That most sensitive of discussions. Pricing, specifically pricing variances.

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I have been doing a bit of soul searching when it comes to structuring my pricing models. In the past when DJ'ing was my only career for a while, and even now, I have approached pricing as a tiered structure model, for instance I would charge a higher rate for weddings and white-tie affairs because of the details necessary to complete the gig. My hourly rates would typically increase 33%.

I've also seen where DJ's will charge a higher rate for equipment as well compared to other events. From my research that increase is in the 25-33% range as well.

I am almost at the point that I am considering not charging the higher rate for weddings. My reasoning is two fold. One, in most cases the effort I would put into a wedding versus say a birthday party were almost always equal. I've always sat down with the customer, I've always listened to their thoughts, put time into purchasing or editing music, developing plans for the event, rehearsing, etc. My level of effort is almost always consistent across all modes of entertainment.

Two, it's almost a given that for events such as weddings that a certain level of price gouging occurs. I'm reminded of a video I've seen with a UK couple were shopping for cakes, and they were at the bakery with two identical cakes, but one priced for a wedding, where the rate had doubled (or tripled) and what they got was some extra fondant ribbons on the cake. I can empathize for the customer that if the same level of service is being applied if they were asking for a birthday DJ gig, why should they be charged extra.

Now this does not negate that the pricing structure should change based on things like seasonal changes (a Saturday wedding versus a Wednesday wedding), travel costs (I personally charge a rate beyond a 30 mile trip), per-hour charges (although I know of at least one person here that does not charge by the hour) or the level of equipment that is used. But from an hourly rate, I am finding it harder to justify mentally than I once did.

I'm not sure, is my reasoning based off the lack of sleep? Do you guys put significantly more effort into wedding planning than all other events?
 

DJSTEVEZ

DJ Emeritus
I can only speak for me.

We speacialized in Bar & Bat Mitzvahs. The prep time per gig was extensive. There was the 60 to 90 minute in person sales consultation, the 60 to 90 minute in person planning session. Then there was the million of phone calls for every little change by Bat-zilla moms. We then had the ordering of supplies, the assembling of supplies, the coordination of planning and details with sub-contactor staff, the generation of the timeline, etc., etc, etc.

The pricing was not dependent on time, but on package size (and add-ons) which was usually dependent on the number of kids. Add-ons, naturally, were upgrades which weren't included in the chosen package, such as additional lighting, staging, dancers, cocktail hour casino/carnival, etc.

A $4K Bar/Bat Mitzvah was pretty common. For me, I couldn't reasonably expect anyone to book me for a birthday party for the same price. For us, clearly apples and oranges. Our prices were standard regardless of the time of year or day.night of the week. What we did cost us just as much on a Monday night as it did on a Saturday night...although in all truth, I can count on my hand the number of times we did a Bar/Bat Mitzvah (or a Record Hop) on any day but a Saturday. Did our clients sometimes look to negotiate on price, yes. More often than not though we were able to give a discount here, but get them to upgrade there.

What has worked best for me is tiered packages, but a willingness to create a custom package so clients can build the exact event they want. The only exception is staffing. I won't take a Bar/Bat Mitzvah for 100 kids and agree to go in with only 2 dancers...that's not my client. Truth be told, I've had maybe only 1 or 2 clients over the years where I had to draw a line in the sand with staffing.

Given that Bar/Bat Mitzvahs are their own unique animals, and so from weddings, my experience may be of limited use for you. I will share though that our wedding pricing strategy operates on the same philosophy with staffing and gear. Good luck. I hope you find what works for you. Best, -Z-
 

Mark Evans

Mobile Beat Moderator
Staff member
I'll disagree Peter. I spend signicantly more time on a wedding. 2 meetings, 4 page planner, practicing names, getting music together. Birthday party, no meeting, email agreement, show up take requests. If I don't know the music based on the age of the birthday person I shouldn't be in this business. But that is just MHO.
 

