When do you get paid?

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And WHERE is Alma MI ?!
Maybe it's different for weddings, but I've never demanded payment before the day of a wedding reception. Of course I've also never been burned, and if I had ever, I probably would adjust my contract. I'd like to get a feeling for what the "industry standard" is. Do you require full payment in advance (1 week, 2 weeks, etc...)?


DJ Emeritus
Do an advanced search on keyword: "Contract" and User Name: "Cap".
It's the best dang contract and payment schedule in the business.
If you ever get the opportunity to see Cap "Live In Concert" doing his "Contract" seminar, do whatever you need to in order to attend.
I've read what Cap has shared here on contracts and incorporated many of the elements of the tidbits he's shared here in my contracts for my behavioral health business. His stuff is that good and that rock solid. -Z-


I get paid for every event when it is over and the customer is happy with my work. Never been stiffed, yes I have had a couple cancellations and a few dates moved, but nothing bad.

I do not live off DJ services, I am a retired Army Officer and work as a Governmental Sales Manager for a large John Deere dealership, so I am not in the same boat as those who do this solely to support themselves and families.

Ray J.


Active Member
My issue with waiting till the end is that sometimes, life happens. Couples get drunk, or just leave early, or end up busy with any number of things, like saying goodbye to family. If they're not happy with your service, trust me, you'll find out and can then react. Of course, by waiting you also risk SOMEONE else putting them in a terrible mood and taking it out on you.

Listen to Cap for contracts and decide what is right for you. Since a date is only valuable for so long, I get 4 payments: one with the contract, 2 spaced out, and the last usually at the event, near the beginning. This protects me if they cancel... if they cancel 8 months out, I only have 25% but also a reasonable chance to rebook. If they cancel 45 days out, I have 75% but almost no chance to rebook.


Active Member
Half in advance.
The final payment depends on the situation.
I've been finding that most clients would rather make the final payment well in advance...
that way it's one less thing for them to worry about.


Gear and Equipment Moderator
To answer your question correctly, you have to check your local laws. In my state of MD, DJ's provide a SERVICE as DJ'ing is not considered a PRODUCT. It is against MD state law to collect money for a SERVICE prior to the service being rendered. I had my attorney reword my contract to state "Retainer Fee" instead of "Deposit" (usually 40% of the total) with the BALANCE due on the day of the event prior to playing the first note. At this point, because I am already setup and ready to play, my services have already begun.

I have DJs in my area that demand payment in full from two weeks to a month in advance BUT if it ever gets pressed in court, they'd lose. Another thing I've noticed as well. When getting paid up front in advance, more often than not, the chance of receiving a gratuity is greatly reduced.This comes from 26 yrs experience.
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MobileBeat Moderator
Staff member
In North carolina, here is the statute that covers this:


It appears that I CAN get prepaid fully. However, I always looked at my business through a consumers eyes, and every news magazine tells consumers not to pay in full prior to anything being delivered. And that is something I explain to clients, which they love. I myself hate paying for something in full before I get the service. so I explain 50% upfront, the balance due WHEN the event is completed. I do tell them that if they wish, they can meet up with me or mail the rest the week of, but what I always do is send a gentle reminder that the balance is due that evening, and to give it to someone(whom they identify) to give it to me.

it's probably not the most business like fashion to do this, but in 16 years, never been burned stiffed or forgotten. that may a testament to the level of clientele I've been lucky enough to retain, or a function of my simple incredible good luck,,,who knows....

I also recognize that the first time I do, that my policy will change.

DJ Jonny T

New Member
1/3 upfront and the balance due at the completion of the event. Though the often pay me the balance in the prewedding meeting.


New Member
I tried 7 days in advance and felt it hurt my bookings. I tried it for 5 client meetings and only got 1 to book with 7 day advanced payment. I never heard back from the other 4 and I know 2 of them booked with another company which has a much higher retainer fee than me and they want half down. Before I started asking for full payment 7 days in advance I had 95% booking percentage with people I meet with to book an event. I know it wasn't my sales skills which was in question.

I have personally never got burned , so I went back to payment day of the show. I also always meet with them 2-3 weeks before the wedding to confirm and go over everything. I have about 50% of those pay me in full at that meeting. So I'm not going to require advanced payment.


New Member
I always got paid at the end of our events until a wedding last year. The bride never made a deposit, but things were rushed, so she said she would give me the payment in full the night of the wedding.

The night came and went to talk to her "planner" for the evening (it was her aunt) She said that she would bring me the payment that evening. I really didn't think about it, until I started to hear that the bride was asking her guests for donations to help pay for her DJ because I raised my prices or I wasn't going to play music for them. (THIS WAS NOT TRUE) Then guests started getting angry at me and some even came up and started to yell at me.

This bride did NOT give me the impression that she was like this when we first met. She was very sweet and her wedding was high budget. It was insane.

NOW, my policy is that the event will be paid in full the week of the wedding, prior to the wedding day.


wuz here when it was Red.
NOW, my policy is that the event will be paid in full the week of the wedding, prior to the wedding day.

Once you get burned by a client, it becomes REALLY important to have a plan in place :)

my lightbulb moment was when I client hired me a year out, then cancelled just two weeks before the wedding..
and she actually told me the reason she hired me was she wanted a back up, cause she didnt know if her friend in a band could actually get everything together so they could play at her wedding..
She double booked her wedding on purpose!


wuz here when it was Red.
I know it wasn't my sales skills which was in question..
Are you sure about that? ;-)

Try this.. (I would bet money on it)
Raise your prices across the board by 20%
then tell your prospective clients that if they take the "option" of prepaying you will Discount the total price by 20% :)
or you can just make it a dollar amount (raise prices by $200, discount $200 if they prepay)

While you are offering this to them, show them your contract (so they know they are protected if you try and run away with their money)


A lot depends upon the type of event and how well (read relationship) you know the client.

In my situation, I don't DJ weddings. I do however, supply lighting, sound systems, etc., for these events. Most of the time I know the people involved personally and in this small community they wouldn't dare not pay me... lol.

On most of my larger events I ask for a 50% deposit with the balance 5 days NET after completion. Many of these pay me before/during/after the event.


Always At Your Service
and balance due 14 days before.
Uh uh! No no no. 90 days before (or whatever date one's current contract says you expect payment in full).

Here's an example of absurdity:

"If you cancel your event 120 days before the date, you are to pay me 50% of the remaining balance; if you cancel me 90 days before the event, your are to pay me 100% of the remaining balance. Final payment is due 14 days before the event."

Seriously, think about it for more than 10 seconds. Put your "I would never do that" hat in the trash bucket.

Either eliminate those ludicrous 120 - 90 day cancellation and stick with the 14 days or change the final payment date to something realistic.

14 days in advance is, in my most humble experience, about the worst final payment date other than payment on the day of or (are you serious? after it's over). Logical thinking will lead one to at or near the same conclusion.

(Okie dokie. I'm bended over. Bring it!)
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