Dance Zone Entertainment
Frequently Asked Questions about Booking A DJ Karaoke wedding corporate party disco DJ school
The Disc Jockey Association of NZ Guide to Picking a Great DJ
Dance Zone Entertainment which serves Canterbury, Queenstown and the South Island has been a proud member of the Disc Jockey Association of New Zealand (DJANZ). We would like to share some of their tips about how to find the right DJ for your event and one who you can trust. This is a real challenge because you can't generally see a DJ at work at another party, school, karaoke, event or wedding reception.
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Here are a few questions to ask:
Are they available for your date?
Begin your phone call by indicating the date, time, and location of your special event. If they're not available, no sense talking much further!
How long have they been a DJ and how many events have they performed?
With sufficient experience, a professional disc jockey will be able to act as (or assist) your master of ceremonies and smoothly guide your celebration from start to finish. With experience comes confidence and knowledge, too. Many things can happen during an event - some are expected, others are not. The experienced professional has the ability to handle any situation which may arise and will be able to react spontaneously to correct the problem as if nothing ever happened.
The seasoned professional will also know how to introduce interactivity to the night in a tasteful and energetic manner. With this same experience, your entertainer will read the crowd and intuitively know what music to play at what time.
What type of music do they provide and will they play requests?
It's your party! Will your prospective entertainer cheerfully accept your suggestions or will their ego make it hard to accept requests? Can they provide a play list with a wide variety of songs that you can choose from? Will they play additional CDs that you may want to provide?
Let the DJ ask you questions also such as what you do or don't want to hear. You want someone who takes an interest in what YOU want. You want a DJ who is flexible, and has a substantial selection, so that virtually any reasonable request from your guests can be fulfilled, providing it meets your acceptable music criteria.
What is their appearance like?
Are they well groomed? Your DJ should be freshly shaved and clean with tidy hair. Will they wear a formal dinner suit (tuxedo), business dress, tidy-casual, or a Hawaiian shirt, black jeans and sports shoes? Find out ahead of time and make your preferences known!
What kind of equipment do they use and what is their technical expertise?
You are paying money for a professional and they should have new-looking, quality equipment and know how it operates. Make sure it's predominantly pro equipment, not home stereo or consumer grade. There is a difference! You are hopefully hiring someone who takes their job seriously, so make sure they have made the investment in quality equipment.
Do they have back-up equipment on hand in case of an emergency?
Even professional equipment can fail on occasion, so it is important to know whether your DJ has extra components, or hopefully another entire sound system available to them. Usually, only the top-notch pros invest the extra money to ensure that everything works on your event date and backup systems are in place.
Will they personally be the DJ for your reception?
If not, when can you meet the DJ who will work at your function so you can feel comfortable with that person and make sure you are on the same wavelength? WARNING! Some DJ's will book your event and then pass it on to another DJ to play your night.
Are they reputable and will they provide you with references?
Do local venues, hotels, photographers and other event professionals give you a good referral of the company? Remember, if you receive references from a DJ, they're going to be only the best ones. Ask to speak with other wedding professionals or to see the references on paper if you're uncertain.
Have they ever performed at your chosen location?
Ask the DJ if they have ever performed at your venue before. It helps if they have a rapport with the staff, if they already know the place, how to get there, what the acoustics are like and where the power points are. Things like this just make it less likely that you will have any problems.
How much do they charge?
Don't take a risk with the entertainment for your once-in-a-lifetime event! Not surprisingly, most professional, reputable DJs charge more for their services than a hobby DJ who is just looking to make a few extra bucks on the side. Question a company that is low in cost. There's a good chance you will be putting the success of your event at risk in order to save a few dollars. Be certain that you understand their basic fee, set-up times, overtime charges, due dates for deposits and balances, and arrival time.
The entertainment really can make or break your event. If your workmate's "friend" will do it for $200 less than a reputable, experienced, professional DJ, think twice before jumping at the lower price. Paying a little more for a much better disc jockey is usually a great investment.
Do they require a deposit and a written agreement?
If not, why not? If a DJ is serious about his business, he will want an agreement and a deposit. The agreement should offer a guarantee that he personally will show up on the day and will perform for the times you have decided on. If there's no deposit and no agreement, there's nothing to bind him to your event. A professional DJ will insist on a deposit to confirm your date and a contract/agreement is your protection.
Do they offer lighting equipment if you want it?
Can your DJ provide aesthetically pleasing additional lighting? Modern effects lighting can really add to the liveliness and energy of the night and makes the dancing just that much more special. Some DJ's still use floor- standing, headlight-sized floodlights called light-boxes with a basic chase pattern. These flood the room with light with no dynamic impact and are clumsy, bulky looking lights. A quality operator will usually offer a set of exciting controllable intelligent effects that are elevated to avoid shining in the eyes of seated guests.
How do they handle themselves on the microphone?
Announcements should be clear, concise, energetic, polite and not overdone. Usually your guests are not interested in hearing a DJ "ham it up" over the microphone. Does your DJ have any radio, television or acting experience? Have they acted as master of ceremonies before and do they have the wedding knowledge to handle last-minute changes of plan? Talking well on a microphone effectively is a skill that takes much practice and experience. Listen to how they speak with you on the phone- are they confident, eloquent and polite?
Are you comfortable with your DJ?
Once you feel you've found an established disc jockey in your price range, with the music selection you like, make your final selection based on personality. Some DJ's like to steal the show. These DJ's are always on the microphone, like to be very visible and very loud. The other end of the spectrum is the DJ with a lack of any personality who does nothing except play the music, while other companies are an even mixture of the two. Usually you can get a feel for style simply by talking to the disc jockey over the phone.
Are they a member of a DJ Association and do they invest in educational materials?
Being a member of an organisation of professional DJs has a number of advantages. Association DJs can share experiences with each other, help with challenges, offer advice and discuss the latest techniques and technology. They have invested time and money in their business, which indicates that they are serious about what they do.
If the DJ you are considering is not a member of a group or organisation, ask why not. Would you hire a master builder ahead of once who wasn't affiliated?
Make Sure You Make the Right Choice
These are just some of the most important questions to ask to distinguish a true professional from an amateur. Some intrinsic qualities (general hygiene, attention to detail, business ethics, courtesy and politeness, the ability to spontaneously change the master plan when required, etc) may be more difficult to quantify unless you meet with that person.
One final suggestion is for you to carefully listen to not only what an event professional says when you ask questions, but how they say it. Do they speak with knowledge, passion, enthusiasm and a desire to really help you create a successful event? If so, you should book them quickly as they will be in demand!