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How Much Money Do DJs Make? (The Answer Will Shock You!)

By Ferdi Vol
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DJing is often thought to be a very cool career choice. Not only do you get to play in front of ecstatic crowds that will practically worship you, but you also get to meet a lot of fascinating characters and cool people that will ensure you have a good time. However, how about the money that DJs make? Have you ever wondered how much does the average DJ make a night? How about more famous DJs such as Calvin Harris & Carl Cox? If so, let me tell you that this is the article for you!

The short answer is that the average DJ will make an average of $50 to $100 dollars an hour on a typical Los Angeles, Miami, or NYC club. If the DJ plays for 4 hours, then he or she could easily make $200 to $400 that night. DJs playing on smaller towns will obviously make less money (about $30 to $60 dollars an hour).

Also, DJs playing at weddings, house parties, and other events will make varying amounts of money. The amounts that they will charge will depend on several factors, but to give you a concrete number, expect DJs playing on a wedding to make between $600 to $900 dollars which is a substantial going rate.

But that is only the short answer. If you would like to know more about the topic, including how much does the average DJ makes on house parties, the average salary of the most popular DJs of our era, and even how to make more money if you DJ for a living, then please read on!

The Average Salary of Different Types of DJs

If you're curious about how much you should ask if you're a beginner DJ the following video explains it really well. If you want more information you can read further where you will find more information about the going rate of a DJ.

As I mentioned above, the average salary of a DJ will depend on a lot of several factors. Some of these factors include the geographical area & the venue where the DJ is playing, the perceived value of the DJ in question, the amount of time that the DJ will be playing, among other things. 

I have made a table that houses several DJ incomes per hour or the going rate of a DJ per hour which you can check out below. This will help you calculate how much you can ask for a DJ set.

Hourly Wage 1 Hour2 Hours3 Hours4 Hours
$30 $30 $60$90$120
$50 $50 $100$150$200
$100 $100 $200$300$400
$200 $200 $400$600$800

Club DJs

Club DJs tend to be well paid, especially if they can get regular gigs on any decently sized club. The last part can be pretty hard, especially in competitive cities such as Los Angeles. If this is the case, then the DJ will have to contact clubs and offer his services for free or for a very low fee.

The DJ would get some much-needed exposure and if the crowd likes his mixes, then there’s the chance that the club hires him full time. Many, if not most established DJs had to do this at first in order to get the ball rolling before actually hooking up with a club that will request their services full time.

So, if you are an aspiring DJ that wants to create a steady clientele, you are going to have to be realistic about how much to charge the venue. I would probably recommend that you charge no more than $100 bucks when you first start out for the whole night. If it’s a really trendy place, you might have to offer your services for free. 

After a few months of mixing for almost nothing and building a rep around the area, you can easily start charging 150-200 bucks for 4 hours of playing. The club will probably provide their own equipment, so you don’t have to deal with the hassle of bringing your own gear or risking damaging your stuff in any way.

Wedding DJs

Now, DJs playing in private events such as weddings and house parties is a completely different matter. These types of DJs tend to charge more than club DJs per event, but 99% of the time they need to bring their own gear, which will obviously include controllers, mixers, turntables, and/or CDJs, but also things like speakers, microphones, stands, etc.

So, while wedding DJs have more revenue, they also have more expenses because they are probably going to need to rent or buy the already mentioned DJ gear, unlike club DJs. There is no real answer to this. This means that the revenue is likely roughly the same as for club DJs.

House party DJs

DJs that are going to be playing on house parties will have to manage their expectations. In other words, they will probably not be making much money. For your average house party, the general DJ will charge about 200 bucks but it can be a little bit more if he’s well known in the zone or if he has a dedicated following. Again like wedding DJs, you might have to get your own equipment, including controllers, speakers, etc.

The Highest Paid DJs of Our Era

Now, while we talked about the average salaries of your typical club DJ, some of you might be wondering how much money do the heavy hitters make. A-list DJs make money from several ways, including paid sponsorships, live events, appearances, and more. It’s not unusual for a top-tier DJ to make over 5 million dollars net profit over a year, with the best artists making over 10 million. Below I provide a list of the highest-grossing DJs of the last few years.

Marshmello

One of the hottest DJs of the last few years, Marshmello has really focused on making music that appeals to a broader audience than the usual EDM crowd. Combine this with an instantly recognizable silhouette and you have the makings of a very lucrative career. According to Forbes, Marshmello earned close to 50 million dollars in 2019, which is even more amazing when you consider the fact that this superstar hasn’t even signed with a major label, instead producing music under his own company: Joytime Collective.

