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Author Topic: Just starting out - How much to charge?  (Read 14767 times)

Mike DiCosimo

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Just starting out - How much to charge?
« on: May 13, 2013, 12:29:00 PM »

Hi All,

I realize that money is always a touchy subject and some might be hesitant to share how much (or little) they really make, but I hope that we can have a candid discussion and I can become more educated on this topic.  I appreciate your patience and reading of this long post.  It's a long post b/c I want to describe my entire situation and what I'm trying to do.

First some background on me.  Age shouldn't matter, but suffice to say I'm "40+."  I have a full-time job unrelated to the DJ/music/entertainment industry.  However, I play bass, know how to run a PA (definitely "amateur rank" but have very good working knowledge) and have always been involved with "live sound" to an extent.  I've always wanted to have a "DJ Business" on the side, as I love music and enjoy entertaining people.  And frankly, I've seen DJs at parties and events with crappy gear that's set up wrong and crappy attitudes on top of it pulling down $200+ for a few hours of work; I think I can do a much better job and make money on the side.

I realize that how much money you can ask for is related to your reputation, "overall package" (lots of lights, etc) and other factors.  What I want to do basically is be a "content provider" as opposed to a "DJ." I would either just play whatever playlist the client asked for, or stick to a genre of music depending on the event.  Of course, I would interact with the crowd but it would be limited to "Wishing John a great birthday!" or egging people on to do the Chicken Dance.  I don't scratch, remix EDM or anything like that.  I know how to beat match and fade one song into another and I'm good with people as that is part of my day job.  I have enough PA for 200 people, easily.  I will invest in some cheap lights (cheap, for now) and a truss to mount them on.  My equipment is all flight-cased for protection as well as a professional appearance. 

To sum it up: I am good with people, own a PA, with setting up and running PA but zero experience as a DJ both hands on and the business side of things. 

I plan on starting my business as a proper LLC, getting a tax ID number, paying tax and all that jazz. I also will be insured both for equipment loss as well as property/people damage/injury.  I'll do the website and business card thing.  I realize that I will start out with backyard birthday parties and word of mouth will be key. I'm good with that as this will be a side gig and not what puts bread on the table.

All that said, how much should I charge for a gig?  Hourly? Flat rate?  How about this scenario:  What should I charge for a 4-6 hour indoor event, providing music and lights for 100-200 people?  $50/hour?  $75/hour? Flat rate?

Thanks for your patience and sharing your experience.








« Last Edit: May 13, 2013, 12:37:46 PM by Mike DiCosimo »
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Mike DiCosimo

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2013, 10:03:47 PM »

Wow, crickets.  Bump.
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Andrew Broughton

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Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2013, 05:25:27 AM »

Who can say?

Call a few competitors and see what they charge!
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Mike DiCosimo

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 11:12:26 PM »

A quick check on gigmasters.com for a mobile dj in my area turns up a bunch of results.  One add says "$100-$300 per hour" another says "$300-$1,000 per event."  I don't understand the disparity b/t pricing and why one person would be hourly and another flat rate. I'm hoping that you guys will share your rationale for what and how you charge.  I found the attached "actual event/price charged" table on that site for a DJ in my area.  The pricing is all over the place.  I'm thinking $60/hour would be a bargain compared to this DJ, but then again, I don't know what his "total package" consists of.  Maybe he's got $4,000 in lights or something? Thanks in advance for your replies.



« Last Edit: May 15, 2013, 11:17:43 PM by Mike DiCosimo »
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Brad Weber

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2013, 06:25:41 AM »

Mike, it's like any business in that it depends on your market, your competition, your services, your existing contacts and reputation and so on which will vary from one location to another and one company to another.  It sounds like this is a totally new venture for you and if so, then before you spend your money you might want to spend some time researching the potential market for what you plan to offer and just how much that market is willing to pay.  You might also want to make some contacts with event planners, venue managers, etc. to see if this is something in which they might have interest as a good deal of your potential gigs may come through such parties rather than direct.
 
