Everything you need to know about a Mobile DJ

Are you confused about what is a mobile DJ? The term ‘Mobile DJ’ can mean many different things to different people. The most basic answer to what is a mobile DJ is someone who travels to different venues and plays music at the request of clients. 

But it is a lot more and we should perhaps begin by expanding on this and say that a mobile DJ is someone who brings their own equipment (sound, lighting and whatever else is required) to a venue, creates the ambiance and plays music according to a brief from the client that hired them. The type of venues and events that a mobile DJ can play vary greatly and depends on the type of event being held.

When you’re looking for help with music at your wedding or other kind of event, a mobile DJ is probably your first thought and best choice. 

What is a Mobile DJ

There are may examples of mobile DJs but the most well known type of mobile DJ is perhaps the Wedding DJ. The Mobile DJ also performs at parties, birthdays, product launches, corporate events and anywhere where music or sound reinforcement is required.

Business models for mobile disc jockeys include full-time, part-time, multi-operator, and single-operator companies.

The Mobile DJ’s setup

One of the greatest benefits of hiring a mobile DJ is that they can bring their entire setup – sound, lighting, atmospheric effects, architectural lighting – with them. The DJ equipment that they supply can vary considerably depending on the event, size of the venue and the equipment that is needed to provide the entertainment. A lot of mobile DJ’s provide standard packages, that provide great value, as well as offering A La Carte options to tailor the equipment and lighting very specifically to your unique event. They will meet with you to discuss your vision and bring it to life with music, equipment and lighting specific to your event.

A typical setup would generally include:

  • A laptop to run DJ software
  • A DJ Controller to control the software and mix the music
  • An Amplifier
  • PA speaker system (generally two or more speakers and perhaps some subwoofers)
  • Some wash and perhaps effect lighting

Some mobile DJ’s will replace the laptop and DJ controller with a mixer, CDJs, turntables or use a stand-alone DJ Controller.

DJ Brent Simple Mobile DJ Setup
DJ Brent Simple Mobile DJ Setup Black Booth

Being a Mobile DJ

Being a mobile DJ has changed massively over the decades. When I started as a mobile DJ we used vinyl decks and we needed to carry large vinyl collections in crates with us. The equipment was large and heavy the lights were very hot. You would have to carry and set up a lot of equipment everywhere you performed and wait a long time for the lights to cool before you could pack up after the event.

We would also need to take hundreds of records with us so that we were able to play any requests. These vinyl crates were of course extremely heavy and difficult to carry.

Not may people back then had the equipment or vinyl collection to perform at events so there was limited completion in the mobile DJ space and we, as mobile DJs, had a fairly steady job performing at:

  • Weddings
  • Birthdays
  • Engagements
  • Private Party
  • School Dance
  • Corporate Event
  • Anniversaries
  • Fashion Shows
  • Product Launches
  • Banquet
  • Sweet 16
  • Bar Mitzvah
  • Bat Mitzvah
  • Class Reunion
  • Community Celebration
  • Company Holiday Party
  • Family Reunion
  • Fundraiser
  • Graduation Celebration
  • Picnic
  • Singles Dance
  • And many others

In recent times things have changed dramatically. With modern DJ equipment it is easy to carry thousands of different tunes as well as the equipment itself, which can often be transported easily in a standard car, with perhaps the exception of the PA Speaker system or larger lighting rigs.

The biggest change is the amount of competition that mobile DJs face. This is because anyone with a laptop and some basic entry level audio equipment can download music (either legally or illegally) and start DJing. As a result mobile DJ work has become more competitive.

However, not all things are equal…

One has to be selective when choosing to hire a mobile DJ. A professional mobile DJ will have  a quality PA system, a professional DJ Controller or other professional grade equipment, full lighting and effects options and a lot of other valuable ad-on options to bring your party to life and make it memorable. Professional DJ equipment is not cheap and they will have invested a considerable amount of money to purchase quality reliable equipment. 

A professional DJ Controller, for example, can cost anywhere between R25,000-R80,000 and a good PA Speaker system from R45,000 upwards. Lights and lightening effects can cost a pretty penny for a good set. It really depends on what the DJ decides you need because each piece can cost anywhere from R2,000 to tens of thousands of Rands. When the DJ owns more than a few, the cost can really add up.

In addition professional mobile DJs will also have invested in a complete back-up system to ensure that in the event of equipment failure you always have peace of mind of knowing that your event will continue uninterrupted. 

