The most common question I get asked from my clients is "How much do you charge?". So typically I like to answer that question with another question... "How many hours of DJ services do you need?". Based on the clients answer and also other important factors such as location, number of guests attending the event, equipment needs, etc., I will provide a custom quote for them based on their individual needs.
A typical wedding reception or corporate event may last approximately a total of 6 hours, give or take. So that must mean that the total number of working hours for a professional DJ based on a 6 hour event should be somewhere around 11 to 12 hours if you include travel and equipment setup and break down time, right? Well not exactly unfortunately and here's what I mean.
Although it may not seem so obvious to the naked eye or someone who is not a DJ, there is a significant amount of prep and pre-production work that is involved for every event we DJ, whether it is a wedding, a school dance, a corporate function or even a small house party. Days and even weeks before the event date, I personally spend anywhere between 20 to 30 hours prepping music, testing equipment to make sure it's working properly and making any necessary repairs if needed, creating custom song edits for special dances or performances (very typical for weddings), searching for music for song requests, meeting with the client, conducting venue inspections and walk throughs, answering emails and phone calls from my clients, coordinating with other vendors for the event, pre-event consultations, and the list goes on.
So although the event may be contracted for 6 hours, in reality I will work on average a total of around 40-50 hours on just one event alone. Looking from the outside it may seem as though you are paying for a DJ to make some announcements, play music and provide lighting and sound equipment. But in reality, you are paying for much more. I treat every event as though it is a big production show, regardless of the size of the actual event. Making your event memorable, fun and exciting is a big part of my job as a DJ. Spending the necessary amount of time to prepare for an event to make sure everything runs smoothly is absolutely crucial and takes a lot of time.
On the day of the event as I had mentioned earlier, a typical work day, from beginning to end, is approximately 11 to 12 hours if you include travel time, setup and break down time. Of course these numbers will vary depending on the type of event, locaton of the event and how extensive the equipment setup may be. For example weddings take much more time with regards to prep and pre-production work than say a corporate event or school dance. 99% of time DJs are always the first to arrive at an event and the last to leave an event.
In addition to the amount of time involved in prepping, planning, setting up/breaking down and DJing the actual event, most professional DJs have a pretty extensive overhead to cover as well. Typical expenses include: Insurance, music pool memberships, DJ organization memberships, marketing costs, equipment maintenance and repair, equipment upgrades and purchases, cell phone, websites, internet service, outside labor, equipment rental, automobile expenses (i.e maintenance, auto insurance, gas, toll, parking) and more. Not to mention, the DJ equipment we use is very expensive. Most professional mobile DJs own a minimum of at least $5000 worth of DJ equipment which includes, speakers, lights, projectors and screens, microphones, lighting rigs, stands, cables and more.
So if you ever wondered why DJs charge what they charge, hopefully this may shed some light for you. Keep in mind also that one of the most important elements that you are also paying for that is not so obvious, consists of two things: years of professional experience and a peace of mind knowing that you're working with an experienced professional.