- Ken Prentice
Why The Price of a DJ Will Vary – Part I
If you’ve requested a quote from 3 or more DJs you’ll most likely get 3 different prices. Now that could be alarming but without knowing the details of each solution you don’t have a true point of comparison. If these were all the same then price would be the best bench mark, unfortunately our experience has been it’s often the worst indicator. Price alone does not reflect quality, professionalism, or the actual product or service. I found the best way to explain this without over complicating things is to give examples we’ve seen or been told about by brides in the Kitchener, Waterloo, Stratford and surrounding areas.
Over the years we’ve established ourselves as reputable DJs and we regularly interact with brides at bridal shows and on social media platforms. In our everyday life people with sound or DJ questions will frequently ask our opinion. So it wasn’t unusual that a local bride that already booked another DJ wanted our opinion. She was getting married in September and decided she wanted to save money so her choice of DJ was limited by her budget. She found a DJ that agreed to work with her relatively small budget. It was quite small, but she still thought it was reasonable. As the bride had more in-depth discussions with the DJ a few Red Flags were raised.
The DJ had added one major stipulation: the bride was responsible for getting him the equipment needed. The bride had to rent the speakers, sub, mixer, microphone, stands, cables, etc. These requirements were based on her wedding of roughly 150 guests. This list excludes any lighting or licensing, and only considers the necessary audio components. The single day rental fees from a local music rental store would be; $80, $50, $40, $40, $10, and $15 respectively. Now you likely want to include some insurance/liability coverage for this equipment which would generally run 5% bringing the final cost to roughly $260 plus HST. Beyond that legally a DJ needs a Connect music license which is $50 for a single event plus HST. With taxes this now meant her rental + license costs were $350 plus the original $350 fee for the DJ. Besides the obvious fact that the DJ had essentially doubled the price he had also created added work for a bride on her wedding day. The bride was now responsible for the cost plus the pick up and return of the equipment for the DJ.
Beyond the lack of professionalism demonstrated by this DJ I had some major concerns with how this would all work. I will prefix this next part with a quick background of my qualifications. Along with my years of experience as a DJ I am also a certified Electronics Engineering Technician. I understand and know more about electronic systems and various components than most people would ever want or need to know. Any new controllers, mixers, mics, and speakers will use an array of digital components add this to the fact that laptops in the majority of cases provide the source of the music files used. The source i.e. laptop needs to interact efficiently with the desired hardware components i.e. mixer and/or controller so they can deliver the music through the eventual output i.e. the speaker. Music files take up tons of space on a computer, DJ software programs consume tons of resources. What does that mean? Basically without a higher end laptop that uses a good processor (should also be newer), and have lots of RAM the laptop will crash or fail to execute the software. A DJ that doesn’t own the required components of a system is highly unlikely to own a laptop capable of this, additionally installing the software and analyzing the files (music) needs to be done prior to use.
This bride was seeking answers and confirmation that this was perhaps normal for a DJ even though she admitted she felt otherwise. We told her honestly this was not the norm for a so called professional DJ and that she should consider looking into other DJs. She still had six months before her wedding, and inquired about our availability. The reality is that most reputable DJs are booked well in advance between Mid-May through Mid-October aka Wedding Season so we were booked. We did mention a number of reputable DJs to the bride although the majority of those DJs were also booked. So now she was scrambling to find a DJ and eventually she did. She ended up paying significantly more (3x) to secure a professional DJ that could deliver a solution that addressed her needs and concerns. Add to this the fact that her deposit for the first DJ was not returned so her final costs were well beyond what was budgeted. Unfortunately this is how many brides learn the differences between DJs and gain insight as to why the price varies. The best advice we can give to any bride would be to ask questions about the solution being offered then determine if it is suitable. The price is not a valid factor if it fails to deliver a reasonable solution. This doesn’t mean the highest price is the only way to find the best solution. Brides should consider some key factors that will contribute to the reception experience which includes quality, value, and price. This combination will help you narrow down those DJs that fit your needs and expectations without compromising the experience for brides and guests.