Professional Disc Jockeys, known as DJs, provide entertainment services for a range of events. A DJ's primary responsibility is to provide music at a club, party, or wedding reception, though in actual fact they cover a wider range of tasks. A DJ is often expected to act as emcee, introducing singers at a karaoke night, the bride and groom to a wedding reception, or a controversial new track at a dance club. Tipping a DJ is not compulsory but is often preferred and always appreciated (reference 2).
When you hire a DJ for an event, you are paying a flat fee for her services. According to the American Disc Jockey Association, this fee can range from $350 to over $5,000. So why should you tip the DJ on top of that?
DJs are in the service industry, where giving a tip to service providers is common practice, particularly because tips go directly to the DJ, rather than the company as a whole. However, it is still at your discretion whether or not to tip the DJ. Experienced DJ Bill Smith offers some points to factor in when determining how much to tip the DJ in his article, "Hiring a DJ: Points to Consider." Consider how well the DJ fulfilled your expectations. Did the DJ read the crowd well and keep them entertained, both through music and emceeing? Did the DJ arrive on time and was she appropriately dressed? Finally, was the DJ professional throughout the evening and did she provide the service you had both agreed on?
If you can answer yes to the above questions, it would not be out of place for you to tip the DJ at the end of the night.
The amount you tip depends on the type of DJ you are working with. If you are at a bar or club and would like to hear a song, the standard tip is one dollar per request (tipping.org). Further advice suggests that if you are in a dance club, $5 to $10 is the recommended tip, as a bad or unusual request can kill the atmosphere and hurt the DJ's reputation (tipping.org).
If you are singing karaoke, DJ Carlos Sanchez advises about $1 for every song that you sing, making the average tip per night about $4 to $5 (Reference 1).
When it comes to big events, such as weddings or birthday parties, the standard tip is often a percentage of the DJ's total fee. WeddingZone suggests a tip of 10% to 15%, while The Knot recommends a tip range of $50 to $150 for a DJ. Whether you tip $50 or $150 is dependent upon the quality of service you received.
When tipping a DJ at a club or karaoke bar, you can simply slip the DJ some cash during the night. Just make sure he or she is not on the microphone or otherwise occupied.
The protocol for tipping a hired event DJ is slightly more formal. Tip your DJ at the end of the reception or party, in cash. The tip should be in an envelope and given directly to the DJ. At a wedding, the best man is typically the nominee to distribute tips. If he is unable to do so, the responsibility passes to the bride's father and then, finally, to the bride herself (Reference 2). Prepare any tips ahead of time, which makes it less of a hassle to deliver them at the end of the night. You can always adjust the amount of money in the envelope before handing it over.