How Much Should a Beginner DJ Charge?

From buying all the necessary equipment to daydreaming about booking your first gig, starting out as a beginner DJ is an exciting pursuit. But unfortunately, it’s unclear exactly how much a beginner DJ should begin charging their clients when first starting out. So how exactly should you be pricing your services as a beginner DJ?

For beginner DJs playing a gig at a bar and club, you should be making around $30 per hour. For gigs at regular house parties, you should be charging around $40 an hour. For more high scale events like weddings and birthday parties, you should make nothing less than $60 an hour.

Bars/Clubs

$30 an hour or $150 per event

House parties/BBQs/Outdoor Gigs

$40 an hour or $200 per event

Birthday parties/ Weddings

$50-60 an hour or $300 per event

This is how much a new DJ should charge

In this article, we’ll be going in-depth into exactly how much you should be charging as a beginner DJ, as well as different factors that you should consider when deciding on how much your services will cost. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, keep on reading.

Base Your Price on the Kind of Gig You’re DJing

Obviously, as a beginner DJ, your price shouldn’t be as high as a DJ with more experience under their belt. You’re still learning the ropes, and your prices should reflect that.

That being said, it’s important to not undersell yourself, but base your prices on the kind of gigs you’re DJing. Below, we’ll go in-depth into some of the different gigs you could be playing and how you charge accordingly.

Nightclub/Bar

If you’ve booked yourself a gig at a nightclub or bar, you’ll want your rate to be lower.

The reason for this is that clubs and bars will have more of the essential materials you’ll need on hand to make your gig happen. From cords to mics to speakers, working a gig like a club will most likely mean you will have a lot of equipment on hand, meaning there will be less for you to unload and set up.

For this reason, it is recommended for beginner DJs to begin charging $30 per hour if you’re working a gig at a club or bar. With this rate, you should be making no less than $150 per night when working on these kinds of events.

With these types of events, you won’t have to worry about unloading, setting up, and breaking down a ton of your own gear. Most of this equipment will be provided for you and ready to go, all you need is your music.

Factors such as travel, set up and break down times, and the amount of equipment you bring should all reflect the price you give clients. With these types of gigs, you have less to haul and less to worry about, so it’s important to remember that.

This is the typical setup at clubs and bars, but be sure to ask your potential client first and charge more if you need to bring more equipment!

House Party/Outdoor BBQ  

You should begin charging more at events like house parties or backyard get-togethers for multiple reasons.

For one, someone’s backyard or party venue is not going to have the same equipment on hand the way a bar or club will, and therefore you need to take into account what materials you need.

For these events, it’s recommended you charge around $40 an hour and make no less than $200 for said event. While working at these kinds of gigs, you should be the first to arrive and the last to leave, and you also have to consider how long it will take to unload, set up, and pack up.

It’s also important to consider how long it will take you to travel to your destination, as that’s another factor to consider when charging your clients for these kinds of gigs.

This is another great event for beginner DJs to start playing that allows them to get the feel of things. Not only are you providing entertainment for guests, but allowing yourself time to get to a venue early, set up, and keep things running smoothly is all part of the process.

Be sure to agree with your client the exact playtime of your set, otherwise they may expect you to keep playing until the early hours with your knowledge 🙂

Birthday Parties/Weddings/Other  

For these kinds of gigs, you’ll want to charge more compared to the other kinds of events we’ve discussed.

These types of gigs usually require more equipment and skills, so it’s recommended to charge your clients about $50 to $60 an hour; therefore, you should be making no less than $300 for an event like this.

Not only do you have to consider travel, set up, and breakdown, but these events will usually call for things such as special lighting and MC skills. While these events may already have a host, sometimes your MC skills will be needed at these types of gigs.

Lighting is usually not needed at certain gigs, but at these kinds of events, special lighting can be a unique and fun way to add more liveliness to your set. Gigs like these also have more people in attendance, so your best bet is to bring all your large speakers and equipment to these functions.

Another addition you can provide to these kinds of gigs are wireless mics, as many people at these parties and weddings may want to speak or make toasts, so that’s another factor you’ll want to consider.

Not only will you be more likely to bring more equipment to these kinds of large events, but you may have to brush up on your MC skills.

The skills you’re bringing to the table, as well as all the equipment you plan on bringing to your gig, should reflect in the price you give your clients. While beginner DJs can easily play these kinds of events, it’s important to be prepared and ready for these types of larger functions ahead of time, just so you’re ready for any time of issue you may face.

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

While the rates we’ve discussed above are highly encouraged for those specific gigs, don’t be afraid to negotiate with clients about prices.

A big mistake a lot of beginner DJs make is sticking to a strict price when it’s okay to negotiate until you and your client have come to a decision that leaves you both walking away happy.  

Since negotiations between clients and DJs are common, many DJ’s don’t give their clients hourly rates, but instead a flat rate for the entire event, as it’s easier to have discussions based on that flat fee.

For example, let’s say your rate is $30 per hour at a club or $150 for the entire evening, but the owner of the club can only pay you $100 for an evening. But, they promise you they can open a bar tab for you on the nights you work and perform. That’s a negotiation at it’s finest, and one that leaves everyone happy with the results.

So don’t be afraid to negotiate with clients, and remember that you don’t always have to stick to a strict flat fee. As you grow within the DJ community and become more experienced, you’ll be able to watch your prices get higher with time.

Conclusion

We discussed multiple factors you should consider when giving your clients a price for an event. Things such as travel time, the amount of equipment you’ll be bringing, set up, and break down times, as well as any other extras such as lighting and MCing, should all be considered.

We went in-depth into how different types of events should be charged differently, as most functions require more or less equipment as well as different kinds of equipment. We also discussed the value of negotiation and how beginner DJs should be open to communication with their clients when it comes to settling on a price.

Starting out as a beginner DJ can be intimidating when you’re not sure exactly where to start in terms of pricing, but hopefully, now you have a better idea of the steps you can take when you’re setting rates for future clients.

Now get out there and get your DJ on 🙂

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