Club fees for top DJs have never been higher. But DJs are also receiving international brand endorsement deals and achieving a wider cultural reach as brands try to engage Millennials and others on a wider and deeper level.
"DJs hold a lot of power now because they are actually traveling the United States and have a better pulse on today's young generation than most other professions," explains Rodric J. Hurdle-Bradford a managing partner at VegasLuxuryVIP. "And booking fees have increased right along with this because social media platforms have made it a universal, not regional experience and fan following."
Top DJs can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in endorsement deals. This comes as Millennials' purchasing power has grown in recent years. The trend is likely to continue. Companies know that their success will depend increasingly on their ability to convert Millennials into paying customers.
DJs are in constant contact with this group. They not only understand Millennials' musical tastes, but can also offer clues into their wider tastes, including the consumer products they favor, or with which they are likely to bond. In many instances, DJs can play a major role in forging that relationship with a brand.
Matt Colon, Co-President and CEO of Deckstar, which manages a number of superstar DJs including Steve Aoki, says that fees for top DJs over roughly the past five years have increased 500% to 600%. To be sure, the DJ profession is still evolving, and faces some of the same challenges as other industries, including a lack of opportunities for women. But the profession has a firm foothold in the cultural landscape.
In the coming years, a wider range of industries, and even the public sector, are likely to build relationships with DJs.
"DJs serve a dual role in the musical landscape," Colon said. "Whereas bands create music and then radio stations or playlist driven services then serve as curators, DJs typically are both," Colon said. "The biggest DJs are famous for the music they produce. Meanwhile as performers they can play to thousands (even tens of thousands) of people a night and more often than not, they are playing a mix of music they've created alongside music from their contemporaries. That dual role speaks directly to Millennials raised in a playlist driven society and as a result the demand for DJs as well as their influence has skyrocketed. Likewise the fees they command have skyrocketed. And corporate America has taken notice."
Entering the profession can be difficult, although not overwhelming. It's building a wide following that is the most difficult task and the key to success. "A DJ's reach, fan base, and ability will all be factors in sponsorship," explained Frank Catrambone, COO Center Stage Entertainment, Inc. "Types of endorsement deals include liquor companies, energy drinks, DJ equipment companies, just to name a few."
Catarambone says that top DJs can make tens of thousands of dollars to endorse big-brand consumer goods and that even lesser-known ones often receive free equipment.