Barring a few exceptions like Casey Kasem, Rick Dees and Wolfman Jack, DJs were virtually anonymous radio personalities beyond their broadcast area. But with an almost fervent following of electronic dance music, DJing can now lead to lucrative record deals, global club dates and tours along the festival circuit, making it not just a tempting business opportunity but a viable career choice for some of the most talented in the industry.
As of 2013, radio disc jockeys earned an average of $39,980 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those working at clubs and other drinking establishments brought home closer to $31,210 on average. The jobs website Indeed provides a similar figure, estimating the annual average at $30,000 as of 2014.
In New York, the average 2014 salary of a club DJ came in at $37,000 a year, according to Indeed. In California, earnings were closer to $33,000 a year. Those working in Illinois brought home slightly more, at an average of $35,000, while club DJs in Minnesota earned just $27,000 annually.
Earning a “salary” as a club DJ isn’t as likely as when employed by radio stations, and you may find yourself working as a freelancer. Though this gives you flexibility in your rates, it’s up to you to book dates. "Money,SI" estimates that a club DJ with little experience can charge up to $500 a session. Book one gig a week, and you’re looking at annual earnings of $26,000. However, Crazy Pellas, an online resource for artists, DJs and producers in the music industry, recommends coming up with a rate based on your local area. If, for example, other DJs in your city are charging an average of $300 per gig, this might be a better place to start with your rates.
Through 2022, the BLS expects employment for club DJs and other similar announcers to grow by 8 percent. This is slower than the national average for all U.S. occupations, an estimated 11 percent. Though a college education isn’t a necessity to work in this profession, it can provide you with a background in the computer equipment used for gigging.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Announcers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 – Radio and Television Announcers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 – Public Address System and Other Announcers
- Indeed: Club DJ Salary
- Indeed: Club DJ Salary in New York
- Indeed: Club DJ Salary in California
- Indeed: Club DJ Salary in Illinois
- Indeed: Club DJ Salary in Minnesota
- Money.SI: How Much Money Can I Make as a DJ?
- Crazy Pellas: DJ Tip #2: How Much Should I Charge to DJ a Party/Event?
- Photo Credit XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images
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