Dronesgator logo

How to Start a Drone Light Show Business in 2024

Updated in 2024 by Paul Posea
Drone Light Show

Prominent organizers, like the ones of the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl, have already integrated drone shows into their programs – which means you can definitely start a drone light show business in 2024 and be profitable.

Drone light shows are one of the most in-demand services right now for event organizers (and individuals too), and for good reason.

Wherever drones light up the sky, they leave audiences amazed, inspired, and with lasting memories. 

I mean, just check this out: 

Starting a drone light show business can be a bit harder than other drone businesses, and that’s because it needs a lot of software and moving parts.

In this article we’ll look at all the different parts of starting a drone business in general – what licenses you need, what kind of insurance you need, what business structure should you opt for, etc…

So without further ado, let’s get into it!

UMt BLb3sffizj4eTWPS yz69J swN940j2vnwj22wx4HtPwxMyAQ34AC16P1apLXAGXjDT 3hspEJUdsVDhiB0FufEMkl5NpmoA LRrX SRimcfPjFWHpL6lgUJ5j1gkLuCy tyW2pfn8MjWffSph8

What is a drone light show?

Before we move further in this article, let’s define what a drone light show actually is. I’ve found many people to mistake it for hologram technology, which is different.

Put simply, a drone light show is a certain number of small drones that emit different light colors and are programmed to interact in the sky and create various images conceived by the organizer using special software.

How does a drone light show work?

Drone light shows are performed by illuminated, synchronized, and choreographed groups of drones that arrange themselves into various aerial formations. 

The drones aren’t flown manually, as it would be impossible for humans to coordinate them. Instead, the show is designed using a computer, and flight paths are already defined (kind of like how waypoints work for normal drones).

Almost any image can be recreated in the sky by a computer program that turns graphics into flight commands and communicates them to the drones.

One thing to note is that this isn’t a “Skynet” situation. Drones used in shows are not AI-driven, can’t think for themselves, and make no real-time decisions. Instead, they follow specific commands sent to them (by you) and can’t deviate from them!

Again, exactly like how waypoints work for larger drones – only this is a bit more detailed in terms of coordination.

Here is a typical drone light show preparation process:

The reason most drone light show commissions are so expensive (with the “cheap” ones being above $30,000) is that they require a lot of clever engineering work. 

To the point that some drone light show companies actually either make their own drones or have manufacturers make custom drones for them (which requires a lot of investment).

Don’t be turned off though, there are still ways to get into this business with the least amount of investment capital possible (more on that later).

What do you need to start a drone light show business

That’s the cool thing about starting a drone business, there is practically no barrier to entry – you only need some expertise and… money.

Starting a drone light show business is accessible to everyone. Two things to note when starting are the part 107 test and the local drone laws, which are easily manageable.

The first step to starting your drone business is to be FAA certified. You’ll need to pass the Part 107 test with a score of at least 70% to become a commercial drone pilot. 

The regulatory laws will depend on where you live, so make sure to research your local laws to determine whether starting a drone business is viable.

You’ll find the drone laws of basically every state within the USA on dronesgator.com.

You’ll also need skills and expertise, which are easily acquired either through drone courses or through on-field experience.

After that, the only thing you need is startup capital, which brings us to the next point in this guide…

How much does it cost to start a drone light show business?

HEjfify6gWmxCVrnxx4mbCW3OahSYgYoHX T96QAAGrMW7HWoOMYnepcG53QmIfs5QievQGF2mpwM 8hlwceNBD L4FnWM6Ifj v7GTDuZ7I JY Q3ZZ2LYoebDHUVwToS1Sv6M1TaIG0Iy2BQ Kgo

Launching your own drone light show business does require a fair bit of investment upfront. 

The cost to start a drone light show business depends on various elements such as the kind of drones you choose to dance in the sky, the number you'll need, the equipment, and getting your pilots ready to fly with the right training and licenses. The range starts from as low as $5,000.

