Hey Mister DJ

Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring Your DJ

We think the DJ is one of the most important vendors of any event.  They set the tone, manage the logistics, energy, and flow from the very beginning to the very end of the day.    Not all newly engaged wedding couples or corporate clients know what questions they should be ask to separate the professionals from the rookie DJs.   

Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of all the topics you should consider covering before booking your DJ/MC. 

 

 

Start with a checklist-

Before you even get to the DJ interview stage, ask yourself some key questions, so you have an idea of what you want. If you have a general checklist, then it will be much easier to identify the perfect match when you meet them.

#1 Most Important Question-
What am I willing to invest in a DJ/MC to make sure my wedding or corporate event is flawless and a massive success?
Hint: If you are spending more on your flowers than your DJ, we already have a problem.
(no offense to florists as they work hard too)
Simply put, the DJ/MC will make or break your event!
Please make sure you have made this a priority, and allocated a realistic budget to secure an experienced professional.

Now that we have you setup for success with budget, let’s review some other questions:

  • What have I seen at other weddings or events that I liked?
  • Is there a specific style I prefer?
  • How much MC or announcements do I think my guests will enjoy?
  • Do I want to be heavily involved in music curation or not?
  • Do I have a preference on age range, ethnicity or gender?
  • What’s most important to me in terms of my event?
  • How much is dancing a priority?
  • What do I want my guests to say when leaving my wedding or event?

Need a handy version of these questions?   No problem?
Just click HERE to download. 

Is the DJ willing to meet with you for an interview before you hire them?

This is your special day, and you have every right to make sure you feel comfortable with the individual creating all the energy and excitement at your eventOften a company will meet with you to discuss your event but send a different person to perform. You should make sure that the person you are meeting is the individual that will arrive for your event. It’s essential to get a feel for the personality of the DJ and determine whether he/she will relate well to you and your guests. For example: our owner usually likes to meet with each client first and then match them with a DJ/MC that best fits their style & vision.

Will the person you interview be the person that will perform at your event?

What if the person you meet turns out NOT to be the person that actually performs your event?  Ask the DJ you interview if he/she will be the actual person performing. You need to know this UP FRONT before you sign a contract.
Again, it’s fairly common for a high-volume wedding company to have a dedicated person to conduct the preliminary discovery call and then match a DJ after that. Still,  you should be able to have a meeting with your DJ to be sure it’s a great fit.

Is the DJ willing to do a site survey of the venue or location prior to the event?

The DJ should know in advance where they are going to set up shop for the day.
We like to know in advance the route and drive time to the event to make sure we are on time, familiar with the loading procedure; have access to power etc.
A venue walk-through also ensures that a DJ doesn’t show up without enough power or speaker cables, or anything else they might need based on specific venue logistics.
Some venues have a strict time limit for setup & breakdown, so a site visit is crucial for the DJ or production company to know how many staff they will need on site.
Lastly, it gives the client, event planner and venue confidence that they are dealing with an experienced professional and alleviates any extra worries.

How much time do you allow for set up?

Our DJs typically arrive at least 2 hours before guest arrival and will be fully sound checked and ready to rock well before the first guest arrives.
(This also allows time for troubleshooting any equipment issues)
Setup time will increase if we are also providing lighting and photo booth.
NOTE: Some venues have a strict rule about only allowing 2 hours for setup and 1 hour for strike, so your DJ might need to have additional labor (DJ setup assistants) on the job to adhere to the venue time limit.

Does the DJ work alone or bring an assistant?

 See notes from Setup question above.
Believe it or not, we have heard stories of less than professional DJs showing up to play a wedding with several friends in tow. While it is not unusual for a DJ to have an assistant to help with gear or to emcee some of the events, anything beyond that is excessive. It’s YOUR event and you have every right to know who is attending.

Will the DJ provide a contract for the event?

Hiring a DJ is a business transaction and should be handled as such. Contracts ensure professionalism and security for all parties involved. Be sure to read your contract and make sure you understand the contract terms regarding disruption of the event, cancel/reschedule policies etc.

Will the DJ provide a contract for the event?

Hiring a DJ is a business transaction and should be handled as such. Contracts ensure professionalism and security for all parties involved. Be sure to read your contract and make sure you understand the contract terms regarding disruption of the event, cancel/reschedule policies etc.

Does the company or DJ have Insurance?

All responsible business owners carry insurance to protect themselves and their clients. Most venues are now asking for the vendors to provide proof of liability insurance.
You should also ask how many DJs their policy can cover simultaneously on any given date.

What happens if there is an emergency and you can’t make it to the event?

This is a excellent example of why hiring a professional DJ company might make you feel more secure than hiring a solo/independent DJ.   Either way, a pro DJ should have a backup plan and fill in DJs that can be called in case of an emergency. 
We always create a folder that lives in the cloud with all our client’s song requests, so even if we have to send out a DJ last minute, they can have all the important songs handy.

