This is our second article in our short series that covers how to hire the right wedding DJ or a DJ for your corporate event or private party DJ. I strongly suggest that you read both of our articles on how to choose the right DJ and not just this article which will cover DJ pricing and more importantly, value.
Note: We service a very diverse area. Located at the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania we are in a position to serve clients in Virginia, and West Virginia.. Our area and staff DJ weddings in cities as diverse as: Lancaster, York, and Harrisburg | Hagerstown and Frederick |District of Columbia; as well as all of the towns in between!
“I just need a DJ!”
In the aforementioned article, you can read it here; I covered the various roles and skill sets that a Wedding DJ or Corporate DJ must have and have mastered in order to produce the result everyone wants: a dope party! That is a learned skill set.
Does it require years of college and a PHD? Of course not! What it does require is a level of experience, knowledge, and quality equipment. Thus it is a trade (auto mechanic, carpenter, or plumber) and not a commodity (cake, flowers, chair covers).
“What does a DJ Service cost?”
That is by far one of the most common questions and understandably so. Most people we work with have never needed a DJ service. Once in a lifetime events like weddings or major milestones like a graduation don’t occur that often so it makes sense that they haven’t.
As in real estate, location does make a difference. A major metropolitan area such as Washington DC is going to have a higher average rate than Oakland MD which has a population of 1,920 people.
As mentioned earlier, our office location puts us within easy driving range of a diverse area. We provide wedding DJ services to couples in Frederick MD, Leesburg VA, Lancaster PA, Harrisburg PA, and anywhere within a 90 minute drive of Chambersburg PA.
In our service market we’ve seen people (they are not DJ Companies) offer to do an event for as little as a few hundred dollars. We know of legitimate DJ Companies that charge in excess of $4,000 for an event. To be fair, this is includes other services and this $4,700 package includes more than simply DJ Services.
The average rate for a wedding in the market I have outlined above is between $1,000 and $1,500 for a legitimate DJ company. Please note that this is for DJ Services and not DJ plus additional services such as lighting and photo booth services.
“What about that $300 guy?”
Let me preface this by saying, for every rule, there is an exception. That is true for every profession. It is possible to find a deal? Yes. Can you also find a person who works on cars in his drive way on weekends to repair your car? Yes, you probably can.
Will he work cheaper than the mechanic at the local auto repair shop? Yes, he probably will. Does the fact that he will work for less make him a bargain? Maybe and maybe not and here is where you should start to feel a little uneasy.
That local shade tree mechanic who is working for cash on the side, paying no taxes and has no overhead can afford to work for less than the reputable mechanic who not only pays taxes but pays for:
· Health Care
· Liability Insurance and a host of other items.
The reputable mechanic likely isn’t making any more money than the shade tree guy. He is simply playing by the rules and supporting himself and his family.
Now suppose your event is a car.
That shade tree mechanic may be the perfect choice to perform routine tasks like oil changes and replace brake pads. However, when you hire a DJ for that major party, wedding, or corporate event, it isn’t a simple oil change. It is a total engine rebuild!
Is a shade tree mechanic off of craigslist who doesn’t even own a car lift the person you want rebuilding the engine or transmission of your Toyota Camry?
You are inviting people who are important to you to share this occasion. You will put great care into the selecting the venue. You will spend hours deciding on the décor. You will agonize over the food to serve. You do these things because it is important and you want your guests to be happy.
In my opinion there is far too much at stake to trust those types of events to a hobbyist.
“What is a legitimate DJ Company?”
I used this term earlier and it does warrant some explanation. A legitimate DJ company is going to have a number of items in place:
1. Equipment – Not simply speakers and microphones but quality equipment. Brands such as EV, QSC, Shure, Chauvet, etc. These are top tier manufacturers who produce quality product. Why it is important is for sound quality.
Sure, you can buy other speakers and microphones and you will have speakers and microphones. Have you ever purchased $5.00 headphones? Have you ever listened thru a set of quality ear buds like Bose or Beats? Do they sound the same? Exactly!
2. Backup – This means back up equipment and it also means back up staff. Dealing with the hobbyist means dealing with a single person. With that comes some risk that you must take into consideration. Part of that risk is what happens if that person has an issue such as a back injury, a major cold or illness, a death in the family?
No matter how much planning you do, there is always a level of stress involved. What is having the peace of mind over the six months leading up to the big day worth? The peace of mind knowing, that you and your guests are going to be taken care of no matter what.
