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Hiring A DJ: Points To Consider by Ken Heath
Your two best choices for entertainment today are Bands and Disc Jockeys, and while Bands do generate their own particular energy
it is impossible for them to match the vast music library that a qualified DJ can provide.
The purpose of this article is to help you choose the best DJ for your Wedding Reception or other event. Mobile Disc Jockeys are some of the most versatile music professionals available, they are your "one-stop shopping" resource for ceremony and ceception entertainment, pro sound support, and event consultation and planning,
(although most are not certified wedding planners).
The Wedding Ceremony is for the Bride to be the center of attention, but the Reception is to thank your family and friends for witnessing your marriage vows, and as such, your focus should be on how to make the party enjoyable for the majority of those in attendance.
This is your first party hosted as husband and wife and every detail should reflect the joy and happiness you share to your guests. Expertly chosen music adds flavor beyond the best food and bouquet surpassing the most fragrant blossoms. Guests tend to remember the entertainment you provide above most other things, be it good or bad.
A professional DJ provides the positive catalyst for your party. Skillfully selected music played at the right moment will add the important "feel good" element that helps everyone interact, rekindle faded relationships and form new friendships. Music is relaxing, exciting, romantic, and inspirational.
Dancing keeps everyone at your event longer and contributes greatly to your guest’s enjoyment.
Consider this when shopping for your DJ service:
Your choice of entertainer is an insurance policy against bad memories of a disappointing occasion. Unfortunately, the DJ is often the last service chosen, after much of the budget is spent on a venue, food and clothing. This “backwards planning” often forces Brides and Party Planners to shop for the cheapest possible price. Many people will pay far more for a cake, flowers, or a veggie platter than they will for the most crucial ingredient of a party – the music. The entertainer you select will be taking on the responsibility of over 80% of the success of your party and often gets paid less than 3% of the total budget, (based on a $25,000.00 Wedding, 3% would equal $750.00), yet if the DJ is a poor performer or a no-show you just wasted your entire investment, not just that 3%.
You need to consider the entertainment as a commodity that you purchase to “feed” each of your guests… Let's assume you’re meal costs $35.00 per person (with 250 people), you’ll pay $6250.00 plus tax (10% = $625.00) and rest assured, the Caterer will add their own 20% gratuity, (or more, and you’ll never know who actually gets it), so add another $1250.00 for a total of $8125.00! Let’s not forget the $5.00 per guest they’ll charge just for simply cutting your cake...another $1250.00 in their pocket! At the last Wedding you attended, do you remember what was served? Most people don’t, and you’re spending nearly ten grand on that! Have you ever seen someone pay overtime rates to stay later at the venue because everyone was still eating cake? No? Well, they do it all the time when the guests are still dancing and the party is still hopping!
Quality entertainment breaks down to only a few dollars per person, lasts for hours and ensures a lifetime of fantastic memories!
Can I just have a friend use his stereo?
For the average wedding, you're spending tens of thousands of dollars to throw a big party. The traditional formalities, including ceremony, drinks, dinner, first dance, bouquet, garter and cake usually take about two hours... without something to do afterward people may leave and you've wasted a ton of money! An iPod dock is no substitute for a professional entertainer crafting a show especially designed for you and your guests. The entertainment you choose for your special event will have a greater effect than any other factor, even food or location.
Prompt return of your phone calls or Emails:
You should expect to get a call back or an email back within 24 hours. Not all DJ’s are “full-time”, some have “day jobs” and may not be able to return your call within an hour or two. You may want to ask them about their availability for answering questions and handling any problems that may arise, always confirm that there will be no conflict of interests on your chosen date. You don't want last minute “day job” overtime keeping them from getting to your event on time.
Willingness to meet with you and present their service:
Will the DJ meet with you to help plan your dream day, or are they just trying to book the date sight unseen? Is their material neat and professional looking, and is their presentation organized and informative?
Some DJs invite clients to see them at other people's receptions. However, most DJs refuse to do this. Two problems with "visiting" is the fact that the reception you see is somebody else's dream, AND it's a gross imposition to invite strangers to someone's wedding for your own gain.
Some DJ’s use videotapes for their presentation. Videos show the DJ in action. They usually show the DJ, his setup, and how the guests react to his performance. Videos are convenient, but because they are edited for use, they may not always provide an accurate indicator of a DJ's typical performance.
The best way to judge a prospective DJ is an in-person meeting, perhaps over a casual meal or coffee; this will help you to determine if you will be comfortable with them. A face-to-face meeting allows you to judge his/her appearance, posture, manners, speaking ability, and knowledge of receptions and music. A professional DJ should be friendly, personable, and easy to talk with. They should actively listen to your concerns and address them in a positive manner. They should be able to explain the basic order of events, and any strategies is for making your reception unique and special. A true professional is flexible and will always have more than one way to accomplish a goal.
