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What DJs really earn

We spoke to agents, managers, promoters and DJs to build up an accurate picture of what a typical DJ might expect to earn

  • Peter Walker
  • 13 March 2015

1 Fledgling local resident

You've made it out of the bedroom and into a club, promoting and playing a regular night at the back of a wine bar in your home town. You're pulling in the punters, but not getting much more attention than that.

Gigs: Often playing for free to get the exposure, maybe making a hundred quid a night and playing once or twice a weekend if you're lucky.

+ £100 x 50 sets a year = £5,000

Expenses: Probably still buying your own drinks, although transportation costs are negligible. Spending a fair chunk on records/downloads to make sure the set list is up to scratch.

- £25 per weekend on drinks/taxis

- £25 per week on records/downloads

Management cut: Non-existent – there's no point in paying someone else this early on.

£0

Extras: Any mixes will be going up on the internet for free, so there's no additional income; this is very much a second job.

£0

Annual income (before tax): £2,500

2 Up-and-coming national talent

Either through fledgling productions or some serious style behind the decks, you've started to get noticed around the country, killing it at other people's parties and getting a name for yourself in the press and online.

Gigs: Anything from £250–£2500 per gig depending on your profile and the size of the club, and playing at least twice a weekend. This is the point when you have a real chance of breaking through with luck, tunes and hard work.

+ £50,000 a year and upwards

Expenses: By this point promoters should be paying for your drinks, accommodation and transport, so any money made on the night should be pure profit. To keep afloat you'll be buying more new music than ever, though. You're also getting more sent to you for free.

- £50 a week

Management cut: You've hired a new agent to boost your profile and they're now taking a cut of between 15–20% for their services.

- £10,000

Extras: Fledgling productions might get signed up to a label, but won't be selling enough to get you very far.

+ £5,000

Annual income (before tax) £42,500–£120,000

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