Digital DJ Tips reader Eijah writes: "My plan in DJing is to reach the stage where I've made a name for myself in my region, and I'm working really hard towards that goal by reading and taking notes on everything I can find here and elsewhere.
"I plan to play my first gig in August. I will have my PA system in May and I plan on getting the Numark Mixtrack Pro 2 and a PA mixer over the early summer by working summer jobs. My question is, for my first few gigs, how much should I charge hourly? Thanks for all the help!"
Digital DJ Tips says:
Great attitude, Eijah, remember gigs are everything, so get your first bookings as soon as you can! I can tell you're doing this for passion not money which is good, and I can also tell that you've set your sights realistically. What I don't know is where you are, what kinds of gigs you want to play (I am guessing you're not going to be picky at first, and will be happy to play mobile gigs, parties etc wherever you can get them, which is good), and so in all honesty, what you might be able to charge.
As a new DJ, you should definitely charge less that an experienced DJ would (you're not as good), but a couple of things. Firstly, charging by the hour is maybe not the way to go: Negotiate a set rate. One exception is if you want to negotiate a set rate then an "add on" rate for any time over and above that (say, they ask you to play for another two hours at the end).
The second thing is this: You're not only charging for yourself as a DJ, you're effectively charging for the rental of your gear, too. So while you'd never show these two calculations to someone booking you, you need to make them. How much should you charge for gear rental? Well, that depends on how good your gear is and how much it would cost to rent it where you live.
So you may decide to charge $50 for your DJing services and $50 for your gear for a show, or you may decide to charge $250 for each component, meaning by these figures your fees will be between $100 and $500. The point is not to follow my numbers (as I say, I've no idea what the "rates" are where you are), but rather to understand how to calculate them. That should ensure you don't undercharge, and also that you know how to confidently increase your prices as your gear expands and improves, and as you get better established.
Would you like to add anything to help Eijah work out how much he should charge for the rental of "PA plus DJ"? Please share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments.