There are a lot of factors that go into the pricing a DJ charges, these are…
1. Money invested into equipment. • Some DJ’s use lower end gear vs. high end equipment. There still are many grades of professional gear. 2. Money invested into music and how regularly they update their library. • Unless downloaded illegally this is a major cost factor. The larger a DJ’s library the more money has been invested. 50,000 songs equals $50,000. 3. Business operating over head. • Web site, telephone, insurance, advertising, office space, vehicle, equipment repair/replacement, music updates, etc. 4. What type of event you are having. • Not all events are created equal. Weddings take a lot more time to prep and plan for and generally require specific equipment needs. This increases the cost over a simple birthday party. 5. How far they are in relation to your event. • Travel time increases the total time commitment a DJ must make for an event + the cost of fuel to get there. 6. How much time is needed. • Just like a regular job, more hours worked equals compensation for time. 7. What day of the week your event is on. • In the mobile DJ business most work comes in during the weekend and a majority of that work lands on Saturday. So naturally Saturday’s will be the most expensive day of the week. 8. If they provide backup equipment. • This doubles the cost of money invested into equipment as a DJ is essentially purchasing double of everything. 9. If they carry liability insurance. • Just like car and health insurance there are many levels. As with any plan costs vary and that’s factored into the cost of doing business. 10. If they do this full time or part time. • If a DJ has another source of income this can affect how much or how little a DJ charges. 11. How much experience they bring. • Just like any performer (comedians, singers, actors) they are paid what they are worth. The more sought after they are the more a performer can demand. 12. How simple or elaborate your needs are. • The more equipment needed equals the more time it will take to setup and tear down in addition to the greater investment a DJ made that he or she needs to pay off. 13. How many locations you need sound. • Same as above, the more equipment and time needed will effect what will be charged. 14. If you need extras such as karaoke, video, etc. • Same as above, the more equipment and time needed will effect what will be charged.
Most DJ’s require minimums to make it work their while to prep, drive to and from event locations, the time to setup/tear down and the time to perform. Other cost factors are free consultations. They may initially be free but think of all the times a DJ talks and/or meets with potential clients before getting booked. It costs time and fuel so that needs to be made up in the cost of doing business.
Once you consider the time to prep for the average 5 hour wedding reception, the time to drive to and from the event location, the time to setup/tear down and the performance time you are easily looking at approx 13 to 15 hours of total time commitment. That time can increase for destination locations.
• 5 hours of performance • Approx 90 minutes round trip to drive to and from event locations • 1 hour combined to pack/unpack equipment from vehicle before leaving for event and after returning from an event • 1 hour to setup • 1 hour to tear down • 2 hours (average) meeting, emailing and talking on phone with clients leading up to their wedding to go over details, logistics, etc • 2 to 4 hours finalizing and prepping music, equipment, timelines and logistics prior to event.
DJ’s also need to charge enough to market, replace/repair/update equipment, update music, pay for business expenses and still have enough to live off of the rest of the week when not performing. Mobile DJ’s generally only perform once to twice a week.
The average DJ setup is approx $5,000 without purchasing double equipment for backup. This cost also does not include the total investment in the music library. As you can tell there are many factors as to why one DJ will charge differently than another. General rule of thumb is the cheaper a DJ is, the less experience that DJ has, the less money that DJ has invested into music/equipment and the less monthly out of pocket expenses that DJ has.
We recommend not going with the absolute cheapest option but also don’t feel like you have to choose the most expensive. Some of the pricier DJ’s charge more because they include one price fits all pricing that usually comes with a bunch of extras you may not need. Some of the cheaper DJ’s charge less because they can’t justify charging as much as a DJ who has been doing it longer with more experience. Some DJ’s don’t have as much over head and/or have other jobs so they can offer better rates. Some DJ’s don’t spend the extra money on backup gear, liability insurance and/or they may get their music illegally. Some DJ’s use lower end gear vs. high end equipment. There still are many grades of professional gear.
Like cars, there are many makes and models and not all features are included standard. If you find a good DJ that you connect with at a great rate who offers everything you need that’ll most likely be the right DJ for you. Just take the things mentioned in this article for consideration when shopping around and make sure to understand as much about each DJ as possible to narrow it down.
