How to make money as a DJ
As a DJ you can make money in various ways. Money may not be important to you but it is typically needed unless you're already rich. If you're already rich you can donate to this website!
If you have learned music production you can find more opportunities to make money.
Many DJs have a day job. If you want to spend less time at one then it's possible that you could achieve this by using the below strategies.
Not all of the suggestions below will be suitable or plausible for most DJs. Some suggestions require a certain level of notoriety. There may be cons to many ideas; I have tried to give a balanced views.
This is the obvious choice. You can do this online and offline.
Most DJs would prefer offline gigs. You may want to do online gigs if you live in a rural community.
Regular club gigs
You can play in regular clubs or bars. To get these you might Email your mixes to clubs. If a club doesn't have a public Email address then you could message them by using social media.
Private parties, mobile DJs, corporate events and wedding DJs
Another route that you can take is performing at weddings and private parties. You should have your own equipment if you want to be a mobile DJ, otherwise you'll be limited with what venues you can play at.
Corporate events may be an option too if you have the right connections and/or a good at marketing. You probably wouldn't play lots of electronic dance music at these events though.
People may pay you for DJing house parties but the amount wouldn't be as much as a club gig.
Running your own events
You could host events. You'd properly want to do this with other DJs unless you can DJ for five hours straight.
You would handle the promotional side.
Running your own events is typically more work and would involve more investment from you. If you book a bigger than necessary venue and undersell tickets then your event could lose money.
Meet and greets
If you're famous enough you can sell meet and great tickets at shows.
However since many DJs meet their fans after shows for free, making money from this is probably unlikely.
Doing live streams on Twitch.tv, Facebook and YouTube could be possible. You would usually do this for free and start a Patron. Patron.com is a crowd funding website that allows people to give creators money.
Alternatively you could take donations through PayPal, Patreon, CashApp or Vemo.
Be a radio DJ
If you can be a radio DJ it can be good money but getting a job as a radio DJ isn't easy.
Create a YouTube channel
This will work better if you produce your own tracks. If you upload someone else's tracks then it's possible the track's record label will get the money generated instead of you.
Professional music videos come at a significant cost; you may not get the money back. Videos can be worthwhile depending on how you do it.
You could also do vlogs as your life as a DJ. Monetization could work on these videos as long as you don't include any copyrighted music in them.
If you have a significant subscriber base companies may reach out to offer you sponsorship deals.
You can have a Patreon and take donations as described in our "online gigs" section.
If you upload your own produced music you can place links in the description of the videos so that people can buy the tracks.
If you promote products from others sometimes you can get a percentage of the sales that you generate. This process is called affiliate marketing and it's frequently used.
Making money from music production
If you learn to produce music you can make money in various ways.
Create your own tracks
This works best if you have thousands of passionate fans. If you don't have such a fan base then making money from this would be difficult.
Have a strategic marketing plan for your tracks. You may want to contact other DJs and websites up to four months in advanced. Say that your new tracks will be released on X date and offer previews closer to the time. Keep a record of these contacts so you can contact them often.
Create stock music
You can create music on stock websites and get paid every time someone downloads your music. However many DJs are doing this and the market could be saturated.
Ghost produce music
If you can find customers using freelance websites then you could ghost produce tracks for other people.
Also if you do other tasks such as creating graphics or maintaining a website you can do freelancing for those services too.
Making money from teaching DJing and/or music production
Running classes with students could be an option; especially if you're in a highly populated area.
One on one coaching
You could charge a higher fee per student for one on one lessons.
The above two ideas could be taken online. Video/Zoom/Skype coaching is a possibility.
You can theoretically make money with your own course that people would purchase online. You would film videos in advanced and give people the videos when they purchase.
Teachable.com is a popular platform people can utilize to sell courses.
The downside to this is there's plenty of free information and lots of existing DJ and music production courses.
Make money from music videos
It's possible to release music videos on YouTube. We've covered how to make money from YouTube in the section above.
This is an unlikely possibility but perhaps you know a company who wants to put their products in your music video. You may not get executives from Coca-Cola emailing you but if you have the right connections then you may be about to hustle something.
Other products that can be sold
You can sell merchandise such as shirts, caps, and tank tops. You don't need to order them in advanced. Websites like Redbubble.com can send your merchandise out only when people order them. This service is called Print-On-Demand.
If you want to sell your merchandise on Amazon; their P.O.D. service is called Merch By Amazon. A few companies (such as Printful.com) will help you fulfill orders at Amazon.
Alternatively you can order stock and send it to Amazon or sell it at gigs but this has initial costs.
Read more about selling merchandise.
