- On May 28, 2021
You’re gearing up to throw a party or function, and there are endless questions circling your head. What music should you include? Should you opt for a live band? How much does it cost to hire a DJ?
In actual fact, the answer that’s the most important to note down may not even need to hit your wallet hard at all. Essentially, there are three main ways to incorporate music into your big event (unless you count getting Uncle Marty to sing, that makes four).
Whether you choose a band, a DJ, or a jukebox, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to preparation. So, we’re breaking down the costs for you…
How many pineapples will your music options cost you?
Live bands: The cost of a live band can vary dramatically, but it all hinges on how many musicians you would like, how long they will be playing for, and the genre. Many of these need to be discussed with the party planner beforehand as well, in order to avoid going off brief (if it’s a complex event). A band will need time to set up and they would have to arrive early before the guests are due. Often, a warm-up is required, which may involve some distracting noise being played while you finalise your event. With more people, there are the possibilities of more problems, and while you might account for the musicians, there may need to be extra people you didn’t expect – such as a setup crew. Remember to ask for these details when you book.
DJ: The cost of a DJ may vary, but it is usually limited to how experienced the DJ is, rather than how many people are involved. When it comes to price due to skill, you have a much better idea in the ability of the person spinning the discs. More often than not, DJs charge an hourly rate, rather than how many sets they play, making them a cost-effective way to get those tunes going. A DJ will usually set up all their own equipment and are most likely limited to one or two people attending the event. They can arrive and set up within minutes, as testing of equipment can be completed before they even show up. Usually, only a final test is needed before you kick-off.
Jukebox: A jukebox is a static piece of equipment that comes with pre-loaded with songs. They’re a little on the old-school side of things, and while they’re often the cheapest option, it still requires someone to operate it and keep it going. The price is not usually a sign of quality either, so it’s hard to make good judgments. Most jukeboxes will require a delivery person and a power outlet. Delivery can be arranged when it suits you best, but you are likely to be paying for the time that it arrives until the time that it leaves. Also, you may be liable for any damage sustained while it is in your possession, so check the rental agreement before signing anything. We also suggest taking photos of its condition before your gig is in full-swing.
For a more detailed breakdown of the band versus DJ debate, you can read our article here.
A DJs reputation is important
There is a big difference between hiring your 16-year-old cousin and a 10 year well-traveled DJ when it comes to both price and quality. I would assume this is pretty obvious but just like many things in life, you do get what you pay for, as long as you provide the right direction for the person you hire. If you want to book a world-famous DJ like John Course for your massive end-of-year party, you will have to pay a lot more than the $1000 you can expect a standard local option would quote. Local DJs with a decent regional reputation or following won’t cost in the hundreds of thousands, but you may end up paying a bit more than $1000.
Here are some general price brackets based on experience and assuming a 4 to 5-hour gig:
$300 – $400 Typically a novice DJ, probably a casual or part-timer
This range might be cheap but could also provide headaches with regard to the DJs quality of song selection or equipment use. These people could be playing only a few times a year and not really care too much about the overall success of the event so relying on them delivering exactly what you want could be fraught with danger. Although if you provide clear and easy-to-follow instructions, this could be a good, viable option for your event and budget.
$500 – $750 A part-timer with more experience than a beginner with modern equipment
The most popular band is also the most logical. Unless you are running a large-scale, music-centric festival, you will only really need someone who is capable of producing a good, relevant playlist that caters to your tastes and audience. These performers will have their own equipment which they are well accustomed to, are punctual, reliable, and play on a regular basis. They have a lot more skin in the deal as this is more than a casual thing for them so they are more eager to please and maintain relationships with clients.
$850 – $2,500 Most experienced, professionally trained, full-time DJ.
These folks are collecting this kind of bread for a good reason. These disk jockeys are well-trained professionals that play for a living and commit all of their time to help create unique and unforgettable experiences. They don’t have a daytime job to impede their ability to create the perfect result for you. They also typically spend extra hours asking questions, crafting your song list, offering insightful suggestions, and generally making sure your 5-6 hour party or wedding reception is on the money.
When and where is the event or gathering (date, time, and location)?
Across Victoria, the weather plays a crucial role which leads to there being a wedding on and off-season in most areas. The cost of a wedding between May and October is usually higher than the cost of a wedding between November and March. Saturday evenings are the most sought after therefore most expensive time of the week as guests don’t need to take leave on a Friday or be back at work on Monday following a potential Sunday night bender. Weddings between Monday and Thursday are then usually quite a lot more affordable than wedding functions across a weekend.
Some DJs might also charge differently based on the time of the day. This is because they may be in high demand during the evening and therefore charge less for a gig during the day so they can ‘double up’. Another factor is the duration of the event as DJs will commonly charge by the hour.
Travel time and the distance to a gig are two more key factors when determining how much a DJ quotes for a function. If an event is in regional Victoria and there may be quite a drive, a DJ may have to charge extra to compensate for the fuel they spend getting there. In some Melbourne corners, there were added expenses for weddings or functions, where traffic can be stressful, and the cost of parking is quite steep. DJs can also charge extra for specific venues with difficult-to-negotiate access points, such as a third-floor ballroom with no lift or an outdoor setting with tricky terrain.
Other complimentary services
In addition to playing tunes, we as well as many full-service DJ companies offer a range of added entertaining services. For various events, you can choose from a selection of lighting options. Lighting can include LED lights for the dance floor or a full-scale disco spotlight and strobe-light array. Other pay-to-play add-ons that can help create a specific atmosphere include bubble machines, smoke machines, microphones, and more.
If you require an upgraded package that covers special lighting and other atmospheric effects, that requires even more valuable gear. This is also why it’s critical to hire a DJ who has the right insurance coverage. The total cost of a DJ’s services may increase if they are asked to emcee the event as well as provide the musical direction. An MC’s responsibilities can include announcing activities, energising the audience, maintaining time, and more. Some DJs automatically include MC duties in their quotes, so be sure to clarify this with them.
Need a rough guide to the cost of hiring a DJ?
When it comes to your standard birthday party or corporate event, we can quote you based on the size of the venue and the time required to play. The number of people can go hand in hand with the size of the venue and this determines what kind of sound equipment we will need.
If the party is at a venue that can have a playout system patched in then it may not be such an issue. But if we are needed to set up in an empty space with nothing but a power source then this could mean more equipment which translates to more costs on our end.
For a wedding, we will often need to run to a specific running sheet and maybe even perform MC duties again which are extra. As a rough guide, we would quote around $550 for a standard no-frills package, then add extra for lighting, effects, and additional sound gear.
For a wedding in a metro area, we could go as low as $1200.00 but this could take some negotiating with our pool of DJs. If you want to play it safe and cheap, we’d recommend you seek the help of a close friend or family member who could run the music from a laptop or portable device. By doing this you can make sure you don’t hire someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, plays the wrong music, or makes inappropriate announcements.
For smaller events or simple background music-type occasions, we could go under $500.00 but we need to be clear on each party’s obligations and expectations to make sure no one is left disappointed. At the end of the day if the client is not happy then no one should be.
Remember, it’s your party
Hiring a DJ means it’s often not too cheap to question, and not too expensive to be turned away. Meeting you in the middle, these professionals often give you more peace of mind than other alternatives and can ensure your event goes off without a hitch.
They’re not automated or equipped with a full team, so you save on costs and don’t have to rely on manual operations (like a jukebox) to keep the tunes going.
In general, think of it in terms of date, duration, location, reputation, preparation!
At the end of the day, consider what you would like to get out of the music you’ll play on the day, and work carefully around your budget. If you’re in doubt, get in touch with our team to help you choose the right option for your needs.