Disc jockeys have been a staple in the radio industry for years. They spin records, take requests and, sometimes, interview a musical guest or two. But times are changing, especially with the advent of Pandora, TuneIn, Slacker and other live-streaming radio apps, making the DJ less of a necessity. In fact, this could be one of the factors contributing to the fairly low pay.
Pay Lower in Radio
Announcers in general earned an average of $41,800 a year in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On-air talent working specifically in radio, such as disc jockeys, brought home closer to $37,680 a year. However, the job-seeker’s site Indeed provides a slightly lower figure, estimating that radio DJs averaged just $35,000 annually.
Market Influences Earnings
One of the biggest radio markets in the U.S. is New York City, New York, reports News Generation, and salaries often reflect this. As of 2014, radio DJs averaged $48,000 a year in this market, according to the job-seeker's site Indeed. Chicago, Illinois is also in the top 10 of media markets, with radio DJs earning $42,000 a year, according to Indeed. While Atlanta, Georgia isn’t as big of a market, DJs tend to earn more at an average of $44,000 a year. Memphis, Tennessee is ranked at 50 in media-market size, and the DJs in this area pull in just $32,000 annually.
Big Players Pull In Seven-Figures
DJs with a large following can translate their popularity into significant paydays, especially when moving into the club circuit. "Forbes" places Tiësto, who currently hosts a radio program on SiriusXM as well as performs live shows, at the top for earners in this industry at $22 million.
Employment Opportunities Minimal
As stations consolidate, growth in the industry will be stagnant. According to the BLS, no growth is expected between 2012 and 2022. This means no additional positions will be added to the nearly 25,000 existing jobs found in the industry. However, positions may develop as other DJs leave the field or relocate to larger markets.