Ken Heath

Super Moderator...da-ta-daaa!!!
Staff member
Weddings, Mitzvahs and Quinceneras all require extensive planning to execute properly, experience provides you with the knowledge to "wing it" when necessary (the odd last minute gig, etc), but to truly personalize such an event rife with formalities, it takes lots of pre-planning... and that should cost extra!

I've done birthday parties with what I would consider extensive planning and it's substantially less than what a wedding requires... it's simply an easier event to plan.

With the level of experience I have in Sock Hops & Classic Car Shows, I can do one within minutes of getting the phone call!!! ;)

Knowledge of the event you're faced with is key.
 
Maybe I just had to plan more events that should have, in general, required less planning, but I had clientelle that demanded it. It just really falls back to my own personal experiences. Then again in the grand scheme of things I had done more weddings than anything once the first part of my career started to pick up.
 

bill_smith

MobileBeat Moderator
Staff member
You should charge a rate that compensates you for the hours you spend off site preparing, buying music, gear and the actual event itself. You should really think about your goals in marketing your services, which I'm not sure I've read.

I don't think part time or full time should enter into it. You should charge a rate that you think customers will go for, and make you happy.

Look at your current booking rate. is it 100% contacts to bookings, or 60%, or less. Do you want to work every weekend(a lower rate will get more volume) or work less than that?

Did you lose a lot of bookings for weddings due to your rate, or did you book them all?

A realistic view of what you want to accomplish cannot be suggested without a little more detail.

I have been doing a bit of soul searching when it comes to structuring my pricing models. In the past when DJ'ing was my only career for a while, and even now, I have approached pricing as a tiered structure model, for instance I would charge a higher rate for weddings and white-tie affairs because of the details necessary to complete the gig. My hourly rates would typically increase 33%.

I've also seen where DJ's will charge a higher rate for equipment as well compared to other events. From my research that increase is in the 25-33% range as well.

I am almost at the point that I am considering not charging the higher rate for weddings. My reasoning is two fold. One, in most cases the effort I would put into a wedding versus say a birthday party were almost always equal. I've always sat down with the customer, I've always listened to their thoughts, put time into purchasing or editing music, developing plans for the event, rehearsing, etc. My level of effort is almost always consistent across all modes of entertainment.

Two, it's almost a given that for events such as weddings that a certain level of price gouging occurs. I'm reminded of a video I've seen with a UK couple were shopping for cakes, and they were at the bakery with two identical cakes, but one priced for a wedding, where the rate had doubled (or tripled) and what they got was some extra fondant ribbons on the cake. I can empathize for the customer that if the same level of service is being applied if they were asking for a birthday DJ gig, why should they be charged extra.

Now this does not negate that the pricing structure should change based on things like seasonal changes (a Saturday wedding versus a Wednesday wedding), travel costs (I personally charge a rate beyond a 30 mile trip), per-hour charges (although I know of at least one person here that does not charge by the hour) or the level of equipment that is used. But from an hourly rate, I am finding it harder to justify mentally than I once did.

I'm not sure, is my reasoning based off the lack of sleep? Do you guys put significantly more effort into wedding planning than all other events?
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
I'm not sure, is my reasoning based off the lack of sleep? Do you guys put significantly more effort into wedding planning than all other events?
I do.. within reason.. For me its that a wedding is more of a 'no failure allowed' type of thing so I need to work harder (over the entire year) to make sure things don't go wrong..
IE: if I just did pool parties or low key corporate parties I would not have to be as anal about my equipment or 'organizational skills'.. (hopefully that makes sense)

pricing can be a complicated subject, as you need to look at "market value" VS return (# of bookings) VS percieved value
for me hourly is kinda meaningless in our business, as many of us can put in just as many hours post/pre event as we do when we are entertaining..
(not to forget that hourly automatically leads to weird price comparisons)

again, for me... my pricing model is related to 'day of' (99% of the time a saturday).. and my market is what helps sets the price (which changes + or - depending on the season and work involved)..

so I charge the same regardless of the type of event..

