Working as a wedding DJ, sometimes friends and family asked me if I sometimes receive tips. Also, customers are being awkward about it, not really knowing what to do. Let me explain why I never expect tips and why I believe you should not tip your wedding DJ.
You should not tip your DJ because it is not necessary. A professional wedding DJ works under a contract for an agreed price. He should not expect any tips or extras for delivering a good service. If you insist in tipping your DJ because of additional or excellent work, a maximum of 5 to 10% will be more than sufficient.
A DJ cannot afford sloppy work, the service needs to be perfect every time. It’s part of the deal. That’s why you are paying him the contractual price, which is not cheap. He should always give the full 100%. Adding tips should have no impact on this.
Let’s start with a specific occasion where, in my opinion, a wedding DJ should NEVER be tipped or even accept tips.
Big no! Tips for Requests
People will approach the DJ and ask requests. They want to hear a specific song. It’s up to the DJ to evaluate if this is a good song to play, answering questions as:
- Is it in the same vibe and energy of the moment?
- Can I mix it in the current song playing?
- Is it a good song?! Will it not blow away the dance floor?
If the DJ believes it is not a good song to play next, he shouldn’t play it. Maybe he can keep it for later to mix it in when the vibe is more appropriate. It’s up to the DJ to decide this. That’s why you are paying him the money: he has experience, and he knows what happens on the dance floor.
Paying him a tip to play the song, doesn’t change this. If the song is bad, it shouldn’t be played! Period.
In other words, never tip the DJ to play your song! And even more, a DJ should never accept a tip for that. I know I never did.
Having said that, let’s talk about some exceptions where it actually could make sense to tip the DJ.
If you have hired a junior DJ, you will have someone hired that has a lot to learn about being a wedding DJ, but is consequently a lot cheaper.
I have known junior wedding DJs that will spin your wedding for $200 or less, just to get the experience in. If he performed well and the wedding dance floor was packed, you made a very good deal.
Probably this won’t happen too often. Because there is a reason skilled and professional wedding DJ’s charge enough money: it is not easy and it is hard work. I wrote a blog post trying to shed some light on how much work it is. Read it here. In the US and Europe are prices around $800 to $1000 and more not uncommon.
In this scenario, you could add easily another 100 euro, which would mean a tip of 50%. You would still have had a wedding party a lot cheaper.
You will have agreed with the DJ how many hours he will play. Most DJ’s will have additional contractual clauses, describing the price when they go in overtime.
But if these hours are passed and the DJ continues to play a without mentioning any overtime (or there is nothing mentioned in the contract), again, it makes sense to tip.
I wouldn’t overdo it in this scenario. Adding $20 to $50 max should already be sufficient.
A small calculation how much the DJ was charging per hour, would give a good indication how much to add. Don’t forget you will also have to consider the rent of the DJ equipment.
Additional and unexpected work
Every wedding party is different. Not only the guests, vibe and music, but certainly what happens.
A lot can go wrong and I saw enough already in my career to realize this. I don’t want to frighten you: almost everything was a minor issue and quickly resolved. But someone had to step forward and do it. On many occasions this is going to be the DJ.
Small story (feel free to skip)
One day a huge thunderstorm broke loose. All the guests were already inside, having dinner. A playlist was on, and I was preparing some music for later on. When I saw a waiter running around in blind panic, I realized what was going on: all the presents and other personal stuff of the bride and groom were still outside, soon to be destroyed by the heavy rain. I didn’t hesitate and quickly went out to help them. We were just in time before hell really broke loose.
It’s a small effort, but sometimes they have a big impact or results. A few times I saw myself moving tables around before my DJ set, because a waiter had an accident and had to go to the hospital. Is it the job of a DJ to do those things? Maybe not. But if we can make the difference in succeeding a wedding, I will go for it.
Depending on what the DJ had to do additionally, that was never part of the plan, it’s up to you to tip him for this. Some tips are in place if the DJ just solved a big issue where it wasn’t his responsibility.
The DJ friend, doing it for free
In some rare occasions you can find a DJ that would play music at your wedding party for tips only. In other words, you are not paying anything, but he would do it for tips.
I must say I never did this in my career. I believe that being a DJ at a wedding party has some big responsibilities and it is hard work. A decent payment, backed up with a contract I consider pretty normal.
But I heard in a few occasions this actually happened. Probably the DJ will not really be a professional DJ with his own business, but a hobbyist and friend of the family. A tip: Be sure to check his skills and experience before actually doing this, as it could turn out bad.
If the tip comes from you (it shouldn’t come from your guests…), a maximum tip of a few hundred bucks should be sufficient. If he expects more, you could just as well hired a professional DJ with a lot more guarantees of success.
After all, he asked to do this because he wanted to help you out, and he likes doing it (even if he is not a professional DJ).
He shouldn’t volunteer to this, only to afterwards knock a couple of bucks out of your pocket.
This has nothing to do with a wedding party, so I will be brief.
If you are an organizer of a party, meant for fund-raising for a charity project, ideally you have found a DJ who will back up your project and doesn’t charge.
It does make sense that the DJ will communicate this to the guests and asks for tips to cover his expenses or earn at least something. Of course, this is all related to the scenario, the guests and charity project if this is a good idea in the first place.
How much money he will get is entirely dependent on the situation, number of guests, how much they liked the DJ and how thick their wallets are…
It would be nice if the DJ also would put the tip money in the charity box, but that’s entirely up to him.
The numbers: How much should I tip the DJ? (if I really want to)
If you simply want to tip the DJ because you liked the service, remember not to overdo it. Five to ten percent should already be sufficient.
If the DJ expects a tip, he is either cocky, or he should re-evaluate his price and contract. You can’t be too cheap and then be upset about it. Wanting tips to up the price, is in my opinion not the right approach.
Let me put it in an overview for you how much to tip and when.
|Type of gig/level of DJ||Average |
|Junior / Beginner DJ at wedding||$200 – $250||25% to 50%|
|Charity DJ||$0||$100 to $200|
|Wedding DJ: Exceptional extra work, not part of the default DJ wedding |
|$600 – $900||max 10%|
|Wedding DJ: good delivered service||$600 – $900||max 5%|
|Friend/family non-pro DJ||$0||$100|
In the end, it’s your money…
I gave you an overview when to tip a DJ and why, depending on the situation. I hope it made some sense for you.
Remember, after all, it’s your money. So if you want to tip a lot more, or totally not, it’s up to you.
Your money = Your choice