Top Tips: Hiring a DJ

We asked some experts what planners need to know when hiring a DJ for their event.

Here’s what they had to say:

From Katherine McCommon, regional director, Soundsource Entertainment:

• Ask for references from past clients who hosted the same type of event you are planning.
• Never pay for set-up or teardown when booking a professional. These services should be included with any entertainment package. Also, your DJ should not include set-up time in your overall time reservation. • Make sure there is a backup plan. If case of illness or a family emergency, what will happen? It is important that there is someone available to step in if needed.
• Ask about the size of the music database. You should never have to purchase music, unless the music you are requesting is internationally based or not available for online purchasing.

From Gary Berg, CEO, G.L. Berg Entertainment:

• Make sure the actual person you check out is the same person who is going to show up for your event, and make sure he has the equipment you specified. Many companies now have multiple performers and there can be a great difference between their best person and equipment and the fifth one going out that night.
• Know what you truly want from the experience. Do you want someone who is showy and wacky, or someone who is laid back and just plays the music? Are the music and show geared more towards teenagers or older people? Different performers have different strengths and interests and you want to find the right one for your event.
• Make sure the contract specifies that set-up is complete before your guests arrive, so they are not disrupting your dinner, social hour or program. If the social hour is at 5:30, the system needs to be set up prior to 5:30, even though the performance may not start until 8:00.

From Suzanne Childers, Choozi Entertainment:

• We look for someone who has a strong visual and create a reason for him to be part of the party. For example, when we did the Fiesta Bowl VIP parties, our theme was “Football Heaven.” We dropped the sound system into a grand piano shell, and dressed the performer as Ray Charles with angel wings. He could have been Ray Charles.
• If you need to embellish the system with more speakers, consider renting high-end units if the budget allows, rather than plugging to the venue’s sound system. That way, you’ll get the optimal sound quality.
• Be aware of the extra costs in hiring a headliner. In addition to performance fees, they will have production requirements such as sound, lighting, security, and accommodating entourages.