Do you LIKE the person that shows up?
There is NOTHING worse in the world than having to worry about things you shouldn’t have to. You're hiring a professional and your worries should end right there. Choosing the person who “feels” right to you is very important especially for formal events. The DJ you choose should be very open about what he/she can do for you and should volunteer information and “show” you that knowledge base. Is the person knowledgeable about your type of event? There are all kinds of DJ’s. Club DJ’s, Wedding DJ’s, Rave DJ’s, Radio DJ’s…the list is long and varied! Can the DJ you interview handle your type of event? Ask the DJ how many events of your type that he/she has done. Get references AND CALL THEM!
What sort of documents does the DJ use to procure your business?
In a good interview, the DJ should show you several documents. A planner, which should give an indication of the DJs ability to handle your event. The contract to be used should be available as well, along with a schedule of pricing information.
Does the DJ have a way to show you what sort of music he or she has available?
Some DJ’s use music play-lists, others don't. In some fashion you need to be assured that the DJ you hire not only has a sizeable library, but has a wide variety of the proper music.
Will the DJ offer to meet with you BEFORE & AFTER signing the contract to plan your event?
A professional DJ is ALWAYS willing to discuss your event at any time before the event starts, and should display the flexibility to accommodate changes and help you solve problems. Face-to-face meetings are of paramount importance to a successful formal event.
Is the person that signed the contract the person that will perform at your event?
This is a very common complaint about the DJ industry today. The person you meet turns out NOT to be the performer that actually does your show. Often, you are not aware of this. Ask the DJ you interview if they will be the actual person performing, or is the event to be handed off to someone else. You need to know this UP FRONT before you sign a contract.
Are You the Dj’s only responsibility that day?
Is your DJ a single operator or a “multi-op” with more than one system and more than one entertainer? Full-Time or Part-Time? This can be an important consideration. You need to be certain that you are going to be the priority on your special day, whichever service provider you choose.
A Professional Demeanor
Simply put, a professional DJ should dress appropriately to your event (formal wear for a wedding, etc.); be set up and ready before your guests arrive; use a setup procedure that is unobtrusive, safe and orderly; and treat you, your guests and other vendors with respect. He/she should be polite and able to handle adversity in a calm, unobtrusive manner.
Your DJ should be able to speak in a clear, concise, easy to understand manner. He/she must be able to introduce you and your guests and make announcements that are easy to understand in a noisy room. He/she should be able to grab the attention of your guests, and enunciate and project his/her message with a positive attitude.
Quality Equipment and Music
Your DJ should use professional-grade equipment. This refers to heavy-duty speakers, amplifiers, mixers, etc., just like a band or a broadcast studio would use. Most home stereo equipment will not reliably perform to the quality standards necessary to ensure the success of your event.
The Desire to Please the Client
There are two basic approaches to DJ’ing. The first is to develop a show that seems to work for the majority of parties, this is often referred to as "cookie cutter" DJ’ing. It is most often used by less experienced entertainers who are still finding themselves, but also by experienced entertainers for non-formal events.
The other approach is to use a well organized “flexible planning” format with a variety of options. The DJ & the Client meet to decide what special events the client wants, they may choose a limited number of songs (usually 10-20) that they feel would be appreciated by their guests, but the DJ can always play other requests as appropriate to the spirit of the event. The key to this approach is to balance the preferences of the Client with those of their guests. This is most often utilized by wedding and formal event entertainers.
An Agreement In Writing
Professional DJs should always provide written agreements for their services. It provides legal protection for both parties by spelling out who does what for how much. A contract should include the following:
The name of the DJ (Vendor) and the name of the person responsible for payment (Client).
The venue name, address, contact person, date and time of the reception, including starting and ending time
The details of services provided by the Vendor
The details of services provided by the Client
The price of the retainer and price to be paid for the DJ's services
When final payment is due
Overtime authorization details
Cancellation requirements of both the Client and Vendor
Signature of DJ and client (dated)
Usually a retainer and a signed agreement are required to keep your date. The agreement should note your retainer payment (amount and check #) and the final payment. Read your agreement carefully before signing. Usually a retainer and a signed agreement are required to keep your date. The agreement should note your retainer payment (amount and check #) and the final payment. Read your agreement carefully before signing.
However you choose your DJ, the final goal is to please you and your guests, remember...
Quality isn’t expensive, it’s priceless!