I receive calls every day asking. "How much does it cost for a DJ?"
As a professional entertainer, I resist the temptation to make a snappy comeback. But once, just once, I thought it would be fun if the conversation went a little something like this:
Caller: "Hi, I'm calling to find out how much a DJ costs"
Me: "Just a DJ? They're free."
Caller: "Free? You mean it costs nothing at all?"
Me: "Sure! Well, you may have to feed him. Come on over and get him!"
Caller: "Huh? Don't you come to me?"
Me: "Well, I guess we could put him in a taxi, but I have to charge you for that."
Caller: "That's fine. It's for a party next month. Do you have enough speakers and stuff for 200 people?"
Me: "SPEAKERS! Well, now you're gonna have to spend some money! Speakers and equipment cost extra. We're gonna need a truck, because the taxi won't haul our equipment. You said you wanted just a DJ!"
Caller: "Well, I need somebody to like, you know, set it up, and play the music and all that."
Me: "MUSIC! You want music, too? We gotta charge you for that, too! Music isn't free, you know!"
Caller: "Well, yeah, I guess there's copyrights and all that. Oh, and do you have some cool lights to make it exciting and all?"
Me: "WOW! Speakers, music, and lights, that's gonna add up. We have all the latest lighting: intelligent lights, color changing lights, laser light shows, we can even put your name in lights for you."
Caller: "That's cool! We want all of that. And could the DJ like, make some announcements, and get everybody up dancing and having a good time, maybe do some games and contests, and do a photo montage for us?"
Me: "Well, that will require a microphone, and someone with some experience. He needs to have thorough knowledge of all different kinds of music, and know how to read a crowd and respond with exactly what they like. It costs more if you need somebody like that."
Caller: "Yeah, that's what we want! Oh, and we have a lot of people who like to do the Karaoke thing. Can you do karaoke?"
Me: "Yes, ma'am, we do. That requires more microphones for the singers, and a TV monitor so they can read the words. That will cost a little bit."
Caller: "Oh, and we have a friend who is doing a really cool slide show. Do you rent projectors and screens and all that?"
Me: "Yes, ma'am, we do all of that. It sounds like what you need is more than just a DJ."
Caller: "That's great. So how much will this cost me?"
Me: "Well, that depends. Where and when is your party?"
Caller: "Why does that matter? Don't you just have one set fee?"
Me: "No, of course not. Everybody wants the most popular dates. We usually end up turning away six customers on a popular Saturday, and almost never book a Tuesday. Due to simple supply and demand, I can offer you a lower price on slow days, (Mon-Thur) but must charge more on the most popular dates. Just like the airlines and popular vacation spots."
Caller: "Wow, I never thought of that, but I guess that makes sense. I suppose it matters where it is, too?"
Me: "Right, we need to factor in travel time, and perhaps overnight lodging. We need to know if the banquet room is on the ground floor, or if it is accessible by elevator or ramps. We need to know how much time and how many staff members will be needed to setup and break down equipment. And we need to know if the venue has special requirements, such as requiring a certificate of insurance and proof of business license or if they have special time constraints and that sort of thing."
Caller: "Sounds complicated. All this for just a DJ?"
Me: "No, the DJ is free, remember? All the rest is what you pay for a professional entertainment job."
Caller: "Ok, that sounds good, I'll take it."
Me: "Would you like an experienced and talented DJ with that? Because that will cost a LOT more!"