You seem to be going at things a bit backwards from usual as you would normally first define the target market and clientele and then adjust the products and/or services you offer accordingly whereas you seem to have first defined a 'product' and are now looking for the potential market for it.
 
The disparity in other's prices is probably simple to explain.  Most providers likely adjust the equipment and services offered to fit the events via something like a 'good/better/best' package approach or an 'a la carte' menu approach.  Being able to vary the services and products offered allows them to potentially serve a larger market.  As far as fixed versus hourly rates, some types of events and clientele likely prefer to work on an hourly basis and others on a lump sum fixed fee basis, so the providers may offer pricing either way based on what is desired, again trying to serve the largest possible potential client base.
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Mike DiCosimo

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2013, 08:47:33 AM »

Thanks for the very informative reply, Brad.  You're correct that this is a totally new venture for me. I guess that I sort of have put the cart before the horse in that I've not done much research.  But, I already have the PA, so I'm far from starting from scratch.

I had assumed that my target market would be based on my level of experience and number of clientele which is exactly zero and zero.   However, amongst my friends and coworkers, it's well-known that I'm the "music and sound guy" and I've been talking about starting a mobile DJ gig for well...forever.

I've looked into marketing services such as Gigmasters.com as a way to get myself out there and hopefully get gigs.  I'm sure though that my start will come from very small backyard parties and  word of mouth spreading and I'm good with that.

What you said about the disparity in other's pricing formats makes sense.  This is a lot to digest, that's for sure.  Thanks again.

Mike D
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Zachary Zimmerman

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2013, 12:20:00 AM »

Mike, it's like any business in that it depends on your market, your competition, your services, your existing contacts and reputation and so on which will vary from one location to another and one company to another.  It sounds like this is a totally new venture for you and if so, then before you spend your money you might want to spend some time researching the potential market for what you plan to offer and just how much that market is willing to pay.  You might also want to make some contacts with event planners, venue managers, etc. to see if this is something in which they might have interest as a good deal of your potential gigs may come through such parties rather than direct.
 
You seem to be going at things a bit backwards from usual as you would normally first define the target market and clientele and then adjust the products and/or services you offer accordingly whereas you seem to have first defined a 'product' and are now looking for the potential market for it.
 
The disparity in other's prices is probably simple to explain.  Most providers likely adjust the equipment and services offered to fit the events via something like a 'good/better/best' package approach or an 'a la carte' menu approach.  Being able to vary the services and products offered allows them to potentially serve a larger market.  As far as fixed versus hourly rates, some types of events and clientele likely prefer to work on an hourly basis and others on a lump sum fixed fee basis, so the providers may offer pricing either way based on what is desired, again trying to serve the largest possible potential client base.
I to am like you mike in a way I do slash work for multiple pro sound company's and do djing on the side.

I totally agree once your fine out who your perspective clients might be you must then decide by gathering information what clients pay what and then make the decision of price   Most of the time the question is do I want this gig then it's how low can you go.  The djing side of audio things is a very hard market. But if its something you like doing and you have gear go for it man. But around here most of the going rates for the HS dances are like 175-250 for 4 hours. I'm not to Familiar with the higher end market around here.

I will say mike if you do have to buy gear and you do every thing by the books your gonna loss you ass. Sorry and I'm not being a pessimist just telling you the facts. It's a hard market and a cheap one to.
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Dennis Goh

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2013, 06:46:05 AM »

Sometimes more sometimes less.
Market is bad with many competitor.

People over my side's wedding is different due to culture etc.(Not doing for dinner as culture over my side is going to Hotel only.)
So for real basic set-up. 1 pair spks on stands with 2 mic + background music (bout 3-4hrs).
My rate can be from SGD$180-$280>> which is bout USD$ 145 - $225. Depending on customers.

Smallish event for friend Drift Event also about the price above but i include sub for them.

For those private party animals (with minimal 2 pc 18" subs) [5-8 hours block]> can be as high as $700/-
Sometimes when the host R really nice and ask me to join with booze/food, i'll just continue music throughtout  the event there to enjoy together which can be from 8pm till 3am.

