Your Questions: How Do I Ask For Higher DJ Fees?

Joey Santos | Read time: 2 mins
Pro your questions
Last updated 24 March, 2018


Digital DJ Tips reader Sam asks: “I approached a local bar and asked if I could DJ during a slow night of the week (Thursday, in this bar’s case). The owner said we’d do so on a trial basis for two months – I’d first be paid a small fee, and if things go well, we can renegotiate a higher rate.

“It’s been two months now, and from what I can tell my night’s been a success: What was once a vacant bar on Thursday evenings now has regulars that come for both the music and the booze. How does one go about asking for more money after you’ve established a successful night?”

Digital DJ Tips Says:

First off, congratulations on your weekly show Sam! That’s no easy feat – I’ve launched many a bar and club night with more failures than successes, so I know just how difficult it is to manage, promote, and perform at.

As for your raising fees, the method that’s worked the most for me can be summarised in this maxim: Don’t just tell, show.

When you sit down with the bar manager / owner for your fees renegotiation, prepare a short presentation deck of how well your night has performed. You can make one very easily using apps like Keynote or Powerpoint – the important thing here is to only have the most pertinent numbers on it, and to keep it simple.

To find out what those numbers are, start with the basics: check the bar take during Thursdays for the past two months and see if they’re an improvement over when you weren’t doing your weekly gig. Also check how many people got through the door and how much the gate / door take is (if any). By doing this, you are gathering proofs of your success, which is more convincing than just saying “we’re doing well”.

Once you’ve done the bar’s numbers and added it into your presentation, start culling your social media numbers: how many page likes you have, an average of your promotions reach, and an overview of your social media strategy (eg what social platforms you use to promote your evening and the frequency of posts). This time, you are gathering proofs of your efforts, which shows that you’re doing a ton of legwork to get folks in the door instead of just relying on the bar’s built-in clientele and existing marketing team.

Finally, another crucial number that you’ll want to know when you enter into that negotiation is to know how much DJs who promote their own parties are being paid in your area. You’re bound to get different fees, but just knowing the average range is a good way to inform yourself of how much you’re worth, at least as far as local rates go.

The overall idea here is to be able to quantify the increases in both people and profit that the bar is making because of you and your weekly show. Sure, you can tell the bar owner that your night is going great, but it’s more convincing when you’ve got cold, hard numbers to back it up. It also implies that you’re a nightlife professional, and professionals get paid more than those who aren’t.

Any tips you’d like to share with our reader? How would you negotiate hire fees if you were in his situation? Share your thoughts below.

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