IE: if someone calls me wanting to hire me for a saturday in july (prime wedding season), it doesnt matter if its a wedding, corporate, or pool party..
They get quoted the same price, for the simple reason that I know I will most likely book that date, and it will most likely be a wedding anyways..
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
Maybe I just had to plan more events that should have, in general, required less planning, but I had clientelle that demanded it. It just really falls back to my own personal experiences. Then again in the grand scheme of things I had done more weddings than anything once the first part of my career started to pick up.
it could also be what your used to.. I do a LOT MORE "STUFF" when it comes to weddings, but for me its easy, as thats what I normally do..
but in truth if someone called me tomorrow for a kids birthday party (and was willing to pay my normal price) I would most likely put in MANY more hours for that one event then I do for the majority of weddings ... For the simple reason I dont have a lot of "stuff" in place to just walk in and do the kids party (music, planners, mc stuff, etc etc is almost non-existant and would need to be updated and created from scratch)
 

Old_Goat

Senior LDJC Member
Speaking for myself, as well. My business model / target is different than most of you. Heck, it's different from what mine used to be. My gigs usually take place "before and after" you folks. (Bachelor / -ette parties, divorce parties and yes, even funerals.) I also do car / motorcycle shows / runs and assorted rallies for everything from politicians to very specific charities and very specific businesses. By that, you can see what I don't do.

A gig, for me, is five hours. Gear is not an issue. I am back to only one setup, so there's not a lot of variation. Should I need more, I leave it up to the client to provide it or I will rent it at their expense. Time isn't really a concern, as I rarely have extensive prep issues such as names, order of procession et.c.. Travel is fixed at the current Federal travel rate, P2P.

I have FOUR prices. "Free"- (Actually, a "write-off". Charity, and all...), "Large" - $999 - (1-100 people, indoors, outdoors add $100). "Extra Large" - $1499. - (100-500 people, indoors, outdoors add $100). And "HUGE" - $2999. - (The aforementioned car/bike events). Overtime is billed at $100-$150-$200 / hour for me and $50-$75-$100 / hour for any additional people I have with me for the gig. I am going to need another price soon, as I have had inquiries from other local businesses.

I DO have a system of discounts for non-immediate family and close friends. I have, (and have always had) a "PITA" factor. That one is discretionary. It can range from $100 to $25K. Yes, I said $25 LARGE. The idea is to persuade the client to NOT BE a PITA. My "Marketing Style" as a past "America's Rudest DJ", is akin to Sam Spade or Philip Marlow. "Look, here's what I do, lady, and here's what it's gonna cost ya...you want to hire me or not?".

Before you get all of you collective knickers in a knot...for ME, it WORKS. Every bit as well as I would ever hope for.
 
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Bobby D

Member
I'll disagree Peter. I spend signicantly more time on a wedding. 2 meetings, 4 page planner, practicing names, getting music together. Birthday party, no meeting, email agreement, show up take requests. If I don't know the music based on the age of the birthday person I shouldn't be in this business. But that is just MHO.
There's a big difference between a wedding and birthday party for me too. Plus here in Michigan wedding receptions are usually 6 hours. Other parties like birthday are 2-3 hours. So I think price gouging is pretty much a myth. It may apply to some DJs, but I'm making more money per hour doing events that don't require the planning and longer hours of a wedding.

DJs that are charging huge prices for weddings are worth it to the type of clients they cater to, and have proven results that show their value. So charge by the value you offer. If you're average, charge the average price.
 
Oh I don't deny that in many cases, the higher end DJs in this area deserve what they charge, and DJs should charge what their value is. However in many instances I have seen over the years, a lot of the reason was "well it's because it's a wedding". And I personally know of a couple that really did not do a ton of prep work for it, they just simply charged more because that is what the market would bare.

