Your best line to combat cheap DJs?

Welcome to ODJT
Wanting to join the rest of our members? Sign up today!
Sign Up

rickryan.com

DJ Extraordinaire
Dec 9, 2009
14,516
10,543
115
54
Hendersonville, TN
www.RickRyan.com
#1
I got into a FB discussion, talking about cheap DJs. I posted that, if you can't afford a pro, then it's better to use spotify rather than an el-cheapo guy who usually will cause more harm than do good. Obviously, I got a few cheap-o DJs who proclaim they're "just as good" but also got several brides who chimed in that I was absolutely correct. One of them was a bride who got married last night and hired a $500 guy who completely botched her event.

It got me to thinking, what's a good line that you use to combat cheap? Here's what I offered today. It seemed to resonate:

"Cheap", "Inexpensive", "Budget" all mean the same thing. You can get an inexpensive meal at Krystal, but I can't say that I've ever walked out of there thinking, "Man, that was a great experience."
 
Likes: Ausumm

steve149

Urbane Legend
Sep 26, 2011
19,977
28,122
115
Prospect, CT
#2
While there may certainly be low quality cheap DJs, there is also some very good ones who either decide to stay at the lower end, or don't know the right way to move from there. You risk things turning against you if you use the simple stereotype.

A better response, IMO, would be to highlight things that would intrinsically add cost (redundancy in gear, ability to get an equal replacement, liability coverage, etc.) and make the client wonder why someone might not be charging enough.

Either way, devolving to price has many pitfalls.
 
Aug 2, 2018
41
31
10
38
#3
I am a small time DJ with some experience, and I only do this as a hobby, should I up my pricing to say I am better? Or should I keep my pricing lower just to get some business? I have heard this argument before and in the area I live, what I charge is about average. So my thought is look at what the average cost is where you are doing gigs, and stay in that range. If that means going cheap to stay competitive, then stay competitive. Just because you are a cheaper DJ does not mean you are a bad DJ.
 

rickryan.com

DJ Extraordinaire
Dec 9, 2009
14,516
10,543
115
54
Hendersonville, TN
www.RickRyan.com
#4
Either way, devolving to price has many pitfalls.
When price is what's thrown in your face by a prospect, there's no other choice but to hit it head on. Furthermore, I believe I owe it to these girls to help them see that they're making a mistake by under-valuing their DJ (or photography) service. What I've stated is my own opinion, derived after years of seeing cheap DJs who don't show, do a crappy job, and just generally wreak havoc on these young girls' dream day. The bad part is that they just never learn until it's too late and there's no way to undo the bad decision.

As for db's post, you do whatever you deem as right for your situation. I don't have to like it. DJs that are hobbyists do have as much skin in the game. Sure, there are some who do a good enough job but the fact remains that pretty much all of the dire bride stories I'm personally aware of began with a cheap DJ. I rarely ever hear of a legit provider, causing these kinds of issues. The question I'd have to ask is, why are you staying in the bottom-feeder category? Are you afraid of getting a "no" from a girl over your price? It's a pretty weak excuse in my book. We should all be charging a fair market price, not just what we're comfortable won't get us any rejection.
 
Aug 2, 2018
41
31
10
38
#5
I do agree with you rickryan, there are plenty of low priced DJ's that give the rest a bad name. Admittance, I have been doing weddings, karaoke, and parties for a few years under the names of other companies, so I am charging lower prices to get myself started, and try to get my name out there. As business picks up my prices may go up as well as I add new equipment to my collection, so I may provide a better service.
 
