How to Choose & Hire a DJ

How to Choose and Hire a DJ (Disc Jockey)
Choosing a DJ for your event can seem like a headache, especially after you have gone through the long process of planning everything else. There is no sure fire method for choosing the best DJ, but there are ways to ensure you find the DJ that best suits your needs. If you have never hired a DJ before please read on. We have illustrated a few points that you might not have thought of and will find helpful in your search.

What are your Wants and Needs? What are you looking for in a DJ?
Whether you know exactly what you want from your party entertainment or are not quite sure, it is important to figure this out before committing to a service. Hiring a DJ for a Wedding is much different than hiring a DJ for your son or daughter’s 7th birthday party. You should consider the level of professionalism and services that you expect from a DJ. This is a crucial factor for you to decide. Hiring a DJ that has more experience with small events for your wedding might leave you feeling disappointed and wanting more. On the other hand, hiring a DJ that specializes in weddings for a small backyard birthday party may come off as over-kill. You can see how important it is to consider the type performance and level of entertainment that you need before looking for a DJ.

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 will probably suit the younger guests perfectly, however what about the more seasoned guests? Will they appreciate and enjoy the event as much as the younger generation? While it’s ok to have a specific focus, you should still 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 all the people you invite. For bigger events with a variety of guests it’s important that your DJ have a versatile mix that can satisfy everyone. After all, don’t you want them to enjoy themselves?

Perhaps the most important question you are going to consider in your hunt for a DJ is what type, or types, of music are you going to want played. What genres of music do you desire for the event (click here for the definition of genre)? You might be thinking that all DJ’s are able to play whatever music you ask for. This is true for the most part, however when dealing with cultural music, it may not be the case. If you have a strong ethnic background (such as Italian, Spanish, Irish, African American, Latin, and so on) you might want to find a DJ that specializes in that type of music or is willing to bring in new music specifically for you. 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, techno, and so on). Discussing and deciding on music before the event needs to be a priority.

Beginning your search for a DJ
Now that you have an idea of what you want you can begin your search. Though if you found this page, I am sure you have already started :-). The best place to start your search is through your friends, relatives, and co-workers. Ask them if they 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 resource when looking for a DJ. Plus it will give you an insight into other people’s experiences with DJs. If you are able to get some DJ referrals, great!  Still you should keep in mind that a DJ that was a good fit for someone else might not be necessarily a good fit for you. Make sure you know what kind of party they hosted when they had this DJ.

In your search for a good DJ you definitely want to use the internet. The internet will be your best tool for finding a DJ (second only to word-of-mouth). Search providers such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, or DJ specific search sites such as ADJA, WEDJ, TheKnot, and hundreds of others enable to see all of your options in the same place at the same time. There you will find hundreds if not thousands of DJs listed. It is easy to quickly feel overwhelmed. So a word of advice, start with searching DJs that are within a 20 mile radius of you or use the type of event you are having in your search phrase. Then expand your search.

I found my first DJ, now what?

Congratulations are in order! You made it this far! When finding a DJ through the internet, spend the time surfing through their website. Pictures are great; however, spend time reading their site. Do they have a good grasp of who they are and what they are doing? A good DJ (for the most part) will spend some time explaining who they are, and what they do. If the sites offer an informational section giving you helpful tips and guides, use those in your search! Over all, spend 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.

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

Reaching out to a DJ? What to say and 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 is a highly interactive field. Emailing and filling out forms are great, however to get a 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 and duration of the event, as well as the number of guests attending. Also, do not forget your wants and needs! Be specific! 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 is will also help you determine if they are the right DJ for you.

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

Asking for a Price or Quote
So you like what you saw on a DJ’s 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 to have a loose estimate emailed to you. You have 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 to another, it will also indicate that they are committed to providing you with an exceptional DJ service.

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 backyard BBQs is the same as that they offer for weddings. Unless you are having a back yard BBQ or something as informal, please steer away from these DJs. Their price might be good, but 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 contract with the DJ, ask if they have insurance. This is one of the final gauges of whether or not they are a professional DJ, and will 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.

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 sloppy looking or non-functioning equipment show up. Also ask them if they have any backup equipment if anything fails at the event. Especially with big events like weddings, you need to know that even if there is a technical glitch it will not affect your celebration.

Is the DJ knowledgeable about your type of event? You should ask them if they have done this type of event before and when. Ask them how they felt about the event and how it turned out overall and maybe even what they would do differently at your event. DJs with more experience are normally more capable in giving you an excellent service.

You also need to find out if 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 sounds like they know how to give you the high-level of service you expect, but what about the person that will actually be there? Make sure you ask who will be performing for you and make sure that person is also capable of giving you what you need for your event.

Will the DJ offer to meet with you after signing the contract to plan your event? If you are planning a wedding, any professional DJ should be willing to meet with you one or more times before the event to go over any and all details. Please make sure you ask before you sign anything. You want to be assured that all your expectations will be 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 recourses that you might be interested in.