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What you should be charging as a club DJ starting out in the industry?

As any established artist will tell you, getting ahead in this industry means starting at the bottom. No talented DJ starts off on big money. The process of building your reputation often starts with doing sessions for free to gain experience. But it’s always important to remember not to under price yourself. If you’ve brought your own gear and you’ve got talent then you deserve a reasonable fee.

Starting out is a risky phase, because you don’t want to work for free where you don’t need to. Also if you price yourself too low people won’t take you seriously, but also you can’t risk charging too much and pricing yourself out of the market because there are plenty of other rookie DJs willing to do it just for the “exposure”.

Do Your Research

The best way to tackle this is to do your research. See if you can contact similar local DJs and find out what they charge. One way to do this would be to phone or email them as a general punter and see what their fee is. Also, try finding out what the venue or event have paid DJs in the past. Take into account specialist or renowned DJs who will always charge more.

Don’t be afraid to work for free

When you’re starting out in the industry, you want to get your sound heard. You also want to get experience playing in front of crowds and get people hearing your name. The easiest way to do this is by working for free. Promoters are always more open to new talent if there’s less financial risk for them.

Unpaid DJ work is unbeatable when it comes to getting your foot in the door, but it can sometimes be difficult to take the next step. Getting from unpaid “exposure” gigs to paid work needs to be your decision when you feel you’ve earned it. A good way to ease in is to start by offering the promoter a discounted rate, say £30 an hour, but make sure they realise this is a special short-term rate.

Play it by ear

There is no definitive fee for a DJ. Some more well known DJs will get £200-£300 for a night, and celebrity DJs can get thousands, but it depends completely on your experience, location and music style. If you keep an eye on what other DJs are getting paid in your area then you can ensure you’re not either getting ripped off or overpricing yourself. 

Remember your costs

When you play a set, promoters might only think of your fee as being your profit for the night. Don’t forget to think about all the costs of travel, insurance and any equipment you might be bringing with you. Working for free is an unbeatable way to network and get experience, but don’t forget that you will end up out of pocket from it.

Selling out is an okay way to make money

You might be a specialist DJ, you might be the best of the best, but until you’re established there are still bills to pay so making a quick night’s cash isn’t to be ashamed of. There is a big market out there for DJ's who play top 40 music. Wherever you’re based in the UK the vast majority of venues around the world just play chart-music. That means there’s also plenty of DJ slots in those venues.

Often the top earning club nights play chart music, so there’s no denying that’s where the money is. If you can hack it these kind of nights are a great way to fund your real DJing.