Live Music or DJ?

live band or dj?

Whether it’s a wedding, a Quinceanera or a big office bash, the question of whether to hire a band or a DJ for your event springs eternal. And for good reason! At big celebrations, music is a major factor in creating the ambiance of the event and enhancing the general enjoyment of your guests.

So, how to decide? Here’s a few things to consider:


The type of event you’re hosting is one of the single biggest factors in determining what kind of musical entertainment you should choose. A big-ticket charity gala, for example, practically screams “Live Music!” The younger crowd at a blowout Sweet 16 or Bar/Bat-Mitzvah, on the other hand, lends itself a little more toward a high-energy DJ who can fire off the latest hits.

Whatever the occasion, make this choice based on the kind of atmosphere you want to create.


Equal with style, the size of your budget is another major consideration in the live music vs. DJ decision. Unless you’re talking about a celebrity, a DJ can generally be hired at a significantly lower price point than a live band. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule but when you’re talking about paying one person vs. several, the price goes up accordingly.


As a venue that’s capable of hosting events for up to 4,000 guests in our new ballroom or even more in our Arena, this typically isn’t an issue we run into very often, but if you’re entertaining elsewhere, it’s important to think about space limitations before you book a live band.

If the 12-piece big band you’ve got your heart set on will require you to give up half your dance floor or is going to make your guests feel uncomfortably squished at too-close tables, it’s probably a good idea to go with a DJ who can do a lot more with less space.


It’s the spice of life! And it makes for a good party too. A DJ definitely wins when it comes to being able to provide a wide-variety of music across all genres. If the crowd you’re entertaining is a broad mix of ages and/or backgrounds, this might be your best bet.

At the same time, don’t underestimate the effect that live music can have on even the most diverse crowd. Even if the music isn’t to everyone’s particular taste, it’s still a “show!”


Here’s one you may not have heard before: think about how important it is to the success of your event for the entertainment to be able to keep up with the natural ebb and flow of the evening (or afternoon, etc.).

At some gatherings, this matters little, but at say, a wedding, the ability for the entertainment to respond appropriately to the “feel” of the room can make a noticeable difference.

Is it taking a little longer for your wedding party to make their grand entrance?? A band can just keep on keeping on as long as necessary. A DJ, on the other hand, needs to scramble to find something else to queue up when time runs out on the song that was planned for the moment. Can dad not quite keep up with the tempo during the father/daughter dance? The band can slow to his pace. And, so on. It’s a minor consideration, but one to think about, nonetheless.

Try Before You Buy

No matter where you land on the decision to hire a band vs. a DJ, be sure to ask for (and check!) references and make sure you get a chance to see them in action before you sign on the dotted line. You can have a great party no matter which route you choose, but a band that’s not quite firing on all cylinders or a DJ with a less-than stellar personality is a guaranteed buzzkill. Make sure you’re getting what you bargained for beforehand and you can’t go wrong!

Recommendations Anyone?

If you’re in search of good musical entertainment options in the Rochester area, we’d be happy to pass along names and contact numbers for DJ’s and live bands we commonly work with. Please contact Mary Britt at 507-424-0815 for recommendations or to discuss booking and availability in one of our ballrooms or party rental rooms.