Likes: DJ Bobcat

rickryan.com

DJ Extraordinaire
Dec 9, 2009
14,516
10,543
115
54
Hendersonville, TN
www.RickRyan.com
#6
I do agree with you rickryan, there are plenty of low priced DJ's that give the rest a bad name. Admittance, I have been doing weddings, karaoke, and parties for a few years under the names of other companies, so I am charging lower prices to get myself started, and try to get my name out there. As business picks up my prices may go up as well as I add new equipment to my collection, so I may provide a better service.
I have no issue, nor any business telling you how you should do things. I also started out as a bottom-feeder, and made plenty of mistakes along the way. As time went on I learned how to do better and raised my prices accordingly. The problem I have is with folks who continually and forevermore choose to stay in the cheap category. Congrats to you for being open and honest. All the best.
 

steve149

Urbane Legend
Sep 26, 2011
19,977
28,122
115
Prospect, CT
#7
When price is what's thrown in your face by a prospect, there's no other choice but to hit it head on. Furthermore, I believe I owe it to these girls to help them see that they're making a mistake by under-valuing their DJ (or photography) service. What I've stated is my own opinion, derived after years of seeing cheap DJs who don't show, do a crappy job, and just generally wreak havoc on these young girls' dream day. The bad part is that they just never learn until it's too late and there's no way to undo the bad decision.

As for db's post, you do whatever you deem as right for your situation. I don't have to like it. DJs that are hobbyists do have as much skin in the game. Sure, there are some who do a good enough job but the fact remains that pretty much all of the dire bride stories I'm personally aware of began with a cheap DJ. I rarely ever hear of a legit provider, causing these kinds of issues. The question I'd have to ask is, why are you staying in the bottom-feeder category? Are you afraid of getting a "no" from a girl over your price? It's a pretty weak excuse in my book. We should all be charging a fair market price, not just what we're comfortable won't get us any rejection.
Generally, when price is thrown, you need to counter with "value". People buy based on value .. what they get for what they pay. No substantial value, no substantial pay. I won't pay a lot for a crappy steak, but I will for a prime one.

A higher pay (price) means a necessarily higher value to the client .. it all come down to how one presents that.
 

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
5,738
8,660
115
Oklahoma City
#8
As a rule... rules rarely apply to the DJ business. DJ’s charge what they charge because that’s what they choose to charge. Judging a DJ’s ability by his rates is foolishness. Saying cheap DJ’s use inferior gear, or don’t have backup gear... also foolish. I’m a CHEAP DJ. My rates are perhaps a little lower than the average rates, but I have good quality gear and I have backups for backups. I don’t seek wedding gigs, but I’ve done two of them, and I did them for a lot less than the going rate. I didn’t MESS UP either of them. Both couples were VERY happy. What I’d say to other DJ’s who think they need to COMBAT me, is try telling your clients why you’re a better choice, because if you start telling them why I’m a lesser DJ because of my lower rates, you’re likely not gonna be telling the truth.
 
Jun 26, 2018
40
28
10
32
#9
While there may certainly be low quality cheap DJs, there is also some very good ones who either decide to stay at the lower end, or don't know the right way to move from there. You risk things turning against you if you use the simple stereotype.

A better response, IMO, would be to highlight things that would intrinsically add cost (redundancy in gear, ability to get an equal replacement, liability coverage, etc.) and make the client wonder why someone might not be charging enough.

Either way, devolving to price has many pitfalls.
Pricewise, I am in the middle of my market. I started doing bridal shows three years ago, and there are a lot of displays that give off sort of a bait and switch image by my competitors.

I'll actually offer to price match any direct competitor or do a "subjective" apples to apples comparison on any other package a couple is assessing. Honestly, I tell couples not to even show me the name of the person or service until I have done the comparison so it does not look like I am tearing down someone. If they are getting the same as what my company can offer, I will consider that person too a direct competitor and match that price.

