Why Does the DJ Cost So Much!!??

DJ_Judge_MentalThis article is for anyone looking to hire a DJ and for DJs who need to explain their pricing. Often people who look to hire a DJ think that the DJ is “just coming over to play some music” and cannot see why a DJ would charge so much money for the task.  Professional DJ’s often find themselves having to defend their expertise against someone who holds the same title of “DJ” but advertises to do the same job for a much lower price.  All of these reasons are justified until the proper level of understanding is achieved.  Hopefully this article will aid in that understanding. (Read More...)


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First of all let’s divide DJs into two groups which most people commonly understand the names of:  The Professional DJ and the Novice DJ.  The Professional (by definition) is a person who earns a living in an occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs: a professional DJ. The Novice (by definition) is a person who is “new to or inexperienced in a certain task, situation, etc; beginner.”

Two other important distinctions that must be understood are the Nightclub DJ and the Mobile DJ.  These two may be Professional or Novice, however the difference is the equipment utilized and the labor and time involved to move that equipment.

Nightclub DJ (Club DJ)

The DJ working in a Club atmosphere may only be required to show up with his table-top equipment, music library, and his DJ skills.  The hardware required in this situation is usually minimal and typically consists of the DJs Laptop and optional external hard drive and sound card.  Also, if the venue/nightclub does not provide it, the DJ may be required to furnish Turntables or MP3 Controller, and possibly a DJ mixer.  The Club DJ can typically fit his equipment into a regular sized vehicle and does not require a substantial amount of loading, transport, set up time or labor.  Keep in mind that this DJ can be a Professional or Novice and the availability/type of equipment as well as experience of a Club DJ can still make a drastic difference in the cost of the DJ and success of your event (as you will see below). Along with the equipment, important things to consider when pricing a Club DJ are:

  • The DJs music – Does the DJ have a broad enough or clean enough music selection

  • Is the DJ familiar with the equipment provided by the Nightclub

  • If the event is public, can the DJ help with the marketing of the event (either through his popularity or his marketing machine)

Mobile DJ

The Mobile DJ is in a very different situation from the Club DJ.  The Mobile DJ has the responsibility for purchasing or providing every piece of Sound Equipment needed to make amplified music happen at your event.  The type, quality, and dependability of the Sound Equipment can vary greatly from the Novice DJ to the Professional DJ and this difference can make or break your event very easily.  The mobile DJ dedicates many more hours of work for an event than what the person hiring the DJ usually understands. Here is an example of the time spent by a Mobile DJ that needs to be understood by both the Client and the DJ:


As you can see, what the Client sees as only a three hour gig, can actually be a full 8 hour day for the DJ.

As stated earlier, the type, quality, and dependability of the Sound Equipment can vary greatly from the Novice DJ to the Professional DJ.  The Professional DJ is more likely to have invested in quality equipment that has a reputation for being dependable.  After all, a Mobile DJ is only as dependable as his equipment. The Professional DJ is also more likely to have extra or backup equipment even in the event that any equipment fails.  The Professional DJ will understand how to size the amount of sound reinforcement needed to fit the room that your event is held in. The Pro will also know the best way to set up the equipment to not only be efficient, but to look tasteful and not interfere with the flow of your event.  The amount of money invested in a DJ’s equipment can translate directly to the fees that he may charge a Client. Quality costs the DJ; and in turn Quality costs the Client.  Here is an average example of a Novice DJs equipment list versus a Professional DJs equipment list:


**Prices derived from Guitar Center prices April 2011**

In addition to the equipment listed here, many Professional DJs also carry liability insurance, lighting and effects; all of which may contribute to the fees that the DJ charges.

Finally, here are some reasons why a DJ may cost you more depending on his Professionalism.

A Professional DJ:

  • WORKS UNDER CONTRACT! To protect You, the DJ, Your Guest, and Your Event.

  • Can easily provide a clean music selection if required

  • Has experience playing to diverse groups of people (tastes, culture, and age)

  • Understands that the “look” of their equipment effects the look of your event

  • Has invested considerable time and money in their equipment

  • Can adjust the music by the moment to fit your event (referred to as “reading the crowd”)


In the end, the practice of DJ service, be it Professional or Novice, still follows the rule of “You get what you pay for”.  If a DJ has an incredibly low price, there is probably a reason for it.  The Professional Mobile DJ that quotes a price is not quoting for the 3-4 hours of your event; they are quoting for the job at hand. The Club DJ knows his worth in the market and may charge you more or less accordingly for a reason.  Contracts are to protect your event and your money.  If the DJ does not provide one, create one or proceed with caution understand that you are dealing with a Novice. Not taking all of the things in this article seriously could end up having your kids or Grandma cursed out by offensive music, the sound stopping during your wedding, your guest disappointed because none of their favorite songs got played, or worse, no DJ showing up at all.


About the Author: This article is written by DJ Judge Mental who has been a Professional Mobile and Nightclub DJ since 1988 and continues to DJ events and clubs internationally.  DJ Judge Mental can be contacted via his website http://DjJudgeMental.com

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