All-too-common statements that hold us back from achieving SUCCESS

The Most Expensive Wedding DJ?

Over the years, I have been held up by some who cheer for my success and others who think my claims are outlandish…and they all frequently apply the same moniker…

“He’s the most the expensive wedding DJ around!”

Those who are excited to see the bar of earning potential raised for our industry can often be heard lauding my efforts while looking to learn how they too can increase their demand and their year end gross income records. Those who are chronically skeptical about such achievements usually make disparaging remarks while questioning how few weddings I’m actually booking and whether or not I own a home as “proof” that my efforts are not actually paying off. Some have even demanded to see my year end tax filings to “prove” once and for all that my claims are legitimate…and then noting that such forms could be “photo-shopped” thus negating any real way of ever satisfying their discontent.

Frankly…I think that both camps are wrong.

Getting $5,000 for entertaining at a wedding reception is really not that unbelievable or laudable in my opinion. Why you ask?

The average amount spent on a wedding reception has been upwards of $24,000 (it is closer to $28,000 or more today) for well over a decade now. If a reception is intended to be a celebration of a marriage attended by the bride and groom’s closest friends and family members…and it is intended to be a fun celebration…then it seems fairly apparent that the entertainment will play a dominant role in whether or not things will actually turn out to be fun and enjoyable. As such, any bride and groom who recognize the full value that quality entertainment can bring to their celebration will certainly be more inclined to spend at least 15% to 20% of their total reception budget on an entertainment service that can help them make their reception truly memorable and enjoyable. That seems neither outlandish nor laudable in my opinion. It just make sense.

So imagine my surprise when my good friend Austin Beaver mailed me a wedding magazine he picked up during a recent trip. Here is the magazine’s cover…

Weddings New York Winter 2010

Weddings New York Winter 2010

Inside the back portion of the magazine, various wedding vendors have taken out classified ads for their services and this particular page includes some of the DJ listings…

Weddings New York Classified Ads for DJs

Weddings New York Classified Ads for DJs

And here is a close up of an ad for DJ Cassidy

DJ Cassidy's Classified Ad

DJ Cassidy's Classified Ad

I love how the ad says “that’s not a typo”…

Several things jumped out at me when I first saw this ad. First…DJ Cassidy graduated from NYU in 2003. Second…he has spun at some well-known clubs in NYC. Third…he has entertained for celebrities (and Britney and Paris are just the tip of the iceberg). Fourth…he is only selling his skills as a mixing artist with his preferred music genres…there is no mention of MC services. Fifth…he has a management company booking his events for him. And Sixth…his prices START at $25,000!

Clearly I have a long way yet to go before I can be called “the most expensive wedding DJ around” with any accuracy. But this example should serve as a much needed wake up call for our industry. The reason DJ Cassidy can get $25,000+ for his entertainment services (and I have no doubt that he is) at a wedding reception is because…he is worth it! When Jay-Z and Beyoncé got married…they hired DJ Cassidy. Clearly, DJ Cassidy will be “un-affordable” for most wedding couples with prices that are close to the current average amount spent on an entire reception. But the key word there is “average.” Average means that some people will spend dramatically less on their receptions and some people will spend dramatically more on their receptions. DJ Cassidy has developed the demand and network necessary to be able to service clients who will be spending dramatically more than the average.  Keep in mind, any couple who is spending at least $125,000 on their reception will only be allocating 20% or less towards their entertainment if they hire DJ Cassidy. Some might say…but how many weddings are there each year with budgets of $125,000 or more? With 2.5 million weddings taking place each year…0.5% would 12,500 weddings…and 0.5% may be a low estimate. If DJ Cassidy manages to pick up just 10 of those weddings each year (that’s 0.08% of 12,500)…he will earn at least $250,000!

So…how does your fee measure up now? Are you getting 15% to 20% of the total reception budget? Are you getting closer to 10%? Are you getting less than %5?

And finally…are you offering your couples just mixing skills…or are you providing them with a talented and skilled Master of Ceremonies as well? DJ Cassidy isn’t even promoting his MC skills…and his prices start at $25,000.

5 Responses to The Most Expensive Wedding DJ?

  • I totally agree with your article Peter.

  • Good morning Peter,

    When you look at the statistics and research, the data makes sense.

    Kudos to Cassidy. He found his niche market and is providing a premium service. His clients invest accordingly and are pleased with the end result. (Repeat as often as possible) Not a tough concept to grasp.

    Thanks for sharing the info and the “not a typo” ad. 🙂



  • I’m astonished. I find the concept of getting paid in accordance with what one actually contributes to the success of a wedding celebration incredibly mind-boggling. It would be wonderful if there was some kind of amazing, futuristic pay gauge that, after the completion of the festivities, accurately measured the real contribution of each wedding service purveyor to the wedding’s overall success, and then calculated the pay for each based on its findings. Unrealistic? Of course, but fun to consider.

    Remember this Mark Ferrell quote: “The world’s most expensive wedding reception, according to the Guiness Book of World Records, was for Mohammed, son of Sheik Rasheed Ben Said al Machtoun, to Princess Salema. It was held in Dubai in a specially-constructed stadium, for 20,000 guests in 1981. It lasted for seven days and cost $22,000,000,000. The DJ got $650!”

  • Peter, great article. I’m a DJ and event producer. The rates we get are relative to the event we produce, and the rate I get as a DJ used to be hourly. I’ve never been on the low side of DJ rates and schedule became so full that increasing my rates came naturally and is based on the average number of hours I do an event for. What’s your formula?

    Larry, I’m surprised at your example, a Skeik’s wedding isn’t traditional at all, nor is the role of the DJ.

  • Jeff…Larry was quoting the opening joke from Mark Ferrell’s “Getting What You’re Worth Seminar” presented at Mobile Beat Las Vegas in 2000. It was just a joke. You can get more context for the joke on Mark’s blog…he has posted a 30 minute excerpt from that seminar for any and all to hear.


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