That being said, here is what my expectation would be to consider that person a direct competitor:
Business Operations:
-Registered with the secretary of state (a legitimate company with a point of contact listed - there are too many fly by night places that close up shop overnight)
-Liability insurance
-Written or electronic contracts used
-Written or electronic estimate provided with an "Out-the-door" price which includes any and all charges (transportation/OT etc.)
-Packages should be similar (e.g. includes similar amounts of time, lights etc.)
-In-person consult and online planning tools offered
-Price presented must be a regular price or promotion and not a one-time offer (e.g. someone won $500 off because of a drawing at a bridal show or something)

Performers:
-Wedding performers have a minimum of one decade experience and can coordinate the evening and emcee the event
-Small multi-op service where you get to talk to your actual performer, yet others are available in an emergency situation
-Performers should be able to mix and/or beatmatch (not using itunes, Youtube or Windows Media Player)

Equipment:
-Professional (not pro-sumer) equipment by reputable brands such as QSC, EV, Pioneer, Bose and Denon or equivalent (Not to bash brands but if the other person has the $99 Harbinger or Gemini Powered speakers - I can't compete when I am using speakers that cost at least $600/pc. If the other company is using Yamaha, Peavey etc. I'll look at the line and specs)
-Any tops should be pole mounted
-Two true diversity wireless microphones
-On-site equipment backup and all special songs backed up to a second source

Music:
-Computerized music library with legally obtained music and clean versions available of all popular selections
-Critical selections should be stored locally and not "streamed"
-4g hotspot to procure anything not in the library

By the time I get to the end of the list, that normally weeds out most bottom feeders and many fellow part-timers, or generates some serious questions/concerns. To my recollection, there was only one or two times I actually had to exercise this since I raised my prices in 2013.

I normally work out to be $200-$800 cheaper than some of the large multiop, fulltime companies that employ salespeople etc. The tradeoff by booking with me is there may be a slight delay in communication at times (as I work M-F), I am not available to meet during business days and I don't have a fancy office you can come to. I am upfront about this.

If the packages or something about the companies are not the same, I'll explain the differences as best I can and sometimes offer something extra (ceremony system, monogram, waive overtime or similar). There have been a few awkward times where I have had to explain how someone else has better equipment or is offering something I can't provide, but 98% of the time they are priced higher.
 

Jeff Romard

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
16,493
10,446
115
48
Sydney, Nova Scotia
#10
Furthermore, I believe I owe it to these girls to help them see that they're making a mistake by under-valuing their DJ (or photography) service. What I've stated is my own opinion, derived after years of seeing cheap DJs who don't show, do a crappy job, and just generally wreak havoc on these young girls' dream day. The bad part is that they just never learn until it's too late and there's no way to undo the bad decision.
I've never felt I owed anyone anything when it pertains to them making a mistake and I rarely try to talk them out of it because it's a complete waste of time. I tell them what I can do, offer them the deal and leave it in their court. I will tell them to check out who they hire and make sure they get a contract.

I figure if price is the only consideration it's quite likely I'm not the guy they are looking for
 

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
4,286
3,198
115
36
#11
...You could turn this whole debate around, and ask "What is your best line to combat Expensive, Over Priced DJs" as well...AND THE ANSWER WOULD BE EASIER TO COME UP WITH"...

Can you think of any service that you paid "Top Dollar" for in the last 2 years when you received lower quotes from others to do the same work?

Why did you choose that option over the cheaper service providers who gave you a quote?

...And I'm not talking about taking your car to the dealership for work to be done over going to Bob's Automotive, or Mieneke. Or choosing to shop in a Nieman Marcus over a Sears. Or buying a Mercedes over a Ford ...I'm sticking with SERVICE providers.

What was the specific reason you chose the higher price? Was it emotion? Was the service provider more professional when communicating with you? Were they simply a better sales person? Did you feel they were just a better value than the cheaper options?
 
Likes: Jeff Romard

djtaso

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 4, 2017
1,423
3,173
115
31
NJ
www.djtaso.com
#12
This is just my opinion, but I never really concerned myself with "cheap dj's" or trying to convert clients to me... even when my pricing was A LOT less. I believed that to grow I had to build my name and reputation on quality (even if I wasn't charging top dollar), and therefore clients attracted to lower prices were not the clients I needed to help grow. When confronted in those situations where I would here "oh we were looking to spend $xyz, or this dj quoted $500 less", I would just say as a courtesy I'd go down $100 out of good faith to show that I'd love to work with them, but you're not really comparing apples to apples in terms of service, quality, and reputation. At that point I just would let them choose. Now my competition is never cheap dj's but other top quality dj's and I gotta differentiate on actual service and the experience we create.