Renting stuffs to them, bout USD$ 120 - $150 per 3-4 hrs block.
Well, at times, price will be real low due to end of month.. $$$$$$$.

For me, my price really depends on customer's budget as this is my side-line & for fun.
I ever have competitors (i guess) calling & cursing me. "steal their business when it come to price-point", however there are also other competitor that gave my clients a price that there is no way i will agree to.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2013, 06:54:59 AM by Dennis Goh »
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Mike DiCosimo

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2013, 02:03:21 PM »

Thanks very much for the candid replies.  $175-$250 for 4 hours sounds just fine to me.  Figure roughly $30 in gas (truck gets lousy mileage) and that's not bad for a few hours' work.
I realize that doing things "on the books" greatly complicates things, but it protects me in numerous ways.  With insurance I don't have to worry (too much) about getting sued over something stupid.  And by paying taxes on my earnings I have no worries about getting audited AND gear/supplies I buy for the business are deductible .  I"m no tax pro but that's my understanding anyway.  Plus, with the clientele I'm aiming for  (upper-middle-class and above), they are much more likely to hire "a pro" with an honest-to-goodness business than "Donny the DJ" who books gigs through text messages and doesn't communicate beyond that.  I'm looking at getting my family involved in this as well...make it a family business. Again, aiming at a specific clientele/demographic.

Thanks again, everyone.

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Steve Alves

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2013, 02:33:36 PM »

Thanks very much for the candid replies.  $175-$250 for 4 hours sounds just fine to me.  Figure roughly $30 in gas (truck gets lousy mileage) and that's not bad for a few hours' work.
I realize that doing things "on the books" greatly complicates things, but it protects me in numerous ways.  With insurance I don't have to worry (too much) about getting sued over something stupid.  And by paying taxes on my earnings I have no worries about getting audited AND gear/supplies I buy for the business are deductible .  I"m no tax pro but that's my understanding anyway.  Plus, with the clientele I'm aiming for  (upper-middle-class and above), they are much more likely to hire "a pro" with an honest-to-goodness business than "Donny the DJ" who books gigs through text messages and doesn't communicate beyond that.  I'm looking at getting my family involved in this as well...make it a family business. Again, aiming at a specific clientele/demographic.

Thanks again, everyone.

I must be missing something...

$175 for 4 hours minus $30 in fuel = $36.25 per hour
$36.25 - taxes (about $9) = $27.25 per hour
licenses, insurance????
maintenance, blown drivers???

Do you ever intend to upgrade or replace any equipment? Are you buying your music tracks?
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Mike DiCosimo

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2013, 03:00:14 PM »

Well, I never said I'd done ALL the math on everything.  A quick check w/my insurance company about two months ago showed a $55/mo premium for a policy covering me for $50K in equipment loss and $1M in accident/damage loss due to my fault.  So that's relatively cheap, considering the coverage.

I don't need any licenses, save my driver's license which I already have.  Most of my equipment is less than 4 years old and has seen very little use and is babied by me as I'm the only one that moves or operates it.

Paying taxes on the income is unavoidable and I will pay what i must.  Keeping on the IRS' good side is the only way to go.

As I've already stated, this is something I want to do as a side gig/hobby.  If it's too expensive or prohibitive for whatever reason, I won't be doing it long.  I'll just save my rig for the most badass block parties thrown in Texas.   ;D

Music licensing is something I know nothing about.  I can prove I purchased every track I own (or whatever the terminology is).  I wonder how many mobile DJs that "have a legal business" do much more than that? (if required?) Good points, though, Steve Alves.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 03:02:20 PM by Mike DiCosimo »
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Steve Alves

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2013, 03:26:18 PM »

Well, I never said I'd done ALL the math on everything.  A quick check w/my insurance company about two months ago showed a $55/mo premium for a policy covering me for $50K in equipment loss and $1M in accident/damage loss due to my fault.  So that's relatively cheap, considering the coverage.

I don't need any licenses, save my driver's license which I already have.  Most of my equipment is less than 4 years old and has seen very little use and is babied by me as I'm the only one that moves or operates it.

Paying taxes on the income is unavoidable and I will pay what i must.  Keeping on the IRS' good side is the only way to go.

