You get what you pay for, right?
Why would a DJ be any different?
I'd like to think when it comes to pricing, I ask the going rate. Now, understand this isn't for every DJ, this is just for me.
In this scenario, I play a variety of music. My song selection is based on the current crowd attending the venue. (There's more to this but I'll keep it simple.)
You should already expect to pay more for this because it's a private event, and... I’m bringing my equipment. Whereas in the previous scenario I get to plug my controller in to the venue's sound, or at a minimum my laptop. Some events I may need to charge more to fulfill the client's needs.
Why do we charge so much for weddings? Let's keep it basic...
4 Hour Party $500
4 Hour Reception $1500
Question - Why the extra $1000, it's the same thing right?
Answer - Almost not really kind of sort of.
The weddings take a lot more preparation than the average event. I'm not just playing music, I'm also the MC. There's an itinerary to adhere to, hours that are spent curating music for their MEMORABLE wedding. Lastly, you're paying for my experience in the wedding-field, I know how to speak on a microphone, I can adapt to on the spot changes or special requests. Being able to accommodate your needs and maintain your confidence in my services.
"I SEE DJ'S THAT CHARGE MORE THAN YOU DO"
Let's remember the prices I listed are average. The event price could be as much as a wedding if it required just as much attention. Additionally, there are a few more factors to look at. Do we need to add up-lighting, dance floor lighting, fog? How far do I have to travel, do I need to charge for gas, hotel, air plane ticket, etc. There are more factors, but I'm trying to keep it simple. I like to be reasonable. It's just who I am. I also offer discounts for booking in advance or becoming a repeat client.
SO... HOW MUCH DOES A DJ COST?
Short answer, it's as much as you want it to be.
Yes, we can find DJ's that will charge less. You know the infamous craigslist DJ everyone talks about for $50. You can also find DJ's for $250, $500, $800, $1000, $2000, $4000, even more. But, you'll definitely get what you pay for.
I understand everyone has to start somewhere.
When I was new to Tampa I didn't know anyone and would post my DJ services for $50/hr and not per gig.I would never accept someone offering me $50 and some food, it was just offensive. I pay to keep music current and licensed, I pay to keep my equipment updated and insured. Now, with added experience, I can charge more. People know I can DJ and it gets spread by word of mouth, I've built a reputation and it shows.
The Craigslist Challenge:
I ask only one thing, if you decide to hire the Craigslist DJ, hire them for an audition, I mean it's only $50 (or less). Then if you've hit the Lotto and found that diamond in the rough, you pay the $150 for your wedding and have the best deal ever! LOL However, when you realize that they won’t make the cut for your private event. (anniversary, wedding, 50th, etc.) Don't be scared to open your wallet when it comes to the DJ. We are worth it.