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10 Things Only a DJ Will Understand

DJ, producer, turntablist, music curator, tastemaker, crowd-reader, social media sensation…the list of job requirements goes on and on for DJs today. It’s hard to explain what we deal with on a daily basis to people who aren’t in our shoes.
So, we created this list of things that only DJs will understand. Share it with your non-DJ friends and help educate those in need.

1. We really care about audio quality
While some people are perfectly happy listening to music from any source, DJs can hear the difference between a low quality and high quality track. 320 kbps is the only way.

2. Requests are optional, not mandatory
Our audience may not always agree with this one, but song requests are something we have the right to deny. If someone requests a song that’s completely different than what we’re playing at the moment, or if we already played the song earlier in the night  – it’s okay for us to say no. Sorry Becky, we’ll play your song next time.

3. No, we can’t DJ your event for free
Would you go to the dentist and ask them to fill a cavity for free – because ya know, it’s easy for them? Obviously not. So unless it’s our parents (or maybe grandparents) asking for a freebie, there will be a charge for our services.

Whether you’re a DJ just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, it can be tricky to know exactly how much to charge for each gig. On one hand, you don’t want to overcharge and push away a potential client. But on the other hand, your time is money and needs to be compensated for appropriately.
If this topic is all too familiar to you, keep reading. We’re going to discuss why it’s so important to gather all of the details of an event before you name your price, and look at the factors you should consider when calculating your fee.

Get the Details
So you received an offer and now it’s time to negotiate your fee. Don’t assume that a flat rate is the right way to go. Whether it’s a buddy’s wedding and he’s looking for a deal or a top-tier nightclub that has more money to spend, get all of the facts before you give a quote.
Start by getting a good idea of the client’s budget and if the event is going to be making a profit. Here are a few questions to help you gather the information you need to properly determine what your rate should be:
  • Is there a “going rate” for your market?
  • Is the gig in a small town or larger city?
  • Is it a private event or public venue/nightclub?
  • What is the event time and how many hours will you perform?
  • Is the gig a support set or a headline set?
  • What size event and how many guests are expected to attend?
  • What is the venue’s capacity?
  • Is the event free or is it a ticketed event/cover charge?
  • Are you renting equipment or will your rider be filled?
  • How much preparation will you put into the music/unique playlist requests?

Calculate your Fee
Now that you have all of the information, you should have a good idea of the budget for the event. Your fee should largely be based on your experience level, but also on the amount of hours that you spend preparing and performing. Here are a few things to take into consideration when determining your rate:  
  • Preparation (practice time, downloading music, research for equipment rental)
  • Expenses (purchasing music, dress code/event attire, transportation to the event)
  • Hours of DJ performance
An easy way to calculate your fee is to decide what you think you’re worth at an hourly rate. From there, you can add up the hours spent preparing and performing, as well as additional expenses. But keep in mind, it’s nearly impossible to set a flat rate and assume it will work in any situation. This is why gathering the event info is so important.

So What’s Your Worth?
If you’re just starting to build your DJ brand and business, you may want to be flexible with your rates, but be careful to not get taken advantage of. Be confident and know your worth! The goal is to learn how to calculate the hours and services you provide, and be confident that you’re not under or over charging for your time.
What suggestions do you have for determining the right DJ fee? Have you been in a situation where you performed for less than you think you deserved? Let us know in the comments section below!

4. Don’t touch our stuff or press any buttons
We know it’s hard to resist trying on our headphones and touching the colorful buttons and knobs, but we don’t come to your job and start messing with stuff, right? We might have a phone charger for you if you’re lucky. Just be polite and ask before you touch anything.

5. Finding a dope edit or remix is like finding gold
It’s like finding a hidden treasure when you stumble upon a unique remix or edit that is sure to hype the crowd. We spend a ridiculous amount of time perfecting our set list, so nothing is more annoying than someone hovering over your laptop to see what you’re playing or yelling, “Yo, man – send me this track!” Don’t be that guy – just enjoy the tune!

6. Technology is our best friend – but it also scares the sh!t out of us

Have you ever dealt with a DJ gear meltdown? It’s the worst feeling in the world. So as much as we love (and rely on) technology, when the music cuts out, a needle breaks, or our laptop freezes, it’s proper cause for panic. But because we’re professionals, you’ll never see us sweat.

7. Dear club owners and promotors: we’re kinda picky with our set up
When first starting out, we’re not really allowed to be picky about the equipment in the DJ booth. But if we’ve worked hard to gain some status, and we send a professional artist rider along with contract and invoice, please respect the rider and have it filled when we arrive to a gig. Or at the very least have up-to-date gear we can work with – because remember, gear malfunctions scare the sh!t out of us.

8. Lingering too long or being too drunk

This one kind of relates to #4. Just as much as we don’t want you touching our stuff, we also don’t want you awkwardly hanging around in the booth. Mostly because you’re in the way. But also because we don’t like drunk people too close to our precious DJ equipment. Oh, and we know you’re a DJ too and you really want to “jump on for a song,” but just go. Please.

9. We can’t hear you if we have headphones on
This one should be obvious, but it never fails that someone tries to chat it up right when we’re mixing in a new track. Bottom line, if you see we have our headphones on or it looks like we’re concentrating on the music – give us a minute before trying to get our attention.

10. Social media isn’t real life

It’s true we need to make it look like our life is a constant party – like we’re always traveling, partying, and of course playing the hottest new tracks. But the truth is we actually spend more hours than we’d like to admit staring at a computer screen, researching new music, reading DJ blogs, and answering emails. Secretly we’re audio and tech nerds. And we also really like naps.

No MusicNo Life


DJ MasterP

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