Dropping killer tunes is a reward in itself for DJs, but money talks, and we all need to make it! If you’re considering becoming a professional DJ, you may wonder if the earning potential is enough to allow you to do something you love for a living!
Here at Crossfader, the team have years of combined professional DJ experience. We all started working either for free or very little money and have carved out paths that have led us to become artists, viral DJs and acts playing with some of the biggest names in the industry.
Becoming a successful DJ has a lot to do with the connections and relationships you build. The money you can earn depends on many factors.
As with any profession, there is a sliding scale of pay, so we will look at the overall averages you can expect for different categories of DJ.
In our Off The Record: How Much Do DJs Get Paid podcast, we discuss how much money DJs earn and offer our top tips to maximise your earning potential!
Here is what DJs can expect to get paid in 2023!
Plenty of experience is the common foundation that all successful DJs have. The only way to get experience is to gig, and the best way to get gigs when starting out is to DJ for little to no money! DJ for friends, at student bars, or for family. Whenever you get the opportunity to DJ for a crowd, go for it!
Once you feel confident rocking multiple types of crowds, approach some promoters and try to get professional experience playing for money.
If you have a crew of friends to support you at gigs, leverage this to your advantage and invite them to see you play. If you can guarantee a promoter X amount of ticket sales, they are more likely to book you for an event. Many club residencies start this way.
Resident DJs usually play throughout the whole night in between other acts and will warm up the crowd for peak time.
Having a residency is like a rite of passage for many DJs and instils good practices, honing skills that can be used throughout a DJ’s career.
A resident DJ’s typical fee in the UK is between £150-£250 per night. Depending on the club, this can also mean playing up to 5 or 6 nights per week during peak seasons.
This line of work ebbs and flows according to the time of year and location of the club. A student town, for example, will have clubs that are open almost every day during term time. Professional DJs may hold down several residencies at once to keep a consistent and predictable wage.
It is common for DJs to make a career from being a resident, and it can be a convenient and stable source of income.
But to move into the next realm of money-making, DJs need to offer something more than the function of filling a room with music. They need to become attractions in their own right.
Artist and viral DJs
The next income level comes from being an artist with known music. Or going viral on social media and having a large fan base. Anything that means you have a following willing to pay to see you DJ!
These DJs can earn between £500 – £5,000 for 90-120 minute sets. This is because they guarantee clubs an audience and promoters can charge more money for entry to the club.
The best way to become an artist or viral DJ is with sheer persistence. Live streaming and putting your content and mixes up should be done regularly.
Having a strong online presence to interact with your growing community of fans is the essential groundwork for cultivating a large following that gets promoters interested in you.
Keeping fans interested is vital to ongoing success. To do this, viral and artist DJs must keep on top of their socials game. This means keeping up appearances online and constantly delivering material that leaves them wanting more.
Corporate/ contract/ mobile DJs
For those not in a position to transition to DJing full-time, a great source of gigs and money is entertaining the corporate world.
Gigs are contracted seasonally, usually via an agency, so the networking aspect of things is made easy. This type of work is great for those wanting the flexibility to hold down a traditional 9-5 job.
These DJs are usually expected to bring their own gear with their own transportation.
Pay is decent and starts from around £350 – £1,000 per gig for DJs with a fairly basic set-up, but can easily stretch into multiple £1,000s. Budgets for these events tend to be much higher than for club nights so there is more earning potential for DJs.
The corporate DJ pay range is in line with typical mobile DJ fees, but mobile DJs often set an hourly rate rather than a lump sum for the whole event.
Playing corporate gigs is a good source of both vital experience and money. They have allowed many DJs to invest in going viral or becoming an artist and reinventing their DJ career.
Party Island DJs
For the lucky who have tasted success DJing in their hometowns, summertime is a season of blue-sky earning potential. If you go abroad!
As a rites of passage most party island DJs end up playing the same bar every night of the week for one owner/promoter. As a resident abroad you can expect to get between £30 – £70 per set, which doesn’t sound much but you are playing every night throughout the whole summer. Also factor in you can be playing daytime pool parties for a similar rate and even grab an after party set after your residency slot, meaning the potential earnings can creep up to £200 – £300+ per day every day.
However, if you end up in Ibiza and the other holiday club destinations with a higher rep, they could pay double what you can expect in the UK! So a resident earning £250 per night here can make £500 per night there. And that can include accommodation, depending on the venue and agreement with the promoters. You may not be playing every night though, unless you pick up various residencies at different clubs and bars.