As I've already stated, this is something I want to do as a side gig/hobby.  If it's too expensive or prohibitive for whatever reason, I won't be doing it long.  I'll just save my rig for the most badass block parties thrown in Texas.   ;D

Music licensing is something I know nothing about.  I can prove I purchased every track I own (or whatever the terminology is).  I wonder how many mobile DJs that "have a legal business" do much more than that? (if required?) Good points, though, Steve Alves.

Understood, but at $55 a month for insurance, even as low as that is, if you do 4 gigs a month then you would divide $55 by 4 = $13.75 per gig in insurance.

Music changes every day. You will need to keep purchasing current music or your catalog will become outdated. That is an investment back into your business just like buying equipment. There are ALLOT of other overlooked expenses to operating a business that you need to think about. How are you going to advertise? Business Cards? Printing? If you are going to do higher end events you may incur tux or suit rentals or at the least dry cleaning. All of this has to be well thought out to figure what your COST actually is. Once you know that then you can figure out what you want to earn.


Edit:  Just FYI depending on where you are located there are usually County and/or City licenses or taxes to pay if you are operating a business.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 03:28:35 PM by Steve Alves »
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Steven Alves
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Mike DiCosimo

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2013, 03:41:57 PM »

Thank you, Steve.  That's a whole LOT to think about.  The thing that concerns me most are the expenses and what/how much is deductible.  I haven't been able to find a whole lot of free info on this subject and I don't have a personal accountant or tax atty to ask.

I know that it will cost me $400 to register my business with the state of Texas, but that's a one-time expense.  I already own the .com domain name for my business and have web hosting for it (just no site built ATM) so that's taken care of. Business cards I can print at home.  I was also thinking about signing up with Gigmasters.com but need to check out their pricing. 

This is all "toe in the water" at this point. Thanks again for your help.
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Steve Alves

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2013, 09:21:53 PM »

Thank you, Steve.  That's a whole LOT to think about.  The thing that concerns me most are the expenses and what/how much is deductible.  I haven't been able to find a whole lot of free info on this subject and I don't have a personal accountant or tax atty to ask.

I know that it will cost me $400 to register my business with the state of Texas, but that's a one-time expense.  I already own the .com domain name for my business and have web hosting for it (just no site built ATM) so that's taken care of. Business cards I can print at home.  I was also thinking about signing up with Gigmasters.com but need to check out their pricing. 

This is all "toe in the water" at this point. Thanks again for your help.

No problem, It is the hidden expenses that will get you, although you CAN write off most of them, that just means you don't pay tax on that money. It does not mean you get it back..

A friend of mine needs a wall built to section off an area for her daughter. She asked another friend of mine for a quote. She told him it is JUST an 11' wall. He asked her if it needed a door and she said yes. She nearly died when he gave her the supply list. She thought $100 in materials would do it....

Studs
Drywall
Drywall Screws
Insulation
Seam tape
Drywall Mud
Baseboard
Pre-Hung Door
Door Knob.
Paint
Trim.

I think you get the idea. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. That is why a good business plan is a necessity.
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Luke Geis

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2013, 04:11:32 PM »

It is truly dependent upon your goals and business ethics. I would first see what your direct competition is charging for similar classed items. Then I would look into what your ROI goals are. Do you intend to replace gear every 5 years, or every 10-15 years? If your on a 5 year plan, you have to charge more to get the ROI to really work. Another big thing you don't want to do is drag the industry down. Undercutting your competitors by a lot of money just to get the gigs is not good form. It doesn't really help you, nor does it help the rest of us.

Some companies go by a 10% rule for most commercial level items. I.E. a basic speaker and mixer set up would rent out for roughly 10% of the cost of that equipment. For clarity, a $1,000 dollar powered speaker may rent out for roughly $100 and a $400 dollar mixer would rent out for $40. This is a more difficult concept to carry out with high ticket ( industrial grade ) equipment. Renting out a $25,000 digital mixer would be impossible to do at 10% because that would be $2,500 a pop, per day!!!! Not going to happen. These mixers will rent out for between $300-$400 per day usually. That is roughly 1-2%!!!! So you can see how the small rental companies can get a really good ROI. If the equipment can pay for itself in ten rentals, the rest of the rentals of that equipment carry overhead and re-investment capital. Rental prices are typically lower in highly populated areas where there is a lot of competition. This is just the name of the game. You have to decide what you want to charge.

