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How to Start a DJ Business: The Business Side of Things

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Gigly team, Marketing at Gigly
How to start a DJ business

So, you’ve got great taste in music and love building playlists for parties. Maybe you’ve even had a few successful DJ gigs and want to keep the momentum going.

Now, it’s the time to start your DJ business.

As a DJ, you can turn your passion into your livelihood and never have to “work” another day in your life.

No matter what your story is or how you got into DJing, we’ve got your back. In today’s step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to start a DJ business from scratch.

Let’s get those turntables spinning.

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1. Outline Your Goals

Any successful business starts with a solid foundation. You need to know your goals and what you’re working towards.

This means you have to answer some important questions:

  • What kind of DJ do you want to be?
  • How do you want to play music?
  • Who is your target market?
  • Who are your competitors?

When you have answers to these questions, you can outline a clear-cut plan and set milestones to reach along the way.

Now, let’s talk about how to answer those questions.

What Type of DJ Do You Want to Become?

First, you must decide what type of disc jockey you want to be and what type of music you want to play.

Do you want to be a worldwide touring DJ like Martin Garrix or Tiesto?

Or maybe you only want to work as a club DJ for local nightclubs.

What about working as a wedding DJ or starting a mobile DJ business?

Do you want to go full-time or part-time?

Narrowing in on a niche is essential for branding and marketing yourself. It makes it easier to find clients because they understand you specialize in a specific type of DJ service.

Here are some other niches, events, and types of venues to consider:

  • Restaurants and bars
  • Graduations
  • Private parties
  • Birthday parties
  • Radio
  • Karaoke

Determine Your Target Market

If you’re having trouble choosing a niche, think about who your ideal customer is.

Are they nightclub or lounge owners?

Soon-to-be married couples?

Think about what problem they need help with and how you can solve it. Why should they hire you instead of all the other DJs in your area?

Next, think about your target audience. Who do you want to perform for? Is it college kids? Young adults?

Once you determine your DJ niche and target market, you can finally research your competition.

Research Your Competition

Go online and look for DJs who are already doing what you want to do. This way, you can see what’s working and what you can improve.

You shouldn’t fear your competition but look to them as sources of inspiration. Learning about your competitors helps you understand why clients would want to hire you.

Find successful DJs in your target niche and note who their clients are, how often they perform, and how they market themselves.


2. Get All the Necessary DJ Equipment

Freelance DJ Equipment
To become a professional DJ, you need the right DJ gear.

What Type of Equipment Do DJs Need?

Let’s discuss a few key items you need to start your small business.

DJ Controller

An all-in-one DJ controller is your best friend as an up-and-coming professional DJ. With one of these in your stack, you won’t have to haul around multiple decks and a mixer.

A DJ controller offers flexibility and portability as you travel to different gigs. We recommend investing in the best model you can afford, as showing up with a high-quality controller makes you look like a true professional.

Furthermore, expensive controllers tend to last longer than cheaper ones, so you won’t have to replace or upgrade it for years to come.

Amps and Speakers

While many venues have sound systems installed and ready to use, you still need to be prepared in case they don’t. The last thing you want is to show up to a gig where the client doesn’t have speakers.

How would you play your tunes?

You’ll need an amplifier that connects your DJ controller to your speaker, and we recommend buying a pair of high-quality stereo speakers.

Microphones

You definitely want to arrive at your venue with a microphone. Whether you’re comfortable making announcements or not, microphones are a great way to show off your personality and bring more energy and vibrance to the crowd.

The client may also want to speak during the event. Microphones are must-have items at wedding receptions and ceremonial events where people give toasts and celebrate with each other.

Spare Cables

No matter how durable and expensive your cables are, it’s crucial to have spare sets.

You never know what’ll happen to your equipment as you’re traveling and setting up, so having spare cables can save your gig.

Want to Lease Your Equipment?

Going into debt to start your DJ company can add unnecessary stress and pressure, so consider leasing equipment if high-quality tools are out of your budget.

Research options online and in your local area. Then, choose the provider who offers the best rates on the best equipment.


3. Come Up With Your DJ Name

While a lot of DJs use their real name for their DJ name, many DJs use a fake name. Your name is an important branding tool that will affect your public perception, so choose it carefully.

How to Pick the Perfect DJ Name

Picking your DJ name is a fun and creative part of starting your DJ business. However, it’s also significant for branding and marketing purposes.

For example, global icon Calvin Harris’s real name is Adam Wiles.

This shows how important a DJ’s name is. “Calvin Harris,” which seems like his real name, has a memorable ring and tone to it.

Here are a few key questions to consider when picking your DJ name:

  • Is the website domain available?
  • Are the social media handles available?
  • Will your DJ name help you stand out among competitors?

Although a DJ name won’t make or break your career, it can help if it’s memorable, catchy, and unique.


4. Design Your DJ Logo

The next step is to design your DJ logo. You can use your logo as the profile picture for your social media accounts, on your website, and in the footer of your emails.

A logo shows professionalism and helps people remember who you are. If you don’t have graphic design experience, you can hire an illustrator on Upwork or Fiverr.

Check out these professional DJs’ logos for inspiration:

Calvin Harris
Calvin Harris logo

Photo via Wikimedia

Tiesto
Tiesto logo
Photo via Tiesto Facebook

Martin Garrix
Martin Garrix logo
Photo via Wikipedia

Alesso
Alesso logo
Photo via Wikimedia


5. Set Up the Business Side of Your Company

With the creative side out of the way and your DJ goals set in stone, it’s time to set up the business side of things. As an independent business owner, you need processes for collecting invoices, paying taxes, and maintaining your company’s financial well-being.

