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What Questions Should I Ask A DJ?


Listed in: Advice

This is the second part in our guidance notes for customers looking to hire a DJ for their party.  If you haven’t already read the first part, please visit: What Information Should I Have Before I Contact A DJ?

So, the first part of our help section centred on the preparation work may want to do before you start contacting DJs.  It includes having all the vital information that a DJ should be asking you about your event and why they need that information.  Our second part allows you to go through some questions that may help you decide if the DJ you’re contacting is the right person for your event.

What styles of music can the DJ play?

Depending on what type of event you’re organising, there will be certain DJs who excel in certain types of party. For example, there’s a growing market for glamorous Sweet Sixteen parties (probably encouraged by the MTV shows with extravagant celebrations) and the music for that audience will be quite specific. Hiring a DJ who doesn’t have an understanding of the music tastes of that narrow age group is going to be primary concern for that type of event.

music-notesAlternatively, you may be organising a wedding where there will be a very wide range of age groups in attendance. You’re probably going to need a DJ who knows about the etiquette and formalities of the celebration. You may need someone who excels on the microphone for those important announcements and someone who can command the attention of the audience while the centre of attention remains on the happy couple.

Other functions that may need a specific type of DJ or compere are charity events.  A DJ or band may not make you any money for your chosen charity – they will probably end up costing you money because their fee will need to come out of ticket sales.

The good news is that a compere who can run the evening with games and other activities can raise more than their fee in donations from the audience. Entertainment doesn’t just need to come in the form of music and dancing, that can be reserved for a little later on to finish the event off.

Raising money should be your primary concern with charity events and there are specialist DJs/comperes who will use their skills and knowledge to get the guests to dig deep and participate in the event. The more the attendees enjoy themselves and become a part of the fundraising event, the more likely they are to open their wallets or purses.

Can we meet up to discuss our party?

Many DJs offer a no obligation meeting with potential customers as this is a great way for them to listen to your needs and give you some ideas that may not have crossed your mind. This is a service that many specialist Wedding DJs offer because couples looking to hire the right DJ for their event will want to meet in advance.

Do you have Public Liability Insurance (PLI) and has your equipment been tested for electrical safety (Portable Appliance Test – PAT)?

Many venues now require outside contractors (such as DJs or other entertainers) to have insurance and that they have their equipment that has been tested for safety. Even if your venue hasn’t asked for these requirements, the two items should be something at a Professional DJ should have in place. Documentation may need to be sent to the venue in advance of the event and it is the responsibility of the DJ to make sure they have it in good time.

Be wary of venues that insist on using their DJ because they have a DJ license to work there. If a venue has an entertainment license any DJ, singer, band or other entertainer that uses music as a part of their performance can work there and you are not tied in to their supplier.

Remember that you’re the customer and if you feel that you are being pushed into something you’re not happy with from the staff at a venue, put your foot down! In the case of a wedding reception, would the venue tell the bride what wedding dress she could have? You have a choice!

Can I check the testimonials that are on your website?

testimonials

Many DJs are proud of the comments that customers have sent in to them after they have played a part in their celebrations and rightly so. Professional DJs receive cards, letters, e-mails and other messages of appreciation from their satisfied customers and they should have them filed away.

However, the personal details of customers cannot be given out, so it may not be possible for you to contact the person direct – as outlined in the Data Protection Act. There are ways around this, but that involves your contact details being passed on to the previous customer to speak to you about their event.

Are you operating legitimately/legally?

This question was something of a curve ball and a controversial topic when it was discussed by some DJs. Some said it was a silly question, while others thought that it may be a query that the DJ wasn’t expecting or prepared for. It’s certainly something that puts the DJ on the spot and any hesitation over the phone or face to face may give them away.

Why should you be bothered if the DJ is operating legitimately?

Let’s put it into perspective with something many people do each week – shopping at the supermarket.

trolley

So, you’re stood at the checkout and your trolley of shopping comes to a hypothetical £100 and the person at the next checkout has exactly the same products and their bill only comes to £66.  How would you feel?

The difference is that almost one third of the income that self employed DJs receive is paid out in taxes.  So, whatever you pay your DJ, they won’t take home all of the money. If you’ve never been self employed or ran a business, you probably haven’t come across how income is divided into three.  Approximately one third goes in the way of taxes, one third should be reserved for running the business (advertising, promotion, equipment, repairs, vehicles, music, etc,) and the rest is profit that allows the self employed DJ to live on.

Not only have you paid your taxes (and National Insurance) contributions from your employment, but you’re expected to pay the full price of the goods in your trolley. The other shopper doesn’t pay their dues and they get their shopping cheaper. Is that fair?

A Professional DJ will declare their income from DJing and they will pay the taxes expected of them.

What will you wear to our party?

Do you want your DJ to stick out like a sore thumb at your event? Unless you know what level of attire they will be in, you may end up with the jeans, T-shirt and trainers brigade. Or perhaps you’re holding a really informal event and you want the DJ to be casually dressed?

