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How To Select A Disc Jockey

(Adapted from Richard A. Rozek, West Coast Event Coordinator)

Selecting DJ Entertainment Is Important To Your Event's Success

Selecting a Disc Jockey for your function is one of the most important decisions you can make to insure the success of your event. Everything else can be perfect, but if the music isn't good, the party will fizzle. Selecting the right DJ can be confusing. There are over 80,000 DJs in America, all promising they'll do a great job for you. So how do you pick the right one for you? This article will provide some guidance to help you make the decision easier.

How To Find A Disc Jockey That You Will Like

The best and easiest way to find a Disc Jockey you'll like is to hire one you've already seen. If you've been to a wedding or a party where the DJ was great, find out who he or she was. If you didn't get their card, ask the host or the manager of the function room where the party was held. If you haven't seen a good Disc Jockey recently, ask your friends. Your friends probably have the same taste in music as you. Maybe they've been to a function you missed. Let them know ahead of time you'll be looking, and ask them to keep their eyes and ears open. If the first two suggestions don't work, your job gets tougher. You might have to research online.

How Do You Tell Which Disc Jockey Service Is Best?

Probably the worst way to choose a DJ is on price alone. Some DJs are more expensive than others. Prices can range from $100 to $2,000 for a 4 hour event. That's quite a difference, and it would be very tempting to choose the cheapest alternative. If that's all you can afford, than you have no choice. But, consider the law of supply and demand. There is a reason some DJs can charge more money than others. They are usually worth it. More expensive DJs tend to be the more experienced DJs. They can charge more because they are in demand and they have a good reputation. Generally, the DJs on the low end of the price scale are new to the business, and trying to get established. They could do a great job, and might be worth a shot if your party is on the informal side. But there is definitely more risk with a less experienced person. When it comes to a special event like a wedding, or other types of parties, you want a professional entertainer, not crossed fingers. As you speak with DJ Services, pay attention to their professionalism over the phone. It tends to spill over into their DJ style.

How To Interview Disc Jockey Services

The most important thing to ask about is their experience with your type of event. If you are planning an event like a wedding, school dance, or company party, it would be normal to expect a professional DJ to have performed for at least 20 of these events. A number in the hundreds is actually common for a DJ who is well established. DJs with less experience might also do a good job. And they'll usually cost less. If you talk to one who sounds interesting, ask him or her for references. Get 5 or 6 names and phone numbers of people who have recently hired them. Any DJ can easily give you 2 or 3 names. Getting more names is a better test of the quality of their performance. Call these references and ask about the DJ's performance. Some DJ companies have more than one DJ working for them. In this case, it is important to get references on the particular DJ who will be assigned to your show. Even if the company has been around for ten years, they might have hired your DJ last week. The DJ might be a pro, or might be newly trained. Be sure of who you're getting. The perfect DJ for you will be affordable, experienced at your type of event, and have great references. There are probably a lot of DJs out there who fit that description. Just keep in mind, as you search, above all, you want your event to be fun and memorable.

What To Do If You See A Live Disc Jockey

If you see a DJ at a live performance (ie: nightclub, private party, etc.), observe how they interact with the crowd. Are people having fun? Are people dancing? Is the music too loud? Is the DJ dressed appropriately? Does the DJ keep the event moving? These are all good clues to the DJ's skills and personality. Always ask the DJ about their policy on requests. The best DJs will take requests from the audience and work them into their routine. However, do not expect the DJ to play every request. Many requests are simply inappropriate for the mood of the event. A good DJ is not a jukebox. He or she will blend requests with songs he or she feels will properly motivate the crowd. Instinctual timing is critical in the art of DJ'ing 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. On the other hand, the DJ should try to play as many of your audience's requests as possible. Try to get a feel for their philosophy of requests as you interview them. It is also appropriate to give a DJ a list of 5 or 6 songs you "must have". Just don't make that list 15 or 20 songs long. Many DJs boast about the number of songs they have. While variety is great, the fact is that they will only be able to play about 60 to 70 songs in a four hour show. Having the right 60 songs is a lot more important than having 1,000 songs your crowd doesn't want to hear. After you tell the DJ what type of party you are having and who the audience will be, ask them what type of music they'd suggest. You should feel comfortable with most of his or her selections.

Your Disc Jockey's Equipment Is Important To Your Event's Success

When it comes to a DJ's sound equipment, you probably won't know the difference between which brands are great and which are budget unless you are familiar with professional audio gear. However, your DJ should at least have professional grade equipment. If they list brand names you are familiar with at the local electronics retailer, that is cause for concern. Home stereo equipment is not designed to stand up under 4-5 hours of high volume use. It could fail in the middle of your party! For example, consumer amplifiers that are considered powerful may have only 100 watts per channel. Typical professional DJ power amplifiers usually have 300 to 1000 watts per channel. Professional, custom designed and built sound and lighting equipment is a MUST!

Final Thoughts On Selecting A Disc Jockey

Finally, don't try to sell your event short. What I mean by this is many people, when they are putting together an event, will spend ten thousand dollars or more to rent a decent ballroom and have it catered. People can spend thousands of dollars on the flowers, the cake, and the bridal party gowns/tuxedos. (Let's face it; weddings or any event for that matter, are an expensive production.) However, it is easy for a party to fizzle out just when the "sit back and enjoy" part is supposed to happen. You are never MORE at risk of this happening than when you stifle a Light Show. A good light show will include at least 2 mechanical or "Intelligent" lights for the upbeat dancing, and a "Color Wash" or "Mirror Ball" for the slower dances. Many services offer "Lighting Packages". These are "Time Honored" combinations of Lights and Effects that can really add to everyone's overall enjoyment. I have attended many functions in my lifetime, and I rarely remember the room, or even the color of the gowns. I might remember the food, but I definitely remember the Light Show and the Music. So take time to consider what your guests will remember and talk about for years to come. Don't let the expense of your event cloud your judgment. If a light show costs anywhere from $200 - $1,000, consider it money well spent. Especially if the difference between having all the bells and whistles is around $100, you can't afford to sell yourself or your guests short. Afterall, you want the best for yourself and your guests. Everyone will praise you when they are treated to the spotlight in a gala event. The best disc jockey is what everyone remembers!

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