Hiring a DJ can be a monumental decision and whether it is for a party, anniversary or wedding, the fact of the matter is, the decision should not be made lightly. Since the DJ is essentially the life of the party, they have the ability to keep things rolling while making guests happy or on the other end of the spectrum can make the night seem never-ending. Before you hire your entertainment there are a few things to consider if the night is to be successful. Some are legalities which are important; the rest are simple considerations that may make the difference between a good night and a night you will not forget.
Get It In Writing
While most entertainers have been in business for years and are reliable, you are still hiring a virtual stranger. DJ's are not cheap and you want to get your money's worth not to mention protect your investment.
For that reason, a face to face meeting or phone call at the very least should happen before you agree to hire the DJ. During this call you will both speak about expectations-theirs and yours. Things like music collection, pricing, hours and dates that they are available and the like should all be discussed beforehand.
Once an agreement on all those topics has been reached request the DJ to draw up a contract that both they and you will sign. Most entertainers already have these on file for their business, while others may not. Either way, every detail that has been discussed should be in the contract and you should keep a copy somewhere safe, so that should problems arise, you have something concrete to refer to.
Do not trust someone's word, hand shake or recommendation for an affair of any importance. Ever.
Although some DJ's do not have their own insurance, many do and if you can hire one that does, it's a wise decision. The purpose of insurance is two-fold: it not only protects the DJ's equipment and belongings, but it also protects you and your interested parties should they not show up for the gig. Although uncommon, no-shows do happen and having a little insurance to protect you, the DJ, the guests and your investment is important.
The quality of the DJ's equipment may or may not be of importance to you. With entertainers one size does not always fit all. Some DJ's invest a lot of money into their equipment and sound quality, while others may slide by with mediocre equipment. If your event is planned to be in a large facility, sound quality will be more essential than if you are having a family backyard barbeque perhaps.
This may come down to what you can afford as well, as DJ's who invest a lot into their business need to make up that loss and usually that will reflect in their pricing.
It's also a good idea to ask about whether they have backup equipment should a speaker blow out or discs/monitors skip or fail. Broken equipment can wreck havoc on an event when all music comes to a halt.
This is also an area that should be of concern and more than a few parties have been all but ruined because a DJ was hired and their style and music tastes are nothing like that of yours and your guests'. After the legal things above, it is essential that you inquire as to what type of music library the DJ has and whether he has song selections that will be suitable for you and your guests. A DJ whose library is mostly oldies will not be a great choice for a Sweet 16 party nor will a young DJ with Top 40 hits likely work out for a retirement party in most cases.
Talk to the DJ about what selections you will most likely want for your event. Some will offer to invest or borrow songs from friends; some will allow guests to bring their own and others will not be so malleable, so choose one that has a similar style and taste to yours and ultimately a versatile collection overall for the best results.
Also inquire as to what their feelings are about guest requests. Usually DJ's are happy to confer to requests and are willing to go with the flow throughout the event if desires and requests change as the party goes on. Other DJ's are less willing to submit to the guest's requests and you will want to know that ahead of time.
Ultimately you will have a relationship with your DJ for no less than the entire length of your event, but in the best case scenarios, also one before the event and even at its end. Therefore, hire a DJ that you mesh with on a personal level. If you're playful, your DJ should be (to a certain extent) as well. If you work in an orderly and concise fashion, so should your entertainer.
The DJ often has to liven up the crowd, keep things moving and do some announcements throughout the event so choose one that is personable, while also professional.
By Daryl Ledyard
A boutique entertainment group from Melbourne, Australia.