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With the decline of the economy being paralleled along the rise of Freejays, the pursuit of finding a way to restore the DJ scene back to a better time is a fiery subject! However, it is hard addressing this issue unless we talk about hard numbers: income. Recently a fellow Sacramento DJ, named DJ Supe, put the hard numbers to test to show the negative impact that Freejays have on the scene proving that some standardization is called for. Check it out!
If you you have been in the DJ scene for a few years now, you can’t deny the negative impact that Freejays have on the scene. As veteran DJs, we can complain all we want but without quantitative data (actual numbers), our voices go unheard. Although the cost of DJs may be different from city to city, we can all agree that a certain amount is just too low as discussed by DJ Supe here:
“It has come to my attention that many of you are not charging clients a rate that is conducive to the progression  of our profession. This $200 threshold is what I am referring to. Even in the most impoverished regions in our country, no disc jockey should be charging less than $300 for any event where bringing a PA system is involved. i am proposing that all disc jockeys collectively push rates “back” up. I say “back” up because rates have steadily dropped over the 17 years I have been deejaying. I will start with some mathematical reasons and follow up with some theoretical reasons.
Many of you have existing weekly gigs at various clubs. If being a DJ is your sole source of income, you ought to be spinning every weekend, on average, about 6 events per month (1 weekly gig plus 2 mobile or special event appearances). This could be coupled with mixtape sales, speaker rentals etc. So lets say you are charging the cutthroat rate of $175 (yes deejays are even charging $100 to do an event). At six events per month you are only GROSSING $1050. Let’s make it a round $200 per event to gross $1200 per month.  A living wage is the minimum hourly wage necessary to maintain a specific standard of living which is $10.43 per hour in Sacramento, CA. Minimum wage is different which is $8.00per hour. We won’t even get in to that but it is good to know. Multiplying the living wage by the typical 8 hour day equates to $83.44 per day. Multiplying that by the average number of working days per month (22) will give you $1835.68. There is a difference of $635.68 where the disc jockey is not meeting the minimum living wage. Don’t forget this is GROSS income. Not all deejays pay their taxes but all deejays have equipment repairs and maintenance, membership dues for music and video content, high speed internet fees and advertising costs.
Let’s rework these numbers. Weekly club gigs where you don’t bring more than your heart system components (laptop, records, mixer, turntables etc) and you charged $200, push that to $250 or $300. Special events like weddings should be negotiable but anything less than $500 means you ought to let them go ahead and try to do an “iPod” Wedding. Concerts and in-store appearances mean that the client wants your namesake. They want DJ “So and So” not Entertainment DJ Services. They want your style, the crowd you draw, and your likeness on their flyer. Determine what you’re worth in addition to the base amount to charge for any other event. So if you averaged $350 per event (instead of $200) and multiplied that by 6 events you would gross $2100. In this day and age, if you are not making at least $2000 a month, you are going to struggle on some level.
Something else to consider is how pushing up prices actually stimulates the economy. That may sound backwards to an individual who has not studied economics past grade school but it makes a lot of sense actually. Case scenario: A disc jockey wants to have the best equipment and the most dynamic library of music on the block. This costs money. When I decided I was going to upgrade to spinning music videos at parties, I calculated the cost of projectors, flat screens, purchasing the actual music videos, and a new laptop that could handle the memory demands. I then realized that I wanted to get some speakers as well that would compliment the new sharper and futuristic look I was planning to unleash. About $10,000 later I was thinking about what changes I needed to make to ensure I could pay it all off without it falling behind. As I pushed my rates up, I garnered less gigs. The math still made sense because I would take two $300 gigs over three $200 gigs any day. More time to be creative, do remixes, update my website and choose the most profitable events. I would pass off the other events to those willing to take them. It took time to align myself with those who would pay for quality. When I did, I started to make more money and was able to deliver a higher quality of service that my clients recognized and they consequently referred me to their associates. By constantly improving and delivering better service, my pool of clientele are stimulated to spend more…one event begets the next in an exponentially increasing manner.
My fellow disc jockeys, take the time to look at the service you provide and how you can optimize it. This is necessary to prove that you are worth the extra amount that you are asking. Naturally there will be instances where you are doing a favor for a friend or family or even a charity event or some other worthy cause. Part of your tax deductible advertising costs could very well be legally construed from a planned campaign where you could offer a discounted rate for a limited period of time. It isn’t easy at first, but you should plan it out and get very creative to figure how you will compensate for this incubation period in order to emerge better than ever before. Your loyal customers will see this and stick with you as long as you continue to show and prove. Let us hereby collectively shoot for January 1, 2011. Let all of your fan base and clientele know what to expect and if what you respectfully request is feasible. You might be surprised.”