Professional mobile DJs also generally belong to professional record pools and purchase high quality versions of all their music to ensure that you get the best quality sound at your event. These pools are a subscription-based service that a DJ would pay for on a monthly basis and in return, they have access to tons of new music at their fingertips. Again acquiring music is not cheap and a professional Mobile DJ will invest heavily in their music purchases, something that entry level mobile DJs cannot afford, or want to do.

DJ Brent Mobile DJ Party
DJ Brent Mobile DJ Performing at a Party

Where did Mobile DJing Start?

The concept of mobile discos started in the United Kingdom in the late 1940s when Ron Diggins built his first mobile disco unit. Decades later, DJ Jimmy Savile claimed he had invented the mobile disco earlier than Ron Diggins, but there is no evidence for this. The next mobile DJ was in 1966, when Roger Squire began an entertainment service in North London named “Roger Squire’s Mobile Discothèques”. He performed at events for celebrities and royalty, at countless college dances, wedding receptions, and all kinds of social events. Over the next few years, many Mobile Discos started to emulate his successful formula.

I started my DJ career with Le Chic Discotheque, a mobile DJ company, Djing with vinyl on belt-driven turntables in Cape Town in 1979 and started my own Mobile DJ service a few years later.

What is the role of the Mobile DJ?

In the beginning the mobile DJ used to arrive to set up the equipment, play music and act as an emcee at various types of events. However, this role has changed in recent times and mobile DJs are often a lot more involved in the organisation of the event itself with some mobile DJs promoting themselves as event planners, organisers, and master of ceremonies (MC). They work closely with their customers, guests, and the event’s other vendors to provide quality entertainment that fits the event in terms of style and performance.

A lot of Wedding DJs are experienced professional Master of Ceremonies (Emcee) and fulfil this very important role at weddings – making the announcements, doing the introductions and keeping everything on schedule so that the bridal couple can relax and enjoy their wedding.

Professional Wedding DJs meet with the bridal couple – and their event planners and the venue management if required – before the wedding to finalise the wedding schedule, program and music choices so that they can keep everything on track on the big day and meet the expectations of the bridal party. Some Wedding DJs offer their clients access to online planning tools to help them with their planning and to keep everyone involved on the same page.

DJ Brent is an experienced Mobile DJ and also Club DJ
DJ Brent is an experienced Mobile DJ and also Club DJ

Difference between a Club DJ and a Mobile DJ

Club DJs typically play in commercial venues such as bars, club-orientated bars, nightclubs, and even festivals – whilst mostly using the industry-standard club gear that’s already set up in the venue – whereas Mobile DJs travel to different venues while bringing their own equipment (sound, lighting and whatever else is required) and plays music according to a brief from the client that hired them. 

Whilst club DJs are typically more well-known for delivering a seamless mix of nonstop music that usually stays roughly within one or more electronic genre such as house, techno or drum & bass, this is not always the case and there are clubs that have open format DJs. Mobile DJs generally are open format DJs that play a wide variety of musical genres. 

Club DJs used to be considered better at smoothly mixing and blending the songs – aided no doubt by the narrow genres they used to play – but many professional Mobile DJs are equally adept at mixing and blending the music and can compete with the best Club DJs in this regard. Indeed, although I’ve spent decades as a Mobile DJ, I’ve started been asked to do Club gigs and a lot of DJs now do both seamlessly.

Club DJs tend to seldom use the microphone whereas the Mobile DJ generally needs to be an accomplished Master of Ceremonies (emcee) and has to know and be able to play a very wide variety of music.

One of the key accomplishments that any DJ must do, club or mobile, is to facilitate the audience having a good time.

What makes a Mobile DJ Good

A good mobile DJ is also more than “just a DJ”. They don’t “just show up”, do their jobs, and leave. They are available to help you plan your event schedule and make sure that your party or ceremony goes off without a hitch. Professional wedding DJs can advise you on music selections, dance floor location, and more.

Mobile DJs should be the life of the party” and use their energy and creative force to direct guests to participate. They might get guests to sing out during a particular song, appear on the dance floor to inspire guests to dance, or allow guests to use the microphone to make special announcements to brides and grooms, birthday celebrants, or anniversary couples.

A Mobile DJ provides their own equipment and plays at various different venues
A Mobile DJ provides their own equipment and plays at various different venues


A Mobile DJ is thus someone who ensures your crowd have a fantastic memorable night and enjoy themselves while performing to your brief i.e. when you are the client the mobile DJ is whatever you want them to be.

If you’re ready to select a mobile DJ to help get the party started or just help keep everything running smoothly during your wedding or party, let us know! We would love to help you create the event of your dreams! Get a quote today!