The Real Cost of a DJ
I was asked the question, what advice would I give a customer looking to a hire a dj in my area?
This is a very loaded question. I will try to answer it as unbiased to myself and my business as I can, yet know that I am a professional and this is how we put food on the table.
Understand that a professional DJ is different from a hobby dj. Wedding and Event DJ's are different than bar dj's. The market is saturated with people with 2 marginal speakers and a microphone going after the lowest bid. Some have training, but don't have the experience of handling crowds or many other scenarios like music selection or when NOT to talk. While everyone has to gain the experience at their own pace, working with a professional dj should be worth the extra money you have to pay to avoid senseless mistakes. The pro DJ thinks about all the variables that could happen at an event and plans for them ahead of time, usually because they have lived through them already or learned from others by studying and reading and all the stuff that is not the fun part of the business. A Pro DJ also knows to invest in professional grade equipment, as they are in it for the long haul and know that their investment will return through less breakdown, better sound or a better lighting display and a more professional presentation.
Also keep in mind that just because you are paying a dj to play from 8pm to Mid, it is a business, with expenses, taxes and payrolls and their work starts days, if not weeks before that. It actually starts the moment you call them and start talking about having them for a dj for your wedding, party or event, which could be over a year or more in advance.
For a 4 hour wedding, Gold Medal Sound averages around 25-35 hours of work per event, from the initial conversation and setup to working with the couple, meeting with the couple and venue to planning and locating special music requests. Not to mention the day of the actual event, equipment checks and maintenance (1-2 hours), loading equipment (1 hour), travel time (varies), unloading (30 minutes), setting up at the event location (2 hours), cocktail music (1 hour), background music for dinner (2 hours), dancing music (the actual 4 hours) then tear down (1 hour, 15 min), travel time (varies) and unloading (30 minutes) and repacking all equipment (1 hour to 1.5 hours). This does not include insurance, vehicle and equipment depreciation and maintenance, music purchases, upgrades to sound and lighting systems, websites, advertising and promotion and still try to run a profitable business from the 4 hour price quote.
What questions should you think through before talking to Gold Medal Sound or any professional DJ about your event?
Do I want the event to be small and quaint? A big extravagant party? An elegant event? What time are guests arriving? What is my budget? Is my budget realistic for the first 3 questions? Is there a deposit? Is it refundable? Can I pay as I go? When is the balance due? What role is the DJ playing? Just music and a few lights? Do I want the room to boom? Do I want to bathe the room in lights? Can I add on uplights to do this? What are the other items I can add on to customize my event and make it unique? Do I need music for the ceremony? Do they need to MC the entire reception? Do they need to coordinate the event and be the go-to person once guests start to arrive? Is the person I hired the one who is going to DJ and MC my event? Will the company send someone with less experience? Can I trust the person I have hired to do this? Can they work well with the wedding planner, school staff, company representative, venue manager, caterer, photographer, and my other vendors?
A wedding ceremony lasts about 30 - 60 minutes. The meal lasts about 45 minutes. The cake lasts for 5 minutes. Professional DJ's have the task of entertaining your family and closest friends for the entire event, so.... where should you invest your money?
Gold Medal Sound
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