Your party doesn’t have to be a wedding where all the guests are in their best outfits and it’s a mark of respect from your DJ that they will come appropriately dressed.

What happens if your car/van breaks down?

This scenario could happen to any service provider that needs to be there in person at your event . Or it could be suppliers who deliver their products in time for your party (such as food).

warning

A Professional DJ should have vehicle breakdown cover in place, so in the event of something happening with their car or van on the way to your event, they have something in place to assist them in their hour of need. Many breakdown services only include a single tow to a destination of your choice and a Professional DJ will want to fulfil their agreement with you and get a tow to your venue. That allows them to perform at your party, while other arrangements are put in place to get them home at the end of the event.

Some DJs also have access to a second vehicle that may allow them to get to your event and perform. This is an extra safety net because a DJ who has built up a great reputation does not want that ruining by a failure to attend a booking.

What happens if the DJ is ill?

There are some things that just cannot be predicted and illness is one of those. A Professional DJ should be networking with their peers in the DJing sector of the Entertainment Industry and should they fall ill, they can contact fellow professionals to come to their aid. We’re not talking about randomly going through the Yellow Pages directory, we’re talking about getting a suitable DJ to cover for them.

The National Association of Disc Jockeys (NADJ) actively encourages all of their members to network with each other. The Association feels that working with (and not against) fellow Professional DJs is the right course of action and it can have added benefits for everyone. The Association has also been called upon to assist customers when non-members have let them down and because they have a growing network of Professional DJs across the UK, we have come to their assistance.

How loud will the music be?

A small intimate event will not need a sound and lighting system that is best suited to a rock concert and on the other side of the coin a pair of speakers at an event for 200+ people probably isn’t going to cut the mustard.

megaphoneA Professional DJ will bring the appropriate amount of equipment to your event and they will play at the right level that encourages people to dance and enjoy the music selection. If the music is too loud, people will shy away from the dance floor. If the music is too quiet, guests may sit glued to their seats and chat.

If you’re planning a party, those guests who want to go for a catch up or a chat could be placed in the quietest areas of the room – that will allow the party animals to dance the night away.

Are you a Mobile Disco/DJ or are you a Children’s Entertainer?

Some DJs specialise in parties for children and one of the comments that was raised in a discussion was whether the DJ is providing a Mobile Disco or if they are a Children’s Entertainer. There’s a big difference between the two. A Mobile Disco by definition, may be a DJ who just plays music for the youngsters and a Children’s Entertainer may use their skills and music knowledge to interact with the children and entertain them.

If you’re not organising an event for children, you probably wouldn’t want to hire a DJ who specialises in that form of entertainment.

What makes you different to other DJs?

This question can really put the DJ on the spot and how they respond may go some way to helping you decide if they are the appropriate Disc Jockey for your event.

We can’t give you any ideas as to the responses you should get because all DJs are different and what makes sets them apart from the rest of the crowd is something that is unique to them.

What style of DJ are you?

DJs can specialise in many areas. We mentioned above about those who specialise in Children’s Entertainment, those who compere charity/fundraising events, weddings or almost any other function. How the DJ responds to this question will help you decide if they are appropriate for your memorable event.

How often do you use the microphone?

microphoneThere’s a very unflattering image of a DJ portrayed by Peter Kay and many people think that they are all still stuck in the past with their presentation and the music they play. Yes, there are some people who are ‘retro’ and they fill the needs of a certain client base who enjoys that style of DJ.

There are also many DJs who have evolved from the stereotypical image that comics and soap operas keep portraying on your television screens. If you don’t want a DJ who is muffled and using the microphone between each song they play, find out what style of DJ is on the other side of your enquiry.

Do you have songs from <insert genre of music here>?

If you’re organising an event where there is a call for a specialist DJ or if you and your guests have a specific love of a certain genre of music, ask if the DJ has the music and knowledge to make your party a success.

A very specific genre of music that has a big following is Northern Soul – many DJs have the popular hits from this genre that will appease many people. However, true fans of Northern Soul music do not want the commercially successful songs – in many cases, the more obscure or hard to find the more excited they get.

If you’re hosting a themed event, such as an 80s night, the DJ may have ideas and suggestions that will help you create a better 80s party atmosphere. Use their knowledge to help make it a success – that’s as important as the equipment they will bring to the function.

Can you compere the event?

Some events need a person who is confident and clear on the microphone. Some DJs have honed their skills and microphone technique that allows them to compere or be your host for the event. They will be instrumental in commanding the attention of the audience and they will control the flow of the event with their voice.

Some DJs have taken things a step further and they take on the role of Master of Ceremonies at weddings – this is an area that needs specific vocal talents and a confident person to administer properly.

Part one of our guidance notes for customers looking to hire a DJ for their event can be found here: What Information Should I Have Before I Contact A DJ?