I think it fitting that we compare the process of hiring a DJ, to the cutting of a personalized diamond.
Before we get started in making your diamond, the first thing you need to do, is find the right jeweller. You may open the phone book, and drop a pin on one, but it shouldn’t be that simple. If you’re buying a diamond, are you purchasing one from the first store you attend? Probably not. You may end up going back to that first store, but you should shop around. Do the same for your DJ. Interview them; ensure they have what you need; ensure they are experienced; and ensure they have done this before. The last thing you need, for your most important event, is someone doing this for the first time. Because while this may be your first wedding, it will leave a lasting impression, and you don’t want that impression to be your DJ.
So, let’s make a diamond, I mean, hire a DJ.
The first step is to get a diamond rock, which in this case is your wedding. You know the date, the time, everything, but music is usually the last thing on your mind. In this stage, you should be deciding the type of event you’re going to have. Will you have entertainers, i.e. singers, pianist, violinist, dancers? What is your first dance song? Do you need other equipment, like a projector for pictures or a video, or a dry ice for dancing? You may not yet know, and need the assistance of your DJ to help you decide. Have a few songs off the top of your head as this will help the DJ know what direction you’re going in. As well, have the size of the event, and the location with you, since this helps with the equipments needed. Now, let’s meet with the DJ’s to decide who you want.
This take us to the next step in making your diamond, you bring it to the jeweller. Now, if you take a diamond and give it to a jeweller without instructions, he would decide on his own how he wants it cut. However, if you tell him what you want, he makes it to your specifications; this is the same as a DJ. Sometimes people hire DJ’s in a hurry, and just say, “just play a bit of everything”. DJ’s, especially a reputable DJ, have everything. However, do you really want to hear Jungle music, Techno, Grunge, Heavy Metal, or Macarena? Well, maybe Macarena. If you hire a DJ, without telling him the music you want played, he will decide on his own, and this may not be to your satisfaction. So, you consult with the DJ.
This is the third step in making your diamond. After you’ve selected your jeweller, you sit down with them, and tell them what you like. Similarly, you need to sit down with your DJ and tell him/her what you like.
What is your first dance song Your mother/son, father/daughter dance, the dance for the wedding party marching in/out, dinner music, and most importantly, dancing music?
As important as what you want to hear, is what you do not want to hear. Do you not like certain artistes? Do you not like certain genres? The beauty of music is that there’s a genre for everyone, however everyone’s genre is not for you.
The forth step in your diamond making process is choosing the setting. How a diamond is cut determines the type of setting you can use. Similarly, the venue the music will be played in, determines the equipment needed. A huge hall requires huge productions, multiple speakers, microphones, lighting, and so forth. However, a small and intimate setting may require two speakers, no lighting, and two microphones. Letting your DJ know the size of the venue, the amounts of guests expected, and what will happen helps to determine the equipment needed. Will there be performances? Will there be toasting, whereby numerous microphones are needed. Will there be an MC, who may need a lapel microphone? Talking about the event and what will be happening helps to ensure the success of your wedding.
So, what will this diamond process cost?
This is the scary part, right? Well, let’s continue with our diamond analogy. Buying a pre-made diamond in the store costs less than if you get one made from scratch, correct? And this may suite your needs precisely. However, you can’t find a packaged DJ that you can just pick up and bring in; they need to be hired from scratch. The reputable DJ will charge based on the service and product requirements. If you buy a diamond in the store, the cost may be $1000. This price includes the diamond, and the setting. However, what if you want that diamond to be in a different setting, or the ring resized, these are additional expenses.
This is the same for a DJ. You should get a basic set of equipments when you hire a DJ; typically:
– Two (2) turntables/cd player
– One (1) mixer
– Two (2) speakers
– One (1) microphone
If you require additional equipment, this may be at additional costs. The additional equipment is based on various factors, including event size, party size, location (indoor, outdoor), and performers. It is essential you know all of this information before hiring a DJ.
As well, get the charge in writing when you commit to a price; a written contract is mandatory. As the saying goes, a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it is written on. Also, don’t be scared by a deposit request. This is one of the first signs you have a professional DJ. A deposit secures his services for you, and a deposit secures your event for him, ensuring a double booking situation does not occur.
Many DJ’s are like used car salesmen: the more you argue, the lower the price. It kinda makes you wonder the quality of the car you getting at the end of the day, no? Same for the service; makes you wonder the service you’re getting at the end of the day. Will they give 100% knowing they aren’t getting paid what they originally wanted?
Face it, a DJ willing to negotiate on price means he wasn’t giving his best in the first place, and willing to negotiate with your event. If he’s negotiating the price, he’s most likely negotiating the service. If top service was quoted at $2000, and he’s willing to negotiate to $1700, are you still getting top service? And if so, that means top service wasn’t worth $2000, it’s worth $1700, which then means were mislead, and should be negotiating from $1700 down.
Lastly, you need to inspect the final product before paying for it. Is this the diamond you agreed to, or not? But how do you inspect a DJ’s performance prior to his performance. Well, you can’t, but you can inspect his preparation; if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail. What are the steps your DJ has taken to ensure he is ready for your event? Don’t be scared to ask your DJ to give you an update of where he stands regarding your music or equipment selection. Here’s what you should confirm three weeks before the event:
– Are the most important dance songs ready, namely first dance, wedding party introduction, mother/son and father/daughter dance
– Are all extra equipment rented/purchased?
– If providing entertainment, i.e. piano player, violinist, singer, are the confirmed and booked for the event
– When will they arrive at the event – DJ’s should be there a minimum 60 minutes before party arrival
Other things may apply, but you’ll get a feel of what they are based on the event itself. Ensure everything requested is written, and expressely stated in the contract.
So, let’s recap the hiring process:
Plan your event: What type of entertainment do you want? Live band? Singer? Pianist? Violist? Most DJ’s have a catalogue of entertainers at their disposal.
Hire a reputable DJ: Make sure you check his credentials, testimonials, and experience.
Consultation: This may be the first of many, however this one gets the ball rolling, by explaining what you’re looking for, what you hope to get, and how you it done. This is your event, not his. So while you can put trust in your DJ, the trust you’re putting in is that he can follow your directions properly. In this section, you’re also telling him about the venue, equipment needed, and so forth. Ensure he knows it all, and has access to it all.
Pricing: The mantra is: you get what you pay for. Don’t go cheap on a DJ, cause you will get cheap service; ensure you’re hiring a professional. You should also ensure you’re not over charged. The average rate for a professional wedding DJ is between $1500 – $2500, depending on equipment needed, and so forth. Budget for somewhere in the middle. Lastly, quality assurance. You need to ensure your DJ is prepared and ready for your event. You have put a lot of time and effort into planning your special day, and so should your DJ.
So, have I covered everything? Probably not. There may be a couple things that come up out of the blue, but a proper DJ will prepare for these things, and be ready for any hiccoughs.
Is this your diamond? Maybe not, and that’s the point. Each person’s diamond is cut differently, shaped differently, coloured differently, and weighted differently; and so is each person’s wedding experience.