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How Much Should You Pay Your Event DJ in 2019?

So, you’re in the market for a DJ and you want to know how much that service will cost you. I’ve got some tips to help with finding the perfect disk jockey to meet your needs.

DJ Josie Rock DJing
DJ Josie Rock DJing

I started my DJ career in 2013. In a short time, I’ve been blessed to DJ for a wide variety of events, and supported other DJs at countless other events in and around Atlanta. During that same time, I’ve also studied the average price of a gig based on things like event type, audience, time of year, who’s booking, etc.

Generally, these are the 3 things you MUST consider to ensure that the DJ that shows up to your event is everything that you're hoping for.

  1. The DJ’s level of experience

  2. Type of equipment they’ll be using

  3. Scope of your Event

Let’s dive into the DJ’s level of experience. Imagine you had a cavity and you need to get a filling. Your options are a dentist who has performed thousands of fillings on actual patients and one that hasn’t. Which one would you choose? You should choose the Dentist that’s performed on actual patients. The same is true when booking a DJ. It Is relatively easy for one to present themselves as a DJ due to low barrier of entry; the only things that are needed are DJ software, music in a digital format and a controller. We all have to start somewhere but if your budget allows, go with someone who has specific experience with your type of event (we'll discuss this in more detail later). Planning a Sweet 16? Ask the DJ how many Sweet 16's they’ve done. Looking for a DJ for your Wedding? Obviously, you want to go with a DJ that has mixed at a bunch of Weddings!

Next, let’s consider the type of equipment that will be required to fill your event space with sound. Consider it from a replacement cost perspective. How much would it cost you to buy/rent that equipment from your local music store and set it up and monitor the output during the entirety of your event while making sure the song selection is on point?

A traveling DJ will typically have a portable PA system with at least 2 speakers. A good sounding PA system can range from $200 on the low end to more than $5,000 for crisp, impactful sound experience! And that's not including microphones, lights & the turntables!

A reasonable equipment rate is determined by the type of equipment, maintaining a good listening experience for the crowd and venue size. Here’s an example, for the average sized hotel conference room, 2 powered speakers provide ample sound coverage for every guest to hear announcements, music and presentation. Now contrast that with a ballroom, event hall or even removing the dividers in a hotel conference room; 2 speakers will no longer cut it. At least 4 speakers put in strategic locations determined and monitored by the DJ will create the most memorable moment!

Lastly, let's think about the scope of your event. Is this an all day weekend conference? Is this a panel event with multiple speakers who all have varying levels of experience with speaking into a microphone (aka.having their voice’s amplified)? Do you need microphones at all? Perhaps you’re throwing a party and need the DJ to get the crowd going. Or maybe it’s a combination of music entertainment and speakers.

One important thing to note is that a good way to waste your money is to hire a DJ to be an extension of your iPhone/aux cord. Meaning there’s no engagement with your audience, and they're playing a 100% scripted setlist. I view DJing as a form of entertainment and I view the DJ as an active participant and contributor to the entire vibe of the event.

With that being said, choosing the right Disk Jockey for your event should be a bit easier when you contemplate the DJ’s experience, what equipment is needed and the type of event you’re having. My goal here is to empower but event planners and DJ's. With the right insight you can avoid spending too much on a package that is frankly not worth the quote you were given. Us DJ's should also feel empowered in knowing that there are levels to this.

You may be wondering, why no hard fast rule of what amount to pay? Because that’s really up to what you and your DJ can agree on.

But what’s most important to you? I’d love you hear your thoughts!

- DJ Josie Rock


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