How much should a DJ cost?

It’s a subject which often raises healthy debate among DJs and indeed with prospective clients….how much should a DJ be charging?

I first wrote this post nearly a year ago, and after seeing what I’ve seen online tonight felt the urge to update things a little bit.

Bride Magazine sort of beat me to it a while ago with their own take on the subject (admittedly skewed towards weddings) which you can read about here.

So, how much should a DJ cost?

As with all services, there are a wide range of varying levels of service and expertise to choose from.

There are some in this industry who will happily work for beer money (and if you’re very lucky…actually turn up).

They unfortunately give us ALL a bad name.

I won’t dwell on those types of operators because they come and go all the time, normally disappearing when they realise just how hard the job is at times for very little return. They normally show up just after Christmas believe it or not….and disappear by the summer thankfully.

I’ve been following a Facebook feed for this evening, and one of the posts was from a guest at a wedding. The DJ was very young, very inexperienced, and as a result…..very inexpensive...the customer booked their wedding DJ based on price alone! After all anyone can be a DJ, can’t they?

Things to look for when hiring your wedding DJ

I know I’m biased – but booking solely on price is NEVER a good idea. Trust me….I see this sort of thing week in, week out and it annoys the hell out of me!

Now we all have to start somewhere in this job….but the images below shocked me. The standard of the setup is shocking, and the actual demeanour of the DJ even worse (quite how he expects to get a party going whilst he’s sitting down/leaning against the wall/looking completely bored is beyond me!). The images show the first four hours of the evening reception. By hour 4 (around 10pm), I’d have expected to see a full dance floor.


We ALL have those nights (and NEVER trust a DJ that won’t admit to that), but he could at least have looked interested in what he was doing!

And then there are the rest of us.

Those of us like myself who have successfully managed to run what is, under the bonnet a very difficult business for a number of years have managed to do so for a reason….we charge what’s necessary to run the business and pay ourselves for our efforts.

And believe me…running a professional mobile disco isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination, especially when some of the more dubious operators are working for less than the price I paid for my own wedding reception back in 1999!

A lot of us rely on running our DJ services as a professional business to earn a living. It’s what keeps the roof over our heads and puts food on the table for our families. Whilst a lot of people will try to compare “hourly rates” with what they earn, it doesn’t quite work like that….

  • As a business, we have multiple overheads to pay before we earn any money. This can be anything from equipment replacement and maintenance, music costs, insurance costs, storage costs, transport costs….the list goes on.
  • It’s rare for a DJ to work on an hourly rate. As already mentioned, we rely on our bookings to pay a wage. Unlike regular 9-5 jobs, we’re fairly limited in when we can work (it’s normally weekend nights out performing and the rest of the week on things like preparing playlists, maintenance and admin). Therefore, we have to make in a couple of nights what for instance, an office worker would make in a week.
  • Likewise, we can’t guarantee to be out every week. There are natural lulls during the year (for instance, January is normally very quiet).

As you can hopefully see from above, the price we charge doesn’t all go straight into our pocket (and what does come our way goes via the Inland Revenue first), and is by no means guaranteed.

Now, let’s put the entertainment into the perspective of your party…

As is already mentioned in the Bride Magazine article, you’ll probably be feeding your guests at some stage during the evening. Their estimated cost of £5 per head for an evening buffet isn’t too far from the sort of prices I see whilst I’m working. In fact in a lot of cases, that’s very reasonable.

So why not break the entertainment down in the same way, i.e. at a cost of £5 per person that’s there based on a party with 100 guests? You’d certainly struggle to get into any sort of entertainment venue for that price (cinema’s, night-clubs etc.), and with a mobile DJ the entertainment can be tailored to exactly what YOU want as opposed to entertaining a mass of other people that may or may not know each other.

So whilst hiring a mobile DJ may seem like a lot of money for an evening’s work, please remember that for the  assurance that you’re going to get the entertainment you and your guests want from a professional provider, it’s incredibly good value for money.

Oh, and some shots from weddings I’ve entertained at over roughly the same timespan? See below.

When hiring a DJ, you really DO get what you pay for!

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