How to Choose and Hire a DJ (Disc Jockey)

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Choosing a DJ for your event can sometimes prove to be a challenging task. There is no sure-fire method for choosing the “best DJ.” However, there are ways for finding the “best DJ for you and your needs.” If you have never hired a DJ in your life, please read on. We at Music In Live Productions have illustrated a few points that you might find interesting and helpful in your search.

What are you looking for in a DJ? What are your Wants and Needs for your specific event?

These questions may either be really simple or really difficult for you; nevertheless, they are important to answer. Hiring a DJ for a wedding is much different from hiring a DJ for your son’s or daughter’s 7th birthday party. In other words, it is not only important, but crucial for you to consider the level of professionalism that you expect from a DJ. If you hire a DJ service for your wedding that normally DJs small events, chances are they might leave you feeling disappointed and wanting more at the end of the night. Similarly, hiring a DJ that only does weddings, for a small backyard birthday party, may prove to be too much (over-kill). Therefore, think about the type of professionalism that you expect before looking for a DJ.

In being mindful of your wants and needs, when choosing a DJ, please consider your guests! This is commonly overlooked by hosts until the event day itself. For example, if you are looking for a DJ for your daughter’s “Super Sweet 16,” you are going to look for DJs that have the best in lighting-effects, a “killer sound system,” and the best in popular music. This is fine and great for the younger guests; however, what about your seasoned (older) guests? Will they appreciate and enjoy the event as much as the younger generation? So again, please keep all your guests in mind when choosing your DJ. Be mindful that you will need a DJ that will be able to accommodate you and the people you invite. After all, don’t you want them to enjoy themselves?

Lastly and most importantly, to establish your wants and needs, you need to ask yourself what type of music you are looking for the DJ to play. More specifically, consider what genres of music you may require the DJ to play (click here for the definition of genre). You might be thinking that all DJs are able to play whatever music you ask them to play. This true for the most part; however, when dealing with cultural (ethnic) music, it is not. If you have a strong ethnic background (such as Italian, Hispanic, Irish, African-American, Latin, and so on) you might want to find a DJ that specializes in that type of music. In addition, you might want to consider the types of popular music you would want a DJ to play (80s, 90s, top 100, hip-hop, rock, techno, and so on). So be mindful of what music genres you expect the DJ to play at your party or event.

Beginning your search for a DJ

Now that you have an idea of what you want, we are sure you would like to begin your search. However if you found this page, we are sure you have already started . The best place to being your search is through your friends, relatives, and co-workers. Ask them if they have hired a DJ recently, or know of anyone that has. See if they can give you feedback on DJs that they have dealt with in the past. Word of mouth is your best research when looking for a DJ. Plus, it will give you insight into other people experiences with DJs. If you are able to get some DJ referrals, great! However, please keep in mind that a DJ that was a good fit for someone else might not necessarily be a good fit for you.

In continuing your search for a good DJ, please use the internet! Again, if you found this page, we are sure you know how to use it. Nowadays, the internet will be your best tool for finding a DJ (second only to word of mouth). You are able to search for DJs on search providers such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, or DJ-specific search sites such as ADJA, WEDJ, TheKnot, and hundreds of others. There you will find hundreds, if not thousands of DJs listed. It is easy to quickly feel overwhelmed. Therefore, here’s a word of advice: Start with DJs that are within a 20-mile radius of you. Then expand your search.

I found my first DJ, now what?

Congratulations are in order! You’ve made it this far! When finding a DJ through the internet, spend the time surfing through their website. Pictures are great; however, spend the time reading their site. Do they have a good grasp of who they are and what they are doing? A good Disc Jockey (for the most part) will spend the time explaining who they are, and what they do. Perhaps they will even have an informational section (such as this), giving you helpful tips and guides. Spend at least 1-5 minutes on the site. If they impress you, make note of their name and number. Then continue your journey. You should have a few DJs in mind before your reach out to them via phone, email, or inquiry form. You should always shop around first.

If you found a DJ through a friend, relative, or co-worker, look them up on the internet (using some of the methods above). Knowing some more information about them will give you more of an insight as to who they are. However if they do not have a webpage or you cannot find them on the internet, do not feel deterred! Word-of-mouth is still best tool when looking for a DJ.

What do I say when reaching out to a DJ? What can I expect?

First and foremost, when reaching out to a DJ for the first time, calling them is the best form of communication. The entertainment industry (such as DJing), is a highly interactive medium. Emailing and filling out forms are great – however, to get a better feel for your DJ, you should to speak with them over phone or setup a face-to-face meeting. Within the first 5 minutes of the phone call or meeting, you should be able to decide if the DJ is right for you or not.

When speaking to a DJ via phone, email, or form, be sure to say the type of event you are having (wedding, birthday, graduation, and so on), the location, date, time & duration of the event, and lastly the amount of guests attending. Also, do not forget your WANTS and NEEDS! Being upfront with the DJ will help him or her determine if they will be able to provide you with the services that you will need. This will also help you determine if they are the right DJ for you.

in addition, when speaking to a DJ, you should listen to what they have to offer. DJs offer all sorts of different types of packages and add-ons that you might be interested in. Also, no two DJs are alike. One DJ might be cheaper or more expensive based on what they have to offer. So know what you are getting! This will make it easier for you to compare DJs equally.

Asking for a Price or Quote

So you like what you saw on their DJ Website, heard about all their DJ Packages, and are ready to ask “How much?!” STOP!! Never just ask for a price over the phone or a quick price to be loosely emailed to you. You spent the time researching this DJ and listening to their services; the least the DJ can do is send you an official quote. A professional DJ (or any professional service) should have the resources to send you a quote (in writing) illustrating the services that you would receive at your event. This will not only help you to compare one DJ from another (as written above), but will also indicate that they are committed to providing you with good, great, and/or exceptional DJ services.

Be careful with DJs that say they have “one price for all events.” In other words, they are saying that the same price and package they offer for a backyard BBQ is the same as they offer for weddings. Unless you are having a backyard BBQ or something as informal, please steer away from these DJs. Their price might be good; however as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

Closing the deal and what final questions to ask the DJ

Before closing the deal and finalizing the contact with the DJ, ask if they have insurance. This will not only be one of the final gauges if they are a professional DJ, but will also give you peace of mind if an accident were to occur. Also, ask if they are part of any professional organizations such as ADJA (The American Disc Jockey Association). Knowing that they have insurance and are part of a well established organization will show you that the DJ is willing to go these extra steps in order to gain your trust in their services that they are providing you.

You should also ask them about the types of equipment they are bringing and if it meets the industry standard. There is nothing worse than spending a great deal of money and time on your event to have a DJ with shoddy-looking equipment. Also, ask them if they have any backup equipment just in case anything fails at the event. Is the DJ knowledgeable about your type of event? You should ask them if they have done this type of event before and when. DJs with more experience are normally more capable in giving you excellent service.

Is the DJ that you are speaking to the same person that will come out to the event? Sure, the person that you are speaking to knows how to give you that high level of service you expect, but what about the person that will actually be there? Make sure you ask about the person that will be servicing the event. Ensure that they would be able to confidently provide you with the same level of service that you expect from the person that you are speaking with.

Will the DJ offer to meet with you AFTER signing the contract to plan your event? If you are planning a wedding (for example), any professional DJ should be willing to meet with you one or more times before the event to go over any and all deals. Please make sure you ask before you sign anything. You want to be assured that all your requirements are met before the event day.

DJ Research and information

Always do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions! Here are a few other resources that you might be interested in.

Good luck in your search. We hope you have a very enjoyable event!


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