In terms of choosing other services... yes I pay more for a haircut than others do... My biweekly haircut is around $35... why, because he's accomodating to my crazy schedule and is consistant. I can call 30 min before hand sometimes and hell squeeze me in really quick... why because I also always tip well. For home repairs or servicing, I always choose someone I feel will do the job the right time, will accomodate my schedule and is detailed and thorough in what they're going to do. I don't know if they're always the most expensive option, but they're definitely never the cheapest. I don't know what other services are out there that would be applicable to your questioning.
 

Albatross

DJ Extraordinaire
Sep 7, 2016
1,337
3,074
115
#13
...You could turn this whole debate around, and ask "What is your best line to combat Expensive, Over Priced DJs" as well...AND THE ANSWER WOULD BE EASIER TO COME UP WITH"...

Can you think of any service that you paid "Top Dollar" for in the last 2 years when you received lower quotes from others to do the same work?

Why did you choose that option over the cheaper service providers who gave you a quote?

...And I'm not talking about taking your car to the dealership for work to be done over going to Bob's Automotive, or Mieneke. Or choosing to shop in a Nieman Marcus over a Sears. Or buying a Mercedes over a Ford ...I'm sticking with SERVICE providers.

What was the specific reason you chose the higher price? Was it emotion? Was the service provider more professional when communicating with you? Were they simply a better sales person? Did you feel they were just a better value than the cheaper options?
Your sales tactic is to try to create buyers remorse for something else that you're guessing they bought? Holy cow is that bad.
 

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
5,738
8,660
115
Oklahoma City
#14
Just bought a set of tires for my wife’s car. The tires that came on the car lasted just two years... 32K miles. The dealer would have replaced them with the same brand (Bridgestone) and style, but I got an MUCH better deal on a better set of Michelin tires at our local small tire shop. Paid $100 less per tire mounted and balanced than I would have paid the dealership where we bought the car (BIG local dealership with different lots selling different makes all over town) for those crappy tires. I’m sure they’d argue that they have the best, most modern equipment and facilities. However, as big and prosperous as they may be, my tires didn’t even last 36K miles. The other thing I know is every tire dealer in town gets their tires from the same distributor. Sure, they get discounts on volume of purchases, but do they pass those discounts to their customers, or charge the same or higher prices to offset their high overhead???

I’m a budget DJ. I have a legit registered business (actually I have two... S-Corp and LLC). I pay taxes. I have insurance. I have a massive legal music library and subscribe to a legitimate DJ pool. I have a business owned late model minivan... Don’t use my personal vehicle for gear hauling (but honestly, how much gear could you haul in a Jeep Wrangler anyway?). When I show up for a gig, every piece of gear is packed in black canvas bags or hard black cases. My gear is in exquisite condition... any nick or scratch is repaired immediately after the gig. I have high quality gear. I have backups for almost every piece of critical gear, and have documented contingency plans to ensure an event will go on, even if some piece of critical gear fails. I have dance lights, but generally do more events with NO lights than I do with them. I can mix as well as most DJ’s. I have no other job, so I can practice mixing a couple of hours every day if I choose (and often do). I can take whatever amount of time it requires to meet with clients and prepare for their events. I have all the contracts and documents necessary. I don’t advertise... I don’t need to. All my business is by referral, and I turn down more work than I take. I’ve NEVER missed a gig... never been late to a gig or meeting. Heck, I bet I could count the number of work days I missed over my entire career on my own 10 fingers.

