If you're interested in a career as a DJ, you're probably wondering if the job is truly enough to pay the bills and live on. While many careers in the music world can leave people broke and near starving (i.e., starving artists), being a DJ can be quite lucrative if you play your cards right. Being a DJ is nothing like working 9-5 or working a salary job, but once you get a good idea of how the hours and pay work, you start to understand how this job can actually measure up to a salary or 9-5 job.
DJs can take payment any way they want, but most usually receive their pay per gig. The pay range can vary widely depending on the type of gig you do, the amount of experience you have, and the following you have as a DJ. On average, a DJ can expect to earn anywhere from $200 to $700 per gig.
Since DJs get paid per event, for the most part, you will need to do some math to figure out where you stand in terms of pay per hour. Most events that require DJs will usually fall in the time range between 2-5 hours. So if you were making $500 for a 5-hour gig, you would be making $100 per hour. A beginner DJ can expect their earnings to equal something closer to $30 on average.
In order to make $500 5-hour gigs into a decent income in the current world, a DJ would want to secure at least four gigs per month to make a total of $2000. Most events that DJs are hired to play fall on weekends, so if a DJ can be booked each Saturday in a month, they are making an average of $2000 per month, or $24,000 per year. If a DJ can score a $500 gig on each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the month, they are looking $6000 per month income.
Wedding DJs can take home a pretty impressive amount of income since weddings are such a huge occasion in our culture. Families set aside anywhere from $800-$1300 per event for their wedding festivities. When factoring in the time it takes to make the playlist, meet with the families, and perform the event, DJs can be making close to $150 an hour on average. To secure gigs as a wedding DJ, it's best to build up your portfolio and references with attractively low prices at the beginning of your career.
For DJs who work in the club, the pay can vary greatly depending on the venue's location. In popular areas like the NYC nightlife, club DJs can make close to $1000 per event, while low-key areas would realistically make around $200 per event. For per hour averages, club DJing can earn you around $25 per hour. But the great thing about landing club gigs is that they can be more consistent in comparison to something like wedding events.
For those who DJ at festival events, the amount of money you'll get per gig relies on how well-known you are. If you are a beginner who is lucky to even get the gig and get your name in lights, you could be looking at $2000 on average per festival. If you have a medium-sized following as a DJ and you are somewhat in demand, you could be getting $5000-$10,000 per event. If you're a huge name like DJ Snake, you'd be making something closer to $50,000 per event!
Being a radio DJ is one of the few consistent gigs that a DJ can land, where the pay may actually be salary or per hour instead of per event. The pay you will receive per hour is largely dependent on the financial success of the station that the DJ is working for. The pay for radio DJs is way less glamorous than the pay for high-demand festival DJs and slightly less glamorous than that of club DJs, with averages close to $20 per hour. This is mainly because the club scene is still highly in demand, but radio isn't fairing as well against new music tech.
Weddings aren't the only types of events outside of the music world that DJs can look into. Many companies host regular corporate parties that hire DJs per event, and with a pretty penny if the company has a large budget. Private birthday parties are also another event that DJs can pick up if they are well-connected in their community. These types of events don't pay as much as weddings, but they can still be close to $300-500 per event on average.
Festival DJs in high demand often have original music that they've produced themselves, making them more of a crossover music artist. With this in mind, as a DJ, you can earn royalties by producing and releasing your own music in addition to the pay you receive for showing up to a gig. The pay you will receive from song spins will depend on your marketing and fanbase, and it's quite hard to pinpoint an average per hour since royalties are less than pennies on the dollar per play. If you have a large fan base like DJ Snake, though, that could bring you at least $5,000 per month.
Since DJs are often full brands and music artists themselves, the number of ways they can monetize their career is nearly endless. As a DJ, you can sell so many different types of merch, including hats, clothes, books, CDs, and Vinyl. You could also create a subscription service where people can tune into your music on your site or get an exclusive link to your live showings online. You could start and monetize a YouTube or Reddit Live channel and get people to donate to your live streams.
As a DJ wanting to teach others, you could offer services to help others that are trying to learn the basics of DJing. You could develop and sell your own audio and music products as a DJ. You can grow a fanbase and get sponsored by large brands. You could start a label and take over the music industry!
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
If you are ever in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services for your music project or brand, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her song services page. As an Amazon Associate, Yona Marie earns from qualifying purchases. Amazon and other affiliate products are recommended to genuinely help readers and keep this site up and running as well.