DJ cost guide

A DJ is a disc jockey in full, that means a person who plays some certain music from the playlist.

The average cost of a DJ for any kind of event for a 3-4 hours set is about $1200, however higher and lower options exist as well. When choosing a DJ for your special event, it’s highly advised to stay within the average cost described above because odds are that DJs working at a minimum cost will make your day special but in a bad way.

Here you will learn about:


The DJ cost depends on different factors but the crucial are the following:

DJ's experience, or popularity

$250-350 is the average price of any part-time DJ beginner who has no license to do this job. It's a good variant for those who have a tight budget and can't afford much but expect the same quality of work.

$450-750 is paid to a still novice DJ but with some experience in the field.

$850-2000 is the amount any professional trained and experienced full-time DJ get for one evening of work.

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Working hours

On average, the DJ is needed for some 3-4 hours and that is a typical time to calculate the cost.


The DJ may take the equipment with him or her or need some extras from you or cafe he or she is going to work at for you.

Moving expenses

Be ready that most DJs will ask you to pay a deposit around 10%-20% of the total fee and that deposits are non-refundable. In case the agreed timing is over and you want the DJ to stay, you will have to pay for overtime which can be a double the normal rate per hour (so make sure you discuss this possibility beforehand).

Discounts may apply if you book a DJ for several days if you have a weekday event, and some DJs can give you up to 10% discounts for referrals or if you’re a repeat customer.


What kind of DJ do I need?

DJs differ in terms of their functions and preferred line of work. There are four basic DJ types:

Private/corporate DJs work all kinds and levels of parties and can play both dance music to set the mood, or a light lounge to create pleasant and chill background music. They are ideal for birthday and business parties as well as anniversaries and even family gatherings.

Wedding DJs are specifically oriented towards weddings. This means particular playlists, special mixes, frequently additional services included in the cost package.

Dance club/bar DJs are frequently the residents of particular places whose goal is to get the crowd moving. They work in clubs and are oriented towards this culture.

Bar and lounge DJs are usually experts in light music and are perfect for art gallery openings, exhibitions, and similar events.

When looking for a DJ try to set goals for your event and ensure that the chosen DJ has worked on a similar kind of party.

What services do I get from a DJ?

DJs offer not only music playing service, but also MCing, reeding the crowd, some mass games, and even some shows. For instance, your DJ can be the host of your party or wedding, he or she may take music orders, or mix the songs on the spot to entertain your guests. Everything depends on your preferences and needs.

For weddings, it’s highly effective to hire a DJ and an MC as two separate people in order to keep the guests entertained and ensure that your music is played at all times. For parties DJ and MC as one person would work great to set the crowd off and keep the communication ongoing. So here’s a list of services to consider:

  • MCing
  • Mixing skills i.e. scratching
  • Arrangement of dance competitions
  • Special announcements
  • Taking requests
  • Light and effects show

How long do I need a DJ for?

DJs work on average 3-4 hours during the set plus preparation and setting up time. So these 2-4 hours will mean the provision of quality dance music for your guests. If you need to break the set for short speeches (if you’re having a wedding or a birthday party) or maybe you need breaks for food and business discussions, then add these hours to the estimate. In this breaks you have two options:

Pay the DJ to play some background light music not to keep guests in silence.

Download the music on your MP3 player just turn it on.

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The second option is definitely better if you’re tight on a budget, while the former works better for high-quality events.

As a rule, when you surf for the DJ cost you will see the cost of those 2-4 hours set while the additional hours of playing background music or overtime will add up to the estimate. For instance, if the fixed rate is $700 for 3 hours, then every additional one will be about $100-$145 more. However, in case you hire a DJ for several days, some DJs will cut down the hourly rate.

Does the DJ provide equipment?

Be ready that very often equipment is not included in the DJ services. Professional DJs working in the business will have essential pieces but residents and DJ/MCs will not. There are two types of equipment DJs may offer: light and sound, some will also provide special effects like a smoke machine.

If your DJ provides any of the above-mentioned equipment, then don’t forget to ask if it’s included in the total cost. If not, then the average cost of lighting equipment for a middle-sized venue (for no more than 100 people) is about $150-$250. Additional microphones (for more than one DJ/MC), smoke machine, or a set for the DJ scratching can also add up to your total budget. If you need any extra equipment that your DJ doesn’t provide, ensure that you order its delivery 3-4 hours ahead of time for setting it up.

Will DJ please my personal requests?

Most DJs have their preferred style of music and their own mixes for work. In case you have your own vision of the event and require a DJ to make new mixes and reorder their workflow, make sure that you discuss such demands at least several weeks prior to the event. Additional fees will always take place if a DJ doesn’t own the music you want to hear. Besides that, if you want a bilingual DJ or if you want him or her to cooperate with an MC he/she never met, then time (about a couple of weeks) for creating a new program for both will be needed.

Should I care about my DJ’s reputation?

In the DJ world reputation matters, but don’t mix it with popularity and fame. Reputation is positive reviews about a particular DJ, and this is what you need to focus on. Check reviews and comments on our website to evaluate his or her quality of work. Popularity and fame are the issues that shouldn’t concern you unless it’s your goal to get Armin van Buuren to your party. These two characteristics only add up to the total cost of DJ services and not always guarantee best services quality.

When should I book a DJ?

As soon as possible is the best answer. Once you know the theme and venue of your event, book your DJ. This will give him or her plenty of time to prepare visual effects (should you need them) and decide on the equipment pieces required (either for them to prepare or for you to book additionally).

Remember that by booking a DJ you simply book the date and time, additional meetings about the music required and show preferred for the event should be held about a month before the party (and no less than two weeks prior).


Do I need to tip my DJ?

Tipping is always voluntary, yet in most cases, it’s implied. For large events (with more than 60-70 people) it’s highly advised to include about 10% of the total cost to your total DJ budget. If you’re having a large event (with more than 100 people) then 15%-20% is considered a fair appreciation of DJ’s work.

What are personal DJ fees?

A lot of DJs have their fixed personal fees, which means that they won’t go lower even if you cut some of their services or working time. Don’t try to look for any logic in the personal fees of DJs because they are completely subjective and are not necessarily related directly to the quality, experience or demand. For instance, a newbie may ask for a minimum $1,200 fee, while an expert will work for $1,000.

Do I pay for DJ at the event?

If you’re hiring a DJ for only several hours, then you don’t have to include any additional expenses for your DJ’s food. For events that last more than 4 hours, be ready that you need to provide food for your DJ. Non-alcohol drinks should always be provided. Most often you will also need to cover DJ’s travel cost if your event is in a different city/state or if it’s hard for DJ to reach it. However, make sure that you discuss it prior to making the final agreement.

How far does the DJ have to travel?

Be aware that DJs do charge extras for travel expenses. This is an absolutely normal practice because they need to deliver the equipment on their own. Of course, extra fees apply if the DJ’s traveling outside of the city or state. If your venue is within the city borders, in most cases no fees will be applied. However, make sure that you discuss it prior to making the final agreement.

Bottom line

The standard rate stated above exists on the paper only because you are likely to meet additional travel or equipment expenses. If you don’t aim at getting David Guetta to your party, then a $2,000 budget will likely to cover everything you need (including all the above-mentioned points). And a little tip for you: don’t fall for the popularity, opt for positive references, steady quality, and adequate cost to ensure that your special event goes smooth and cheerful!

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