One of our mutual DJ associates read our previous post and wanted us to pass along another name of a DJ who people need to know about. His name is Brandon Hancock, he also is known as TruLegend based in the Tulsa, OK area. He was attending a friends wedding where this DJ was supposed to show and he never did! So if you are in the Tulsa, OK area looking for a DJ be aware of Brandon Hancock (TruLegend) and do not hire this guy. He may not show to your event.
Every once in a while we run across a DJ that needs to be pointed out for a complete lack of professionalism. Unfortunately this is one of those times. His name is Ruben Mendez, he also uses the alias DJ Quick from quickmixxxpromotions.com. Despite using his service in the past without incident he was a no-show for a Halloween party in San Antonio, TX that was to take place on 10/12/13.
Despite numerous attempts to reach him both via email and phone he has not returned any of our messages. We have a zero tolerance policy for situations such as this and immediately terminated our relationship with him. If we were able to verify he was involved in an accident or some other unfortunate circumstance we would have gladly reinstated him but so far nothing seems to point to that.
As much as it pains us to post this we want to inform as many people as possible so they don’t accidentally hire him only to find out he took their money but never provided a service. Thankfully we were able to fully refund the deposit but if someone hired him directly there would be no such guarantee. Be careful and learn from our misfortune, don’t hire Ruben Mendez (aka DJ Quick from quickmixxxpromotions.com)
This ultimately depends on how much equipment the DJ is bringing. The more equipment you need the DJ to provide (ie: separate sound system, video projector, lighting effects, etc) the more time you should allow. On average it takes about 30 minutes for simple sound system setups or an average of about one hour for the average sound and lighting setup.
If you are not having the event at a private residence a very important item to look over is the contract with your venue. Some people will book a hall, hotel or other similar location for 5 hours thinking they also have time before and after those 5 hours to setup and teardown. That is not always the case; some venues will charge extra for that time. Make sure that you schedule enough time for the DJ to properly setup and teardown. If the DJ has to rush to setup his or her equipment there is an increased likelihood that he or she will make a mistake during setup. That could require troubleshooting a problem or problems during your event as opposed to working out all the bugs during setup.
If you were told by another DJ that he or she can setup in 5 or 10 minutes you have to ask yourself, what in the world are they using? A boom box? One of the longest processes of setting up is the wiring off all the different audio and lighting components. In addition to the wiring a professional DJ will also take extra time to neatly tuck away cords from the view of guests. It may look simple enough at a glance but there is a lot more work into setting up and tearing down than the average person realizes.
You bet they do and we work with them! Some couples don’t need the DJ to provide the normal full “wedding DJ service” as they just need music and nothing else. Instead of selling you an expensive elaborate package you don’t need we will supply you with a private party DJ who will just play music for your wedding as if it were a regular dance such as a club, grad party, block party or any other similar type of party.
However if you need the full service Wedding DJ who will also Emcee, coordinate the entire evening, make all the announcements, provide a wireless microphone and other typical equipment and services we can do that to! Just remember, the less you need the less you pay and visa versa.
Beat matching is an art where DJ’s seamlessly blend two songs together by starting a new song before the old one finishes. For example you will be dancing to one song and without knowing it you are dancing to a new song in the same tempo as if the song never changed. This is a nice skill for DJs to have but ultimately is not crucial as it all boils down to the song selections. As long as people are enjoying the music played and that there is no “dead space” in between songs then seamlessly beat-matching from one song to the next is not a deal-breaker.
Another common song transition is called a segue. A segue is similar to what radio stations do. As one song is about to end they start another so there is no “dead space” in-between the music. These songs do not necessarily have the same tempo and most of the time is easily identifiable when a new song starts. As long as the music is good then the listener will stay tuned in. This is the same concept for mobile DJ’s, as long as the music relates well to guests they will stay on the floor.
All in all beat matching is a nice skill but should not be a prerequisite when choosing a DJ. Look at the DJs past references and talk to their past clients. If they were happy with that DJs service then they enjoyed the music. In fact most of the time they wouldn’t even know if the DJ beat-matched or just transitioned with traditional segue’s or did a combination of both at their event. Ultimately they just remember if they had a good time and if they enjoyed the music.