Digital DJ Tips reader Junior writes: “You’ve covered quite a lot of subjects but I haven’t seen you cover anything to do with the business side of things in terms of how to price a gig. Be it a club gig or a festival gig or a party. I’m ready to take on a few gigs, especially clubs, but no idea on pricing. Any chance you can help?”
Digital Dj Tips says:
If you’ve never played this kind of gig before, then you are not in a position to demand a high payment. Firstly you’ve got to get the gigs – have you tried? I’m going to guess you’re not actually being offered any work, so until there’s an offer on the table, this question is kind of academic. Go out there and get this part sorted first.
So let’s just say somebody has shown an interest. Chances are fairly high it’ll be a warm-up slot, and the event won’t be a big one. And DJs warming up at small shows really do not get paid much at all. That’s just the way it is – and frankly until you’ve played many such shows, you’re not actually much use to anyone, because you haven’t acquired the experience that means you’re beginning to become the “finished article”.
The way you become useful to promoters, and so worth paying, is by getting involved in every aspect of the scene and your promoter’s business as you can. If you’re giving out flyers, running guest DJs to and from the airport, collecting email addresses from punters, and filling in warm-up slots as and when asked, you’re going to become worth paying some more. As your network, reach and DJing skills all grow, you’ll naturally become more valuable to the people asking you to DJ, so your price can creep up. At first? Just expect it to be peanuts and do it for the experience.
That said, I do believe in always charging something. Only by there being some kind of financial exchange can the right tone be set from the off. Playing for free sets all the wrong precedents. But seriously, playing for next to nothing is how it is when you’re just starting out in clubland. In short, stop worrying about it and get some gigs – as long as your attitude is right, the rest will follow.
Any advice you’d like to add for Junior? Feel free to do so in the comments.