What do you think is good pay for a DJ assistant for your events?

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How much is good pay for a DJ assistant to work weddings with you?

  • Honestly, I have never paid an assistant, and don't plan to. I will always work events solo

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Hourly wage from start time to finish - $15 per hour

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Hourly wage from their start time to finish - $20 per hour

    Votes: 1 12.5%
  • Hourly wage from start their start time to finish - $25 per hour

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Hourly wage from their start time to finish time - $30 per hour

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Pay for each event - $100 - $125

    Votes: 4 50.0%
  • Pay for each event - $150 - $180

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Pay for the event - $200 to $250

    Votes: 2 25.0%
  • You need to offer $300 per event to attract good help today

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • People want too much money to do the job these days. Just handle it all yourself

    Votes: 1 12.5%

  • Total voters
    8

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
6,976
5,270
39
I am not particularly asking how much YOU specifically would be willing to pay an assistant given the events that you do, but rather what do you think is GOOD pay to make the job offer and compensation attractive to a person who is willing to be a DJ assistant, and work events with you on Saturday nights.

I am considering trying to find an assistant once again. I tried a few years ago multiple times, and could never find anyone good or reliable. I offered as much as $175 per night the last time I went looking around, and came up with nobody.

Is compensation in terms of an hourly wage better for people? Or is compensation on a per event/night basis the same each event better?

In 2021 and beyond what do you think it will take? Or honestly, should I continue to just forego having an assistant, work my butt off, keep all the money, not have to pay an assistant, and just continue to get things done myself?
 

Albatross

DJ Extraordinaire
ODJT Supporter
Sep 7, 2016
2,814
7,313
I do the math at $20 an hour and include their drive time.

I've always struggled with the assistant thing... I basically need help for about 60 minutes of actual time. But because of where I work, and how I like to work... I'm typically on site for a very long day. So I normally end up paying $200-$275 for someone to do a fairly small amount of actual work.

I've tried to have assistants get video content and stuff - but I don't know how to train them to do it well. And I also haven't taken the time to learn how to edit well and cut good looking reels from what I do get. So it ends up being lots of paid downtime.

I've even considered hiring another DJ/production company to completely outsource my set up for me. I think someone with a trained crew that knows AV work could probably staff much more efficiently than I can and might be able to do the whole thing for a comparable rate to what I'd pay an assistant to mostly sit around.

But I do like having company and someone to talk to in the moments that are pretty boring.
 

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
6,976
5,270
39
I do the math at $20 an hour and include their drive time.

I've always struggled with the assistant thing... I basically need help for about 60 minutes of actual time. But because of where I work, and how I like to work... I'm typically on site for a very long day. So I normally end up paying $200-$275 for someone to do a fairly small amount of actual work.

I've tried to have assistants get video content and stuff - but I don't know how to train them to do it well. And I also haven't taken the time to learn how to edit well and cut good looking reels from what I do get. So it ends up being lots of paid downtime.

I've even considered hiring another DJ/production company to completely outsource my set up for me. I think someone with a trained crew that knows AV work could probably staff much more efficiently than I can and might be able to do the whole thing for a comparable rate to what I'd pay an assistant to mostly sit around.

But I do like having company and someone to talk to in the moments that are pretty boring.

I tried to get video from on my phone from some help I had hired like 6 years back, and the video clips that they took were basically useless. It was just a waste of time. I got like one good picture, and a bunch of video clips I basically deleted because I couldn't use them at all.

I feel like unless they are interested in hanging out and actually being an assistant, and not just a hired laborer, and have a good outgoing attitude then it feels like a waste of money paying them.

I had my nephew help me out in the past, and while he was the best I had in terms of helping me setting up, and tearing things down. Once the event got going, he was dis interested, and just wanted to sit around and be on his phone. I felt like since he rode with me in my vehicle to the event he was stuck there, and I needed to pay for his entire time with me, but in reality he really only "worked" for maybe 2 hours out of the 9+ hours he was with me.

I can simply look to hire a "Roadie" or Laborer, but this seems harder to actually attract interested candidates. I mean, who wants to drive to a venue, show up to help with load in/tear down between 3 and 4:45 p.m. and then have to come back at 10:45 p.m. or so to help tear down/load out for less than 1 hour. SO they took two trips to the venue for less than 3 hours of work. It doesn't make sense to pay $200 for just this, but if I offer $20 to $25/hr or even $30/hr for just this will anyone want to bother with it?
 

djtaso

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 4, 2017
4,188
8,467
35
NJ
www.djtaso.com
My guys are working nonstop from arrival to breakdown. My pay ranges anywhere from $150 for a newbie doing his first few events, to $250 for my most seasoned staff member. They also get a portion of the tips, which on avg can be $25 more. Their day starts from 3hrs prior to 1hr past end time. On avg thats about 9hrs of work time, which $16.50 - $27.50/hr if you're looking at it from that perspective. I hate doing hourly because some nights you're there a little longer cause you're caught up in convo with guests or vendors, other nights you're out in half the time because of an easy load out. Most of my events have 1 assistant, and they drive with me, but if more, those driving make a little extra to cover the costs of gas and tolls depending on the event location.

