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How much do NBA DJs get paid?

The average salary for NBA DJs is not known, but in-house NBA DJs who are hired to play every game get paid more than DJs who come in to do gigs a few times throughout the season. In general, most in-house DJs are playing 41 games a season (all home games), and because of their prominence as NBA DJs, are able to book separate, private gigs to create a sustainable income alongside their salary as an NBA DJ.

What do NBA DJs do?

The simple answer to this question is that NBA DJs play music. But the act of DJing at an NBA game is not so simple. NBA DJs play music before the game, throughout the game, in between timeouts and game breaks, and after the game. The music they play needs to match and amplify the atmosphere and cater to all different demographics (age, gender, ethnicity/racial background, etc). More than music, DJs often play different, special sound effects and tunes: think sound effects for a 3-pointer, or the famous “defense” chants that are popular across the league. These tunes can be specific to players even.

Before the game, DJs play hype music to get both players and fans ready for an (hopefully) exciting game of basketball, and turn it up a notch when players are making their way onto the court for their pre-game introductions. During the game is when the DJs are most active, switching between song after song while also playing sound effects and tunes. During game breaks such as timeouts, DJs often play music to get the crowd active and on their feet (usually accompanied by “fan cams” trying to catch the fans who are dancing). If there is some sort of performance going on, usually between quarters or halves, DJs play music to accompany the performances.

NBA DJs are some of the most skilled at what they do, especially because they need to cater to such a varied audience. NBA DJs around the league have gone into detail about the various genres and eras of music DJs need to research and prepare, from old classics to the newest hits, and genres ranging from hip-hop and rock-and-roll to pop and EDM tracks.

The biggest thing that DJs need to do is to “read the room” and play music accordingly. Many of the top NBA DJs say that a lot of the music is based on how the crowd is reacting to music, and of course, how the game itself is going down on the court. While DJs come prepared with sets and mixes, a lot of that can be thrown out the window to adjust for how the atmosphere in the arena is, and NBA DJs are skilled and experienced enough to do that consistently and effectively.

The importance of music at NBA games was found out when the 2020-2021 NBA regular season and playoffs resumed in the bubble format in Orlando, Florida. While the bubble was restricted to players and coaches, a select number of media and “essential staff” were also allowed in: this included some NBA DJs, who were told to come along and provide some music in the arena at the request of players and coaches. DJs were also able to somewhat fill in the void of the crowd in empty arenas, giving a somewhat more normal experience for the players while also translating that on TV, where fans were watching from home and could listen. This trend of having DJs perform at NBA games also continued when fans were still barred from entering stadiums.

What is entertainment at NBA games like?

In the era of television, NBA fans can watch a game from just about every corner of the planet, in the convenience of their home. There has to be a greater incentive for fans to come down to an arena and watch a game from the stands, which is a bit more expensive and time-consuming. The NBA has recognized the need for entertainment since the 1980s, when the “Showtime” Lakers nearly single-handedly revived the popularity of the NBA with their focus on entertainment. Ticketing revenue remains a significant portion (about 20-25% of total revenue) for teams, so executives want to make sure that fans are thoroughly entertained and keep coming back to the arena/

At NBA games, there are various events and performances going on at all times, in addition to the DJ. Every team usually has a mascot who is involved with performances or engaging with fans throughout the stadium. Likewise, fans can participate in events on the court for a chance to win prizes. Music and dance performances usually occur at every significant game stoppage. Sometimes stadium and team staff go around and toss merchandise into the stands for fans to catch. Those are just the main things going on at any given NBA game, all for the sake of keeping fans entertained by more than just the game being played on the court.

NBA DJs are the fabric of the entertainment that makes going to an NBA game so electric. Their job is to engage the crowd, keep them active, and amplify the atmosphere. It’s easier said than done, but music is the job to get it done. The importance of NBA DJs is not only important to fans and players who appreciate the atmosphere, but also to team executives, who push for great DJ performances to get more fans into arenas for the next home games. Yet another fact pointing to the importance of the NBA DJ was the inclusion of NBA DJs as essential staff for the NBA Bubble and games with empty arenas during the height of COVID-19, especially since players and coaches called for it.