Discussion on: VJs dealing money ?@?#! | VJ Tips

bennoh profile image

I find that an interesting point. I would very much like to see a longer discussion here with as many VJs as possible to join st the discus.

VDMO can you please join in the discussion, I'm interested in your opinion and attitude as well as the general situation in Australia,
as well as Sean Bowe's voice regarding the situation in the USA would be very interesting:
Yes, I started in 2001 with a hardware video mixer with a few effects, 2 mini-DV Camcorder 2-3 VHS and my former G3 Mac. 1600.- to 1800.- US$ received per weekend Thursday to Sunday lunchtime, of which around 550.- was spent on rental equipment (VideoMixer Panasonic WJ-MX50 / miniDVs), transport costs and food another 100.- and during the week I have 3D logos & animations, V -Loops & film recordings including editing made on FinalCut to do that i have on the weekend in off new and actual stuff. I took a break for 1 weekend per month so as not to burn out straight away. So I had around 3,100 (US$) per month of that, but I still had to keep my own equipment up to date and as a self-employed person I had to shell out pension money for old age, occupational accident insurance, etc. myself. Other average salaries as an employee back then were around 5,000.-, as a pure laser/light technician I had previously earned around 5,500.- including free drinks and full meals, pension mony & asiciration payed by my cheff. As an Video artist I was recognized, appreciated and respected by the clubs owners and most of the guests. The pay was OK, but at the time it was completely inadequate. Today there are an enormous number of people entering the scene, many art school students and graduates of media technology and design, video / 3D. The art schools spit out so called Artists like Becker puts out bread every morning. In big clubs in the scene centers like Zurich, Badel, Lausanne or Geneva, practically nothing is paid for VJing anymore. If you get 100 or 150 you have to be an old hand like me, although I reject such offers myself. The club owners and their booking offices would rather book 10-15 DJs for an evening than calculate a reasonable fee for a VJ. It's not necessary, someone will do it for a cheap $100 video or totaly free. At major events and festivals in the tech and Goascene in Switzerland (like moast of EU), the top fee for a huge effort with large mappings is just 1000.- if you are one of the top 5 to top 10 in the scene, otherwise a better tip is more likely. I would be very interested to see what this looks like in other regions of the world.

For the discussion, I would now like to raise a few points regarding fees:

A) I think there is an urgent need for professional associations/trade unions and the members must be obliged to teak minimum fees. Clubs and organizers that do not recognize the association rules should be boycotted by association members and kept on a list. VJs who circumvent the rules and work at lower rates should be identified and put on a list and excluded from specialist forums etc. The clubs should be obliged to join, in return they are allowed to use a quality label / seal for weaving etc. and receive access to the association's VJ-Bookingoffice.

B) I see another big problem and total disaster for VJs in nrar future, in the fact that DJs are increasingly taking over the VJing themselves. This has not least to do with the many platforms that sell V-Loops. So the question arises to me whether it is wise as a VJ to produce such material yourself, mostly purely for sales purposes. So whether the dog isn't biting its own tail. Nothing to say about V-loops or plugins etc being exchanged for free among the VJ-Communitx self, but disguising it somewhere is perhaps something to reconsider.

C) An equipment central where hardware and software can be shared together would also be desirable and could ease the financial situation of the VJs soften. When set up as a foundation, this can even bring some advantages for the artists.

All are certainly not easy topics that people prefer to evade with a wink and downplay the problem.

My approaches to solutions may be a bit radical and only to realise by a very long-term impact, as they are difficult to implement and also ethically sensitive or at least lead to controversy.

But I would like to use the joke here for a serious discussion and invite all VJ's & VideoArtists to have a say.

Greatings bennoH. from Switzerland

zsabbir profile image
Zunayed Sabbir Ahmed Author

wow, very detailed post. and great hearing your story, so inspiring. when i started mixing videos all night long in our secretive jam sessions called "speakeasy" i had not clue about VJing. i was a film maker and animator, and with vdmx, i was "making" films "live". and back then, in this small country called Bangladesh, nobody was doing this. later in 2013 i partnered and founded a company and started doing "this" for entertainment shows and started charging "production fees". surprisingly, not musicians or entertainment, rather corporate shows came up more. since then i do corporate/govt/production launchings twice more than musical shows, per year.

my backlog, we started as a big team, with big investments and training, and today gradually reached to a medium sized team with VJs LDs sound engineers SFX ppl etc. since start, i had two ways of charging the "whole new thing" called VJ service. i could add it as a part/addition of rental (led projectors etc). but i picked to run a separate company who does "contents" and "tech (vj/ld/se/etc)", and barely invest on rental gears. i cant express what i went through past 10 years, making clients of a developing country to get convinced behind spending "extra" with rental, for getting "better experiences". first 3/4 years were really harder, i really have no idea how i convinced my clients back then to do all big projection mappings, holographs, led pixel mappings, shows. but after few years, i had enough video showreels to show clients and convince them. i think my reward came from constancy and persistency. not to brag, but since we were the only team fully invested behind making experiential productions, all our corporate/govt/big shows somehow had to come to us. which is not a good thing though it might sound like.

later in 2022, i, along with my team mates, initiated a learning platform in my country where you could learn vj/lighting/etc. i coordinated many workshops to develop our existing show tech who were already using vmix/etc software to kinda reach the live visual level we were doing. also started releasing Bangla and English training contents in different channels. in one year, we managed to scatter our country with moderate number of visuals, cz there were already great LEDs, only proper trainings were lacking. now if you google "live concert bangladesh 2022/2023" if you see a huge LED and cool visual, that is the result of our community "we are vj Bangladesh"

now with finances, since we had no standard to follow, we could charge clients like a sound system company did. say - bill is 10, 8 for logistics, 2 for engineers/crew.
but since our 70% work is before the gig, in studio, i followed a different way, i'll put imaginary numbers to get u the idea:

  • contents, say $5
  • vj/tech/hr- say $5/day
  • rehearsal- $2/day

if u do the show again:

  • existing content rendition $2
  • vj/tech/hr- $5/day (maybe discount this time)
  • rehearsal- $2/day (maybe discount this time)

i take 50% adv with finalization and workorder. then i make it, take it to venue, set it up and run the rehearsal. and BEFORE SHOW rest 50% gets transferred to our acc, then the visual happens. this part might sound like an ass, but i stick to this rule as if its an asshole rule i hate but gotta follow. learned the money thing in harder ways in experience.

as i said in the video, the pay scale, supply and demand may vary from places, the yet the basics are same. i shared scene from Bangladesh. pls share your financial dealing workflow that we barely talk on the internet as Vjs.

vdmo profile image

Know your value !
Be considerable to what you bring to the event. Break it up into parts.
When you get asked to VJ for $150. Politely pause and ask "can you even get (inserts specs here) such and such laptop hire for that money with all the thousands of dollars in software and Configs." This is hugely important to grasp and educate on. lets!

Change the subject
Lets talk about how you utilising your event as brand representation online. What content you want to be seen. Changing mindset direction on this helps.
You sell a value proposition that is a core to promoter needs in today's market .. I see more and more waking up to this ..