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Event Entertainment - Band V.S. DJ

When planning your event, there is no shortage of details to figure out. There are the basics - date, time, invitation list, and theme. Then secondary decisions in regards to food, entertainment and decor. In that bunch, the decision for entertainment - specifically music can be a vital decision. The entertainment portion of your event can truly be make or break - so let us explore the topic of live music versus hiring a disc jockey (DJ).

There are three major aspects of the event that we recommend you consider when deciding on your music entertainment of choice: Event budget, type of event, and venue space.

Before anything, we’d encourage you to seriously evaluate your budget when making the decision about your entertainment. If you are tight with money then it may limit your choices on which options you have available to you.

In general a band can range in price from $2,500 to $10,000 or more. We know that is a broad range, but when it comes to bands there are a lot of elements to consider. How many instruments and musicians will the band make up? Are you looking at a trio, a five piece, an eight piece, or bigger? How many vocalists would you like in the group? Or are you looking at an acoustic ensemble or jazz combo? Each variation will alter the asking price of the group. The other variable to price is the exclusivity or popularity of the band, which can drive up the price even higher.

If that price range gives you sticker shock, but you have your heart set on live music, there are always ways to get creative. You could look for up student groups or newer ensembles that may be charging less. Or perhaps a more feasible choice could be to hire a solo guitarist to bring in the live element for a condensed period of time - perhaps during dinner or cocktails - and then hire a DJ for any dancing that may occur. Additional options include hiring a vocalist to sing over amplified tracks or a harpist to play during cocktail hour or during a ceremony.

Disc Jockeys - more often referred to as DJs are a great choice for those who are looking to spend a little less, but still desire a live element of music at their event. The price tag for a DJ can range from a few hundred dollars for a novice DJ to the upwards of $2,500 for the experienced professional. Things to consider is the level of equipment they provide, their expanse of music selection, and of course personality. DJs tend to have a large repertoire of music which can give the flexibility of changing up the vibe of the event if needed. Hiring a disc jockey also allows clients to tailor their music choices directly to their preferences or their audience.

When it comes to price, we definitely encourage to work within your budget, but not to cut corners just to save a buck - you definitely get what you pay for. We highly encourage you to interview the professionals, ask for references, and see them in action (whether live or through video) in order to evaluate whether they are a good fit for your event.

The second aspect that we’d suggest considering is the type of event. A large black tie gala where the main entertainment is dancing would likely lend itself well to a live band, where as a small intimate wedding may benefit from a harpist during the ceremony, but a DJ for the reception. Consider what the feel of the event will be and how your entertainment will either help or hinder the experience. Would you benefit from a wide array of music or would you benefit more from the uniqueness and personability of a live band.

And lastly, one element that people often overlook when starting to conceptualize their event is the amount of space you have available at your venue. Booking a twelve piece band may work with your budget and event style, but if you don’t have the room to put the entertainers, then it will be a non-starter. Work with your venue to better understand the layout of the venue and what options are realistically open to you. The more equipment and musicians a band has, the more real estate they will take up at a venue. A DJ which often include 1-2 individuals a turntable or computer docking station and speakers spread out throughout the venue, will take up far less room than a multi-person musical group.

We hope this helps you in your decision making. There are a lot of choices to make, but if you are thoughtful and intentional, we are sure you will make the right one. We would love to help you in the planning process of your next event. If you are interested in scheduling a free consultation, please send us a message.


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