 

Can the DJ provide you with references or reviews from past clients?

What better way to determine a DJ’s credibility and skills than to hear testimonials from satisfied clients?  You should ask for DJ mixes, Spotify Playlists or videos from past performances, but we believe the best way to get a feel for your DJ and make sure you have a pro is to conduct an interview.

Can we visit you at a live performance?

We believe any professional would say the answer to this question is NO unless it’s an event that is already open to the public.
This is why it’s important to make sure your DJ has “proof of quality” like social media, DJ Mixes, playlists, or videos of past performances for you to review.
We’d never put you in the awkward position of asking if we can have a strange hang out at your wedding/event.

What kind of experience does the DJ have and how long have they been spinning?

DJs have varying degrees in their style, presentation, and overall music knowledge.
Be sure you have found a DJ whose expertise and skill level properly matches your event needs.
How long has the DJ been spinning. and is it their primary job or hobby?
Are they primarily a club, corporate, mitzvah, or wedding DJ?

Can they also MC, or will you need a 2nd person dedicated to emceeing your event?
We only provide DJs with a minimum of 3 years of experience (20 years max) because weddings and corporate have many nuances that only come with experience and trial/error.  The reality is that everyone makes mistakes when they are learning a new trade or craft, so the more you work, the less likely you are to make missteps.

Will the DJ host the event and interact with your guests?

Some DJs are just that: Only a Disc Jockey.
Many club DJs are “mic-shy” so if they have transitioned to special events, they might not have the experience needed to be the Master of Ceremonies.

Depending on the event and needs of your guests, you should be sure that the DJ is comfortable hosting the event, helping to direct your guests as needed, and entertaining on the microphone.

(If you have booked a DJ based on music knowledge and technical ability alone, you may want to consider adding an MC to the package to enhance your entertainment value.)

What is your music style and how diverse is your library?

Most professional wedding or corporate DJs are “open format,” which means they can play just about any genre or music style.  However, if you have specific preferences, you should never assume your DJ is well-versed.  Make sure to ask about music style in your interview and onboarding process.   A great way to feel this out is to give your potential DJ a list of your 10 favorite songs/artists and have them send you back a custom playlist based on your taste.

How do you keep your music collection up to date?

Never assume your potential DJ is on the cutting edge.

Now more than ever, it’s truly a full-time job just keeping up with music based on the frequency of new releases.  Some DJs specialize in a specific style or prefer to play the classics.  If you have a young crowd and know they will demand the most current tracks from Tik Tok, Youtube, etc… you should have this discussion with your DJ.

How involved can we be in the music selection?

Asking this is important because every DJ has a different artistic threshold.
Some DJs consider themselves a “gun for hire” and will play whatever you put on a request list.  Other DJs are more stylized and believe you are hiring them specifically for their brand.  Those DJs will prefer to control most of the playlist and only supplement their choices with a small handful of your requests.   “Will you take requests” is another question you should ask when in this discussion.

How would you describe your style when making announcements?

Especially important question to ask because the top 2 things that affect the difference between one DJ and another are music taste and MC style.    As discussed above, some DJs are not good hosts, and others are just way too cheesy.  It can be shocking for a client if the DJ/MC’s announcement style and energy level do not fit the event’s vibe.  If you know your guests are shy and need encouragement to dance, then you need a strong MC, if you want a more low-key engagement, then you need a DJ/MC that has the discipline to hold back on the microphone and only speak when necessary.

What will you do if nobody is dancing?

The reality is no matter how amazing a DJ is at song selection, sometimes the dance floor can fall flat for a variety of reasons:

  • Bar and photo booth are located too far away
  • Age rage of the guests or simply not dancers
  • Bad lighting or poor room layout
  • Timeline doesn’t have good flow
    Etc.
    Knowing you’ve hired a DJ that has a contingency plan for every situation will make you feel more confident that you’ll have a successful party.

How many weddings or events does the DJ perform each year?

Just like any other profession, delivering flawless performances requires one’s skills to be in top form.  If a DJ only does a few weddings a year, they are not at the top of their game by the time your event date arrives.  Conversely, if a DJ books TOO MANY events per month/year, they are likely to be burned out, not focused, and consequently deliver an underwhelming performance for your event.

It’s worth also asking if your DJ has other events booked the same week/end as your event date.

Can the DJ run a timeline and facilitate everything without a coordinator?

The short answer is usually No.  We HIGHLY recommend that you have a professional wedding or event coordinator hired to handle logistics for your event, but it’s crucial to know the DJ’s style and philosophy on how they work a room, and if they are proactive and comfortable getting out from behind the DJ booth to handle things or reactive and just wait to be told what to do.  A great DJ functions as a 2nd planner and can help manage the flow and logistics during the event, so it’s important to know how assertive your DJ is and if they can jump in to help handle issues that may arise slightly out of their normal job duties.

