Recently on a webinar in Phil Morse’s Mobile DJ Blueprint course the question of DJ pricing came up, as it does often. I mentioned theweddingreport.com as a source for researching prices in your area and using that as a baseline for setting your packages across the board, not just for weddings.
Here’s how I approached the situation when I first began doing weddings, YMMV.
The average spend on DJs for weddings in my area was right around $1100. Location: Southwest Connecticut, USA
- My first wedding I charged $800; I knew the couple through my corporate job I had at the time. I was transparent it was my first wedding, but they had seen me before and were comfortable with that.
- My second wedding I charged $950; I’m good friends with the groom’s brother which is how I got the lead. They knew it was my second wedding, and I priced accordingly.
- My third wedding I charged $1290 (my target full price); another contact through my corporate job.
- My fourth wedding I charged $1740 (a premium as it was on NYE); this was a cold lead that came through Gigmasters.
I knew my services were better than the average DJ’s, so my target was $1250, just above the aforementioned ‘average’ rate of $1100.
I however charged less for my first two gigs because I’ve never done weddings before, I didn’t feel comfortable charging full price when there was a decent probability I’d be rough around the edges. I’ve never done it before, so the clients got a reduced rate for the risk they were taking on.
But I didn’t enter the foray of weddings until I had been Djing for YEARS. IMO weddings should be down the line for all the new DJs. Cut your teeth on less stressful gigs before having someone put their trust in you for such a big day.
I did some more research and found that DJ pricing for basic corporate gigs float around $800 (70% the wedding rate), and basic Mom n Pop gigs around $550 (50% of the wedding rate). Those ratio’s might be a good place to start in your location once you find out what avg wedding DJs get, as I found that anyone charging less around me wasn’t really worth their salt.
DJ Pricing Calculator
I asked a few friends scattered around the country about their DJ pricing, then compared to the data on the website and ratios I came up with. Using that as a rough framework I created a DJ pricing tool that will provide estimates on what rates might be in your area. Check it out and let me know how it works for your area!
A friend of mine runs a wedding DJ business. He charges north of $3k for his services. He doesn’t offer photo-booths, lighting, TVs, or any other upsells, just audio provisions with DJ & MC services. The basics.
From May through October he averages about two events a week, I’ll let you do the math. With his success I just had to shadow his operation and learn everything I could. Last weekend I finally went down and was his unpaid intern for the weekend, absorbing all I could.
So, how does he charge so much and stay as busy as he is?
Turns out, it’s business skills. And everything outside of actual DJing.
- He’s a ninja networker.
- His customer service is impeccable.
- MC skills polished and refined.
- Has a properly done Website and Facebook page.
Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t too bad behind the decks. His track selection and programming were on point, most of what matters in a good DJ. His mixing was unpolished in addition to poor volume and EQ management.
But, no one cared.
His business success is a result of his business skills. Not his DJ skills.
Everyone still had a great time despite the rough edges. When I give him my feedback he says it was an off night. Whether it was or not the takeaway is clear.
Business skills overshadow DJ skills to have a successful wedding DJ business.
Below are some specific observations and tactics I picked up over the weekend ordered chronologically in the client process:
- Have a chat box on your web page that can message directly to your phone.
- Utilize LinkTree on Instagram to better route folks to your pages.
- Contact other DJs to research bridal expos before signing up.
- When at bridal expos you will need to be proactive, folks will aimlessly walk by you unless they’re engaged with.
- Check out HoneyBook.com and find a Tuesdays Together meet up group near you. Chances are there are event planners and photographers to network with for bookings! (I joined the one in Westchester, NY)
- Shoot a short unedited mixing video to showcase talent and quell client concerns about how good you are.
- Setup Gmail message templates for boilerplate followups (vendors, couple).
- Get full vendor list w/ contact info when client is filling out questionnaire.
- He reaches out after the wedding to network in an effort to generate additional referrals if they appreciated his work.
- Before the event he does one last meeting/call to review details
- He uses a 50% deposit, calls it a retainer for legal reasons.
- This is primarily to enforce the up front fee as non-refundable as ‘deposit’ opens yourself up to risk having to refund your non-refundable down payment.
- Friends of mine in CT have called it a ‘Hold the date fee’… I like retainer better.
- More on contracts:
- Include note about sound liability; you are not responsible for some bloke standing in front of your speakers and blowing out their ear drums!
- Explicitly request food provisions for food (up to two ppl)
- Require an outlet within 50 feet of setup
- Also require shelter/pop-up tent
- The Client is responsible if anything is broken, by anyone
- This is especially important as venue staff might break stuff; this can result in finger-pointing
- Mini-van w/ back seats taken out offers TONS of cheap room!
- Custom made business shirts for set up is a nice touch, he changes into his suit in the bathroom.
- Having a helper is huge for monitoring volume.
- Helper is also big with simple coordination and basic loading/setup.
- For satellite setups (such as for ceremony, cocktail hour), he uses Shure wireless mic’s w/ mixers in flight case on keyboard stands.
- He addresses the crowd to direct attention to specific location of the person he’s talking about and states their name.
- Example: “Alright ladies and gentlemen at the front of the room we have Carrie…”
- Prints out itinerary to bring with him; he provides directives only two steps ahead so helpers don’t get confused.
- He shares the itinerary only with the planner ahead of time, no one else.
- For ceremony procession, cocktail hour, and dinner he has multiple tracks queued up just playing in iTunes.
- He doesn’t hang around to monitor the situation, he leaves and either relaxes elsewhere or sets up a different room if there’s still work to do.
- No one seems to care he’s not around in these situations, though I’d be too concerned about something going wrong.
- Be strong and commanding during coordination of wedding party lineup. Folks really respond to that, especially military vets.
- Have at least two speakers in most rooms for speeches.
- While it may be enough to have only one, folks will struggle hearing speeches unless you crank it. Those sitting right next to the speaker will complain it’s too loud, thus angry guests.
- Advice he gives folks who need to use the mic (best man, etc):
- “Hold mic at 45 degree angle towards floor, like you’re rapping”
- When he did the Anniversary dance, he cleared the dance-floor as soon as he got it going. He agreed he doesn’t like doing it, you’re killing a dance floor (terrible!).
- I’ll now push folks away from doing this, or at least push them to do it at a time I’m purposely trying to kill a dancefloor. Such as prior to cake-cutting.
- He gives a burnt CD of cocktail hour/dinner/special dances at end of the night, couples really appreciate this.
- Friend & tag your client after gig on Facebook.
- Not only will they appreciate the shoutout but now every single one of their friends knows who DJed their wedding!
I’ll be implementing these strategies over the coming weeks which will surely have a positive impact on my bottom line.
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