3. Insurance – A legitimate company is going to have liability insurance. Many venues require it and the number of venues who do require it grows every year. The $300 DJ won’t invest in quality equipment. They certainly are not going to invest in insurance.
4. Professional – This quality covers many areas:
· Personal Presentation – Attire, Vocal Skills, Behavior
· Physical Presentation – Equipment Age, Quality, Set Up
· Attitude – Working With Others, Handling Requests
· Taste – Not Using Your Event As a Marketing Opportunity
5. Dedication – This likely will not make most articles dealing with this topic but in my opinion it is a very big deal. Ask any DJ company, again, I use the word company; “Tell me about a last minute wedding you did.”
If you ask that question you will hear some version of a story where the bride or groom called in a panic at the last minute. They booked a DJ because he was cheap and he has now:
· Stopped Returning Their Calls And Kept The Deposit
· Says He Received A Better Offer For The Same Day And Wants More $.
· Has An Illness Or Family Issue And Is Unable To Make It
Sadly, every DJ Company receives these calls on a regular basis. What looked like a sweetheart deal when they signed the contract turned out to be a ripoff. Often the DJ keeps any money they have received (they know you aren’t going to court over a few hundred dollars, especially if you live out of town). The couple ends up spending more than they would have had they hired a reputable business.
“Can I just get a price?”
This is the second most frequently asked question. The most frequent being “How much do you charge?” The honest answer and it ruffles some people’s feathers is: “It depends.”
Some folks when they hear the “It depends” reply immediately sense that the DJ is trying to take advantage of them. While there is certainly dishonesty in every profession in this case “It depends” is the correct response.
A DJ Service Is Not A Commodity!
Would you ever call a builder and ask “How much will it cost to build a house?”
Would you ever call a swimming pool installer and ask “How much is a swimming pool?”
If you were to make that call or send that email to the home builder would you expect a firm quote? “Yes, your house will cost $125,000.” Of course you wouldn’t!
“What does it depend on?”
Like the house or the swimming pool examples above it depends on several factors. The two major factors are you needs and your wants.
· Do you need ceremony sound?
· Do you need microphones for your ceremony?
· How many people are coming? (You will need a larger sound system for 300 people than you will for 150 people.)
· Do you need 4, 5, 6, or 7 hours of music?
· Do you need a generator because there is no power in the ceremony area?
· Do you need the DJ there more than 90 minutes early because you plan to stick them in the loft which has no elevator and they must lug every piece of gear by hand in a non air conditioned barn in mid August?
· Do you need cocktail music in a different area than the ceremony & reception?
· Dance Lighting
· A Photo Booth
· Monogram Lighting
· Custom Music Mixes
· Dancing On A Cloud
It is only fair to note that some of these wants and one of the needs (Ceremony Sound) are actually additional services. While DJ Companies often offer additional services there is a tendency to lump those services into the DJ Service itself which they are definitely not a part of!
As an example: many DJ Companies offer the option of a Photo Booth. This makes sense because it is an entertainment enhancement. However, there are Photo Booth companies who make their living on providing Photo Booth services.
When you book the photo booth thru the DJ you are booking two services. It is not an apple’s to apple’s comparison to look at one quote from a DJ Service only company and another who is able to offer both DJ & Photo Booth Services.
By the way, that $4,700 package I mentioned earlier includes Lighting and Photo Booth Services.
We believe in providing honest and fair pricing that represents an incredible value to our couples. We do this in large part by learning about what our clients really need and what they want.
Time and equipment needs have the biggest impact on cost. We provide quotes based on only the needs and wants and we have no hidden charges for things like set up or breakdown.
We provide for our clients what we expect when we invest our hard earned money on a product or service. We expect to get what we paid for. If we were to have a meal at an all you can eat buffet on “Steak Night” we don’t expect to have the same quality of meal would enjoy at “Longhorn Steakhouse”. Conversely, when we do decide to book that 2 star hotel for the 8 hour stay to our vacation destination, we keep our expectations in check and hope for the best.
There will always be demand for cheap anything. It makes sense because all of us like a deal. Sometimes though we want and hope that the cheap thing is a bargain or a deal but instead we got what we paid for, inferior quality. For the most important events in my life I don’t rely on hope and our clients don’t either.
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this blog post and found it informative or of value, I hope that you will:
· Share It: To the social media platforms of your choice.
· Bookmark Our Page: To read other useful of interesting tips for event planning.
We are a full service DJ | Photo Booth | Lighting Company.
Most weekends we spending performing as wedding DJ’s in Lancaster, Harrisburg, and Frederick.
Perfect Harmony Entertainment