During the event itself they usually have a dedicated task... my main guy is able to do all things... assistant dj stuff behind the booth while I'm doing formalities, lighting, effects, camera... whereas the other guys are coming on for a dedicated reason... whether that be video, photo booth, etc. I've never actually had circumstances where there is a guy with nothing to do for a lengthy period of time.

The tricky part is finding someone good and reliable. I feed my main guy 50-70 events a year... at an avg of closer to $300 for him... thats a pretty decent wage for just weekend work. The other guys pick up another 20-25 events and at around $200... that too is nice spending money while they're in school or working a weekday job and want extra money with a job that's fun. If you only need them 3-5x a year, or you don't have the margins to cover it consistently, finding a good roadie isn't gonna be easy. If you want video guys... do what I just did... find a young guy that's looking to get into the wedding industry, and you pay him to help you set up as well as capture footage... he gets the financial reward, as well as getting access to high quality events and the ability to quickly build his portfolio and get an insiders view as to what goes on behind the scenes. The knowledge and experience in a way is priceless for them.

Regarding that last part about finding a guy looking to shoot video in the industry... one could argue they could work for another company... but those companies usually have rights to what you capture and you're not allowed to display it as your own work or make promo work out of it. So you got the experience... but you never really built the portfolio.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
9,281
14,244
Oklahoma City
I struggled with the assistant issue too. Having started when I was already over 60 years old, I could have really used a young assistant. However, it would have been tough to pay very much, because the going rates for a lower tier DJ were only enough to adequately compensate one... ME. The other problem was; I was only doing about one gig per month on average. That would not have been enough work for most people wanting part-time work. The other concern was of the legal aspects. As a licensed business owner, I was required to withhold taxes and pay workers comp for anyone I hired. I could have done what most other DJ’s do and paid the assistant under the table, but I’m not sure I could have done that. As for what would be a fair wage for an assistant? I’d probably give them a percentage of whatever the gig paid. If they only need to work 20% of the time they’re there, they should get less than 20% of the take.
 
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Cap Capello

Always @ Ur Service
ODJT Supporter
Dec 14, 2006
3,767
3,830
78
Saratoga, NY
www.imadj.com
Semantics play a bit of a part in this question being posed. I don't have an DJ assistant, but I do have an Event Production Assistant (formerly titled "roadie") .

He is paid $15/hour from the time he leaves his home to the event location and the complete equipment set up. He then is on his own until the scheduled conclusion, where he's paid $15/hour from that scheduled end time until the equipment is loaded, and he drives home. What he does between setup and breakdown is unpaid and on his own.

The first exception comes into play when the event is too far distant for him to do anything else but hang close by. Then the pay is $15/hour non-stop, door to door (on average about $100). Generally we'll ride together as opposed to separate vehicles.

The second exception is when he's my photobooth attendant. Then he's paid a flat rate of $200 plus $25/hour for any overtime.

I ALWAYS tip him more. Always.

Now this was all pre-Covid and before he moved from 10 minutes away to 30 minutes away. I do believe there's a $5/hour increase needed and deserved.
 

Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
7,878
5,189
You have to define what skills you require because it makes a huge difference in whether an assistant helps or hurts you. On-the job training is a headache if you are paying someone who isn't up to speed, and may not stick around once they are.

I used to supply a lot of technical support and equipment to multi-ops who regularly did 12-30 jobs each weekend setting up sound and/or lights ready to play and then returning later at night to retrieve the systems. Hourly rates were out of the question because control over my time had to stay with me. (I had events of my own to do in between.) I made arrangements directly with each venue regarding setup and strike times. Everything was a pre-packaged rate from $150 for a simple DJ rig with twin speakers to $800 for something with subs and full lighting truss. Delivery outside a certain radius could add another $90. In all, it added about $45,000 /yr to my annual gross revenue at that time (or ~$74,000 using today's dollar.) It's also necessary to live near a major metropolitan area for this to work because you simply won't find this kind of multi-op need in rural areas.

Today, I provide technical labor and support for all kinds of events from $30-$90 /hr with a 5 hour minimum block (meaning if you need me for 2 hours it's billed as 5, and if you cut me at 7 it''s billed as 10.) I try to work with people's needs, but your essentially getting A1, V2, and L2 service which is far more than the typical DJ service requires.

DJ equipment today is so plug-and-play and retail friendly I don't think I could offer that service at a price that makes sense for either side. The skill set most DJs need today can be had in any high school student - and most of them can probably find better work elsewhere. Pro to battery powered and low voltage LED fixtures and DJ gear, I had to resolve the electrical distribution on each event sight which was skill worth paying for. If the only thing you need done today is having someone push a few menu buttons to find the "aqua-blue" preset color - well, you can see where a difference in values might come up.
 
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