Steve Aoki

A seasoned veteran with more than 20 years of experience, Steve Aoki is no stranger to highest-paid DJs lists. According to Forbes, the Newport Beach native made over 30 million dollars in 2019. EDM fans really love the fact that this DJ is one of the most philanthropic music artists out there, with a part of that salary going to the Aoki Foundation, which primary goal is “supporting organizations in the brain science and research areas with a specific focus on regenerative medicine and brain preservation.”

Calvin Harris

A list of the highest-paid DJs wouldn’t be complete without Calvin Harris. The Scottish DJ broke into the mainstream in 2011 and he wasn’t looked back since. According to Wikipedia, Calvin Harris topped Forbes’ list of the world's highest-paid DJs for six consecutive years from 2013 to 2018, making over 50 million dollars over that last year. Obviously, that success hasn’t come easily. The now global sensation used to stock shelves in a supermarket and he even left London because of a lack of job opportunities while chasing his dream.

The Chainsmokers

This DJ Duo is one of the highest-earning acts on the whole world. If you want to learn more about DJ duo's you can click the link to get to the article. Like Marshmello, they have really focused on making electronic music more accessible to the general public. Their breakthrough song “#selfie” was certified platinum by the RIAA, with it concluding on a mostly sold-out tour in 2017. As a result of sponsorships, appearances and obviously DJ sets, The Chainsmokers have managed to make over 40 million dollars in 2018.

Tiesto

Another veteran of the industry, Tiesto has been widely considered one of the pioneers of modern EDM. While he may not make as much money as the other artists above on a yearly basis, he has more trajectory than all of them together. It is rumored that Tiesto makes about 15-20 million dollars yearly, with a very sweet net worth of $150 million dollars.

How to Earn More as a DJ

If you are reading this article, chances are that you aren’t too satisfied with the amount of money that you are making, especially after reading the information above. There’s the chance that you are making less money than most of your fellow DJs. If this is your case, then let me tell you that I have a few tips that will ensure that you finish the month with more money in your pockets.

Some of these tips include:

Start branding your services properly!

One of the first tips that I give to underachieving DJs is to start marketing their services properly. This can mean a lot of things, but in this modern era, it especially means social media presence. You should be taking high-quality pictures of the events that you are playing at. Ideally, those pictures should easily identify you and it should also have people on the crowd having a great time. In short, you should transmit the viewer the idea that you are a heck of a DJ that will make any crowd go wild. 

You should obviously be posting your mixes often on social media. Platforms like Soundcloud have really made lots of young DJs famous, and it has been really useful for them to reach certain audiences. It’s also free! You should really make use of social media in general, trying to post daily and keeping your followers well entertained. Becoming an influencer really. 

Try to collab with different artists

Another great way to make sure you can earn more money over time as a DJ is to start collaborating with other DJs in your area. Here’s what I mean by this: when you are talking with the club staff, there’s a high chance that they are going to be looking for your music online to see if you are legit or have the chops to actually perform on their venue. Playing with other DJs will definitely increase your perceived value to them, giving you an increased chance of landing the gig.

And while it’s better if you collab with somebody rather well known, it’s actually not necessary. As long as the person that you are going to be playing with is as well known as you, then you are good to go. Just make sure that your mixes and way of promotion stay as professional and as clean as possible, which brings me to my next point. 

Improve your image & gear

Lastly, a great way to get more gigs is to actually step up your fashion game. Many DJs tend to dress pretty nicely already, but if this is not your case, then it’s a good opportunity to start doing so. When it comes to this, I would even recommend that you take it a step further and take professional pictures of yourself on cool clothing with decent gear.

This can be a great help and it might increase your value among not only other DJs but club owners as well. If you want to know why DJ equipment is so expensive and how you can save money on DJ equipment you can click on the link to get to the article.

You should also try doing other stuff too, like for example trying to lose or gain weight if you aren’t your ideal weight. Other things like skincare or starting to lift weights will also be very useful because it boosts your aesthetic.

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About DJ Pro Tips
DJ Pro Tips is a website that has the goal to make you a better DJ by providing useful and accurate information.
About the Author
Ferdi Vol is a DJ for several years and is here to share his passion with you.
About Ferdi Vol
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