How to Hire a DJ
The following are a few suggestions and informative questions you should ask before you make your final decision.
Does your DJ use professional equipment?
There is a difference between the audio equipment you have at home and the equipment a professional Disk Jockey uses. Professional audio equipment is built to go on the road day in and day out. Make sure your prospective choices use only professional equipment to insure the music sounds as good as possible for all of your guests enjoyment.
Can your DJ provide backup equipment and personnel in case of emergency?
Even professional equipment can fail on occasion, so it is important to know whether your DJ has spare equipment available to them. Any number of circumstances may arise between the time you book your DJ and the date of your event. It is important to know if the DJ has a backup plan in case of illness or accident.
Does your DJ belong to an organized DJ association?
Booking a reliable DJ is a very important decision for the success of your wedding or event. Selecting a DJ who is an active member of a DJ association will provide you with the confidence that you have selected a trained professional.
Can your DJ provide a written contract and references from previous clients?
It is extremely important to have your booking confirmed in writing. All terms of the agreement should be in writing to avoid any complications at a later date. References are an important part of any business and your DJ should be able to provide you with current names and addresses of satisfied clients.
Will your DJ be suitably dressed for the occasion?
It is important that your DJ looks the part by dressing in formal or semiformal attire. Be sure to specify the type of apparel that your DJ should use. There should be no added fee charged for formal attire.
Does your DJ know the proper procedure and etiquette for your type of wedding?
A professional DJ will become involved with the planning of your special day and will be prepared to handle all announcement and special events on the day of your wedding.
Is your DJ registered, incorporated and/or insured?
A DJ who has taken the time to incorporate, register, and insure their respective companies, demonstrates that they are serious business men and women.
Is your DJ willing to discuss musical selections ahead of time, and is he or she willing to play requests, particularly if they are suitable for dancing?
A professional DJ is aware that they cannot possibly know everything there is to know about your musical preferences and entertainment needs. They should be willing to listen to your ideas and suggestions. They should make themselves available prior to your wedding to discuss selections. They should never play the songs you have asked them not to play. Special requests should never be a problem and your DJ should be willing to play them where they are appropriate.
Will your DJ arrive on time?
Punctuality is an ultimate necessity, and as professional business men and women they should be aware of their responsibilities to their clients. Normal time spent setting up and removing equipment should not be part of the entertainment fee.
How much music should a DJ bring?
Some DJ services brag about a huge music library. Ask them if they bring the entire library and if it is in a database. If they can’t find a song, then it does no good to have that many songs. On the other hand, some only bring about 300 to 500 of the most requested songs. These DJs can not really honor requests of a truly diverse audience that most receptions are composed of. Remember that for a 4-hour reception, the maximum amount of songs that could be played is around 60! (Average of 4 minutes per song played back to back).
What kinds of music styles should the DJ’s library contain?
A DJ should have all types of music with him/her at the reception in order to please a diverse audience. The DJ should be able to play music from the big band, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, right up through today’s hottest hits. Your DJ should be able to provide even ethnic music to suit your event.
Should the DJ provide you with a music guide or list to assist you?
Yes. Your DJ should arrange a meeting with you as soon as possible to go over all the details. Ask the DJ for a copy of their music list. Some DJ’s offer a shortened list that gives a profile of the type of music they have in their library. A DJ should take the time to find out your musical tastes and be open to your needs. By the same token, an experienced DJ also knows what works and what does not work. Listen to their advice. A classic example is one where the bride and groom insisted on country for the entire reception! They chose their favorite music even though the guest list included many people from different backgrounds! Common sense dictates that you might want to listen to your DJ in this case.
Are compact discs better than records?
In many ways yes. Records show wear that you can hear. They also skip on the best of turntables because the dance floors sometimes vibrate from people dancing. CD’s can skip too if the reception hall is old or has a very bouncy dance floor. You should consider this when you check out a reception hall. However, CD’s are by far the best followed by tape. Remember that a DJ claiming all CD’s is not necessarily better than one that plays music from CD’s and tape. Professional tape machines have sound quality that can match CD’s. It all depends on the equipment, so ask the DJ about this.
If I contracted for five hours but everyone is having a great time how should I handle the overtime?
Your DJ should have discussed that with you prior to your reception and at contract signing. It should also be part of your contract. However, you alone must authorize it. If the check you have prepared for the DJ does not cover the overtime then the DJ has the option of accepting cash or check. Usually, it is best to have the cash available and to pay the DJ Company when services are rendered.
Do you tip a DJ and when do I pay them?
The answer to tipping is up to you. If you know the DJ gave you a fair price and a great performance then it is always nice to say thanks. Payments should always be made on the night of the performance, either prior to the end or at the conclusion of the event. However, each company operates differently and payment arrangements should always be stipulated in your contract.
Am I obligated to feed the DJ?
No, you are not obligated to feed the DJ; however, it is a nice gesture to offer a meal of some sort while everyone else is eating. Often your DJ set up several hours before your actual reception, plays for a minimum of three hours, and will be there a few hours after your reception taking equipment down. All in all, a kind gesture is often returned many times over.