Why DJ costs vary

There are a lot of factors that go into the pricing a DJ charges, these are…


1. Money invested into equipment.
• Some DJ’s use lower end gear vs. high end equipment. There still are many grades of professional gear.
2. Money invested into music and how regularly they update their library.
• Unless downloaded illegally this is a major cost factor. The larger a DJ’s library the more money has been invested. 50,000 songs equals $50,000.
3. Business operating over head.
• Web site, telephone, insurance, advertising, office space, vehicle, equipment repair/replacement, music updates, etc.
4. What type of event you are having.
• Not all events are created equal. Weddings take a lot more time to prep and plan for and generally require specific equipment needs. This increases the cost over a simple birthday party.
5. How far they are in relation to your event.
• Travel time increases the total time commitment a DJ must make for an event + the cost of fuel to get there.
6. How much time is needed.
• Just like a regular job, more hours worked equals compensation for time.
7. What day of the week your event is on.
• In the mobile DJ business most work comes in during the weekend and a majority of that work lands on Saturday. So naturally Saturday’s will be the most expensive day of the week.
8. If they provide backup equipment.
• This doubles the cost of money invested into equipment as a DJ is essentially purchasing double of everything.
9. If they carry liability insurance.
• Just like car and health insurance there are many levels. As with any plan costs vary and that’s factored into the cost of doing business.
10. If they do this full time or part time.
• If a DJ has another source of income this can affect how much or how little a DJ charges.
11. How much experience they bring.
• Just like any performer (comedians, singers, actors) they are paid what they are worth. The more sought after they are the more a performer can demand.
12. How simple or elaborate your needs are.
• The more equipment needed equals the more time it will take to setup and tear down in addition to the greater investment a DJ made that he or she needs to pay off.
13. How many locations you need sound.
• Same as above, the more equipment and time needed will effect what will be charged.
14. If you need extras such as karaoke, video, etc.
• Same as above, the more equipment and time needed will effect what will be charged.


Most DJ’s require minimums to make it work their while to prep, drive to and from event locations, the time to setup/tear down and the time to perform. Other cost factors are free consultations. They may initially be free but think of all the times a DJ talks and/or meets with potential clients before getting booked. It costs time and fuel so that needs to be made up in the cost of doing business.


Once you consider the time to prep for the average 5 hour wedding reception, the time to drive to and from the event location, the time to setup/tear down and the performance time you are easily looking at approx 13 to 15 hours of total time commitment. That time can increase for destination locations.
• 5 hours of performance
• Approx 90 minutes round trip to drive to and from event locations
• 1 hour combined to pack/unpack equipment from vehicle before leaving for event and after returning from an event
• 1 hour to setup
• 1 hour to tear down
• 2 hours (average) meeting, emailing and talking on phone with clients leading up to their wedding to go over details, logistics, etc
• 2 to 4 hours finalizing and prepping music, equipment, timelines and logistics prior to event.


DJ’s also need to charge enough to market, replace/repair/update equipment, update music, pay for business expenses and still have enough to live off of the rest of the week when not performing. Mobile DJ’s generally only perform once to twice a week.


The average DJ setup is approx $5,000 without purchasing double equipment for backup. This cost also does not include the total investment in the music library. As you can tell there are many factors as to why one DJ will charge differently than another. General rule of thumb is the cheaper a DJ is, the less experience that DJ has, the less money that DJ has invested into music/equipment and the less monthly out of pocket expenses that DJ has.


We recommend not going with the absolute cheapest option but also don’t feel like you have to choose the most expensive. Some of the pricier DJ’s charge more because they include one price fits all pricing that usually comes with a bunch of extras you may not need. Some of the cheaper DJ’s charge less because they can’t justify charging as much as a DJ who has been doing it longer with more experience. Some DJ’s don’t have as much over head and/or have other jobs so they can offer better rates. Some DJ’s don’t spend the extra money on backup gear, liability insurance and/or they may get their music illegally. Some DJ’s use lower end gear vs. high end equipment. There still are many grades of professional gear.


Like cars, there are many makes and models and not all features are included standard. If you find a good DJ that you connect with at a great rate who offers everything you need that’ll most likely be the right DJ for you. Just take the things mentioned in this article for consideration when shopping around and make sure to understand as much about each DJ as possible to narrow it down.

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Pro DJ's, Disc Jockeys, Seattle, WA
Wedding and Event Mobile DJ Company serving Seattle, Tacoma and Western Washington.
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