DJ Compensation Explanation

Fusion Exchange DJ Compensation

[Builds on Fusion Exchange Budget Process (Extended)]

What is the compensation for DJs?

FX DJs are compensated with either (1) a free Dance Only Pass or (2) a discount on an All Access Pass. (The discount depends on the number of sets.)

  • DJs with one set may choose between: (1) a free Dance Only Pass; (2) a discount of $50 off an All Access Pass; or (3) an All Access Pass for a fixed price of $175.
  • DJs with two sets may choose between: (1) a free Dance Only Pass; (2) a discount of $75 off an All Access Pass; or (3) an All Access Pass for a fixed price of $150.
  • DJs with three or more sets may choose between: (1) a free Dance Only Pass; or (2) a free All Access Pass (a 100% discount).

This year, we are offering the choice between a discount and a fixed price for the All Access Pass. This allows the DJ to choose between taking his/her chances by participating in the registration rush or opting out of the rush and leisurely registering at his or her convenience with a fixed price. This means that some DJs could receive an All Access Pass to this highly coveted event for only $75. That’s a $200 discount!

Why don’t DJs get into the workshops for free?

Like most events, all DJs are guaranteed 100% free entry to the exchange portion of the event (the dances). The Dance Only Pass offers the same amount of dancing and live music, and 3 times as many music options, as an exchange where DJs would normally get “fully comped.” Here, the DJs do get “fully comped.” We’re giving DJs the same value for the same work as any other exchange would. The only time that a DJ would have to affirmatively pay is when the DJ opts to participate in the workshop portion of the event (the classes).

Entry to the event at the Dance Only or All Access level is not a “free giveaway” to the event. It is a cost to the event that is waived as in-kind compensation for services to be rendered. Admission to classes is a $275 value, which exceeds appropriate compensation for DJs who are only playing for 1 or 2 sets .

Since any dance event’s income is limited by the number of people the venue can legally hold in accordance with fire code and permitting requirements, every body that enters the Fusion Exchange venue carries with it a value/cost. Because DJs do not provide their services for classes, it does not make sense to offer the classes as compensation, which would ultimately raise the cost of the event for all attendees.

Why don’t DJs also get paid in cash?

As shown above, DJs do receive compensation for their work. And that compensation is on par with industry standard. However, DJs do not receive cash payment.

Compensating every DJ in cash — in addition to the non-monetary compensation already received — for 72 to 96 hours worth of DJed music, even at $10/hour, would drive the event cost up for every single attendee. Plus, any DJ that believes he or she must be paid would not view $10/hour as sufficient. We’d still hear complaints about our policies and compensation, yet our attendees would have to pay more or receive less value. Paying DJs a token fee would neither create more satisfied DJs nor more satisfied attendees and even the token payment and its administration would be costly to the event.

Rather than make DJing about money, we focus on the community that we build from the dances and the atmosphere that we create. Every person that applies to DJ at the Fusion Exchange is aware of our compensation scheme and decides to participate in the event because they want to bring something to our community and they have fun doing so.

Finally, by not paying DJs in cash or giving all DJs free passes to the classes, we can have a greater variety of DJs and music. FX is one of the most innovative dance events in the country . Very few dance exchanges offer 3 simultaneous rooms of music to dance to. This variety is key to the FX experience.

Why not decrease the total number of DJs and increase the number of sets each DJ plays?

One of the innovative aspects of Fusion Exchange is the variety of music we offer at any given point in the night. This means we need more DJs than the average event. This requirement for more DJs, in more rooms, playing a wide range of styles means that our budget for DJs is required to be much larger than it appears. Reducing the number of DJs would reduce the quality and variety of music we offer our attendees to dance to.

Even if we were to decrease the number of DJs, we still would have a limited budget. When “extra” funds become available, our policy is to first put those funds back into the event for the benefit of all attendees. If the event eventually becomes successful and lucrative enough to add maximum value for attendees and to pay people in cash, our first priority will be to pay the organizing team.

Organizers literally put hundreds and hundreds of hours, some more than 1500 hours into making the Fusion Exchange happen. The only compensation they receive is an All Access Pass, a Dance Only Pass to give to a friend, and a T-Shirt, for a maximum value of $420. Key organizers receive minimal additional compensation in light of their expanded responsibilities and substantially greater time investment in the event. Thankfully, the organizers enjoy the work and take pride in the event’s success.

Would you ever pay DJs in cash?

Yes. We would consider paying DJs when the event is so lucrative that it is possible and the DJs bring so much to the table that it makes sense to offer cash compensation. What would this entail? The DJ would need to be a highly professional, very experienced, very established, incredibly committed, super-knowledgeable, and easy-to-work-with DJ who knows and understands the Fusion Exchange and submits a professional proposal to bring us something more than a selection of songs and perceived popularity. Someone at this level would most likely be spending 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, on improving their DJing just like any other professional in any other genre. If this DJ is a professional, and submits the aforementioned proposal 6-9 months in advance, and can bring in the audience, then we would consider paying the DJ.


We hope that this has shed light on how and why we compensate DJs the way we do. We must continually reiterate that our goal is to keep the cost to the attendees as low as we can while maintaining and improving the high-quality, professionally-run event we’ve built over the last few years.