You could do the more fee based system too. This is where you charge less for the equipment, but itemize everything. I.E. Delivery/setup fees, charges on a per cable basis and perhaps even extra fees for early and late hour setups and strikes. I typically group complimentary items together. So a powered speaker will include a stand and an XLR cable. My mic rental includes a mic, a stand and a cable. If you were to do a more broken down approach you can simply charge for every little thing. The stand, speaker, mic and XLR cable would each have their own cost that would all add up to a higher dollar amount, even though each one costs less to rent than the competitor. This factored with set up/ strike and travel costs can actually bring more money in, but the system requires more work and the client can get tired of seeing a ton of numbers for every little thing.

I have also set up a fixed rate system. I found that having a fixed rig deal works well. I have an A, B and C rig and each one has a flat rate that carries specific rules. It's a per day rate, with a fixed number of hours. After that the basic system rates are modified and there are charges for things like overtime and equipment that is not included in the cost of that system like wireless mics. This makes it easy to sell to a client, because I can throw a number out, tell them what it includes and it will usually fall in the basic needs. If they need more then it goes ala-carte.

In the end you will find that it is really based on your reputation and confidence. If your good, people will pay whatever you want them too. You can truly charge anything you want, it's just a matter of getting the client to believe it's worth the investment. This is easier to do when you have a reputation and equipment of a known standard. Most of my work is related to charitable organizations and I charge less to them because I feel that is important. But my non charitable work pays me very well and I love to make sure that they are all very well taken care of. This has gotten me to a place where I don't have to haggle about pricing. I charge a fair rate and provide a superior service than most of my competitors. My relationship with my competitors is great too. They hire me to work for them on shows and know that I will take just as good care of them as my own clients. Reputation..........
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Brad Weber

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2013, 01:43:27 PM »

Thank you, Steve.  That's a whole LOT to think about.  The thing that concerns me most are the expenses and what/how much is deductible.  I haven't been able to find a whole lot of free info on this subject and I don't have a personal accountant or tax atty to ask.
You may want to find an attorney and accountant, but until then you may want to check out sources such as the Small Business Administration, especially if they have an office nearby.
 
Many of the insurance, tax, etc. issues may depend on the form your business takes and the laws in your state.  If you are a sole proprietorship then you and the company may essentially be viewed as one and the same and you may not need to register with the state, though you may need to check that the business name is available and possibly register a dba (Doing Business As) with the county.  A partnership, LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, etc. may all be viewed differently and in some states may not be allowed for an individual.  You might want to start with http://www.sos.state.tx.us/corp/businessstructure.shtml and sources such as http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-establish-sole-proprietorship-texas.html, but it is best to have someone familiar with the relevant state and local laws help you decide what would work best for you.

I know that it will cost me $400 to register my business with the state of Texas, but that's a one-time expense.  I already own the .com domain name for my business and have web hosting for it (just no site built ATM) so that's taken care of. Business cards I can print at home.  I was also thinking about signing up with Gigmasters.com but need to check out their pricing.
But those are still all expenses you incur.  And as Steve noted, you might also have to check with your City and/or County to see if they require a business license to do business there.  Then there's property tax on business property, which could include some of your gear.  Want a separate phone number for the business, that could have a cost.  Here the State business registration has to be renewed annually.  You might need software to prepare invoices and track your financials and might want that running on a computer other than your personal computer.  The costs can start to add up, especially if you try to maintain separation between you personally and the company.
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Jay Barracato

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2013, 06:59:22 PM »

I think it also helps to be compensated for emotional strain.

My DJ services are currently priced at $250000 a gig or $100000 an hour.

