How much should you spend on a wedding DJ?

NOTE: This is re-posted (by permission) from a fellow-DJs website. Arnoldo Offermann is a well-known and respected DJ in the Orlando, Florida area. His production standards are something we all strive for and I thought he did a particularly great job at voicing a major concern in this industry. The really sad part is that so many brides/grooms don't realize the mistake they're making, on the most important day of their lives, until it's too late. Save a few hundred, maybe, but they have to live with remembering it for the rest of their lives. Rick Ryan Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting & Video Services ================================================================ How much should you spend on a wedding DJ? I’ve got the mathematical answer! Author: Arnoldo Offermann // Category: Thoughts, Wedding Tips Original Article

There are so many articles about how much to spend on a DJ. I’m going on the record to tell you that every single one of them is WRONG. I’ve seen article say that you can DJ the wedding yourself. You certainly can! You can also go to Wal-Mart and buy a dental kit to do your own fillings.

Our market here is very diverse. I see DJs are high as $2,000 but mostly as low as $350. That figure scares me… not just as a DJ, business-man, someone that went through wedding planning for his own wedding… but mostly as a family man. How can someone charge $350 and make a living?

For those of you who are expecting me to tell you about how important we are to your wedding will not be happy with me. I’m not writing that at all! You already know this, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading anything I am writing. I’m going to tell you WHY we charge what we charge.

Here’s a cost breakdown for a small DJ package that can handle around 200 guests. • Two speakers = $600/each (there are cheaper, but you get what you pay for. $600 is a very conservative number for a system that can handle 200 people. • 1 year music subscription (multipled by the last 5 years) = $1,200 • Cheap Mixer = $300 • Cheap CD Players = $300 • WIRED (not wireless) Microphone = $100 • Tripods for speakers = $100 • Console (case to hold everything together) = $200 • Simple LED-based light show $400

Keep in mind, I didn’t add in gas, $2 million insurance policy and other business expenses, a computer (most DJs spin MP3s with a digital controller that works just like a CD player/turntables). That’s $3800 All rental companies charge at least 10% of cost. This means that to rent out this system at 10% it would be $380. In the last three years this number has averaged to about 20%. We’ll stick with a low 10%.

A simple equation to calculate price is equipment + talent = service price. Makes sense, right? Your DJ has business expenses (though he paid for the equipment, it doesn’t last forever), and he has many hours that he’ll add his talent to. What does this conclude of our $355 DJ?

$350 (price of said DJ) take away the $380 is NEGATIVE $80.. This means the DJ either 1) values his skills at NEGATIVE $80 (or he’s paying YOU to work at your wedding) or 2) He’s bringing out low-grade equipment that won’t serve justice to the most important day of your lives. Oh, I didn’t mention.. but there’s TONS of business expenses: taxes, advertising, office capital, and non-event gas (for meetings). Even if they were booked 52 days of the year, that’s $18,200…. Barely double of what it costs to purchase the equipment, not including the costs of running a business itself.

How can someone charge $350 and make a living? If you guesstimate the gross income after business expenses, you’d actually read “How can someone charge -$80 and make a living?”

Some DJs may tell you that they’re “part-time and only do this as a hobby/don’t require this to be a full-time job.” Very true! Now this means they’re paying out of pocket to play at your event. Sweet– not bad for you… right? If they said they’re “part-time and DJ as a hobby” it means they don’t take their job seriously and most likely will RUIN your wedding day…. or their full-time job will keep them too busy for your event. No matter how you slice it, you hire a full-time professional. Why? YOUR happiness is required for them to put food on their table. They have no other source of income to rely on. They will work harder at your event!

I’m not saying ALL part-time DJs are going to be bad, however a full-time entertainer is obviously good enough to make it on his own!

Back to “tree-fiddy,” here’s something to think about: the numbers I gave you are for lower/middle-end equipment. We didn’t even touch on high-end brands such as EV, BOSE, or EAW that easily triple costs. Many entertainers have high-end lighting, video, or other special effects. Many of our weddings see over $20-30K worth of equipment! Many entertainers go to one or two yearly conventions to further their craft. Like any industry event, these conventions are NOT cheap.

So where do you start? Research DJs, or many will attempt to call or email you. The first question you ask should be: Are you a dedicated DJ company that specialized in weddings? What do you do to further your craft? Are you respected amongst your peers in the industry?

So how much should a DJ charge? Well, as you can tell… it all comes down to value of equipment plus value of talent. Equipment has a fixed cost, TALENT DOESN’T. Every DJ knows what he or she is worth. Once a DJ gives you a price, ask them why they charged you that. Was it low? Was it high? Was in between? A high price doesn’t mean a good DJ either… ask them for videos (recent, not some canned production in their office), client reviews, and even vendor reviews! =====================================

Rick Ryan Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting & Video Services