Although you may think DJing is all about partying and “living the life,” this isn’t the case — successful DJs are incredibly hardworking and business-savvy.

Apply for a Business License

You’ll need to research your local laws and regulations to learn how to register as a business in your area. It is usually a simple and affordable process.

Although you won’t earn huge amounts of money right away, a business license allows you to grow in the future.

Sole Proprietorship or LLC?

You can choose between running a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company (LLC).

A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business run by a single person. An LLC exists separately from its owners and has incorporation startup costs.

LLCs offer a few key benefits that sole proprietorships don’t.

For one, members of an LLC are not responsible for business debts and liabilities — the LLC is. This is called liability protection.

If your LLC goes bankrupt, your financier can’t go after your personal assets. If you have a sole proprietorship, they can.

Another issue with sole proprietorships is mixing personal and business funds, making tax season challenging. If you choose to open a sole proprietorship, we recommend keeping a business bank account dedicated to your DJ business.

In terms of taxes, sole proprietorships and LLCs have the same tax implications.

See also: Filing Taxes When You’re Self-Employed (Our Step-by-Step Guide)

Obtain Business Insurance

You should consider getting some form of insurance, usually public liability, to protect yourself and your DJ business in case anything goes wrong.

Equipment insurance is also valuable in case your equipment gets damaged or stolen.

Do You Need Permits, Licenses, or Insurance?

We recommend checking with your local state and government agencies to see if you need licenses or permits to operate your DJ business legally.

Learn About Taxes

Tax education is crucial to running a successful business. If you pay less than your full tax liability, you can rack up some serious debt.

This is why keeping diligent records of your income and owed taxes is essential. As we discussed above, it’s wise to open a separate business account to keep your business and personal finances apart.

How to Manage Your Finances

If you want to learn how to manage your finances, sign up for Gigly and take advantage of our financial coaching services.

With Gigly, you’re eligible for unlimited calls with a financial counselor, who can offer guidance on setting up your business and keeping your finances crystal clean.

Gigly offers other services, too

  • Legal assistance
  • Supplemental health insurance
  • Student loan debt relief and financial wellness program
  • Discounts at Office Depot, AVIS, Lenovo, and many more brands
  • Metal health consultations
  • Discounted prescriptions
  • Vision care

As a business owner, you don’t receive the benefits you’d get working for a big corporation. Gigly acts as your all-in-one benefits provider and gives you peace of mind as you venture into your DJ career.

Sign up for Gigly to enjoy our freelancer benefits!


6. Build Your Website and Set Up Your Social Media Accounts

The next step is building your website and setting up your social media accounts. Since you’ve already chosen your DJ name, register a website and social media accounts using your DJ alias.

You should post your music collection, music library, remixes, playlists, and other music-related content on your social media accounts. This lets clients see if you’re a good fit for their gig.

Tip: Bring a friend to future shows to record videos and take pictures that you can post on your social media accounts.

7. Create Your DJ Business Plan

Now, you’re ready to create your DJ business plan.

First, you must decide how much you want to charge for your services and how you will receive payment from your clients.

Keep Pricing Transparent

You can choose to offer hourly pricing or a specific gig rate. The average rate of a DJ is around $100 an hour. However, it can vary depending on your specialty and the type of events where you perform.

Look at how much your competitors charge. Choose your pricing structure accordingly based on your skill set and expertise.

Whatever you decide to charge, keep your pricing as transparent as possible. You can display your pricing on your website or send it to potential clients in an email or text message.

Related: How to Answer the Question “How Much Do You Charge?”

Contracts Are Essential

You’ll need to create a contract to send to potential customers to confirm the gig. If a client pulls out, you’ll have a contingency plan in the form of a non-refundable deposit.

Contracts may also include cutoff times. For instance, if a client cancels a gig within 24 hours of the show, you still receive the entire payment since it may be difficult to book another time.


8. Start Looking for Clients

The final step is to look for clients so you can start booking gigs and earning revenue.

How to Find Your DJ Clients

Finding clients may be challenging for a new DJ. The best way to find clients is through networking, referrals, and word of mouth.

Here are some tips to help you find more clients for your new business:

Keep Your Contacts Organized

As an entrepreneur, organization is everything. You’ll need to keep track of everyone you’re in contact with and offer quick responses.

Network, Network, Network

You’ll need to put yourself out there and let the world know you’re ready to perform at their venue or event. We recommend starting with family and friends and asking them if they know anybody who owns a club or has an event coming up that needs a DJ.

Once you’ve exhausted this avenue, you can begin looking through local Facebook groups in your specific niche.

Definitely consider getting business cards. You can hand them out at your events to let guests know that they can call you for their own events.

Leverage Social Media

Leveraging social media is an effective way to find clients. Look for nearby venues you’re interested in DJing, then reach out on social media to introduce yourself and ask if they have any open slots.

Your social media pages should have videos showcasing your personality and your taste in music.


Conclusion

Once you book a few gigs and show the world who you are as a DJ, more opportunities will start showing up. You’ll have more footage to show on your social media pages and more referrals to send to potential customers.

However, as an independent business owner, you need to stay on top of protecting yourself and your financial health. Gigly helps small business owners like yourself get discounted access to financial, legal, and healthcare resources.

Learn more about Gigly here!