If I wanted to, I could cut my rates even lower and probably work every weekend. However, I don’t like to work all the time. I don’t depend on the income from my DJ business to live on. I’d rather work a Church event (playing Christian Rock) for $250, than a hip-hop event paying $500. I have a niche market that I cater to, and I’m plenty busy, especially in late Summer, early fall. I don’t do weddings except when asked by special clients. I only play clean music and NO hip-hop. Don’t do Sweet 16’s, but I might if the parents were among those special clients, and the daughter is OK with Pop, Country, R&B or Christian Rock music. I only accept gigs of a size for which I can provide more than adequate audio coverage with my own PA systems, so all my gigs are in the 250 guests or smaller range. I am ALWAYS up front with clients about my standards. If the high-priced DJ’s wanna compete with me... they better bring their A games.
 
Last edited:

Albatross

DJ Extraordinaire
Sep 7, 2016
1,337
3,074
115
#15
I got into a FB discussion, talking about cheap DJs. I posted that, if you can't afford a pro, then it's better to use spotify rather than an el-cheapo guy who usually will cause more harm than do good. Obviously, I got a few cheap-o DJs who proclaim they're "just as good" but also got several brides who chimed in that I was absolutely correct. One of them was a bride who got married last night and hired a $500 guy who completely botched her event.

It got me to thinking, what's a good line that you use to combat cheap? Here's what I offered today. It seemed to resonate:
It would help in giving you a solid answer to the question if you gave us the specific question the bride asked. But let's assume that she said something like...

"I've gotten other quotes that were much cheaper than yours, why would I hire you?"

*Disclaimer* -- I don't get this question a ton because I generally send my pricing ahead of a call, or at least a a range they could expect. But if I got that question I might say something like:

"I'm not sure you should hire me. And there is no doubt in my mind that you can find DJs that are less expensive than I am. I have no interest in being the cheapest DJ in town. You can also find DJs that are more expensive. I've tried to price my services where I can deliver a ton of value for my clients in the experience and style of service I provide. My attention to detail, the way I mix music together, the guidance I can provide you in structuring your timeline in a way that your wedding doesn't feel rushed - but never bores your guests...

But ultimately - I think you should select a DJ that you feel most comfortable with. There needs to be a personality fit, and most importantly trust. The DJ will be in the drivers seat of your wedding controlling the vibe, the energy, and in many ways the amount of fun you'll have and the memories you create. If we get to the end of our chat today, and that's not me... I certainly understand and no hard feelings. But if you think we're a fit together, I'd love to work with you."
 

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
4,286
3,198
115
36
#16
Your sales tactic is to try to create buyers remorse for something else that you're guessing they bought? Holy cow is that bad.
The questions I posed in this thread were for other DJs. ...It's not what my sales tactic would be, LOL.

Actually, I have never had any prospect tell me my price was much lower than such and such DJ, and ask why they should pick me over them.

It's always the other way around if they mention they are considering another DJ to me.

I will give you a example of how being the lower priced DJ leads to bookings:

We did a Bridal Show last year. We ran a big special at the show. The other DJ at the show was quoting $1,199. We were priced well below that. People took advantage of our show special at the show and booked with us. Many were saying we were offering such a great deal they couldn't pass it up. ...We were hundreds of dollars lower than that DJ. The only requirement to get the deal was to book AT SHOW SHOW. ...We walked away with dates filled. The other DJ wasn't happy that we were at a much lower price, but what could he do? ...He left the show with nothing booked, and maybe 1 potential client.

Taso does an excellent job of targeting clientele who have the money to throw high end events, AND want his specific style when it comes to performing a Sweet 16 or Wedding. ...Macho is in his neck of the woods, but his clients would never even consider Macho, even though switching to Macho could save them more than 90% on the DJ! ...I also can't picture Macho playing Traditional Greek music, or really edm too. Macho, and many, many, many other area DJs are not even on Taso's client's radar.

