Many Mobile DJs make their careers by transporting all of their equipment to various events and venues and playing there. However, if you’re a DJ and can’t reliably get to the location where you’ve been hired to play, your business will quickly suffer, even if you have great shows when you do arrive. For this reason, effective and reliable vehicles for DJs are essential for any mobile DJ.
Best Vehicles for DJs
If you are trying to determine which type of vehicle will be best for your mobile DJ business, you should consider your business’s size and how much equipment you will be transporting. Also, consider the frequency of your gigs and your budget. With this in mind, you can start evaluating which of the following options in the below list will work best for you and your business.
Use Your Personal Vehicle
If you are just starting out as a mobile DJ, you may not need to invest in a huge van for your business right off the bat. Many beginner DJs have smaller sound systems and fewer speakers to lug around with them, and for this reason, they may even be able to transport their equipment in the car they already own if it has enough space and a large trunk.
Consider the amount of equipment you currently have or realistically plan to acquire in the next year or two before investing in a much larger vehicle. If your current vehicle will work for the time being, it is a good idea to go with this smaller car and invest your money directly in your business and equipment until you need a larger vehicle.
There are several advantages to using a smaller, personal vehicle for your business, especially when you are first starting out:
- It is inexpensive.
- It’s always with you.
- It’s easier to park and navigate with, due to its smaller size.
- You also don’t have to deal with owning, storing, and paying maintenance and upkeep costs on two different vehicles.
However, you may eventually get tired of having equipment filling your personal car or having to load and unload it frequently. And, as your business grows and you acquire more equipment, you may simply need a larger vehicle to transport all of it.
Rent a Vehicle to Haul Your DJ Equipment
When your equipment outgrows your personal car, some Mobile DJs rent U-Haul trailers, Sprinter Vans, large vans, or box trucks to transport all of it to various shows. However, rentals can be expensive to get regularly, and it takes a ton of time to go pick up the van, load it with equipment, unload it after the show, and return the vehicle each time you play.
To avoid paying an extra day’s rental fee, you may even have to unload all of your equipment and return the vehicle late at night right after completing a show, which is not an enjoyable experience in the least after a long night’s work.
For this reason, most professional mobile DJs who play regular gigs will want to invest in purchasing a larger vehicle specifically for their business, often using rentals as a way to test out different cars to see which is best suited for their future business’s needs.
If you are looking to buy a car for use with your mobile DJ business, there are a few popular choices, each with various pros and cons.
Trailers for Mobile DJs
If you are not ready to invest in a completely new vehicle, a trailer might be a good option. Many DJs opt for a trailer that can attach to their car to stow and pull their equipment.
The first advantage to a trailer over a complete vehicle is, of course, cost. Depending on the size, a new trailer can cost anywhere from around $2000 to around $4500. However, used trailers can be purchased for even less. They are also relatively easy to load, as they are low to the ground and lightweight.
However, trailers have to be attached to your car and are not self-standing vehicles, and thus they can be challenging to drive and park with. Also, you don’t entirely get your car back as you would if you purchase a separate business vehicle. If you want to disconnect the trailer from your personal vehicle, you will likely have to find somewhere to store it, or at least somewhere secure to lock it, if it is full of equipment.
And even when the trailer is attached to your car, it is much more lightweight and flimsier than a self-standing vehicle and thus is much easier to break into. Equipment theft from trailers is actually quite common, so you won’t be able to have complete peace of mind about leaving your equipment in the trailer.
Try a Box Truck
A box truck is an upgrade from a trailer in that it is self-driving. However, the cargo portion of the vehicle is similar to a trailer, except much larger. The “box truck” itself is just a frame, and a separate cargo container rests on top of the frame, where equipment can be stored and transported.
Thus, the cargo area is totally separate from the front of the truck and can only be accessed through the cargo container’s back doors, usually a roll-up door along the container’s back side.
