What you REALLY get when you hire a DJ

Getting a good DJ for your event (emphasis on “good”) is serious business. It is important to make informed decisions when choosing a DJ. It is also important to know what you’re getting when you pay all that money to someone who promises to ‘rock the party’.  It’s more than just a guy or gal with an infinite playlist and a couple of fancy speakers & disco lights to boot. Hopefully, this list will give some insight into what DJ’s really do.

Hiring a DJ

This is not an exhaustive list. It was written from a mobile DJ’s perspective. Club DJ’s aren’t covered here, although there are definitely some similarities / overlaps.

Professional service provider – Don’t be fooled: not just anybody can DJ. Professionally, at least. DJ’ing is serious business, and those who take it seriously invest a lot of resources in order to provide top-notch service.  DJ’ing is a technical art form that demands dedication to research, study, and lots of practice. Did you know there are even college-credit courses in DJ’ing? Yeah … it’s that serious!

Music Curator / Mixologist – Pro DJ’s maintain massive music libraries. A DJ can easily spend $400+ a year on music purchases, recordpool subscriptions, and so forth. This is aside from the time spent sifting through thousands of songs to verify quality & content, building & revising playlists for events, and so forth.

Professional Sound Equipment – Here’s a super-conservative list of equipment many mobile DJs provide for each event:

— speakers & subwoofers
— microphones
— turntables / DJ controller
— laptop computer
— dancefloor lighting
— stands, connecting cables, etc

For a medium-sized event (75 – 100 guests), this can easily total over $3000 in professional DJ equipment. Then there’s transportation, setup & breakdown, maintenance & repair …. and this is a super-conservative cost analysis.

Sound Engineer – Especially at events where the DJ works with a band or other musical ensemble. Ensuring balanced sound throughout the event can be a full-time job in itself!

MC / ‘Energy Producer’ – The DJ often doubles as the MC. This means guiding guests through the event’s program, connecting with and engaging the crowd,  ‘working the room’ on the mic, initiating & coordinating games and other activities. All this while spinning hot tracks. How’s that for multitasking!

Lighting Designer – Some DJs also provide professional dance floor lighting, uplighting, stage effects including smoke effects, dance floor overlays, and so forth. DJs carefully set all these up to add signature ambiance to the event space.

Event Planning Consultant – Most clients are first-timers, or may have ideas in their heads and need help to make them a reality. DJs always provide tips on everything, from event venues to vendor referrals. They also work with event coordinators before and during the party, to ensure everything moves smoothly.


Your DJ may be a high school / college student, a parent, grandparent, someone doing this full-time or as a second / third / fourth job. Whatever the case may be, know that you’re paying for professional service!  As with any other dealings with professional service providers, mutual respect and appreciation is key.  When you know what you’re paying for, you’re in a better position to pick the right DJ for your event!