The higher priced DJs in every market are either marketing to a niche crowd (Taso), OR they are getting referrals from strong spheres of influence, and that influence helps them to get booked.
 

djtaso

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 4, 2017
1,423
3,173
115
31
NJ
www.djtaso.com
#17
The higher priced DJs in every market are either marketing to a niche crowd (Taso), OR they are getting referrals from strong spheres of influence, and that influence helps them to get booked.
That's actually the biggest part of it all... despite being in the same price range of some of the most expensive dj's... we actually never compete with each other, or at least I never really hear their names mentioned. My clients that call me typically have come from referrals. 64/74 events I booked this year were either clients who saw me at an event, heard of me from a past client, or are a repeat client. With 86% of my events coming from referrals of sorts and having that referral base spread to other circles and keep my yearly inquiries at around 250-300, it allows me to spend zero on advertising and spend that money on evolving my brand and offerings. It typically only comes with a certain niche though, and it could be as generic as being strictly a wedding dj or a dj appealing to certain circles of people to provide enough inquiries and bookings to sustain their brand and price. Many high spending clients want a dj that as Ross said, they actually trust and feel comfortable with, and is not someone they're hiring because they feel they have to.
 

DJ TJ

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 20, 2013
1,267
1,675
115
#18
"I'm not sure you should hire me. And there is no doubt in my mind that you can find DJs that are less expensive than I am. I have no interest in being the cheapest DJ in town. You can also find DJs that are more expensive. I've tried to price my services where I can deliver a ton of value for my clients in the experience and style of service I provide. My attention to detail, the way I mix music together, the guidance I can provide you in structuring your timeline in a way that your wedding doesn't feel rushed - but never bores your guests...

But ultimately - I think you should select a DJ that you feel most comfortable with. There needs to be a personality fit, and most importantly trust. The DJ will be in the drivers seat of your wedding controlling the vibe, the energy, and in many ways the amount of fun you'll have and the memories you create. If we get to the end of our chat today, and that's not me... I certainly understand and no hard feelings. But if you think we're a fit together, I'd love to work with you."
With that sales pitch (and I'm just calling it that for lack of a better description because it doesn't sound like a pitch and instead seems to come from the heart), in one fell swoop you have both qualified the prospect and gave the prospect confidence enough to qualify you. Very nicely put!
 

Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
5,427
2,920
115
#19
I am a small time DJ with some experience, and I only do this as a hobby, should I up my pricing to say I am better? Or should I keep my pricing lower just to get some business? I have heard this argument before and in the area I live, what I charge is about average. So my thought is look at what the average cost is where you are doing gigs, and stay in that range. If that means going cheap to stay competitive, then stay competitive. Just because you are a cheaper DJ does not mean you are a bad DJ.
You do the best job you can with the resources you have, and charge the rate that attracts a customer with needs that match your resources and ability. Know your limits and only take on as much as you can grow into over time.

There is no problem with "cheap" DJs as this thread would have you believe. The problem is, as in any field people who take on projects that exceed their resources and ability. DJs who who turn a wedding reception into a nightmare are more often people who took on more than they can handle, or risk they had no resources to insure.

Double bookings are the most common example of this. The other is a person who's work and life simply doesn't provide the adequate time, space, and resources to do what needs to be done on this job. Yes, there are a few morons out there who see DJ gigs as a get rich quick scheme just as they do everything else they get involved with - that is to be expected. Even the licensed or regulated fields such as contracting and home improvemnet have their fair share of these knuckleheads. However, these troublemakers are easy to spot and 9 times out of 10 the DJ and the client are a perfect match, even in what you and I would consider a disaster.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Ausumm

Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
5,427
2,920
115
#20
I have no issue, nor any business telling you how you should do things. I also started out as a bottom-feeder, and made plenty of mistakes along the way. As time went on I learned how to do better and raised my prices accordingly. The problem I have is with folks who continually and forevermore choose to stay in the cheap category. Congrats to you for being open and honest. All the best.
It sounds like you're preoccupation with cheap DJs is just you running away from your past? Surely your energy could be put to better use?

I had some humble beginnings but, I was never a "bottom-feeder." The thought of a cheap DJ connecting with a careless couple doesn't plague my thoughts at all, and I am certainly not in "combat" with these people.
 
Last edited: