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What should you pay for a musician/DJ?

posted Feb 13, 2013, 10:33 PM by Paul Clairs   [ updated Feb 13, 2013, 10:34 PM ]
You may have heard the old statement..."Mention the word wedding and up goes the price". This is not always the case - particularly with wedding professionals that offer a high quality service.

I charge the same price for a corporate booking as I do for a wedding - in fact recently I did a gig for a popular Chocolate Company and they booked my $695 reception package as it was a perfect fit for their event.

It is however a difficult subject to approach as music is such a personal thing but if I can give you some facts and information you can take with you as you source different quotes maybe it can make your choices easier in regards to your wedding entertainment.

Let's start with some basic standards of entertainment booking.
When you go to your local pub on a Friday night the solo guitarist in the corner is usually getting between $350 - $400 for a four hour gig. For that he/she performs 4 x 40 min sets, supplies a PA system, perhaps a couple of lights and an iPod for music during their breaks. This is industry standard. If you book that same performer to play 4 hours at your wedding they should charge you around the same amount ($100 per hour) - Bands are a whole different story as there are many members - I am using the example of a soloist as it relates to a solo wedding musician and/or DJ such as myself.

When you book someone for your wedding you normally would want them for the entire reception - say 6pm until midnight (6 hours) therefore $600 is a minimum (and fair) expectation.

I have found there to be 3 categories of wedding reception musician/DJ's.
1. Budget - $250 - $500
2. Mid Price (that's me) - $600 - $900
3. Premium - $1000 and up...and up

The reason why DJ prices can go much higher than this is simple - service, experience and equipment.

For example;

A budget supplier may have a small PA system, a mic for your speeches and may have limited experience. You can still find some good suppliers at this level but just be careful.

A mid-priced pro such as myself will supply the PA system (and have a spare on hand), a wireless mic, a great little lighting rig, large library of music (I have 10,000 songs) and many years of experience.

A premium pro DJ can cost up from $1500 but you can certainly get what you pay for if you want amazing lighting effects, 3000 watts of sound and 100,000 songs to choose from.

Mid priced and premium suppliers will also be licensed DJ's, APRA members (for musicians) and will be fully insured.

The other thing to take into consideration is service. You MUST meet your actual DJ in person if possible - or at least talk to the DJ playing your wedding on the phone. You need to know they are experienced and have a professional attitude so you can rest assured they will actually turn up on time and know what they are doing. Some big companies will send along whoever they have free on that date.

I used to be on the books of a booking agency who would send a blanket text to all their DJ's with a date of a wedding and whoever replied with the best price got the gig - so you might have paid $600 for the DJ but he is only getting $250 because he came in with the cheapest quote. Fortunately this is not overly common these days but it does still happen in Brisbane.

The basic rule of thumb to follow is around $100 per hour for a pro.

I hope this information is helpful to you and best of luck with your planning.

Paul Clairs
Wedding Music Queensland