Think of a small drone light show business as a starter kit for your sky-illuminating dreams. The starting budget is generally between $5,000 to $10,000. 

This includes everything you'll need to get the show on the road - or in this case, in the air - like your drones, equipment, and getting your pilot up to speed with the proper training and licenses.

But, if you've got bigger dreams and want a grander spectacle lighting up the night, you might want to look at a larger setup. This could be somewhere between $50,000 to $200,000 or more, including high-tech equipment and training for a full squadron of pilots.

One thing to note is that starting a drone light show business is just the beginning. There are a lot of ongoing expenses like drone maintenance, repairs, insurance, and staff training.

Overall, it can be a profitable and exciting venture, with the right investment and drone business plan.

You can also get a loan from the bank or get a few investors to cover most of the start-up costs, but this is for another article.

How many drones do you need for a drone light show business?

About 80% of the costs I spoke of above are caused by drones. Truth is, as much as you’d like, starting a drone light show business with only 1 or two drones is simply not realistic.

The good news is that it’s also not as many as people think!

Most of the attention from the mainstream press is focused on Guinness world records set for ever larger numbers of drones, with the record currently being held by Intel with 2,066 simultaneous airborne drones in performance.

This is a great feat, but it really doesn’t take thousands of drones to create compelling content.

One reason why early drone shows focused on large numbers is that the drones were not very bright and did not accurately hold positions. 

Back then, the content was designed so that the drones would fill a volume of space to illuminate it, and this required many drones. 

Of course, the number of drones required depends on exactly what you’re trying to achieve. 

Complex drone light shows will always require more drones to accurately represent the art in the air. The more intricate the shape, the more drones you’re going to need to create it. The audience size and the viewing distance are additional influencing factors.

But usually, it doesn’t take a huge number of drones to create an impressive show. Even 50 drones can go a long way, and create shows that captivate the masses.

Industry Overview: Understanding the Market for Drone Light Show Business

image 72

The drone light show business is really taking off. It's getting more popular every day and changing how we think about entertainment and big events. I've looked into this industry and it's pretty amazing how drones and art are coming together to create awesome shows in the sky.

Market Growth and Potential

The drone services market, which includes drone light shows, is experiencing significant growth. According to research, drone light shows market was valued at US$ 4.37 Bn. in 2022 and the market is expected to reach US$ 14.14 Bn. by 2029, at a CAGR of 18.26% throughout forecast period (2023-2029). This statistic is a clear indicator of the burgeoning potential in the drone light show sector.

Diverse Applications

Drone light shows are not just limited to entertainment. They are increasingly popular for marketing campaigns, mega events like sports competitions and music festivals, and social occasions such as weddings or thematic parties. The versatility of drone light shows makes them an attractive option for a wide range of applications.

Advantages Over Traditional Methods

One of the key advantages of drone light shows is their eco-friendliness. Unlike traditional fireworks, they don't produce smoke or noise pollution, making them a more sustainable choice. Additionally, the precision and programmability of drones allow for more intricate and customizable displays.

Technological Advancements

The advancement in drone technology plays a crucial role in the growth of this industry. Improvements in battery life, LED brightness, and flight control software have made drone light shows more feasible and impressive. The ability to program and control large fleets of drones has opened up new possibilities for complex and stunning aerial displays.

Challenges and Considerations

However, the industry does face challenges. The cost of organizing a drone light show can be high, depending on the number of drones and the complexity of the performance. There are also regulatory hurdles to navigate, as drone flight is subject to various local and federal regulations.

Future Outlook

Looking ahead, the drone light show business is poised for continued growth. As technology advances and costs potentially decrease, these shows are likely to become more accessible and popular. The market is ripe for innovation, offering opportunities for businesses to create unique and memorable experiences for their audiences.

Building a Brand Around Your Venture

Building a brand for your drone light show business is like telling a story. It's about showing people what makes your shows special and why they should pick you over others. I've learned that a strong brand can really make a difference.

Creating a Unique Identity

First, think about what makes your drone shows unique. Is it the technology you use, the kind of events you do, or something else? This unique thing is what your brand should be all about. For example, on Propel RC's website, they talk about how drone light shows are eco-friendly and customizable. That's a big part of their brand.

Logo and Slogan 

Your logo and slogan are super important. They're like the face of your brand. Make sure your logo stands out and tells your story. Your slogan should be catchy and sum up what you do in a few words.

Website and Blog 

Having a great website is a must. It's where people go to learn more about you. Make it look good and easy to use. Also, starting a blog can help. Write about cool things in the drone world or tips for putting on a great show. This shows you know your stuff and helps people find you online.

Social Media Magic

Social media is a powerful tool. Use platforms like Facebook and Instagram to show off your drone shows. Post awesome pictures and videos from your events. You can even stream parts of your shows live. This gets people excited and talking about your business.

Know Your Audience

Understand who your shows are for. Are they for big companies, small local events, or something else? Knowing your audience helps you create messages and ads that speak directly to them.

Consistency is Key

Keep your brand consistent. Use the same colors, logos, and style in everything you do. This helps people recognize and remember your brand.

Customer Experience

Lastly, give your customers an amazing experience. Happy customers are your best advertisers. They'll tell their friends and come back for more.

How to price your drone light show services?

Pinning down an exact range at which to price a drone light show can be as tricky as trying to catch a shooting star. 

It can range quite a bit, depending on things like how grand your show is, how long it lasts, how big your stage (aka the airspace) is, and what kind of (and how many) drones you choose to use.

Mini drone light shows with a limited troupe of drones and a shorter performance time can for example be priced lower. 

Think of corporate get-togethers, weddings, birthdays, popping the question in style, or intimate parties – a compact drone show can be priced anywhere between $30,000 to $100,000. Yeah… drone shows are expensive.

V4zJBFNhVvDVQ7fKF98K9vNx0iVmNF3b9iKK3HqjxNugy2vWSiGGbAo6L45tqhp5gEKIAInDWWBnUOiiEnoQQmtZdD1FIU2RgVbgz

But, if you're planning a larger event, you might want to consider a grander drone light spectacle. We're talking big concerts, international conferences, or headline-grabbing events like the Olympics – these are all ripe for a drone performance that really steals the show!

These show-stopping performances can range from $100,000 to $500,000 or more, depending on how dazzled you want your audience to be (and how much magic you're willing to invest in). When it comes to drone shows, the sky really is your playground!

Here’s a table I put together for you that’ll really give you an idea of how much to price your drone show (based on the average prices of various drone shows and the number of drones that were used).

PriceNumber of DronesPattern Description
$99,000200 classic dronesSimple recognizable logo and shape designs, best suited for small spaces.
$149,000300 classic dronesDynamic animations, moving shapes, figures, text.
$199,000300 premium dronesCreative or custom 3D animations.
$299,000500 premium dronesLarge detailed 3D animation.
Custom PricingMore than 500 dronesLarger visuals and animations using thousands of drones.

Drone Light Shows: The Future is Here

Drone light shows are changing the game in entertainment and events. They're not just a cool tech trend; they're becoming a big part of how we celebrate and advertise. Let me break down how they're making a splash in different areas.

Public Celebrations

In public celebrations, drone light shows are a hit. They light up the sky for national holidays, big festivals, and city-wide events. 

Unlike fireworks, they're safer and cleaner, making them perfect for family-friendly events. Plus, they can create specific shapes and symbols that resonate with the occasion, making celebrations more meaningful.

Marketing in the Sky

For marketing, drone light shows are a game-changer. Imagine looking up and seeing a brand's logo or slogan formed by hundreds of drones. 

It's innovative and grabs attention in a way traditional ads can't. Companies are using drone shows to create buzz, and it's working. They're eco-friendly too, which is a big plus for brands looking to show their commitment to the environment.

