Tips for when you hire a DJ
Particularly if your event is a wedding, or other party solely based around the presence of a DJ; there are a few things you should look out for when it comes to hiring one. There are some pretty neat tricksters out there who claim to be professional but deliver a service that couldn’t be further from it. When you hire a DJ, there are a few questions you need to think of asking them and asking yourself. Is the price too good to be true? Are there hidden costs you didn’t commit to? Are they who they claim to be?
You won’t have to know what the difference between a Mackie SRM 450 and a JBL EON is: but with a few essential questions at your arsenal, you will get past the scammers and excessive salesman tactics to get the best DJ for your event.
Why are some DJs a lot cheaper than others?
When looking for a mobile DJ for your event; there’s no denying that you will come across many. Some of their prices will seem sky-high, others bobbing around the midrange at about £200 – £400 and some will seem unbelievably cheap. Unfortunately like everything else, it’s usually too good to be true.
If someone is charging £70 to cover the entire evening for example; there is a chance that they are not insured, do not hold the pat tested equipment or will not even turn up on the night. A price like this should flash warning lights: do not trust.
Do they have PAT testing on all of their equipment?
All portable electronic equipment should be PAT tested: this is for safety and reliability of the equipment and is essential. Ask them this question before hiring them, you will be able to recognise the green ‘pass’ sticker of PAT testing on their equipment when you meet them as well.
Do they have insurance?
It’s inexcusable if a DJ isn’t carrying a full liability insurance policy. Any professional will be insured, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking them this question. This insurance covers costs in the unlikely occurrence that your event venue is damaged or guests are injured from the use of equipment.
Will they turn up on the day?
If the DJ is ill at the time of your event or wedding, you need to make sure they offer a stand-in for the day. Any professional mobile DJ business will offer this service: they should see it as their duty to provide you with the service you paid for.
How long will they arrive before the event?
They should be turning up 2-3 hours before the event to set up, particularly if they are offering a light show or venue lighting within the costs. A DJ can get carried away with how well they know the equipment and underestimating the time it takes for them to set up. They should know that it’s always better to arrive in decent time, just in case anything is wrong in testing.
What equipment do they bring?
Ask them what they offer in their DJ package. Do they offer the full disco experience? Do they offer a lighting show? Most offer everything: disco lighting, disco effects such as smoke machines, speakers and sound equipment, mixing equipment and an extensive collection of music. In short, make sure they are bringing everything you expect them to.
Do they carry spares?
You don’t want to be arriving to a wedding reception, hearing that they need to fetch another cable. They should have effective planning in place: ensuring that they carry spares of just about everything.
Are you meeting the DJ or just an agency member?
A very important point: some mobile DJ services are done via an agency and you will not actually talk or meet the DJ. It may give you peace of mind to get an idea of their character: does he seem arrogant, is he trying to push sales, is he enthusiastic and listens to your requirements? It would be a good idea to be on first name terms before the event itself!
What is covered in the cost?
You need to get an idea of what is covered, and what exactly you are paying for. It is very easy for them to slide in additional costs, or throwing extra costs in after you have confirmed an amount.
Will they hold the date?
A professional will be able to hold the date for a reasonable amount of time. They will understand that you may need to ‘shop around’ as it were, to get what’s best for you. If they seem pushy and want to close the deal then and there: it’s perfectly understandable that you will feel intimidated. No professional uses hard sales.
What types of events have they done?
Get an idea of what kind of DJ they are. If you are looking to hire a wedding DJ: how many weddings have they done before? If they have only performed at school discos and low-key events, they may not have the professionalism to work with a wedding crowd. Ask them for references from previous clients and make sure the reference is authentic. You could probably tell if they wrote it themselves.
What makes the DJ unique?
Ask them if there is anything which sets them apart from their competitors. They shouldn’t be blasting or slandering other DJs when asked this question, and just be able to come up with some positive ways which makes them unique. Do they offer something special? Will they be an entertainer as well?
What do they wear and how do they present themselves?
A wedding DJ needs to be smartly dressed, you would expect them to be suited or at least wearing smart dress. Even whilst setting up, they need to maintain a professional attire.
What do they do to encourage dancing?
A tumbleweed on the dance floor is not a good sign. It can just be the beginning of the night where people are deep in conversation, but it is the DJ’s responsibility to try and encourage the crowd to his dance floor. What tactics does he do? Excessive chanting through the microphone is probably not the best tactic. Would they change the music, make a competition, create an atmosphere? How would they get them dancing?
Do they listen to your music preferences and requests?
Does the DJ know the score when it comes to current, up-to-date music? They should have an extensive knowledge of music that is both passion-driven and covers a wide range of genres. The DJ should be listening to your music requests and not claim that he knows what is best to play. Make sure you submit any songs you definitely would NOT want for your party.
How would they define their style of making announcements?
This will give an idea of what the DJ is suitable for. If you are looking for an elegant wedding reception and sophisticated evening, then hiring an entertainer or party MC doesn’t really match up. When they make announcements, are they frequent? Would you really want that? It’s ideal that they keep announcements clear, tasteful and at the right times.
Do they take breaks, drink alcohol or need cigarettes?
No professional would even consider taking breaks for cigarettes, or say they need alcohol to ‘loosen up’. Their personality should not be driven by alcohol, and they should maintain a certain degree of professionalism throughout.
Save yourself a lot of time and money by skimming through these questions when meeting a DJ. You are perfectly within your right to ask these questions and catch out the bad eggs. All it takes from them is a can-do attitude, with flexibility and professionalism; not a Del Boy trying to flog his incredibly poor services. Get smart with them and you couldn’t go wrong.