DJs, Here are Tips for Negotiating Terms and Prices

DJs, Here are Tips for Negotiating Terms and Prices

September 06, 2019
Author: ProSight Direct

The "business" side of a DJ business is admittedly less exciting than playing music in public and helping people have a great time. But, before you can take your deejay skills to the dance floor, there are a few things you'll need to figure out. For starters, how much money should you charge for a gig?

If this is your first time performing as a DJ – or your first time working with a paying client – you may be unsure how much to charge for each DJ event. Every DJ gig is different, and there are several factors to consider when calculating a total cost for your DJ services.

Finalizing a performance agreement can be tough, especially for first-timer deejays. One way you can structure a DJ performance agreement contains two components: the contract and the rider. A general contract includes the parties, event details, and payment based on factors like attendance and bar sales. A rider includes other details: transportation, cancellation issues, and equipment. Every DJ has different needs; unique details are addressed in a rider, so the contract doesn't have to change.

When reviewing contracts, pay close attention to the fee and payment schedule. It's unlikely you'll receive full payment upfront, as the venue wants to make sure you show up and perform. One strategy is to receive a portion of the fee when a contract is signed and the balance within a short time after the event ending. The first payment should be non-refundable, unless the DJ voluntarily cancels.

It's also important to know your worth. Beginner DJs, who are typically part-time hobbyists with other sources of income, should charge less than trained professionals who have experience and DJ full-time. When negotiating with a venue, arrive with a minimum amount you'll accept.

As for how to charge, consider negotiating a flat rate for the event rather than an hourly rate. If you're worried the event may go on longer than anticipated, you can negotiate an "add on rate" or a per-hour fee for each additional hour you spend working the event. That said, it's nearly impossible to arrive at a flat rate that works for every occasion. It's more likely you'll charge a different rate for different performances, depending on factors like location.

Below is a list of other factors to consider when deciding how much to charge for an event you're DJing:

Market value: Location is a big indicator of how much you can charge. A DJ in a major city can ask for significantly more than a DJ in a smaller town. Because of this, it can be helpful to chat with DJs in your community, especially those with your musical style and DJ experience level to learn how much they charge for events.

Event type: Rates may also vary depending on geographical location and the type of event you're asked to work: weddings and birthday parties are common events for DJs, but corporate events, school dances, and other celebrations need music, too. Some events require more preparation, which should be taken into consideration. Weddings, for example, require coordination with the couple and extra planning for the wedding music they do/don't want at their reception.

Travel: If you're playing a gig locally, it doesn't make sense to charge extra for travel to the venue. However, if you're driving more than half an hour to get there, the cost of time and gas will quickly add up. Consider the event's location when compiling a quote for the venue or event host and factor the expected cost of travel into the final rate.

DJ Gear: Do you have your own DJ equipment, or do you plan to rent DJ equipment? DJs who own their gear should factor a portion of its cost into their rates. Equipment is pricey and when people rent your services, they also rent your gear. If you're starting out and don't have any, you may need to rent or borrow it for your first few gigs. This cost should also be factored into the final rate.

The more equipment you need for a specific event, the more you should charge. For example, if an event requires lighting and you're expected to provide it, that'll factor into the overall rate.


The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and shall not be considered legal advice. ProSight Global Inc., and its subsidiaries and affiliates (“ProSight”) strongly recommends that DJs consult with their own legal counsel prior to entering into any performance agreement, contract or rider. ProSight shall not be held liable for any direct, indirect or consequential damages resulting from any use of a performance agreement, contract or rider.