How much does a DJ cost?

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Most people hire a DJ to provide a mobile sound system and play music as entertainment during an event, such as a wedding or birthday party. But you can hire a local Los Angeles DJ for any type of event, including corporate events, junior high or high school dances, graduation parties, family reunions, class reunions, anniversary parties, engagement parties, wedding receptions, or any other type of party where tunes are needed.

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You can even hire a DJ to provide appropriate musical backing at a celebration of life for a loved one. You don’t need to have a major event to hire a DJ; a summer barbecue is occasion enough to hire a pro to set the right mood. Depending on the type of event you are hosting, you may want to request a musical theme such as pop/rock, hip-hop/rap, country, Top 40, Latin, electronic dance music, oldies, Indian/Bollywood or more. With millions of songs available electronically these days, DJs can work with your theme and create playlists tailor-made for your event.

Included in the cost of most DJ services is the creation of custom playlists. When you hire a DJ, explain clearly the styles of music you love, specific songs you’re dying to hear, songs you absolutely do not want to hear, and the musical pacing of the event. Often, DJs can start an event with mellower music that welcomes people in and gets them comfortable, then gradually bring up the tempo and energy to get people mingling and moving around. 

Depending on the type of event you’re hosting, you may want to have time specifically for dancing, and once the party is nearing an end, the DJs can play music that helps everyone wind down. Many DJs offer playlist planning portals on their website. This means that in the days leading up to the event you can add songs when you think of them — even if it’s 3 a.m. You can also add songs you don’t want to hear to a “no playlist.” Many DJs will put their on creative spin on the music selection and mixing, unless you specify during hiring that you have pre-selected playlists.

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The cost to hire a party DJ can vary based on the length of your event, the number of guests, the amount of sound equipment the DJ will need to bring, how interactive you want the DJ to be throughout the event, the number of DJs required, and any extras such as lighting, a dance floor or a fog machine. The type of event you are hosting can also affect cost. Bar mitzvahs and Sweet 16s, where a big part of the DJ’s job is to get the kids excited and dancing, often have higher prices for DJ services than a holiday party or a 40th birthday celebration. If you’re looking to hire a talented local DJ, here are the cost factors to consider.

Type of event

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One of the biggest factors in your DJ costs will be the type of party you are hosting. As you might expect, wedding DJs cost more than a DJ for a graduation party or anniversary. But did you know that DJs for coming-of-age parties often cost more than wedding DJs? DJ iSizzle, culled from thousands of quotes, has shown that bar and bat mitzvah DJ services can cost more than wedding DJ services. In fact, in 2022, bar mitzvah DJs were 39 percent more expensive than wedding DJs and 90 percent more expensive than the average birthday party. This is because the DJs are working double-time, simultaneously serving as MC, DJ, crowd control, joke master, and dance instructor all rolled into one. If you’ve ever tried entertaining a banquet hall full of tweens, you will understand.

Length of event

DJing may seem like the dream job, but it’s also a lot of work. DJs are on their feet, keeping their eye on the crowd and managing the overall mood of the party, staying one step ahead of events and working closely with the party host or event coordinator to keep the event on schedule. That’s why the number of hours a DJ is hired to spin music will affect the cost of services. Many DJs offer packages that include a set number of hours, with flexible pricing to accommodate additional hours.

DJs may charge an hourly rate that fluctuates depending on the type of event you are hosting. For example, a DJ may charge $75 per hour for corporate parties and $100 per hour for weddings. Other DJs may have hourly rates that decrease the longer you book them for. The initial rate takes into account their operating costs and the time and effort required of them to prepare for your event, drive to your location and set up. If you book them for more hours, many DJs are able to offer lower hourly rates since they are already on-site with their equipment and ready to party. Here are some examples of how party length can change average service rates from  Southern California:

  • 2-hour prom/high school dance: $350
  • 3-hour prom/high school dance: $450
  • 4-hour prom/high school dance: $500
  • 5- or 6-hour prom/high school dance: $600

Special requests

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When you hire a DJ, they expect you to have requests and preferences about the music you want played. Their fees account not just for the time they spend spinning songs at your party, but also for the time they spend preparing by making playlists and organizing music for your event. Requests for obscure music can increase costs — especially if it’s something the DJ does not already own, requiring him or her to download the music or find it elsewhere. Don’t be shy about communicating freely with your DJ about must-hear songs and the overall mood you want.