DJ's vs Bands? What works for your event?
Updated: Jun 16, 2020
In the past 15 years the answer to this question has changed drastically. What is better? Should I book a Band? or Should I book a DJ? This simple question has given event planners sleepless nights, knowing that their choice could make or break their event.
Why has their been a change?
Traditionally it was a no brainer, bands were in, DJs were out. Bands held the monopoly on the events industry. Cover bands would be your go to piece of entertainment for weddings, and private events. In the past 15 years, this has all changed because of one reason, TECHNOLOGY. As DJ technology drastically improved from 2000-2010, it became alot easier to be a DJ. No longer did a DJ have to cart around crates of vinyl, mix from CD's, or spend hundreds of dollars on vinyl. Enter the world of computer based DJ software. With the creation of programs like rekordbox, Serato and Traktor, DJs could now play tens of thousands of tracks from their computer and play these tracks through their decks giving DJ's the upper hand against bands. The explosion of electronic dance music from 2010 - 2013 is also a contributing factor, where the type of music that people wanted to listen to changed from live instruments to electronic sounds.
Let's look at your options, for most events you have four options of music entertainment:
Like any piece of entertainment, bands can be hit and miss. You really need to do your research into which band will be right for you. Some cover bands are really good at what they do and some are not.
They appeal to everyone
Creates a live element to your event
Especially appeals to 40+ clientele
Great on stage presence
Strict song selection
Pre-determined set list and not flexible to requests
Take up a lot of room space
Very loud in small venues
Usually requires a sound engineer which is an additional cost
Usually don't act as MC's
Even more so than bands, it is imperative you do your research with your DJ's. As it has become cheaper and easier to become a DJ, the saying "everyone is a DJ" is more true than you think. There are plenty of hobby DJ's out there who say they can play your event but if they played less than a hundred gigs and are charging over $1,000 are they really worth the money? It is also not just about their song selection but also what gear they bring and the look they present. Getting the right DJ though can completely turn your event around and turn what might have been a dull evening into an explosive, engaging and fun night for all ages.
Broad song selection
Quick song change
Ability to play edits, mashups and remixes
Precise volume control for venues with sound restrictions
Doesn't require additional staff
Can act as an MC
Picking the wrong DJ might break your event
Some DJ's have weak stage presence
What is right for you?
Both options have their pros and cons, it really depends on several factors which one you end up going for. These are the things you need to consider when selecting your entertainment:
Type of Crowd
Type of Event
Atmosphere of the event
Type of music you want played
Budget is going to be the deal breaker for most event planners. Bands are more expensive than DJ's. DJ's can cost anywhere from $600 to $2500 depending on who and what you get from these DJ's in terms of equipment whereas a 5 piece band usually costs anywhere between $2500 - $10,000. Like DJ's the exact figure depends on who you get and what equipment they bring. Determining what budget you have before asking whether to get a band or DJ will tell you what you can afford.
Understanding the age demographics and type of crowd you have at your event should be a good indicator as to which type of entertainment will work better. If your crowd is mostly 35+ and you have the budget, a band might be better for you. You can get specific and get tribute cover bands such as ACDC, ABBA & INXS bands to target specific people. However, if your crowd is a little younger you might be better off getting a DJ as they will be able to play genres such as RnB, Hip Hop, punk rock and dance music which caters more to this audience. DJ's can also go back and play 70s and 80s to keep older generations happy where as bands who are mainly playing a particular era my not.
If your event is a corporate event or a gala dinner attached to a conference, the majority of the time people are not going to be interested in dancing at a midweek work function. You might be better getting a DJ to play background music or an acoustic performer. However, if the event is a large scale charity ball then you might opt for multiple types of entertainment. Why not get a Band AND a DJ? A band and DJ can switch meaning you never have an empty dance floor. Commonly what you will see what happens is a crowd will either prefer a DJ or will prefer the band. You can try and predict the trend but most of the time you will have to wait and see on the night what the crowd prefers.
It goes without saying if you have a small event space you might not be able to have your dream 10 piece band. If you do have DJ try and select a venue that has a small stage as one DJ on stage with no production around him/her looks empty. Festivals like Ultra or Tomorrowland look amazing because they have a lot of LED screens, intelligent lighting and pyrotechnics to fill the empty stage around a solo DJ. For functions and events without this, having a solo DJ on massive stage with just a lighting stand might look empty and weird.
Finally, aside from budget, the biggest consideration is what type of music do you want played at your event? As mentioned previously, if you want older music played say 50's-80s then maybe a band is a better fit for you. If you want more recent music played especially if it is Pop, RnB or dance, then a DJ would be a better fit for you.
In conclusion, the decision about what is right for you will always be yours. You need to decide what is right for your event based on what you are trying to achieve for your event, who is attending and whether a band or DJ will be a better fit. Determining what your budget is, is extremely important and will influence your entertainment choices down the line. It is crucial you do your homework and research your entertainment before putting down your first deposit so that you are not left disappointed if you select the wrong entertainment for your event.
If you are looking for entertainment for your next event, function or you are looking for entertainment for your venue you can find out more about the services we offer here