This month USA president Donald Trump signed the Music Modernization Act Into Law. Which in short changes how artist are paid by streaming services, in favour of the artist.

This got us thinking about DJ’s, and DJing as a profession. Are DJ’s really getting paid enough?

Popular belief of many, including some promoters, believe a DJ just pitches up with he’s cool beats on a stick, has a party and is on his way. Which is definitely not the case.

With that said lets look what actually goes into being a professional DJ.

1. Equipment

Every artists needs his/her paintbrush. Unfortunately a DJ’s paintbrush ain’t cheap.

Depending on how you play, the following is needed for home/studio and shows.

– Turntables, CDJ’s, Mixer, (studio)

– Laptop, controller, (studio/shows)

– Speakers (studio)

– Headphones (studio/shows)

However you set up, we all know that this all costs a pretty penny.

2. Learning your craft

Learning your craft is obviously the immediate step you take into becoming a DJ.

This in truth takes months and even years to be show ready, let alone the rapid growth of technology, that keeps DJ’s constantly learning new skills and techniques.

3. Music

In faith I am going to assume that all DJ’s are purchasing their music legally.

With heaps of electronic music releasing every week, Purchasing your collection is a daunting task that can sometimes take hours. Keeping your collection fresh is a must if you are to consider yourself professional.

At $2.99 at most, per record on Beatport, keeping your collection up to date can be a heavy monthly cost.

4. Travel

As public transport is not a very strong suite in South Africa, we have to rely on our own transport.

Petrol and car maintenance all contributes to a DJ’s expenses.

5. Show costs

Refreshments, refreshments, refreshments.

If you’re the party DJ or not, we all need to hydrate during our set whether it be water or tequila. More than I’d like to admit, land up spending most and sometimes all of their DJ fee at the bar.


Now that we have a better understanding of what goes into being a DJ let’s look at what DJ’s are getting paid.

Majority of DJ’s are still representing themselves, which is part of the problem. From fears of control, lack of agencies, and agency cuts seem to be the main reasons.

For our talents, time and dedication, are we really getting paid enough? Inflation, petrol price increases and basic cost of living expenses, we should surely think the DJ fee would increase too. Sadly it’s not how it’s transpiring.

I challenge you to name one service or product that the price is determined by the client, I further challenge you to name one service or product that doesn’t increase due to inflation.

This might not be a popular opinion but the fix to this problem lies with DJ’s. Sure we all doing this for the music, but we must not forget that we are in the entertainment industry and we must conduct ourselves and our brand as a business.

Set up a bank account, get your contracts in place, set up an invoicing system, be professional!

Know your worth and set yourself up to be respected as a brand.

If we all raise our game and the product improves the price has to improve.