Chances are this is your first time hiring a Disc Jockey Service. Many people are tempted to ask (What is your price?) for their first question when interviewing a prospective disc jockey service. This is not the best way to start your interview. Price is important, but not the determining factor. You want to get all of the information and the most for your money. One potential DJ may charge less because the company is less experienced or is not as well equipped to handle your function. Some DJ services charge more because their service has a great reputation and may have many bookings. They may also have an exceptional sound and light show and many years of experience. Remember the law of supply and demand. There is a reason some services can get a higher price, they are usually worth it. Shop around and look for the best over all package that fits you. We have put together this list of questions to help you interview prospective DJ services. We hope you find the professional that is right for you!
1. Do you use professional pro audio gear? What are some of the brand names you use?
Crown, QSC, Crest, Rane, Bag End, E.A.W., JBL, Shure, MTX, Peavey, and Denon are the preferred professional choices of DJs. If the DJ tells you name brands that you can buy at the local electronic store (Best Buy, Circuit City etc.) chances are they are not using pro audio gear. Home Hi-Fi gear is not made to hold up to the demands of repeat performances of professional use.
2. Do you provide back up gear in case of an emergency?
Chances are nothing will happen at your wedding reception, but if it does, is your DJ prepared to trouble shoot the problem? Do they have back-up equipment on location to get the party back on track? (They should have extra cables, fuses, basic tools, CD player, amplifier, mixer, etc.).
3. How many years of experience do you have?
This is a commonly asked question. The question should be how many wedding receptions have you performed at? A seasoned DJ will have performed hundreds of wedding receptions.
4. May we call three of your references?
A good DJ service keeps current references. The list that they provide for you should have at least ten or more names. This is a good indicator of the quality you can expect. If you are not comfortable with calling strangers, ask if they have any banquet halls, photographer, or video services that recommend them. Most banquet halls, photographers and videographers work with a lot of different DJ services every weekend.
5. How early will you be Set-Up?
Most DJ services like to have the opportunity to do a sound and light check before any guests arrive. This usually takes about one hour for an average size system, may take two hours or more for a large system. They may require an extra person for security and additional time to get to the banquet room. The last thing you want is a DJ hauling equipment through your receiving line and or guests.
6. Ask if they allow requests from you and your guests?
Consider the policy of requests. The best DJs will take requests form the audience and work them into their routine. But don’t expect the DJ to play every request. An excellent DJ blends requests with songs that will get your guests up and moving. The art of a DJ is timing, and this takes experience. Forcing a DJ to ignore his or her instincts by making them play every request will result in an uneven (and less fun) party.
7. What type of music is available?
Remember it is not the number of CDs, Tapes or Albums they carry but the content of the media. Ask them how many hit songs they carry and what type of music they have. Ask them how do they stay current with the new hits. A good DJ service will carry a wide variety of music and will have as many as 2000 hits or more. There are professional DJ services like Promo Only, ERG, and Hot Hits that are available to professional DJs. These services provide the latest hits played on the radio stations with new additions released monthly. Remember that during the dancing segment of your reception a DJ will average 65 to 75 songs, so you should hear nothing but hits all night long. This will keep your dance floor full all night and everyone will have a great time.
8. What is your policy on food and alcohol?
Remember your DJ is a hired service not a guest. Alcohol is for your guests. If the DJ tells you he or she needs a couple of drinks to loosen up it is our opinion that they are not very professional. The last thing you need is a drunk DJ up in front of your family and friends at your wedding reception. Food is normally provided for the DJ, Photographer, and Videographer. If you’re not going to feed the DJ or other services you should let them know ahead of time so they can make other arrangements.
9. 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 an hour before your actual reception, plays for a minimum of four hours, and will be there an hour after your reception taking equipment down.
10. Do I need a light show and what will it do for me? Why a light show?
Through our experience we have found that a good light show will help keep the crowd on the dance floor longer because they are having more fun.
There are two things you want your light show to do: make the dance floor warm and inviting and turn it into a fantasyland of dazzling action, sweeping movement and intense color.
11. You may also ask what type of a light shows are available?
There are three basic types.
Your most basic light show consists of 8 to 16 pin spot or par can lights with a chaser pack mounted on a light tree. Normally they use two light tree setups. This type of light show is very basic or entry level but effective.
The next step up is a combination of the pin spot / par can lights on a light tree with static light effects or better known as ‘special effects lighting’. The lights move from the sound of the base beat. This show can be exciting with the right mix and match of special effects lights. You may hear brand names like American DJ, Lytequest, NESS, KLS, and Martin.
The pinnacle of light shows is the Martin ‘Intelligent Light Show"! This type of show will give you the biggest bang for your buck. An intelligent light show will give you the most variety and versatility. There are many types of intelligent light fixtures, Moving Heads, Scanners, Color Changers, Punishers, Lynx, and RoboZap, etc. All Intelligent light fixtures have to be controlled by a programmed controller not just an on/off switch that is what makes them an intelligent light. The DJ operates a controller, and can choose from11- 22 shades of color, 11-28 geometric shapes (Gobos), and select the movement patterns of the light beams. You can have a different light show for every song! Your guests will be in awe and talk about your wedding reception for months. Don’t you deserve an intelligentlight show?
12. 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.