As for birthdays, I think in every instance in the past, and the one I had this last week, we had a meeting. We wanted to go over the venue, the person planning it wanted ideas on how we could uplight and what the uplighting would look like in that venue (which I brought one along). Honestly I would rather a meeting to ensure a level of comfort with the customer, and I am generally the type of person that would rather do things by email.
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
Oh I don't deny that in many cases, the higher end DJs in this area deserve what they charge, and DJs should charge what their value is. However in many instances I have seen over the years, a lot of the reason was "well it's because it's a wedding". And I personally know of a couple that really did not do a ton of prep work for it, they just simply charged more because that is what the market would bare. As for birthdays, I think in every instance in the past, and the one I had this last week, we had a meeting. We wanted to go over the venue, the person planning it wanted ideas on how we could uplight and what the uplighting would look like in that venue (which I brought one along). Honestly I would rather a meeting to ensure a level of comfort with the customer, and I am generally the type of person that would rather do things by email.
its all about perceived value..

VS the "AVG" DJ
A DJ with a great website and SEO can charge more
a DJ with bootloads of talent can charge more.
a DJ with awesome salemanship can charge more
and so can the DJ who has equipment for 2000 people
etc etc

With weddings there is already a built in perceived value.. IE: a 'wedding photographer' is 'expected to cost at least $1000..
the problem is a lot of that info & 'value' is 'assumed' based on past information.. That the photos presented as theirs are real, that they have past experience, that they will "show up", etc etc (which may not be true in all cases)

Things like 'birthday parties' dont have that built in 'value', for the simple reason there is not as many of them.. the 'value' has to built from the ground up..

What you probably should be asking is:
"How do I grow my perceived value?"
 
No doubt it's perceived value. And right now because I am restarting my business I am in a battle to grow both reputation and perceived value. The latter I am not as concerned about because I do know I bring a high value service to the customer. I have received very high praise for my two "coming back" events this month so I know I still have what it takes.

The original point of my post was the tiered nature of pricing as it infers to an all-things-being-equal event. In my instance I noted that for every job that I have ever done, past and present, I've always put considerable effort into it, provided extensive customer service, and delivered quality shows. From that I was wondering if my pricing strategy was essentially short changing my non-wedding gigs more in an effort to price competitively, or in the inverse was I charging more because of weddings directly (of course with the caveat that weddings are not an easy task to perform in the first place).

Right now my current pricing structure is a "core rate" for DJ services consisting of a pair of speakers and myself charged by the hour. Lights and other extras are added on al la carte. If it's a wedding I charged for a higher hourly rate to compensate for added effort. The mental question I have for myself is if this rate should be a flat fee or tiered given that I put a lot of effort in non-wedding gigs.

If I decide to go with a flat fee structure across all services I then have a conundrum. Either my wedding rates would be way under valued, or my other rates would likely be priced out of the market. There is a lot of competition here, and for someone new coming into the market it could be a painful couple of years hoping that the gigs I do get drums up enough buzz to carry me in the latter years.

Challenges!
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
The mental question I have for myself is if this rate should be a flat fee or tiered given that I put a lot of effort in non-wedding gigs.
If your interested do a search about hourly rates vs flat rates (or tiered).. needless to say most DJ's come to the conclusion (and I think rightly so) that an hourly rate does more harm then good.. I heavily suggest you get rid of the hourly rate thing..

Also I'm confused on if you want higher pricing for weddings or not????
You say on one hand your "wedding rates would be under valued", and then you say you "put a lot of effort in non-wedding gigs"

forget the "market" or your fellow DJ for now..
First decide on how much YOUR worth..
EG: I want to hire you for a wedding on a saturday.. I will set up (and take down) the equipment, pick up and drop you off.. You just need to DJ and MC..
How much you gonna charge me?
EG: I also want to hire you for a birthday party the week after (same deal as above)... how much?

after that its just equipment, and how much time you put into each event (besides the DJing/MC part)..
ok.. thats oversimplified but I think you get where I'm coming from. ;-)


If I decide to go with a flat fee structure across all services I then have a conundrum. Either my wedding rates would be way under valued, or my other rates would likely be priced out of the market.
Whats wrong with tiered (also called packaging pricing), or 'a-la-carte', or 'all inclusive' pricing?
each one has strong pros and only a few cons.. (it really comes down to what 'flavour' you like best IE: which one is easiest for YOU to 'sell'.)
 
