The difference between US and UK DJ's...

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ian

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 29, 2011
64
89
48
UK
www.discofever.co.uk
Hi folks, so i'm in the UK, been a DJ for 25+ years.

I know there's a massive disparity between what many of you earn and what we earn over here for an average wedding.

For example, if I did a straight pound-to-dollar conversion, I'm averaging around $500 for a straight wedding disco, no MC stuff, just turn up, set up the gear, play music and then go home. For events where MC is required I average anywhere between $900 to $1000.

We've had the likes of Peter Merry, Jim Cerone, Randy Barlet, Mark Ferrell and so on over here preaching about earning the bigger bucks and if you splash $4000 or whatever on each level of Marbecca you could probably earn double the usual rate.

But...

What I want to know is...was your "DJ industry" ever at the level we are at now here in the UK as far as "per gig" income is concerned? I know there are massive economic differences for sure.

Over the last few years, I've noticed that how the public reacts to DJs has changed massively. There once was a time a DJ was seen as "a God", we were held in a much higher status than we are today. Why is that? Is it the same in the US?

Has the likes of Spotify dumbed everything down to a level where we're pretty much expendable?

Would you say you do much more MC stuff than actual DJ'ing?
 

Albatross

DJ Extraordinaire
ODJT Supporter
Sep 7, 2016
2,984
7,915
For example, if I did a straight pound-to-dollar conversion, I'm averaging around $500 for a straight wedding disco, no MC stuff, just turn up, set up the gear, play music and then go home. For events where MC is required I average anywhere between $900 to $1000.

There was another comment recently by someone talking about MC being an add-on. That's very unusual in my experience unless the "MC" is an additional person (this apparently gets done in NYC a bunch).

For the events I do, I'm almost always a combination of the MC and DJ at the same time, even if there isn't much MC work to be done.

My average wedding is also a lot more involved than that, often requiring ceremony music and microphones. A second set up to provide music for cocktail hour, and then a third main set up to DJ for dinner and dancing. When I got started, that didn't seem the be the trend as there were a lot more church weddings and we just did the reception. But many venues today are doing all phases of the wedding on a single location to simplify, and so we handle a lot more.

With that format, I feel like I take on a bunch of roles. I'm basically just a live sound operator during the ceremony, I normally don't have to speak at all. Sometimes I'll make an announcement about silencing cell phones if I'm asked. During cocktails, its basically just background music. Once the reception starts, it's MC duties to make announcements and facilitate the celebration. And the most "DJ" centric portion is dancing where I'm actually mixing actively. So it's a broad range of roles during the events.

I have trouble separating my personal experience with "the industry" because I don't think there is good or accurate data as far as what DJs are earning across the board. My personal DJ rate has been on a pretty steady increase the entire time I've been DJing. I'm averaging about $2,400 per wedding this season.

That being said, I do think it's important to calibrate to the cost of living in an area. According to a quick web search, the average cost of a 1 bedroom apartment in the city I live in is $1,929 per month. So it would still take more than 1 gig a month at my rates (after tax) just to pay rent on a place nearby. I hope that context helps.
 

Ausumm

Gold Plated Productions
Oct 21, 2008
11,977
14,794
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Bethlehem PA
I think the difference in pay is just as you noted. The MC part is normally included in the package at most weddings in the ststes. Which makes the $900 price very typical, at least in my area. Also, your average price of $500 is typical for a non-weddng event, which doesn't normally require a lot of MC work. Of course, as Ross (Albatross) noted, there are areas and events where a separate person is hired as an MC.
 
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DJ Forbes

DJ Extraordinaire
Jul 30, 2021
276
654
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I agree with the guys above me. Cost of living, and particular area does play a part. I'm just starting out and I don't play in the larger cities. The Wedding DJ average cost around me is anywhere from 750-2000 dollars US. There are a couple that do it cheaper, and a couple who are very good at what they do, and very well experienced and well-known and can bring in more for their time. That would usually include 5 or so hours of music, MC'ing and keeping the event moving, and providing some sort of lighting as well.

Now if you're in a larger city, and work with certain venues, there are clients willing to pay 2000-10,000 per event in the US as well. Few of us here will see that, but I believe there are a few forum members here that are in those markets.
 
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MIXMASTERMACHOM

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 16, 2011
13,405
1,908
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Part of it has to do with how well you have branded your business so people know who you are, what you can do and what you have to offer. Because of how easy it is to become a DJ today has some getting into this business thinking its going to be a piece of cake. It's all in how hard are you willing to work to get where you want to be and who you are targeting your business to.
 

djtaso

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 4, 2017
4,647
9,680
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NJ
www.djtaso.com
In every area you will have DJ's charging various prices... the average dj is the price you'll hear most often talked about. However, just like here, the UK has dj's charging in the top 5% and the top 1%, and those dj's are likely seeing 2-3x what the average dj is making. The actual number is not relevant as every area has different costs of living that you have to adjust for. In greece, rents are $300 a month, and a good income is 1000 euro a month for most 20 somethings.

While my area the avg may be around 1500-1750... the high end is $2250-$5000+ for starting prices. However, in other parts, the avg may be $750/$800 and the high end $1500.

In the end, every areas will have a bunch of dj's low priced, a bunch that are middle of the road... and a very small group that are priced in a higher, almost hard to believe category.
 

adj2ent

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 20, 2006
1,310
2,838
63
Long Island NY
You seem to be under the impression that most DJs in the US make the big bucks. Well, that isn’t true there are a ton of DJs not making much. Think of it as a pyramid, large on the bottom and smaller on the top. The more elaborate packages do pay much more. What has really changed is how much the really big-name DJs make now. I’m but not talking about wedding DJs. But then again people are making millions as influencers on YouTube. The sad part is some are working for the same rate as we were getting 40 years ago. I got called to provide just blacklights for a party at a college. So, after the party, I’m talking with the DJ and found out he playing for free. I’m getting paid for just lighting and he isn’t. I paid for a large part of my college DJing and college was a lot cheaper back then. Now, as expensive as college is you are working for free.
I am in NY and I used to do the DJ & MC thing, with give-always, leading dance &, etc We pretty much stop leading the dances, and giveaways, suits & tux about 20 years ago. But stopped going after weddings years ago but I did do one a couple of years ago. Now, I require 2 people working a wedding, when handling ceremony cocktail hour and reception it’s just flows so much better. I used to do an afternoon and then an evening wedding solo, but not anymore.
The most important thing to look at is not what your gross but what net after deducting your labor, expenses & total hrs spent on prep.
 

ProDJ Jose

DJ For Life!
Apr 19, 2016
82
205
Tampa Bay Area
We've had the likes of Peter Merry, Jim Cerone, Randy Barlet, Mark Ferrell and so on over here preaching about earning the bigger bucks and if you splash $4000 or whatever on each level of Marbecca you could probably earn double the usual rate.
Double your rate would be $1800-$2000.

You say that you have been DJing for 25+ years. I did the math and that's what you should be charging without any additional training from anyone.

Unfortunately, most DJs I've met over the past 30 years suck at training. They do know how to run their mouths. :laugh: