A little background: Sometime back in the mid ‘90s, Mark Ferrell, a Mobile Entertainer from Southern California, presented the first of an ongoing series of seminars comparing the rates of DJs with what bridal customers pay for wedding cakes and veggie trays. In this edition of IMHO, K.C. KoKoruz, owner of The Keith Christopher Entertainment Group, which serves the greater Chicago area, offers his unvarnished opinion on why DJs may never get what they are worth.
The fact is, you probably aren’t worth more than a veggie platter. There I said it and I mean it and I have the statistics to support it.
I wish I could agree with the idea that we are—but I simply can’t—and I believe, deep down, that most of you reading this don’t agree with it either. I expect to get a ton of backlash for my honesty, but that’s ok. It isn’t the first time that my honesty has gotten me into trouble.
The owner of a hotel, venue, or banquet facility can charge what they do—and get it—because the consumer respects their business. Why is that? Because they have a licensed and insured business which is regularly inspected by representative of their local government. They are forced to meet certain health regulations and standards or risk being shut down. They have millions of dollars invested in their business and deserve the respect.
On the other hand, the participants of the DJ “industry” don’t have to answer to anyone—not even ourselves. The price point to entry is getting lower and lower. And, we aren’t really an “industry”. We would like to think that we are, but we aren’t. There is an estimated 100,000 working DJs throughout North America. No one really knows for sure.
Less than 5% of the estimated 100K are members of a national or local DJ trade association such as the ADJA or NAME. Less than 5% attend any type of regional or national trade show. Less than 5% subscribe to any type of industry magazine such as DJ Times, Mobile Beat or Disc Jockey News. It would cost less than $100.00 per year to subscribe to all three. Even the Facebook Group DJ Idea Share has only 10,000 or so members and that is free.
While I wish that the median price to hire a DJ in this country was higher than it is, the fact is, we as an industry are getting what we are worth. I fell into this business like many, by accident. I was in college and members of my fraternity introduced me to DJ’ing and I fell in love with it. I have been doing it ever since and, while I have had my ups and downs in this career, I am still glad that this is the path I chose to take.
The difference between myself and most is that I have chosen to become a professional at it. I have an office with a full-time staff. I have land-lined phones. I am fully insured. I have a business license with the village my business is located in. I am a proud member of the ADJA. I have been attending national trade shows since 1991. I choose to continue to educate myself and my staff.
I charge what I feel is a fair price for my company’s service based on the life that I want for myself, I have never let anyone tell me what I am worth. I am also very blessed that I make a very nice living. My business is profitable and growing.
So my point is this. Don’t base your “worth” on what the client is spending on a veggie platter. Don’t base it on what certain seminar presenters are telling you to charge. Base it on the business model that you design for yourself. If you want to charge more, be worth more to your client. Add more value to the service that the client will receive. If they choose your business, give them more than they could have ever expected. This doesn’t mean more stuff to be thrown in. It means a more successful event. Create a business that when a potential client walks in your door, they respect your business even if they choose to go elsewhere.