Interviewing Wedding DJ's 101
I'm looking for a DJ...
For many planning Brides-To-Be, the DJ and entertainment tends to be one of the last things to check off the list. What most don't realize, is that this is probably the key element into determining a successful event. In short, your DJ can make or break your day. When your guests leave your reception, they will leave with one of a few emotions: "That was such a great time!", "That DJ was terrible!", "What a great day!", "That was cheesy...", etc. How do you want your event to be remembered? And who is going to execute that plan for you?
What Kind Of Event Do I Want?
In our previous blog post, What Type Of DJ Should I Book?, we discussed the different types of DJ's there are to choose from. There is no one DJ that is the perfect fit for every event. Which means, you need to find the right one for you. So, before we go into the questions you should ask during a DJ interview or consultation, here are a few questions you should ask and answer before you talk to your DJ:
- What type of event do I want?
- Is it going to be mellow? Like a nightclub? A mix of many genres of music? A country wedding? Will there be a theme?
- What will be the mood?
- Easy going? Low-key? Upbeat?
- What type of DJ do I want?
- Interactive? Cheesy? Someone to go through the planning process? Emcee? Club-like? Makes announcements?
- What will my reception look like?
- Do I want a lot of lighting? Club lighting? Accent/Uplighting? Monogram? Laser show?
- What is my budget?
- How much am I willing to spend? What do I want -vs- what do I need? Am I willing to compromise other areas to get more in entertainment? Strict budget?
What Questions Should I Ask When Interviewing DJ's?
If you call a few DJ companies, it is wise to be prepared to ask all of them the same questions and compare the answers. You are basically conducting an experiment to see which DJ is best fit for you, and you want to see how they will fare and compare against each other.
The first steps you should take when comparing DJ's:
1. Compare websites. Most of you will Google DJ's for your area. Perfect! Compare their websites! This will be your first impression of a company and you will very quickly be able to weed out many companies based on this first impression alone. Things to look for in their websites:
- Do they show the DJ's faces?
- Do they have pictures? Are there pics of their events and setups or pics of their packages and options? **BEWARE of stock photography** If they are not showing actual pics of their setups and events, what are they hiding from you?
- Is their site organized or is it messy and hard to follow? This might say a little something about being able to coordinate your event in an organized fashion.
- Do they use social media? Look at their facebook pages and see what others say about them. What does their online presence look like?
2. Ask these questions during your interview/consultation:
Here's a few questions to start the conversation between you and your interviewing DJ. Surely, more will arise as you talk through your wants and needs.
- What is your DJ style?
- Do you have a planner? What does it look like?
- Do you make announcements?
- How much talking do you do?
- Do you interact with the crowd? How much?
- How do you handle toasts? (ex: What would you do if someone is talking too much, or starts saying something inappropriate?)
- What is your mixing style? Do you beatmatch?
- What kind of music do you have? Radio versions? Club versions?
- What packages do you offer?
- What add-ons, or options are available?
- We are planning on doing __________, and __________, and would like to do __________. What do you suggest for us?
- How do you coordinate with other vendors? Do you work with the photographer, videographer, etc?
- What is your experience with our venue?
- What is your dress attire?
- Do you have a video sample of your events? Sample of music mixing?
- Do you have any references? (get numbers and call them)
- What do you do to read and interact with the crowd? Music selection?
- What do you use to DJ? Do they use an ipod, or actually have a mixer and console to mix music?
- What type of equipment do you use? Even though you may not know a lot about equipment, you might research what speakers they use. Are they known as high or low quality?
- What does one of your typical events look like? (Basically, find out their typical progression.... do they play to the older crowd earlier then build the night? Do they know how to read a crowd?)
- Do you take requests? How do you handle a request that is not part of my music preference?
- Where do you get your new music? A professional DJ should be purchasing their music and not using bootleg copies or file-sharing.
- What do you do for backup? In the event you are sick? Do you have backup equipment?
- How do you use lighting to enhance your show? Do they just plug in a bunch of lights? Do they actually control the lighting and program it to coordinate with your show?
- Do you have insurance? (This is huge! Always make sure your DJ is insured)
- Are you a part of any DJ networks? (ADJA, NAME, DJ Forums such as Mobilebeat Forums, DJ Chat.com) This will let you know if they actively take part in DJ discussions and are up to date on current trends.
- Price? **NOTE** This is not to try and find out which DJ charges less. In fact, it should be more about comparing what services a DJ offers compared to another and how they rate themselves. Most DJ's tend to charge their 'worth' or 'value'. If you find a DJ, that is offering 30 uplights, huge trussing and audio, and only charge $400 for 6 hours of playtime.... I would very carefully compare and contrast why that DJ charges $400 -vs- the other DJ that charges $3000 for the 'same package'.
These are just a few questions that you may or may not feel the need to ask. These questions will get the conversation started and will hopefully lead you in the right direction as you sift through the many DJ's that are available? You might learn a lot more from setting up a face-to-face consultation when you narrow down the competition and weed out the DJ's you don't want.
Some final words of advice...
- Make sure you feel that you are getting the most bang for your buck. Referrals are a great place to start and are usually good to go by (unless the referral is skewed... an uncle, my best friend is a DJ, I know this guy, etc). If they actually saw the DJ perform or have used the DJ for their events, then trust factor definitely increases.
- Do not price shop. You can always find a cheap DJ (see craigslist). You cannot always find a versatile, great mobile DJ. This is why the interview process is so important. Budget more for entertainment... your guests will notice this area the most!
- Trust your gut! After going through interviews, asking lots of questions, and discussing the pro's and con's with your fiance and family... your instincts will probably lead you in the right direction. And just remember, you might need to spend a little more than you originally budgeted, but your guests will forever remember your wedding for what it was (a great time!!!) and so will you!