This came as a surprise to me the other day when I looked at some of the ways in which people find The DJ Den website online, and one such way is by typing “how much to charge to DJ at a house party”.
I was initially surprised by this, because when I first started out DJ’ing, house parties where a staple part of how you became a DJ, alongside bedroom practice.
So, to see that people were searching how much money they should be charging for DJ’ing at house parties, it kind of shocked me as I always thought house parties were simply part of the party social scene, not a way to make money.
But how wrong I was.
It appears times have changed!
So, to save you the time of searching anywhere else on Google on how much to charge to DJ at a house party, I’ve put together some hints and tips after talking to DJs I know who have a lot more experience in doing so.
Read on to find out what you should be charging, and how you can get paid. You might also want to read my guide to how you can get paid more money for DJ’ing at events and venues.
But without further ado, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of DJ fees for house parties.
How Much to Charge to DJ a House Party?
I am going to talk in depth more about each point, but here are the main considerations you should take when discussing payment and fees. All of these items could and should be an indicator as to how much you can charge to DJ.
- Location – How far will you need to travel?
- Set Times – How long will you be required to DJ for?
- Audience – Young kids, or a Hells Angel Gang? Price depending on crowd type.
- Equipment Hire – Will it already be there, or will you be supplying it?
- Security – Will there be anything in place to help protect your DJ set-up?
- Insurance – Does the party organizer have insurance in place?
So those are the 6 elements involved in determining price, now I am going to go into each in a little more detail to give you a better idea on how much you can charge.
Location – How Far Do You Need to Travel?
Most house parties that you DJ at will probably be local. But, if you are really in demand as a DJ, you might be asked to travel.
When it comes to discussing how much to charge for your DJ set, I would factor in any travel arrangements. Charge them money for gas and petrol, or public transport.
If you need to stay over the night, and require accommodation, then don’t be afraid to ask.
The fact that you have been asked to travel quite a distance to DJ at a house party, means that they really want you to play. At this point I would almost be treating this like a professional gig you might play in a venue.
I was once a club promotor, and paying for DJ accommodation was not unusual at all.
Set-Times – How Long Will You Be Playing For?
You probably already have an idea on an hourly rate for you DJ’ing services, so don’t be afraid to find out how many hours you will be playing for and charge appropriately.
The difference here could also depend on the type of house party it is. For example, is the party host charging on the door? If they are, then you certainly don’t want to play for free.
Also, if your name as a DJ is going to help promote the party, then you should be compensated financially for that fact, just as you would do if you were headlining in a club or at a festival.
Equipment Hire – Will You Be Supplying It?
A lot of house parties will have a rotating set of DJs for the night (or day), with the DJ set-up already being in place.
However, you might be the DJ that is asked to bring all the gear to the party.
If this is the case, then this adds an important aspect to pricing, as it’s not just a case of turning up, getting on the decks, and playing some tunes.
You will need to take your prized and valuable equipment to the party, and in my mind, this kind of works the same as if the party organizer was renting equipment.
So, based on that, add some more money for DJ equipment hire or rental. Obviously, you won’t be charging as much as a local DJ equipment hire company, but it certainly means you can pad out your price and charges if need be.
The Audience – Do You Need Danger Money?
Never, ever, forget to find out what the audience are. If it’s a kid’s house party with under 12s, then chances are you aren’t going to have too many concerns over things like damage to your equipment, or not getting out of there alive.
However, where it gets interesting is when your audience could be a little bit more… let’s say… vibrant.
DJ’ing at a house party for frat boys, Hells Angels, or a football team will undoubtedly come with more challenges – with an increased risk of bad things happening.
I don’t need to go into too much detail here, but in my time DJ’ing at house parties, there were certain scenarios that I would turn down.
Depending on whom the party goers are going to be, could be an additional factor in charging a higher or lower fee for your DJ’ing expertise.
Insuring of Your DJ Gear and Set-Up
One of the most important consideration you should make is over your protecting your equipment. I’ve never been to a house party where there was security on the door – perhaps I’ve been going to the wrong type of parties?
But this offers an important observation: Your DJ set-up and equipment is most likely going to be at floor level in a small room, with lots and lots of very drunk or high people.
Your technology, decks, and computer won’t be protected by a barrier, or by being elevated up high, and it’s unlikely there are going to be any bouncers or security guys making sure the people at the party keep away from your decks, speakers, and laptop.
You need to be prepared for the reality that your DJ set-up, if it’s not already supplied by the party organizer, is at huge risk of being damaged. And it’s not always the crowd who might damage the decks as you can see from the video below.
If you have been asked to bring your own equipment to the house party, then when you start to talk about price with the party host, make it very clear that they are responsible for your gear.
For example, can they:
- Offer guarantees over the protection of your equipment?
- Supply some big guys to stand near the DJ set-up to prevent falling people and spills?
- Ensure that they DJ table and set-up will be elevated out of the way?
- Supply evidence that they have suitable contents insurance that will pay out if needed?
I know I sound like a party-pooper when talking about items such as insurance relating to a house party, but you could be taking thousands of dollars or pounds worth of tech to the party.
If that gets damaged and destroyed, you need to know that there’s insurance in place with the home-owner, or person running the house party to cover for it.
I will leave it up to you to negotiate how this works, but if they cannot offer some form of guarantee of equipment safety or insurance policies then it might mean that you can increase your price.
Conclusion on Charging – Plus Example Price
I appreciate that there are no hard and fast prices included in this article.
How much should you charge?
Well, it really does depend.
Because house parties and just like any other party. If there’s money involved, then it will depend on so many different factors – many of which I have discussed above.
But let me give you a real-world example of this in action, and how you might approach charging for a DJ fee.
Your fee can depend on the frat or sorority. Many of them of them will have budgets for entertainment every semester.
I have heard of DJs playing at college parties where they were paid up to $600 for a couple of hours work.
But getting paid depends on your own approach to sales – there’s a little video below where I talk more about negotiating your price as a DJ – it’s primarily for DJs who have been offered sets at clubs, events, and venues – but some of it will still be relevant to the house party scene.