The Value of The DJ

I receive calls every day asking. “How much does it cost for just a DJ?”


As a professional, I must resist the temptation to make a snappy comeback. But I have always imagined a conversation like this:

Me: “Just a DJ is free.”

Caller: “Free? You mean it costs nothing at all?”

Me: “Sure! Well, we expect you to feed him. Come on over and get him!”

Caller: “Huh? Don’t you deliver?”

Me: “Well, I guess we could put him in a taxi, but I have to charge you for that.”

Caller: “That’s fine. It’s for a party next month. We want you to bring, you know, speakers and amplifiers and all that.”

Me: “SPEAKERS! Well, now you’re gonna have to spend some money! We’re gonna need a truck, because the taxi won’t haul our equipment. You said you wanted just a DJ!”

Caller: “Well, I need somebody to like, you know, set it up, and play the music and all.”

Me: “MUSIC! You want music, too? We gotta charge you for that, too! Music isn’t free, you know!”

Caller: “Well, yeah, I guess there’s copyrights and all that. Oh, and do you have some cool lights to make it exciting and all?”

Me: “WOW! Speakers, music, and lights, that’s gonna add up. We have all the latest lighting: intelligent lights, color changing lights, laser light shows, we can even put your name in lights for you.”

Caller: “That’s cool! We want all of that. And could the DJ like, make some announcements, and get everybody up dancing and having a good time, maybe do some games and contests, and do our awards presentation for us?”

Me: “Well, that will require a microphone, and a really good Master of Ceremonies. He needs to have thorough knowledge of all different kinds of music, and know how to read a crowd and respond with exactly what they like. It costs more if you need somebody with that level of talent and experience.”

Caller: “Yeah, that’s what we want! Oh, and we have a lot of people who like to do the Karaoke thing. Can you do karaoke?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, we do. That requires more microphones for the singers, and a TV monitor so they can read the words. That will cost a little bit.”

Caller: “Oh, and we have a guy at the office who is doing a really cool Powerpoint show. Do you rent projectors and screens and all that?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, we do all of that. It sounds like what you need is more than just a DJ.”

Caller: “Yes, I guess so. And we want somebody to record the whole thing and make us a DVD of the event. Can you do that?”

Me: “Yes’Ma’am, we offer full service audio-visual support and post-production editing. We can do it all.”

Caller: “That’s great. So how much will this cost me?”

Me: “Well, that depends. Where and when is your party?”

Caller: “Why does that matter? Don’t you just have one set fee?”

Me: “No, of course not. Everybody wants the most popular dates, and we end up turning away six customers on a popular Saturday, and almost never book a Tuesday. Due to simple supply and demand, I can offer you a lower price on slow days, but must charge more on the most popular dates. Just like the airlines and popular vacation spots.”

Caller: “Wow, I never thought of that, but I guess that makes sense. I suppose it matters where it is, too?”

Me: “Right, we need to factor in travel time, and perhaps overnight lodging. We need to know if the banquet room is on the ground floor, or if it is accessible by elevator or ramps. We need to know how much time and staff will be needed to setup and break down equipment. And we need to know if the venue has special requirements, such as requiring a certificate of insurance and an MSDS.”

Caller: “Sounds complicated. All this for just a DJ?”

Me: “No, the DJ is free, remember? All the rest is what you pay for a professional job.”

So I quote a price; a pretty high price, in fact, and she books the date.

A fantasy, perhaps, but it doesn’t stray far from my daily reality. Our first job is to educate the client about what they really want…and it’s always more than just a DJ.

One Response to “The Value of The DJ”

  1. […] call my office everyday and ask, “How much is it for ‘just a DJ’?” I have to tell them I really don’t know, because “just a DJ” is not the right thing to have […]

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