Does the DJ know how to Beatmatch?

This means mixing each song (club style) so the transitions are smooth and seamless which maintains a better flow and energy level.  Beatmatching takes years of practice and if a DJ is unable, then their set often feels choppy and disjointed, or there may be “dead air” between songs.  DJ’s that can’t mix are more likely to speak on the mic during transitions which can translate to more MC interaction than you wish to have.

How long do you let each song play?

This is something most people don’t think to ask but has a bit impact on the dance floor.

Many DJs mix too fast and lose the crowds attention or don’t allow enough time for people to sing along and enjoy the song while others (who don’t mix) play every song from start to finish even if the song isn’t working and end up losing the dance floor and energy in the room.   Our motto: If a song is working, let it go but once it’s not, be ready to mix out!

Will the DJ be willing to play requests and discuss music prior to the event?

Our pricing always includes an initial consultation with your potential DJ, and a follow-up meeting one week prior to your event to make sure we have everything catered to your taste.  We always encourage our clients to give as much input as they are comfortable with in pre-selecting music for the cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing.
***Regardless of how much pre-planning is done with music, our DJs will always respond to your guest request in a courteous manner and accommodate them whenever possible unless otherwise instructed. You should make sure your DJ is not a “music snob” and willing to take requests if you wish for your guests to be able during your event.

Does the DJ use professional equipment?

A DJ will only appear and sound as good as their equipment!

Old, worn, and outdated gear will be an eyesore at upscale events, and dramatically reduce the sound quality, and run a higher risk of failure as well.
If sound quality is important to you, it’s worth asking the DJ to provide a list of the gear they use and show a few photos of their setup.  
The reality is that newer or part-time DJs typically don’t invest the same amount of money into their gear as experienced, full time professionals.

Does the DJ have a backup plan in case of equipment failure?

Most professional DJs will have backup equipment or a network of resources to call in case of emergency. Confirming that the DJ is using top quality professional equipment will reduce the chances of any problems, but unforeseen circumstances can and do occur. We believe all professional DJs should arrive to an event with 2nd version of everything!

At a minimum, a 2nd backup of any significant piece of gear that would halt the event if it ceased to work.  (Laptop, Mixer, Microphone, Speaker, etc.)

What is included in your package?

Don’t wait until the big event to realize that you didn’t purchase enough sound, lighting, or other effects you may have assumed were included. Don’t feel intimidated if you aren’t familiar with brand names or model numbers. Ask the DJ to walk through and explain what’s included, and what each piece of equipment is for so you know you aren’t being oversold gear you don’t need. Ask to see a photo of what the equipment setup will look like if you are still unclear.
If your DJ is familiar with the venue, they will be able to recommend enhancements like UP lighting or extra speakers that will make sure everything looks and sounds amazing.

What will you wear during the event?

Never assume your DJ will show automatically up looking polished and professional.

Again, there is a big variance of style and taste from one DJ to another.  If your event is a wedding or formal affair, make sure you have clarified the type of dress you wish your DJ to have.    The industry standard for wedding/corporate is “black on black” though:   Black slacks & Dress shirt or black dress, jumpsuit, etc.

Some DJs pride themselves on having a unique, signature style which is great but might not match with a wedding or formal event.

What will you wear during setup & breakdown?

Again, never assume.
Most DJs & assistants will prefer to wear a different outfit during setup because they will sweat through it and change into their event attire right before guest arrival.   We typically wear slacks and a dark polo shirt, but have seen photos of other DJs & assistants wearing tacky gym shorts and graphic T-shirts!

Do you take breaks?

One major advantage to hiring a DJ over a band is that they generally don’t take any breaks other than when served a vendor meal. It’s highly unusual that a DJ would take a break during a standard performance, unless it’s longer than 6 hours.

Will you go overtime if request and what is the cost?
Be sure you are clear on exactly how many hours your package includes.

If you are unsure how long dancing might go, it’s very common to have an agreement that overtime/additional hours will be decided on the spot.     Many DJ packages are NOT hourly and based on reserving the day, but overtime almost always is.     The hourly overtime rate can vary greatly from what you’ve figured if you break down the total package rate divided by hours, so make sure you clarify the overtime rate in advance

Do you display a sign or banner with your DJ setup?

Shameless self-promotion looks tacky in our opinion.
If the DJ is crushing it, guests will ask for a business card or email you after the event asking for their contact information.  Unfortunately, many newer or less classy DJs will display a banner or sign advertising the DJ Company name, which inevitably end up in some of your wedding or event photos and mess up what is otherwise a commercial-free event.