There are a lot of people who are trying to make the decision between hiring a professional DJ and simply doing it themselves by using an iPod or other MP3 playback device.  Here, we take a look at the economics of choosing an iPod vs. hiring a wedding DJ or event DJ.

DJ ComparisonFor the DJ, we will use current packages from Metro DC DJs & Entertainment for comparison purposes.  We’ll start with a four-hour party package at $995, that includes dance floor lights along with the chart on the left.

On average, a professional DJ will play 20 songs per hour.  That’s 80 songs.  To download those songs off iTunes at $1.29 each is $103.20.  Are you sure those 80 songs you chose are the right songs?  Add another 80 songs just to be safe.  Songs Total: $206.40.

Now you need something to play the music with, so you can pick up an iPod Touch with only 16GB of space for $189.99 before tax.

Now that you have your music and player, you need to find a sound system to play it on.  You can go with something like this, this, or this.  These speakers are not designed to cover an entire room, especially one that is full of 50 or more people.  Since your iPod Touch is not Bluetooth enabled like these speakers, you need another device such as an iPhone 5 for $49.95 or use a smartphone you already have.

You now realize your Bluetooth speaker is not designed to fill a room with sound, you’re going to have to rent a sound system with an amplifier, speakers, speaker stands, microphone, and cables.  You can rent all of these from some places for around $250 which is equal to the portable speakers we mentioned earlier.  Some companies will also send a person to set-up and breakdown the equipment for around $100 and may even charge for delivery.

You also need to consider adding insurance for about $100 for the event.  Most facilities are asking that all vendors provide proof of insurance, and if you bring in anything like sound, you’ll still need it.  We use R. V. Nuccio & Associates for our insurance.

Time ComparisonTime is a very important factor because you need it to purchase and download your music to your playback device, make the calls to rent the equipment and get the best price, and pick up the equipment. We’re basing the “Per Hour Pay” on an average of $50,000/year job, because your time is valuable.

You also need someone who can set-up the sound system and make announcements. That person probably doesn’t have the experience that a professional emcee would on a microphone.  The professional emcee is going to come with a professional sound system that’s worth several thousand dollars, set it up, break it down, transport it, etc.  You could also e-mail us and we’ll prerecord your announcements for you, for $149.


  • These are the important little things that a professional wedding DJ or corporate DJ will understand.  Songs need to be equalized.  One of the biggest problems with downloading online is not all songs are at the same volume, not even iTunes.  So you may be dancing to a great song at the proper volume, and the next one comes out quiet killing the dance floor.
  • Gaps between songs can also kill your dance floor and a professional DJ will know when to transition between songs while the playback device will play the full file and doesn’t know where the song ends.
  • What happens if you hookup your phone to the sound system and you get a phone call or text.  That can be very annoying.
  • Cable safety is something few think about.  We’ve all seen DJs who have cables all over the place and it’s a tripping hazard.  A true professional DJ uses tape, Velcro or other means to hide all of their wires.
  • Problems that may arise could have simple solutions that an untrained eye may not be able to see or understand.  Inexperience can cause further issues.

Now that you’ve had a chance to see everything, you can make an educated decision on whether you want to try to do the music yourself, or if you want to leave that stress behind and hire a professional DJ who can make sure you’re event is a success.

Wedding DJ, Sports DJ, P. A. Announcing, Mitzvah DJ, Emcee, Host, Corporate DJ. I get to help people have a great time!