Since no one has paid it yet, when the band goes on break, I go on break also.
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James Feenstra

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2013, 10:13:54 PM »

also note that just because you purchased a song off of itunes it does not give you the rights to perform it publicly for profit (ie. play it during a dj set)

you'll need to pay a licensing fee through socan (Canada) or ascap/bmi (US) depending on your area in order to legally use any material you already own. If you get caught playing songs without a license the fines are VERY high, something like $5000-$10,000, depending on area. Even higher sometimes, as it really depends on what they feel like hitting you with.

Even small businesses who play CDs/Itunes songs at their business as background music have to pay licensing fees. Only radio is exempt.
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Randall Hyde

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2013, 10:15:10 PM »

also note that just because you purchased a song off of itunes it does not give you the rights to perform it publicly for profit (ie. play it during a dj set)

you'll need to pay a licensing fee through socan (Canada) or ascap/bmi (US) depending on your area in order to legally use any material you already own. If you get caught playing songs without a license the fines are VERY high, something like $5000-$10,000, depending on area. Even higher sometimes, as it really depends on what they feel like hitting you with.

Even small businesses who play CDs/Itunes songs at their business as background music have to pay licensing fees. Only radio is exempt.

Actually, the venue is responsible for the licensing, not the person playing it (e.g., DJ). However, it's still damn wise to pay for that license. It's actually not that expensive and if you're going to be DJ'ing it's a wise thing to do. Ascap/BMI/etc. might not sue you directly, but the venue might feel obliged to come after you in one form or another.
Cheers,
Randy Hyde
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Randall Hyde

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2013, 10:21:40 PM »



All that said, how much should I charge for a gig?  Hourly? Flat rate?  How about this scenario:  What should I charge for a 4-6 hour indoor event, providing music and lights for 100-200 people?  $50/hour?  $75/hour? Flat rate?

Thanks for your patience and sharing your experience.

Ultimately, all people really care about is the bottom line. How much is it going to cost them to have you perform (all other things being equal, such as the depth of your music catalog). Almost every outfit I work with constantly asks me if there are going to be any "extra costs" (which they want no part of). They've dealt with sound companies that charge them overtime because the crew couldn't strike the gear fast enough or that nickel and dime them for every microphone, cable, and stand.  They want to know exactly how much it's going to cost them so they can stop worrying about the sound's effect on their event budget. They don't want to pay a penny more than you quote them (subject, of course, to you delivering on your promise to provide a sound system that is suitable for their event). Fixed price seems to be the best way to satisfy people but it does mean you need to do your homework and make sure that you're providing a reasonable bid. In your case (fixed PA system and other gear), the main thing you've got to so is make sure you have sufficient "rig for the gig" and don't try to take on bigger shows than you can actually handle (the rental route has *never* worked for me -- when I have to rent gear to do a gig I almost always get underbid in the market where I operate from).
Cheers,
Randy Hyde
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Canute J. Chiverton

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2013, 10:34:19 PM »

Hi All,

I realize that money is always a touchy subject and some might be hesitant to share how much (or little) they really make, but I hope that we can have a candid discussion and I can become more educated on this topic.  I appreciate your patience and reading of this long post.  It's a long post b/c I want to describe my entire situation and what I'm trying to do.

First some background on me.  Age shouldn't matter, but suffice to say I'm "40+."  I have a full-time job unrelated to the DJ/music/entertainment industry.  However, I play bass, know how to run a PA (definitely "amateur rank" but have very good working knowledge) and have always been involved with "live sound" to an extent.  I've always wanted to have a "DJ Business" on the side, as I love music and enjoy entertaining people.  And frankly, I've seen DJs at parties and events with crappy gear that's set up wrong and crappy attitudes on top of it pulling down $200+ for a few hours of work; I think I can do a much better job and make money on the side.

I realize that how much money you can ask for is related to your reputation, "overall package" (lots of lights, etc) and other factors.  What I want to do basically is be a "content provider" as opposed to a "DJ." I would either just play whatever playlist the client asked for, or stick to a genre of music depending on the event.  Of course, I would interact with the crowd but it would be limited to "Wishing John a great birthday!" or egging people on to do the Chicken Dance.  I don't scratch, remix EDM or anything like that.  I know how to beat match and fade one song into another and I'm good with people as that is part of my day job.  I have enough PA for 200 people, easily.  I will invest in some cheap lights (cheap, for now) and a truss to mount them on.  My equipment is all flight-cased for protection as well as a professional appearance. 

