with your dinner or reception requirements. The extra cost covers the time taken to select your preferences and in some instances, download if your requests do not fall under their song collection.
6. Supplemental instruments: saxophone, drums, etc.
Supplemental instruments create a blend of DJ music with a sense of live performance. To achieve this, a DJ may offer supplementary instruments such as saxophones, guitars and drums, which adds to the prices charged.
Finding a great DJ at the right price
Once you have understood the virtual cost range for the perfect DJ, the final task is to pick one. DJs set the tone and mood for your event and finding one that matches your budget and expectations may still appear a daunting task. To settle for a great DJ at the right price, ensure you follow these five tips.
- Contact a DJ connecting platform. The easiest way to find a DJ at the right price is to contact a reliable platform that connects DJs with event organizers. Cueup is one such platform. We allow you to relax as we handle the hard part. All you need to do is tell us about your event requirements, and within a day, you will receive non-binding offers from professional DJs around you.
- After receiving offers, ensure you interview a few DJs to test whether what they offer corresponds to your event requirements beforehand.
- Check out their equipment to determine whether the equipment is in good condition and if they can offer value for your money.
- Ask for referrals: You have a friend whose wedding or birthday party music flow was flawless? Consider asking them for a referral.
Average wedding DJ cost
When discussing DJ services, we cannot ignore one of the main events requiring a professional DJ’s touch. A DJ plays a massive part in the day by keeping your crowd entertained while offering value for your money. On average, a professional wedding DJ may cost between $1000 and $3000 to cover your day. However, this may vary depending on the factors discussed above, such as location, size of the event, number of hours and any additional services offered by the DJ.
Average DJ cost for birthdays and other parties
Events come in different shapes and designs. Therefore, it is essential to estimate the exact cost of a DJ for a particular party for budgeting purposes. The average DJ cost for birthdays and other parties is $100 per hour in the US. However, this may vary depending on the location and the number of hours worked, among other factors discussed earlier. To get a more specific price range, consider using our interactive DJ cost calculator to estimate the average, minimal and maximum cost of a DJ in a particular area.
So, is it worth it to hire a DJ?
The answer is an absolute YES.
Hiring a DJ can turn your event from a strained one to a successful one. Sure, you may decide to play your playlist through a speakerphone, but how will you ensure your visitors enjoy your music? DJs read their audience and ensure every song is a hit.
Hiring a great DJ enhances your event by adding color, vibrancy and life. DJs’ extensive knowledge and diverse music playlists entertain your visitors who may end up on your dancing floor busting moves. This gesture adds love and glamour to your event, making it memorable, as it should be. One can barely imagine an event without a DJ.
How does the DJ get paid?
Depending on your initial agreement with your DJ, you may pay them half the agreed amount upfront and the other half upon job completion. However, some DJs prefer receiving the whole amount at once upon job completion.
How to save money when booking a DJ?
To save money when booking a DJ, consider asking for referrals from people you trust. You can alternatively contact platforms that connect DJs to event-holders. Such a platform is Cueup which connects you to your desired DJ within a day saving up your time and resources.
What’s included in the DJ’s price?
DJ’s fees cover their time to set up their equipment, spin music, select playlists, offer other services such as MC services, pack their gears and travel back. Therefore, it is advisable to select a DJ near your venue to save on the overall cost of hiring a DJ.
How much does a DJ cost per hour?
In the US, the average cost of a DJ per hour is $100. To find out what a DJ may cost per hour in your area, consider using the interactive DJ cost calculator on top of this page.
How much is a DJ for 4 hours?
The average cost of a DJ for 4 hours in the US is $400. However, this may vary depending on the nature of the event and the specific location of the venue.
How much are wedding DJs?
Wedding DJs cost between $1000 to $3000 to cover your day. Charged per hour, a wedding DJ may cost between $100-$500.
How to easily book a DJ?
To easily book a DJ, contact us at Cueup, where we unburden you by finding a DJ for you within 24 hours. All you need is to provide us with your event’s details, and we will handle the rest. Non-binding offers will start flowing to you within a day.