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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
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3 Tirelessly-touring global fixture

A regular in the 'DJs Complaining' Twitter feed, you're flying to a different club or festival most weekends, pulling in green and groupies; quite possibly at the expense of your health and sanity. The more gigs you play, the more people want to book you. Multiply this effort by quality of gigs and you get to the top of this earnings band.

Gigs: Should be making between £2,000– £5,000 a show by this stage, and playing three or four sets most weekends.

+ £3,000 x 150 sets a year = £450,000

Expenses: Most things are taken care of while touring Europe, but more far-flung trips may require paying your own air fares and the potential hassle/expense of getting temporary work visas.

- £5,000 on flights/missed connections

- £200 on visas

Management cut: Still 15-20% for each of the rapidly expanding team, including personal assistants and artist management.

- £30,000

Extras: To get internationally known, chances are you're making music – which, depending on crossover appeal could be making a fair wedge from sales but also incur studio costs. Radio play will mean royalties, plus not insignificant amounts of money raked in by the odd 'sync' deal: getting your songs in an advert or film.

+ £10,000 from record sales

+ £5,000 from car advert

+ £2,000 on royalties

- £5,000 studio equipment and hire

Annual income (before tax) £427,000–£1.2 million

4 Stadium-filling superstar

You've won the game by this point, able to scale back your gigs because each pays so much, and concentrate on running labels and lending your personal brand to corporate sponsorships. At the top of this band are EDM stars like Steve Aoki (£16m last year, according to Forbes), and global superstars who regularly appear in the pop charts, like Calvin Harris (£42m last year!)

Gigs: The sky's the limit. A couple of hours at a small venue would still make £10k at the very least, but most shows will be in huge clubs, or more likely festival main stages, where £20k is the minimum.

+ £15,000 x 75 sets a year = £1.12m

Expenses: All paid – promoters are falling over themselves to book you, so will accept even the most extravagant requests, regularly spending more on your rider than mid-range DJs may earn in a night.

£0

Management cut: This fame brings hangers-on, so your entourage will be pretty extensive; stylists, social media gurus and lighting technicians will all deem their services essential to your success and take a cut.

- £100,000

Extras: Product endorsements are likely, and you'll have the clout to run your own label, with a roster of artists under your wing. You can take your pick of mix CDs, and you might be offered your own series of nights in Ibiza or Vegas, or be asked to play private parties for big companies and dubious dictators – all of which could send your earnings stratospheric.

+ £500,000 sponsorships

+£250,000 for Ibiza/one-off parties

+ £100,000 in record sales

+ £20,000 mix CDs

Annual income (before tax) £1.9m–£50m

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