Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The difference between a good and a great DJ

People often don’t know that they’ve just seen a great DJ, but they sure know when they are experiencing a bad one and it can be excruciating.  What often makes it great is not the inclusion of good things but rather the absence of bad.  A guest may not have been a fan of a given song, but no song had offensive lyrics.  The DJ and music volume were not overbearing, they were just right. The event moved along nicely and the DJ made proper announcements as to what was coming, but it never seemed like an interruption to the conversations at hand. 

As you begin planning wedding entertainment, you’ll find prices varying wildly from hobbyists or beginners for less than $500 to respected and seasoned professional DJs for more than $2000. Fast food will get you fed cheaply but do you want fast food at your wedding?  The best steak house in town (experienced DJ) is certainly more expensive but it provides quality and expert service more representative of an important occasion such as a wedding.
The minimum expectation for DJs is alarmingly low. “Do you have two speakers? Great! You’re hired!”   Sadly, the public has resigned itself to low quality with a shrug and a remark that “It’s just the way DJs are.”   Not so. 

Take the time to interview 2 or 3 DJs. Lean on the recommendations of other professionals that you trust.  Your venue, photographer and caterer have worked with DJs who are brilliant.  Find a DJ who is passionate about the craft and loves music and people.  You don’t have to pick every song in that initial consultation, but you do need to decide if you like him or her and if you trust them to do the event.  If you find a vendor that you like, book them. To be booked a year at a time is not uncommon.
A few base line expectations:   Arrive and be ready to work on time. Provide adequate equipment for the occasion and the space and know how to use it. DJ and staff behave well and are respectful. Play the correct songs for the elements of the event.  

Sadly, some hobbyist DJs don’t even arrive at this lowest line. 
Great entertainment adds the following:  The DJ understands and represents religious, ethnic and family traditions with confidence and respect. Avoids cheesy, clich├ęd, overused, outdated or off-colored songs, jokes, gags or games. No microphone noise or dead air. Important songs are cued and on time. Family names are known and pronounced correctly. Wires and road cases and any other unsightly equipment is put away or covered. Doesn’t say or do anything that draws attention to difficult event situations. Background music is just under the volume of the talking. Works in concert with other event professionals on site. In advance of the event, he or she returns calls and other correspondence promptly and during the event responds to instructions courteously. Music represents the tastes of the bride and groom and yet other generations, ethnicities and tastes are included. Customer knows exactly what equipment and services to expect and the cost. Lighting is colorful and adds body and motion but it’s not shining in the faces of the guests or making the room spin. He or she is well-spoken and classy.

May your wedding be filled with tears of joy, feasting, hugging, singing and dancing at the hands of a great DJ!