Signed merchandise products
You can sell signed merchandise, CDs etc. You can do this at events or post items to fans. You could do virtual signings with video calls.
Many people are selling NFTs. NFTs just represent ownership to a digital asset such as a picture, audio or video.
Be aware NFTs and crypto get a bad reputation. Some others believe that they're a wonderful invention and are revolutionary.
If you have a passionate and need quick cash for a project then building a NFT collection could be an option.
Other ways to make money
Make money from social media
Depending on how many followers your social media pages have you can make money by promoting products for others. Some companies may reach out to you to offer you these opportunities. You can also promote your own products such as tracks, merchandise etc.
Put yourself on Cameo.com
If you have a high profile, then you can put yourself on Cameo. Cameo is a website people pay celebrities for birthday greetings etc. You could get $20-$200 per video.
Start a podcast
If you're popular enough, then you could start a podcast and do advertising for companies. Lots of people do this.
Put advertisements on your website
If lots of people go to your website frequently, then you could put advertisements on it. You should aim for 10,000 visitors per month to do this.
Search for website advertising networks in Google.
Using your skills in other careers
You may be able to do the following jobs at home.
Organize events for others
If you organize events for yourself, then you may be a able to organize events for others and get paid for doing so.
Renting out equipment
If you have your own equipment you could rent it out for some extra money This probably will require you to have significant storage space.
Graphic designer or web designer
If you design graphics or a website for your DJ brand, then you can offer to do these things for others. You can learn such skills online.
If you don't have the to get clients locally, then you can try to get clients on freelance website.
What would help a DJ make money?
A supportive fan base
The amount of money you'll make largely depends on the number of passionate fans that you have, obviously more is better. Engaged fans may buy your products and go your events.
To get more fans you need to promote yourself. You can maintain social media pages and build a following, perform at events to get you on people's radar.
Online marketing strategies for DJs
If people in your industry like you they will be more likely to want to work with you or have you on their podcast.
If you could do with gigs making friends with other DJs could assist you with that.
Previous bars that you've worked with could be connections too.
Ensure that you can get business enquiries
Many people on social media would have a business Email address.
Alternatively you can have a website with a contact form but as a Email address on a social media page may be more visible.
Be authentic and nice
People want to do business with authentic and nice people. So try to be kind to people.
Create a schedule
It's easy to want to avoid doing tasks such as cold calling. It may be helpful if you create a schedule to do promotion and business inquiries.
Taxes and fees
You have to pay taxes but in most cases you can write off expenses such as DJ equipment, a percentage of your internet/power bill, tracks and software.
If you sell tickets online the websites that take the payment usually have fees. It might be worthwhile to look for websites with low fees and commissions. If you release music then you should also do this for music distribution services.
Optimizing your money
Keep costs low
Keeping costs low can help your financial situation. For example you could buy second hand gear.
If you film music videos then you could film a video outside instead of hiring a location. If you need to use a location perhaps you know somebody who will let you use a suitable location for free.
If you need extras; many people would be willing to appear in your video for free. I was in a music video and was happy to appear in it.
Some people stay with friends when travelling instead of staying at a motel. This works if you have trusted friends.
Utilize crowd funding
If you're comfortable with crowd funding use it appropriately.
I once did crowd funding to go to Australia. The campaign was my former manager's idea. I was about to fund most of the trip.
Many crowd funding platforms take a percentage of what you raise. So be mindful of this. Some platforms take a lower percentage than others, so do your research.
Create budgets and have spare cash available
Creating a budget for gigs and your business will help you keep on top of your finances.
Have an excess of cash available if you can. This will help handle unexpected surprises.
To make more money in the next few decades you might consider investing money in the stock market. Broad market index funds (these invest in many companies) are generally considered safe.
Some people invest a set amount in the markets each week, and treat investments like a bill that they must pay.
Be mindful that investments can go down, but sometimes this is normal and temporary. Sometimes they can go back even higher, depending on the investment.
Investing in crypto currencies and NFTs can be super risky. Lots of scams exist in these areas, people need to be careful.
If you prefer not to invest or can't afford to then that's your decision.
Frequent flyer credit cards
Some credit cards let you build up points that you can redeem for free travel. This is useful if you DJ and travel. The trick to this is paying off debt immediately. If you don't do this you'll pay interest which will add to your cost.
Such credit cards have higher annual fees, so unless you're spending thousands it may not be worth it.
I currently have enough on my credit card for two free international trips.
I have written an additional article on how to save money as a DJ. It has more tips, such as avoiding interest, using facebook to promote your events for free, living with another DJ, and more.
Thanks for reading
I hope that you can use some of the above strategies to make money from DJing.