Using a range of different technical and social skills, club DJs are responsible for entertaining nightclub revellers. A successful DJ will be able to keep a venue crowded, and in doing so, make money for the owner. Due to the freelance nature of the work, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint a basic average salary. Instead, earnings are very dependent on experience, location and reputation.
Disc jockey salaries can vary dramatically depending on experience, reputation and work ethic. Average earnings are reported to be between £50 and £300 a session. Based on a workload of 100 sessions annually, this can equate to as little as £5000 a year or as much as £30,000. Casual, or inexperienced, DJs are often paid as little as £10 an hour, while well-known names can charge thousands of pounds a night for their services. DJs who prove to be a success at a particular venue can also secure regular contracts, thereby ensuring a more settled salary for themselves.
Working towards a higher salary
A strong technical skill set combined with a love of music and dedication to the craft can have a big impact on salary. Club DJs are expected to know their venue well and tailor their set towards that venue's musical policies and likely customers. By combining lighting and visual effects with specific music skills, such as mixing, scratching and beat juggling, DJs are more likely to be a success. In turn, this will increase their chances of a higher salary.
Due to the freelance nature of club DJ work, the ability to network and promote yourself is crucial. This often means taking low-paid, sometimes even voluntary, gigs in order to build experience and reputation. There are also a number of courses available to gain technical knowledge, either through distance learning or at education centres. While these do require a financial outlay, the skills learnt may have a big impact on future earnings.
The not so average salaries
Particularly talented club DJs can go on to earn both fame and fortune through their work. In 2012, Forbes listed Tiësto as the highest paid DJ in the world, earning a total of 22 million US dollars (approximately £14.5 million) over the year. Tiësto charges hundreds of thousands of pounds for club sets, and has his own record label. Other DJs to have made millions include David Guetta and Afrojack.