Oh there is nothing wrong with tiered/packaged pricing. What I have to adjust is my rate on the two ends of my services. For example:

Lowest cost rate of no-lights 4 hours non-wedding is $400.
Lowest cost rate of no-lights 4 hours wedding is $700.

If I am to flatten my pricing structure I need to adjust my rates one way up or down (or the middle). And while yes I should not think of my competition, the fact of the matter is if I am overpriced customers will look elsewhere. At least for now where my reputation still needs time to build up and also I have a fuller schedule of events.
 

DJGreyhound

Professional Wedding DJ
I have all-inclusive pricing ($975 for up to 5 hrs) - the only extra charge is for performance time beyond 5 hrs - it makes things easier for me and the client. My pricing also applies to both weddings and private events. My business focus is on weddings so if someone wants me for a non-wedding, they still have to pay the same rate. My business model works for me. In the end, you should do whatever works for you.
 

bill_smith

MobileBeat Moderator
Staff member
What is your success rate of contact to bookings?

Do you have any concerns that flattening will result in loss of business at these levels?

Oh there is nothing wrong with tiered/packaged pricing. What I have to adjust is my rate on the two ends of my services. For example:

Lowest cost rate of no-lights 4 hours non-wedding is $400.
Lowest cost rate of no-lights 4 hours wedding is $700.

If I am to flatten my pricing structure I need to adjust my rates one way up or down (or the middle). And while yes I should not think of my competition, the fact of the matter is if I am overpriced customers will look elsewhere. At least for now where my reputation still needs time to build up and also I have a fuller schedule of events.
 

bb

Well-Known Member
Each DJ should determine their focus market and stick with a plan to build the type of client base they want to serve that is willing to pay your asking rate.

Decide between the low end price shopper - mode, or the higher end service oriented mode for those they will pay more for your above average service and skills.
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
Oh there is nothing wrong with tiered/packaged pricing. What I have to adjust is my rate on the two ends of my services. [snip] If I am to flatten my pricing structure I need to adjust my rates one way up or down (or the middle).
two things i would like to mention..
1.) Why do the prices need to be "flattened", either thats your going price for that work or its not? Whats stopping you from leaving it as it is? there is NO 'set' pricing on anything, the 'market price' is meaningless if you want it to be..
and on the other hand....
2.) Which would you like to get more of ? $700 shows? or $400 shows? Why would you allow yourself to be booked for $300 LESS if you know you can be booked for more on that date?
If your started charging $700 as a flat rate (base rate), how many shows do you think you would lose? AND WHY?


And while yes I should not think of my competition, the fact of the matter is if I am overpriced customers will look elsewhere. At least for now where my reputation still needs time to build up and also I have a fuller schedule of events.
yes.. if your customers dont see value in your business they will look 'else where'.. thats a given..

heres how most DJ's (and other small self employed people) set there prices.. they hold their thumb up in the air.. check which way the wind is blowing and say "that sounds good".. "build it and they will come"
yet in the the 'real' world, thats not how its done..
if you wanted to start a 'brick & mortar' type business (one that would cost $100,000 to get started), would you go ahead, take a loan out on your house and find investors and then just 'charge what you feel sounds good' and 'hope and pray you make it to thru the first year' ?
no, you wouldnt..
you would do research.. set goals.. find out what you need to survive and make a profit, etc etc..
based on what YOU know you need to make, you would then decide what you need to have in place for marketing, sales, equipment and 'product', so you can meet your profit goal.. your business type and 'model' would be "defined" and everything would be based and planned on that 'model'..
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
P.S.

one of the longest running jokes in the DJ industry is:
"Hi , I'm a DJ, I specialize in weddings, birthday parties, xmas dances, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs, school dances and coporate parties, and I am just as good but cheaper then the expensive guy"

dont by 'that' guy ...
 
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