There are a few benefits to using a box truck as a Mobile DJ:
- Cost Savings – Box trucks are, of course, more expensive than trailers, but can be purchased at a moderate price, as far as transport vehicles go. A used box truck that is still fairly new and in good operating condition can cost between $12,000 and $24,000, while a box truck that is less than two years old will cost between $30,000 and $41,000.
- If you are really on a budget and don’t have too much equipment that needs to be transported at once, you can even find older and smaller box trucks closer to $2000. (Tip: As you aren’t buying the vehicle for its beauty, it is probably the wisest business decision to purchase one that is a few years old but still operates reliably.)
- Easy to Load and Unload – Box trucks are also fairly simple to load and unload, as they usually have ramps for that purpose in the back. They also have the most storage of any options, as you can purchase box trucks of virtually any size you need, and the whole space of the back of the vehicle is dedicated entirely to cargo.
However, there are a couple of disadvantages to box trucks. In addition to being more expensive than trailers, they can be quite loud and difficult to park due to their size.
FYI – You do not need a CDL to drive a box truck. When the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is above 26,000 pounds, you need a CDL (commercial driver’s license)
Cargo Vans – One of the Best Mobile DJ Vehicles
The final standard option for a mobile DJ’s vehicle is a cargo van. Instead of being two separate components like a box truck, a cargo van is all one piece. They can come in various designs and shapes, with some designed similarly to large passenger vans, but with a structural division between the front of the vehicle and the cargo area. They can also come in larger or smaller sizes.
Cargo vans tend to be the most expensive type of vehicle on this list. Depending on the vehicle’s size and power, cargo vans typically cost between $25,000 ad $45,000. However, while the starting price tends to be higher, some of the largest cargo vans can actually be less expensive than the largest box trucks.
Cargo vans are also much easier to navigate with and park than either trailers or box trucks. They are more compact in shape and can typically fit into tighter spaces.
However, for their size, cargo vans tend to provide much less storage space than box trucks do. You’ll want to evaluate the amount of equipment you have and plan to acquire soon and pay close attention to the dimensions of the vehicle’s storage areas, not just the van’s size as a whole.
Keep Your DJ Equipment Safe
A crucial and pressing concern for DJs is how to keep their equipment safe. Safe not only from damages during transportation and storage, but also from theft. Your equipment is worth hundreds if not thousands and dollars, and having to replace it will probably put you out of a good chunk of your savings and make you unable to work for weeks if not months. (Not to mention, it is quite likely that your DJ equipment has emotional value which cannot be replaced simply by buying new stuff!).
How to keep your equipment protected and safe from theft during a job?
- Do NOT advertise that you have DJ equipment in your vehicle: it doesn’t matter if you are using your personal car, trailer or box truck, do not make it obvious that you have expensive equipment inside of it. That means no advertisement through a paint job or sign. Make it as subtle as possible that you are a DJ.
- If you are working in a bad spot or a busy downtown – Get help whenever possible to transport your gear to the job location.
- Park close to the venue (even if you need to pay extra for parking: I promise it is worth it) and do not leave your DJ backpack in plain sight.
- Never leave your equipment unguarded: always keep an eye on your equipment, it doesn’t matter if it is in the hotel ballroom or on the job. If you have to leave your equipment, leave it with someone you trust.
- Choose a bag that is discreet and doesn’t make it obvious that you have expensive gear inside.
- When traveling through an airport, always keep your bag between your feet: that makes it will be yanked or taken away from you.
- If your gear does get stolen, contact the police and file a report right away. It would also be wise to contact local pawn shops and if possible, tell them the serial number of your gear.
In conclusion, there is no one best choice of vehicle for a mobile DJ. If you are just starting out, it might be a good idea to stick with a smaller personal car for as long as you can. As your business grows, you might try rentals for a while to test different types of vehicles and see what works best for you and the equipment you transport.
When you are ready to purchase a car for your business, you will have to weigh the pros and cons of size, price, ease of navigation and parking, safety, etc., to determine whether a trailer, box truck, or cargo van is the best choice for your business.
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