Most people have probably never hired a DJ for an event in the past and many people just don’t know what questions they should ask when they contact a DJ about their service. Many people are not prepared for the questions a professional DJ should be asking them in the early stages of their enquiry. Part two of our guidance notes/advice for customers can be found in a separate article (What Questions Should I Ask A DJ?), but please read the information below first.
When calling to book another service provider, such as a taxi, the company will need to know some information before they can give you an idea of the cost. We’re sure that before you pick up the phone, you will already have the details of the journey and when you want it to take place. That same level of preparation and information needs to be applied to your enquiry to a DJ. We hope this little guide will put you on the right footing for when you make first contact with your DJ(s).
A DJ will play a massive part in the success of any party. At certain events, such as a wedding, they may be on-hand from the ceremony through to the very last song of the night. At the very least, they’re on-hand and working for you for upwards of half of your wedding day or they may be there for the duration of your party if the celebrations are limited to the evening.
Every event deserves a quality, reliable and professional DJ and we’re not here to tell you how much you can expect to pay for a professional Disc Jockey or who is the best DJ for your event. You must decide who is the right person to book and with our guidance below you’ll be left with a choice, but you must do your research first because a ‘lucky dip’ approach could leave you severely disappointed.
The true value of the service provided by a DJ isn’t down to the number of lights or speakers they bring with them and there’s a simple phrase to remember when hiring a DJ (or any other entertainer for that matter): “Hire the best you can afford.”
Everyone has probably set a budget for the different aspects of their event and we’d advise you to prioritise on what parts or features of your party people will remember the most. We’re not here to tell you where you should spend your money, but we’re asking you to put the entertainment into perspective for your party. In many cases, the DJ or other entertainer will be in sole charge of making your party a success, so let’s start with the most basic information that will be vital to your DJ:
Date of the Event
The first thing your DJ will do is to check their availability and if they are not available we’d suggest continuing to look through the many professional members of the National Association of Disc Jockeys (NADJ) on the www.finda.dj website because all of our members have signed up to our Code of Conduct, they have Public Liability Insurance (PLI), Employers Liability Insurance (ELI), have equipment that has been tested for electrical safety (PAT test) and they are also a part of the largest DJ Association in the UK.
Type of Event
“All DJs are the same aren’t they? They just play music!”
Ask those two questions to someone who hired the wrong DJ for their event and they will tell you from their experience that they believe it’s not the case. Professional DJs may specialise in certain events and they may include weddings, children’s parties, karaoke, student nights, charity events, etc,. If you contact a DJ who mainly does weddings, they may not be the right person for an 18th birthday party where the teenagers may want club, house, drum and bass, R&B and so on.
Some DJs claim to be an expert in all types of event, but there are also DJs who would rather point you in the direction of someone who is more capable of providing what you want for your party. If you get a DJ who says that they may not be the right person for your event, don’t take offence, they’re telling you the truth and the comments are probably coming from someone who wants to make sure your party is in the hands of the right person and that may not be them.
Once you’ve found out if the DJ is available on your chosen date, they’ll need to know where you are holding the party. Every venue is different and some DJs may need to hire an assistant if the job involves stairs or if a large sound system needs to be installed. A large venue with a DJ with his pair of speakers isn’t going to cut the mustard and a small venue with a sound system that’s designed for a rock concert isn’t really appropriate.
Many quality venues insist on outside contractors having Public Liability Insurance (PLI) and that their equipment has been tested for electrical safety – more commonly known as a Portable Appliance Test (PAT). The good news is that all of our verified Full Members of the National Association of Disc Jockeys have valid PAT and PLI in place. So, that’s one less thing for you to deal with.
Some events take place inside temporary structures, such as marquees and there are extra tasks associated with those types of event. It may take longer to get into the marquee because of the location or there may be access restrictions to the setup area. The DJ will also need to know if they are running their electrical equipment from a generator or a mains electric supply.