To sum it up: I am good with people, own a PA, with setting up and running PA but zero experience as a DJ both hands on and the business side of things. 

I plan on starting my business as a proper LLC, getting a tax ID number, paying tax and all that jazz. I also will be insured both for equipment loss as well as property/people damage/injury.  I'll do the website and business card thing.  I realize that I will start out with backyard birthday parties and word of mouth will be key. I'm good with that as this will be a side gig and not what puts bread on the table.

All that said, how much should I charge for a gig?  Hourly? Flat rate?  How about this scenario:  What should I charge for a 4-6 hour indoor event, providing music and lights for 100-200 people?  $50/hour?  $75/hour? Flat rate?

Thanks for your patience and sharing your experience.
i am sorry that I am late to the Party. I am based in Houston, Texas.  I have been in the DJ business professionally since 1978. I get Gigs by Referrals, Knocking on Doors and the use of a Professional Entertainment Agency (Not a Multi op). I charge based on the Following Criteria:
Location and ease of access to the Facility.
Duration of Event.
Size of Event (Hall Size and Amount of people)
Amount of Equipment needed.
Lights are extra
Karaoke/Video is extra.
Anywhere from $500.00 for the smallest and most basic Gig to $2,000.00 average Gig up to 400 people.
My Agent gets 20%.
I do not do a Quote or Gig without a site visit before the event and pricing.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2013, 07:51:10 AM »

Actually, the venue is responsible for the licensing, not the person playing it (e.g., DJ). However, it's still damn wise to pay for that license. It's actually not that expensive and if you're going to be DJ'ing it's a wise thing to do. Ascap/BMI/etc. might not sue you directly, but the venue might feel obliged to come after you in one form or another.
The way the law reads, at least for the US, is that any party that benefits from a public performance may be held liable.  Talking with representatives of several of the rights licensing organizations and some attorneys it seems that it is not necessarily the venue's responsibility to obtain licensing, however for a number of reasons they are the party most likely to be pursued in relation to any copyright infringement and thus the party that most needs to protect themselves.  That has lead to their most commonly being the party to assume the responsibility to procure public performance rights.  The important thing is to make sure that someone is addressing performance rights whenever they may be applicable.
 
There are also other copyright issues potentially associated with making copies of music, especially if not for personal use, modifying the music or songs and so on.
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Kyle_Jay

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Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2013, 12:30:02 AM »

Hi All,

All that said, how much should I charge for a gig?  Hourly? Flat rate?  How about this scenario:  What should I charge for a 4-6 hour indoor event, providing music and lights for 100-200 people?  $50/hour?  $75/hour? Flat rate?

Thanks for your patience and sharing your experience.


Okay, So i see that many gave their opinions. When i was starting out, i wanted a simple answer. This is about as simple as it gets. Every area/market is different. I DJ in California, Utah, Idaho, Arizona and Texas. California has more money than Idaho (and a lot more people) which makes it easier to charge more. As a wedding DJ in Idaho, i charge $100/hr minimum of 4 hrs. For an event that you might want to do, but need extra encouragement, charge more. If they want more equipment, charge more. It is always better to CHARGE MORE and GIVE DISCOUNTS. That is what makes the "sale" happen. Try being a salesman, not just the DJ.

Starting out, you will need to charge less, until you feel comfortable telling the customer that they really do owe you $500 for the last 3 hours. (Which it is a good idea to get at the beginning of the night/event for multiple reasons.)
For a regular gig, such as a club DJ, you will get paid less. Much less, unless you have built up your name and reputation.

There are many other thoughts i could add, but ask another specific question and i will try my best to answer without any extra BS.

Thanks,
Kyle
whitenoiselive.com
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Just starting out - How much to charge?
« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2013, 12:30:02 AM »


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