Hardly a day goes by without pointless disagreements on DJ forums and Facebook groups over fees, with most firmly entrenched in their views and no one budging.
It seems to me this is because many approach such posts solely from their own perspective and the point they have personally reached as a DJ. They rarely seem to look at it from the perspective of the other guy, or make any attempt to establish where that DJ is on their own journey.
Fees are relative to experience
Belittling someone by saying they should be charging £200/400/600 etc. isn’t really helpful. What’s more, this is usually done without knowing anything about the DJ in question’s ability and experience. For example, if they've done less than five gigs is it reasonable to expect them to be charging the equivalent of someone that has been gigging regularly for two years?
Everyone has to start somewhere and if someone starts DJing at a young age, they’ll have no experience and little confidence. It’s not reasonable to expect them to be charging hundreds of pounds.
It’s the law of the jungle, and in reality the only people this should affect are those who were only recently beginners themselves. If an established DJ is losing gigs to newbies they should be taking a serious look at themselves rather than complaining about ‘the Sids’! If you were a good DJ would you really be losing events to people that have recently started, have no experience and haven’t yet had time to develop their talent? If you are in this situation and have, let’s say, 10 years of experience, that might suggest you haven’t progressed much in those 10 years and that in actual fact you have just repeated year one ten times!
I appreciate that won’t go down well with some people, but there are many that need to look at themselves for the answer to the problem rather than blaming the world. Often the only barrier to progress is ego. Only those with super egos truly believe they know all there is to know and can’t learn anything new. If this 'ten year' statement does describe you and you’re honest enough to admit it then maybe it’s time to book yourself onto the Pro Mobile Conference in February? You’re NEVER too old to learn.
What about hugely experienced DJs charging low fees?
Granted there are some very talented DJs who offer a fantastic service and have been around for years who still charge extremely low fees. This is often because it’s a second job for them and so just a source of extra ‘beer money’. This is a completely different kettle of fish, and losing events to those DJs is another reason to try to move up to charging higher fees ASAP by offering both a better level of service (especially your customer service!) and possibly extras such as background music, additional equipment, etc. While these DJs may be good, they aren’t likely to have the drive to excel, as they won’t have a shortage of bookings thanks to their low price. If you work hard to give customers exactly what they want, it is possible to get lots of bookings and a substantial fee, regardless of what others are charging.
The confidence curve
One thing that EVERY DJ has in common, no matter what level they are at, is confidence (or lack of it). We all have a certain level of confidence in our ability and in our business, which can vary across different areas. For example, the aspect of DJing in which most mobile DJs have the highest level of confidence is probably their music programming. On the other hand, for most their lowest level is usually pricing. Some excellent DJs have huge confidence in their own overall ability, and so deliver fantastic events, yet charge prices far lower than reflects their combination of level of service, knowledge, skill, talent and experience and so their clients are receiving a bargain of a service.
As DJs we should strive to have a good level of confidence across every area of our businesses (around the centre of ‘the confidence curve’). If we lack confidence in any one area, this can be detrimental to our whole business, as everyone finds it easier to sell something in which they have confidence. However, a word of warning, becoming over confident in any area is also a bad thing, as it removes our desire to keep improving and innovating.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 74, Pages 44-48.