By Rob Alberti
It must be great. You work on Saturday night for 5 hours and make $1,000 or more. What a life. It has been equated to selling drugs – the lucrative wedding disc jockey business is not what it’s cracked up to be. The reality is – this is far from the easy money that a potential wedding client thinks it is. They are shocked when they first hear the price that professional DJs charge and think that they are being ripped off because “wedding” was in their vocabulary when they called for a quote.
Here are some interesting facts to understand better what the life of a wedding disc jockey really is like:
o Clients call at all times of the day – the phone rings from 8am until around 11pm virtually every day. For the most part, you must be available to answer the calls because most people won’t leave a message if you don’t.
o Most weekday nights are spent away from home meeting with clients or potential clients.
o Most weekends are spent away from friends and family working at your events. Forget the 4th of July picnic and New Years Eve.
o Wedding Disc Jockeys are booked a year or two in advance – so that last minute call from your friend asking you to dinner or to a concert is a wasted call. You’re already booked.
o Your daughter’s concert that is on a Friday in May – you will most likely miss. Again, you are already booked.
o Try standing for 5 hours straight and see how your legs and feet feel.
o Did you know one of the most feared things to do is speak in public? As a wedding disc jockey, that is what we do every weekend.
o Most people bring a cup of coffee to work – a wedding disc jockey brings over $15,000 worth of equipment and another $20,000 or more in music to most events.
o A wedding disc jockey will haul in about 1,000 pounds of equipment into and out of the reception – that means up stairs, across rickety stone paths and through parking garages, through kitchens and in the cold and rain.
o A typical wedding lasts for 5 hours. Your wedding disc jockey will arrive an hour early to setup, will be there after guests leave tearing down and typically drives 30 minutes to 60 minutes each way to the event. They have to spend time preparing equipment before they leave the office. They have to unload and put away gear when they return. That adds up to between 8 and 10 hours on the day of the event alone invested in your wedding.
o A wedding disc jockey will typically meet you prior to booking (pre-sales meeting) for about an hour. Most disc jockeys will drive to meet their clients. Presales and travel to and from this meeting will add about 2 hours of their time into your event.
o When it’s time to discuss details, your disc jockey will again drive to meet you and spend another hour with you going over details, they’ll return to the office, type up this information and send you a copy. They’ll spend a couple hours organizing music, talking on the phone and sending/receiving emails from you over the course of the two months prior to your wedding. You can figure they’ve just invested another 5 hours into preparing for your event.
o The total time invested per event will be around 17 – 20 hours when it’s all said and done. That $1,000 for 5 hours is now really $1,000 for 20 hours of time.
o A wedding disc jockey will spend about $2,000 or more each year on music updates. They might invest $2,000-$6,000 in equipment, repairs and upgrades each year. They will spend $1,000 – $10,000 in advertising, bridal shows, printing, etc. They will spend $5,000 – $20,000 for office supplies, computers, and business services. They will spend $500 – $1,500 on liability insurance policies. They will spend $2,000 to $5,000 on postage. They will travel to one of the national DJ conventions to keep up to date with the industry and spend around $1,500 doing so. They will have a 800 number, cell phone, fax and voice mail services costing them around $5,000 each year. They will spend $5,000 each year on health insurance. They will spend $5,000 in gas getting back and forth to meetings and events.
o A wedding disc jockey will drive 25,000 – 35,000 miles each year between meetings and back and forth to their events. That will be approximately 750 hours away from home each year just in travel time.
The reason that wedding disc jockeys charge the price that they do is simple. It is the cost of doing business. The value that a professional disc jockey brings to your event is priceless. Take away the music and you’re just inviting friends and family to eat and drink. That accounts for about 2 of the typical 5 hour wedding reception. Your professional wedding disc jockey is responsible for coordinating all the details of the flow of the event – from introductions to the cake cutting. They are the middle man between the banquet staff, your photographer and videographer. They are your wedding coordinator. Without proper quality entertainment – guests will leave soon after dinner.
If a typical wedding reception costs around $25,000 (or $5,000 per hour!), and your guests leave 2 hours before the end due to poor entertainment – you’ve just wasted $10,000 of your wedding budget. If you’re debating between a cheap $500 DJ and a professional DJ costing $1,500, the decision should be easy. Trying to cut corners on entertainment could cost you $10,000. The additional $1,000 is money well spent when the big picture is in focus. The time and effort a true professional disc jockey puts into your event will be worth every penny.