Sports Events and Venues

At sports events, drone light shows are adding a new level of excitement. They're being used in opening ceremonies, halftime shows, and to celebrate big wins.

They can display team logos or create animations that pump up the crowd. It's a fresh way to enhance the fan experience.

Theme Parks and Concerts

In theme parks and concerts, drone light shows are taking entertainment to new heights. They can be synced with music, creating a mesmerizing experience that complements live performances.

They add an extra layer of magic to the night, making these events unforgettable.

Hotels and Resorts

Hotels and resorts are also getting in on the action. Drone shows can be a unique attraction for guests, offering entertainment right from their balconies. 

They're a great way to create special moments, whether it's a light show over the beach or a dazzling display to cap off a resort event.

Challenges in Running a Drone Light Show Business

Running a drone light show business is exciting, but it's not without its challenges. I've noticed a few key bottlenecks that anyone in this business needs to be aware of.

Safety

Safety is the biggest concern. When you're flying a bunch of drones in the sky, especially over a crowd, you have to make sure nothing goes wrong. This means doing lots of pre-flight checks, having reliable drones, and making sure your team knows all the safety procedures. 

According to the insights from dronesshowsoftware.com, using advanced software that minimizes collision risks and having a solid emergency protocol are crucial.

Animation

Creating the animations for the drones is another challenge. You need people who are good at designing these animations and making sure they work perfectly when translated into a drone show. This involves a lot of testing and tweaking. 

Sometimes, what looks good on the computer doesn't look as great in the sky, so there's a lot of back-and-forth to get it right.

Regulations

Then there are the regulations. Every country, and sometimes even different areas within a country, has its own rules about flying drones. 

You need to get the right permits and make sure you're following all the laws. This can get really complicated, especially if you're doing shows in different places.

Competition

Finally, there's the competition. Drone light shows are becoming more popular, which means more companies are jumping into the market. Staying ahead of the competition means being more creative, having better technology, and maybe even offering better prices.

It's a constant race to be the best.

What certifications do you need to start a drone light show business?

I’ve already written a detailed article about this which you can check over here.  But here’s a quick rundown:

All professional drone pilots require Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to obtain a remote pilot certificate. In the U.S., you need to be at least 16 years of age before you can apply for one. The cost to take this certification is relatively low, typically around $150. 

It’s possible to take it either online or in person.

Specifically, you’re looking for training in unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Once you’ve passed the training, you’re a certified drone pilot.

Do you need insurance for your drone light show business?

yohjIYLITnuiUPpEavMMGQm8xhEZxYN1Wksi3

Yes and no, because while it’s not exactly illegal to not have insurance if you’re running a drone business you’ll most likely have to.

That’s especially true for a drone light show business, where the risk of crashes that can injure people is more pronounced.

There is no law that requires you to have drone insurance if you use one for business or recreational purposes. But if you’re using a drone for work-related purposes, you’ll want to consider getting the best drone insurance policy.

The reason why drone insurance (especially liability insurance) is important is that if you cause accidental property damage or injuries to someone else while operating your drone for work, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for repairs, medical bills, and lawsuits – if you’re covered however, you won’t need to have a thing (in most cases).

You should also keep in mind that most of your clients WILL require you to have drone insurance if you use a drone for a project. If you don’t have drone insurance, they won’t hire you.

So there is that too!

If you want to read up more on this, I’ve written a full guide about drone insurance over here.

Keeping Your Equipment in Top-Notch Condition & Ensuring Safety

Drone pilot working on Paul Posea controller

In the drone light show business, keeping your equipment in great shape and ensuring safety is super important. 

Regular Maintenance is Crucial

First off, regular maintenance of your drones is a must. This means checking them before and after each show for any signs of wear or damage.

You've got to make sure the propellers are intact, the batteries are in good condition, and the lights are working perfectly. It's like taking care of a car; regular check-ups keep it running smoothly.

