A POST ABOUT DJ RATES. PART 2
Do they have insurance? Most venues may not ask for it, but do require all outside vendors to carry at least a $1mil special event policy. It’s almost never needed, but you’d hate to find out the hard way that your DJ isn’t covered if something happens. And on that note, if they were to run a cable past a doorway or across a walkway, what would they do to make sure no one trips over it? Don’t be afraid to ask them this.
Are they professional? Do they have a well written contract? Can they offer a formal estimate? Do they have music forms to fill out. Do they respond to emails or calls in a timely fashion? If you’ve scheduled a meeting with them, in person or by phone, were they on time? Do they accept credit cards? Do they have a business license? I wouldn’t sweat it too much if they don’t, not many DJs do. but it does show a level of professionalism if they do.
Do they have a staff or an assistant? I don’t but my rates are lower than most. If you hire through an agency, you typically pay more, but it’s money well spent. You have a team of people, each of whom is dedicated to a different aspect of preparation for your wedding to make sure it’s a flawless event. And should something unforeseen happen that prevents your chosen DJ from performing on that day, you’re sure to have an adequate replacement on hand.
Do they have any formal training? That question is really just a bonus, but I feel it’s an important factor when it comes to one’s rates. Most DJs won’t have any sort of formal DJ training, as DJ schools are a fairly new concept still, and most career DJs didn’t take classes to learn their craft. But other types of training can apply. I went to school for audio production and sound engineering, so I know acoustics very well. I know how many speakers it’s going to take to accommodate any number of guests in a particular space. I know best speaker placement for acoustics, as well as pleasing aesthetics. I know how to properly wire my system, and how to troubleshoot problems with it, should they occur. I also took classes in business and got my degree in auto mechanics, so I know how to manage my business properly, and the chances of me getting stuck on the side of the road on the way to your wedding are slim. Any schooling or form of training may apply, so never hesitate to ask about any they may have.
Do you like them? If you’re considering a particular DJ for your big day, the chances are good that you’ve spoken to them by phone, or otherwise. So what kind of vibe did you get from them? Are they friendly and genuine? Are they asking the right questions? Are they asking good questions you haven’t even considered? That’s a good sign of a seasoned veteran. Do they seem like they’re being overly agreeable and giving preset answers to your questions just to get the gig? How do they present themselves, physically and otherwise? Ask how they will dress at your wedding. And furthermore, ask about their presentation in general, Do they have a table and linen? Most caterers or venues will provide the DJ a table and linen, but not all. It’s good to know if your DJ will come prepared. Will they do their best to make sure cables aren’t seen and equipment is thoughtfully placed and presented so if it makes it into some pictures, which it most likely will, it doesn’t stand out? Presentation is a key factor that is quite a bit more important at a wedding or corporate event than at a club. If you’re hiring through an agency, it’s important that you meet with any DJs they’ve selected for you before making a decision.
Also, do they MC, and to what level. You should understand that a DJ and MC are two different things, and in hiring one you should not assume you’re getting the other. Any DJ should be comfortable on the mic, and okay with making general announcements, but they should not be expected to do any extra curricular entertaining on the microphone, or “crowd hyping”. This is a special talent in itself, and one should expect to pay quite a bit more for this, even if it means hiring someone other than your DJ to handle this task. On this subject, most people these days are quick to tell me they don’t want this type of MC at their wedding because they find it annoying. But in all reality, some crowds need this type of encouragement to get on the dance floor after a long day of standing in the sun and drinking and eating excessively for free. Consider this, and be realistic about your guests. Keep an eye out for a blog post on this subject in the very near future (www.djvon.com).
If these questions are answered in a manner that satisfies you and makes you feel 110% confident that they are going to do the best possible job of DJing your event, then you should expect to pay around the high end of that range you’ve mentioned, assuming that they are providing a sound system, and that your guest count is no higher than 200. If you don’t have that kind of budget, then consider which of these factors aren’t important to you, and expect to pay less to a DJ who might not meet all of this criteria. But anything less than $200/hour, you’re entering dangerous territory. If you do find a DJ that meets all of this criteria and they’re rates are on the lower end of the spectrum, that’s a red flag in itself, and there’s a good chance you’re going to find out the hard way why they are so cheap. For such an important day, don’t risk it.
Good luck and best wishes,
**There are many helpful lists of questions to ask your potential DJ online, but too many can be overwhelming. Not to mention, most aren’t written by DJs, so they venture into territory that does not fall under the umbrella of a DJs responsibilities. And one major misconception is that all DJs are fully programmable. They should be versatile and willing to accommodate, but if you’re favorite genre is country and my background is in hip hop and dance clubs, I may not be the right DJ for you. Here’s a link to what I think is a good short list of questions to ask your DJ.