Viral and artist DJs can earn up to £20,000 per set DJing abroad, which explains the €30-€65 door fee most super clubs on the white island charge!
One issue with escaping the country during the summer period is job poaching back home. Whilst away, up-and-coming DJs may take your residency from under your nose! This real concern is why many DJs spend the summer flying back and forth to fulfil their local residency commitments.
The nature of most creative music jobs means, unfortunately for many, they are not always stable.
Work is rarely guaranteed, even with a DJ residency. Therefore, it makes sense to think about subsidising your income with multiple cash streams to create the security that can allow DJing to be sustainable for you.
Social media is a good place to start making additional income and goes hand-in-hand with supporting your DJ career. DJs can make money through sponsorships, incentives, ad revenue and more.
These are the most popular platforms for keeping on top of your socials that also offer opportunities to stack some extra cash!
The most important social media website for DJs in recent years. It loves music and content creators and rewards creatives who can make an immediate impact!
Going viral on TikTok can happen very quickly with the right approach. It’s not uncommon for hard-working creators to gain 50k+ followers within just a few months of joining.
Once you have amassed a following, thrifty record labels may approach you with a generous fee to play their new releases. You can do anything you like with the music, so long as you tag it in your videos! These cameos are known as ‘activations’ and are an example of how modern marketers are thinking outside the box.
A great specialist DJ mix site that now allows DJs to charge membership of their followers for exclusive access to material. To make a paid subscription to you attractive, it makes sense to put out regular exclusive mixes for them to enjoy.
Fully labelling your track lists, properly time-stamping your mixes and adding extensive blurbs can also help. To complete the package, include high-quality thumbnails so that your ‘product’ is easy to digest and offers as much added value as possible.
Live streaming and DJ sets go together like PB & J! They are a massive silver lining from the Covid 19 era lockdowns, which accelerated the shift to virtual club nights hosted online.
Twitch has become the platform of choice for DJs to host their live streams, as using Facebook and Instagram had them kicked off for copyright infringement during the initial surge in 2020. Mixcloud Live wasn’t ready for the wave, so Twitch became the place to host DJs.
It is now possible to earn money by becoming a partner or affiliate with Twitch and hosting exclusive mixes. The money is paid by subscription fees from your viewers. For the majority of DJs, it is a good way to get exposure and a little extra income through donations and sponsorships.
Live streaming has since become a norm within the industry with some clubs now hosting sets from DJs playing remotely!
The site built for business-minded freelancers. Here you can rent out your skills for a rate of pay chosen by you.
Get commissioned to record a bespoke set for a client; DJs have mixed wedding and gym workout sets for those on a tight budget who can’t hire a live DJ, for example.
The potential to make money doesn’t end with DJing. If you have honed a skillset from staying on top of your socials, why not cash in? In our podcast, DJ Lawrence explains how he made money creating simple jingles for a radio station in Dubai!
Once you have a proven following, you could consider using YouTube to vlog about your DJ journey. If your videos attract many views, you can get paid a share of YouTube’s ad revenues!
How to get gigs!
DJs typically get paid very well, and a career can become lucrative for those dedicating their all to it!
However, there is no guarantee of a steady income. This needs to be understood by anyone taking the plunge. But safety nets can be put in place, such as setting up additional income sources. As with anything, the more you put into your DJ career, the more you will get out of it!
The path to becoming a professional DJ is not clear-cut, and there is no course you can take to become qualified and then simply go out and get work.
However, we have put together a comprehensive course designed to equip you with all the knowledge you need to become a successful DJ.
Our course, How To Get DJ Gigs, gives you a detailed insight into how to succeed within the industry and secure those paying gigs!
We cover everything from creating social media that appeals to your audience to practical skills like networking, collaborating and getting in front of the right people.
Our Complete DJ Package
What it takes to be a success in the industry is constantly evolving.
We’re here to help! For ongoing support and life-long learning, our Complete Package is a one-off fee, and members get subscription-free access to all Crossfader courses, crash courses, exclusive masterclasses and tons of bonus content.
And that’s just the start!
We also host Zoom mix sessions, offer tailored mix feedback and have a global community of like-minded DJs to connect with, all exclusively for lifetime Crossfader members!
For more on this awesome resource, click the picture below for full details.
If you are at the very start of your DJ journey, we recommend focusing on your DJ skills first, alongside getting in as much performing experience as you can.
Our range of beginner courses offers the perfect first step to take, fast-tracking the learning process and helping you lay the foundations for becoming a pro DJ.
Are you sure you want to go professional? Want to get there in the quickest amount of time? Jump on our Complete Package for guaranteed success!