How to become a DJ

Are you a DJ looking to go pro? Make sure you make all the necessary arrangements. Here is a list of everything you need to do to become a professional DJ.

Hobby or business?

You probably started out DJ'ing as a hobby. Now you want to turn pro and register with KVK as an entrepreneur. To do so, you must meet several criteria. Check the criteria for registering as an entrepreneur. 

Under 18

Under-18s who want to work are protected by law. For example: Pepijn Maat is an underage DJ. He is allowed to work until 23:00 hours. If you are under 18, you can start your own business. But you need your parents' consent. Without his parents' help, Pepijn would not be here is today. “My age was an issue. I was way too young to join a label, for instance.” Pepijn's parents take care of the business side of things, such as bookings and keeping records. They also keep an eye out to see that Pepijn's school work does not suffer, and that he has enough spare time. 

Tip! Prepare for becoming an entrepreneur. Read our roadmap Starting a business as a minor.

Legal structure

Most young people who start a business opt for an eenmanszaak (sole proprietorship), because it is so quick and easy to set up. The main disadvantage of this legal form is that it means you are personally liable for any debt your business runs up.

Making money

The music industry is not an easy ticket to riches, Pepijn explains. “For your first performances, you may only get a small tip or a gift card. That is fine at first, but it is important that you learn to stand up for yourself.” Once you build a name for yourself, you can start asking money for a performance. Make sure to stay professional: confirm your fee in an email, notify the client about your terms and conditions, travel expenses, and payment terms. 

You can also make money from: 

  • royalties from collaborations with other artists 
  • sponsorship deals. You can participate in a one-time event, or close a contract with a sponsor for a longer period.
  • revenue per download from streaming services
  • revenue per click from YouTube
  • merchandise
  • performances

Tip! Write a business plan. It will help you estimate whether you can make a living out of being a DJ. Do it before you register with KVK.

Investments

As a DJ you will need lots of equipment, such as decks, a mixer, speakers, headphones, usb drives, and a laptop. The costs you make to run your business are business investments. You can deduct them from your tax return, so you pay less taxes. 

Know your rights

As a DJ, you often play somebody else's music. In that case, you sre a user. You do not have the copyright. The person who does have the copyright, should receive a compensation for the use of their music. You can find more information about this on the BUMA/Stemra website. You are automatically entitled to the rights of anything you create, provided you register your creation. Your music is protected by Buma/Stemra. Open an account and submit your track before sending it to a record label. 

A pointer from Pepijn: “Send yourself a pen drive with the recording by registered mail first. If anyone challenges you, you will always have that pen drive as proof.” But there is more. Do not forget to protect your trade name, brand name, and domain name. These are things you have to do yourself. Advocacy organisations like NTB (in Dutch) for musicians provide advice and support. 

Stackbouwers: Lucas & Steve: Ga vanaf dag 1 met je brand aan de slag

Want to know more? DJs and producers Lucas & Steve relate how their collaboration started. As a DJ and producer, you are an entrepreneur. But how does that work when there are 2 of you? How do you divide the tasks? Watch the video. 

General information for starters

As a starting entrepreneur you will likely also have to deal with: