Unlike many other professions, the salary of a pro DJ depends entirely on their popularity. An architect can be supremely unpopular but still command a huge salary due to the quality of their work. The quality of a DJ’s work, however, is how many people are on the dancefloor. So let’s break down the total range of a DJ’s income. 

The big, short answer 

DJs can earn from $0 - $500,000 for an event. That is based on a booking company’s 2014 estimates, so it may be a little unreliable. But at least it gives us a ballpark to work with. Music is an inescapably subjective experience, really leaving us only with booking fees and social media likes to quantify the magnitude of an artist’s awesomeness. The fact that both metrics can easily be forged or fudged doesn’t often enter the discussion. 

The average answer

This reference site features a DJ who just looks like she’s happy to be there. It also claims that in 2010, the average DJs salary was $26,850 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The top 10 percent of DJs made more than $72,500 annually. DJ Nick Thayer wrote a worthwhile blog post in 2014 outlining his Beatport earnings with some welcome transparency. 

The reality-adjusted answer

The entertainment industry is a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Never forget that, son. It’s in the interests of big booking agents to suggest that they’re paying out a lot more than they are. Because booking a $50,000 artist is obviously better than booking a $30,000 artist. Reality says that it’s safer to assume that these huge sums aren’t all going directly into the pockets of the DJs themselves. 

It’s weird thinking of DJing in terms of a salaried job. But as you progress you’ll come to realize the administrative nature that accompanies all professional work. There are payslips and there are taxes. In other words, there’s a world of business to professional DJing. Get smart now by enrolling in the DJ Career Tips course on DJ Courses Online today.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.