One of – if not the – first question our clients ask us, tends to be “how much does a DJ cost?”.
The answer, sadly, is far from straightforward. It can set you back as little as £50 – or as much as £250,000 – to hire a DJ. Below, we discuss the main factors behind the price differences you’ll encounter:
1. DJ Popularity
This might seem like an obvious one, but a lot of the time it is overlooked. The level of a DJ’s (objective) popularity does push the cost up significantly. For example, Carl Cox (who actually started out as a wedding DJ) has garnered such global recognition and acclaim over his 40 year-long career, that today you’ll need to stump up a cool £50,000 (at least) to book him for one night. If you think that’s crazy, what about this: DJs who have effectively achieved ‘pop-star’ status – think David Guetta or Calvin Harris – can charge fees of £250,000 plus (before VAT and travel expenses!). For more down-to-earth rates, most companies or individuals wanting to book a DJ will need to adjust their expectations – in terms of popularity – accordingly. A DJ who has little or no public/media following, but who probably has years of professional experience, can charge as little as £200-£400. A DJ with a good public following (for example due to their underground record releases or active Soundcloud/Facebook accounts), will be more: £800 to £4,000.
2. DJ’s own charge-out fees
The DJ themselves or their management may have a minimum required fee in place, which is very subjective as it is not necessarily linked to their quality, experience or demand. This can skew the figures somewhat, when “DJ Newbie”‘s minimum fee is £2,000, but “DJ Well-Known” will happily get out of bed for £500! A (comic) example: Paris Hilton famously charged herself out at £500,000 per gig, for a set of 4 in Ibiza, clocking up a couple of million total for a few hours behind decks….operated (allegedly) by someone else!
3. Length of set
The number of hours behind the decks will impact the final DJ cost. A standard DJ set is from 1-3 hours, so it would be usual for a DJ to charge a fixed rate for that period, with an additional charge (per hour) kicking in thereafter. For example, you need to ask a DJ charging a fixed fee of £400 how long he is happy to play for for that money. Additional hours could be payable at, say, £50 per hour.
4. Travel distance
The distance a DJ might need to travel to get to a particular gig will usually affect the DJ cost. A London DJ will usually be happy to travel within the Greater London region (M25), but anything further would usually incur some extra fees (petrol at the very least, and maybe accommodation). Travel costs may either be incurred as expenses and charged back to the client post-event (it could be wise to agree a maximum figure in advance), or may be based upon an estimated final travel cost ahead of time.
5. Equipment hire
The cost of hiring sound and light equipment is often forgotten, but generally this will not be included in your quoted price. Some private and corporate event organisers assume that every DJ comes with a complete sound and lighting rig of his or her own, but for the most part, the equipment hire is independent of the DJ themselves (essentially because it is expensive, and most DJs don’t own any!). Expect to pay from £100 to £600 for a standard sound and light package to go alongside your DJ (obviously this part can go into the £1,000s depending on how much of a concert/festival-style rig you need). The DJ’s agent will advise you what equipment you require if not already on-site. A decent agency will ensure this is delivered, set-up and sound-checked ahead of time, and dismantled afterwards. If you need your equipment set up in advance (rather than directly before the performance) you may have to pay slightly more for a premium provider who won’t mind being on site longer, to make your job easier.
6. The quality of the “service” as a whole
How much direct communication do you feel you need with the DJ ahead of your event? If you feel more secure knowing you’ve had some preliminary discussions and the DJ or their agent, so they have a good feel for the genre(s) and artists you like; the vibe you want to achieve; and the type of crowd, it may be worth paying for an agent/DJ who offers a “complete” service. The best in the business will be happy to liaise with you ahead of time to hear your thoughts and make suggestions – or take complete control – as you like. Communication should be efficient, clear and inspire confidence. Our rule? If you call twice in 24 hours without an acknowledgement or response, it is probably time to look elsewhere!
Be sure to check out our Quick Quote Calculator, and our Full DJ Calculator which give you an instant price for one of our standard pro DJs and any equipment hire. Due to the wide ranging fees associated with the Premium, and Celebrity options (see above!), please get in touch separately for a quote.