Clean Your Drones

After every show, it's important to clean your drones. They can pick up dust and small debris that might affect their performance. A gentle wipe-down with the right tools can keep them in top shape.

Stay Updated with Technology

Technology keeps advancing, so staying updated with the latest drone software and hardware improvements is important. This might mean upgrading your drones or updating their software to ensure they perform at their best.

Training Your Team

A well-trained team is also crucial for safety. Everyone involved should know how to operate the drones safely and what to do in case of an emergency. Regular training sessions can help keep everyone sharp and ready.

Weather Considerations

Needless to say, but often easy to forget: always keep an eye on the weather. Drones can be sensitive to things like wind and rain. If the weather looks bad, it might be safer to reschedule the show.

Insurance

And don't forget about insurance. It's important to have the right coverage in case something does go wrong. This can protect your business and give you peace of mind.

Hiring Skilled Workforce and Training Them

When it comes to running a drone light show business, having the right team is everything. I've realized that hiring skilled people and giving them proper training is what makes or breaks your shows.

Choosing the Right People for Your Team

First, it's all about picking the right people. You need folks who are not just tech-savvy but also passionate about drones and the magic they create in the sky.

It's not just about flying skills; creativity and a keen eye for safety are super important too. When I look for team members, I focus on their ability to handle the tech, their willingness to learn, and their enthusiasm for drone shows.

Importance of Proper Employee Training

Once you have your team, training them properly is key. This isn't just a one-time thing. The drone world is always changing, with new tech and regulations popping up all the time.

Regular training sessions keep your team up-to-date and sharp.

According to Propel RC, it's crucial to familiarize your team with the specific models of drones you use. Each drone might have its own quirks and features. 

Your team should know them inside out. This includes understanding the software, knowing how to set up for shows, and being ready for any emergency situations.

Safety training is a big deal too.

Everyone should know what to do to keep the audience and themselves safe during shows. This means understanding flight paths, weather limitations, and emergency procedures.

Regular Skill Upgradation

Technology in the drone industry moves fast. Regular workshops or training programs on the latest drone tech and show designs can keep your team ahead of the curve.

This not only improves the quality of your shows but also keeps your team engaged and excited about their work.

Conclusion

Drone light shows are a very lucrative opportunity. But, as you can see for yourself they do need start-up capital to perform correctly.

On average, you’d need about $10,000 to start your drone light show business properly, and it doesn't stop there.

Because then you’d have to network and market yourself and your services. I’ve actually covered all of this in my “how to start a drone business” article, which I recommend you check out as soon as you’ve finished reading this one.

faq what should you look for in a drone

Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know will be answered in this section.

Are drone light shows safe?

If properly executed by professional teams, drone shows are extremely safe, as Intel has demonstrated with its perfect safety record over the past four years.

Will drone light shows ever replace fireworks?

Drone shows are eco-friendly and mesmerizing but remain more expensive than traditional, yet environmentally harmful, fireworks, which are still widely used due to their lower cost.

Can drone shows be performed in all countries?

Yes, drone shows can be performed in many countries, but it depends on each country's specific drone regulations. Always check local laws and get necessary permits before planning a drone show.

Can drone shows be used for advertising or marketing purposes?

Absolutely, drone shows are great for advertising and marketing. They create memorable, sky-high displays that can showcase brand logos, slogans, or promotional messages.

Are drone shows environmentally friendly?

Yes, drone shows are environmentally friendly. They offer a sustainable alternative to fireworks, producing no smoke or debris and using rechargeable batteries.

Can drone shows be customized?

Definitely, drone shows are highly customizable. You can tailor them to display specific patterns, logos, or animations to suit your event's theme or branding needs.

author-paul-posea-picture
Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.

Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot

  • make money from your passion
  • pass the Part 107 test Guarantee (money back
  • 50,000 students and 3,000+ reviews

Use the code DRONESGATOR for $50 off 

Show me the Course!
paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram