Reader Lee Scollo writes: "There are some issues regarding the life of a professional DJ that I am curious about. For instance, how does a DJ know when they can quit their day job and become a full time DJ? Also, when someone finally achieves this full-time occupation how do they maintain a healthcare policy and various retirement benefits? Are there any articles here that would satisfy my curiosity?"
Digital DJ Tips says:
We haven't covered these topics head-on, no, although there is a wealth of advice in How To Succeed At DJing. I guess DJing is a passion which is what drives you to keep doing it. You know when you can give up a day job when you can comfortably cover your overheads and a basic salary. As far as healthcare etc goes, you need to factor the cost of that into your decision to go full-time as a DJ. Many DJs set themselves up as self-employed or (as in my case) set up a limited liability company for exactly these reasons: You now have a business. A good accountant is essential and will be able to advise best on how to proceed.
Most serious DJs decide to give it a real go when they're relatively young, because that's when they have few or no dependents or overheads, and so can deal with living in one-room apartments and eating cheap bread and beans! However, what many such wannabe young DJs realise quite quickly is that DJing alone is not a realistic thing to be doing as a full-time job.
Add something else to the mix
Most people need to add something else to their DJing, in order to make it something they can build on and continue with in the long term. For instance, mobile DJs are effectively DJ hire companies, because people are hiring the DJ and all the gear he or she comes with. (Such DJs also often hire the gear out when they're not using it.) Many DJs are also music producers, or they teach DJing, or they write about it (that's me!), or promote events, or manage venues - you get the picture. Working out a business plan for the medium to long term is part of making the decision to go "full time" as a DJ.
To put it more accurately, as someone working in the music industry, you need to know what extra you're going to add to your DJing to make the whole professional life package work for you. I hope that helps.
Do you work full-time as a DJ, or do you work full time in the music industry DJing and doing something else? Have you worked as a DJ and then returned to the "world of work"? Or is it just a hobby or part-time job for you? Please let us know your experiences and advice in the comments.