Sensitive sound and lighting equipment can be adversely affected by electricity from a generator that’s underpowered or that is not providing a clean feed. The loading of the generator or power supply should be one of the most important issues for the DJ because having a temporary bar on the same circuit as the sound system may result in interference with the music. Working with a bad source of electricity is like putting poor quality fuel or oil in your car. There will come a time when something breaks or the engine is damaged beyond repair and those costs may be passed on to you. Working in marquees may involve a lot more preparation work before and during the event and that may need to be factored in.
Start Time & End Time
We know that DJs work some of the most unsocial hours out there. This includes working weekends and into the early hours of the morning. So, it’s important that your DJ knows the start and the end time of your function.
If you have any other entertainers, such as a band, please remember that the DJ can only be in one place and they’re probably needed for the whole time they are on site. They can’t head to a venue down the road and work somewhere else while the band is on and then return to your event. You’re paying for the whole time they are on site and not just when they are playing music.
Your quote will be based on your chosen start and end times. If you want the DJ to play longer, the DJ should make it clear how much extra it will be to continue and that will only happen with the permission of the venue as there may be licensing laws to take into consideration. If you want extra time, the professional DJ will want paying for that and it’s not a case of: “Well, you’re here, so why can’t you just play on?” Would you work extra hours for free?
If you have a period where the venue isn’t open or there’s a specific period of time set aside for the ‘room turnaround,’ please take into consideration that it will take the DJ time to get the equipment into the room and installed. If DJs could make the equipment magically appear, they would do so, but that’s not the case. If the staff in the venue only open up 15 minutes before your event is supposed to start or if it only takes them 15 minutes to change some tablecloths in the room turnaround, it may not be possible for your DJ to start at the time you want because of the logistics involved in getting ready.
If an event, like a wedding, is running late, you can’t make up time lost earlier in the day by expecting the DJ to be ready to go in a matter of minutes. So, it’s vital that you are as accurate as possible on the start and end times. If you have been advised by someone outside of the industry that it only takes 15 minutes for a DJ to get into the room and set their equipment up, ask the DJ you’re contacting how long it takes them. Leave that vital bit of information to the experts from the entertainment field.
Expected Number of Guests
Why would the DJ need to know how many people are attending the event?
A small intimate event won’t need a large sound and lighting system and your DJ will decide what equipment is necessary for your party. While on the other hand a large event may need a different approach for the size of the room or the number of guests. A professional DJ who receives a quotation request for an event for 400 people may not have the equipment necessary for that many attendees. They may have the contacts within the industry to source that level of equipment and that will be factored into their quote.
It’s another reason why there’s no standard price for a service provider like a DJ. A DJ who takes on an event with hundreds of people with a pair of speakers will not cut the mustard.
E-mail is a great method of communication, but there are times when things can be better explained over the phone or face to face. By giving the DJ a contact number, they will allow you both to open up another channel of communication that, if it suits you, could lead to an informal meeting to discuss things further. Gaining the confidence to hire the right DJ for your event is a vital part of your decision process.
If a DJ goes into hard-sell tactics, negative marketing or scaremongering, you’re probably going to be put off by that person and you may only pick up on that if you chat to them. If the DJ listens to your thoughts and wishes for your party, they may have some ideas or suggestions that you may not have considered before. DJs work week in week out and know the ins and outs of the business better than anyone else, so use their knowledge and experience to your advantage because that’s what you should be paying for.
Any Other Information
Do you have any specific requirements that the DJ should be aware of? For example, if the event is a surprise party, please make sure the DJ knows that. You wouldn’t want the DJ to call you about the event and find that they’ve been put through to the person you’re organising the event for. The cat will be out of the bag at that point.
So, there’s a brief guide to the information you should have at hand before you contact a DJ for your party. The guidance doesn’t end here because we have a list of questions you may want to consider asking your DJ and that can be found in the following article: What Questions Should I Ask A DJ?