I’m sure we’ve all heard in our lifetime someone marveling at how a child who could barely talk and walk can use an iPad. The way technology makes things so easy I can almost bet my next paycheck that a monkey could DJ a party.
If you’re in your 30‘s like I am, one day we’ll be grandparents telling the youngins “back in my day DJ’s used to have to carry several milk crates with something called records. They literally had to go digging in the crates to find the record with the song they wanted to play”.
It goes without saying that nowadays someone could literally have tens of thousands of songs in the palm of their hand! Not to mention there’s a plethora of DJ apps that can not only queue songs, they’ll blend them as well. You can even virtually scratch a virtual record.
DISK JOCKEYING IS A LOST ART
“Disk Jokey’s role is spinning out of relevance.” Dan Mason.
Sure DJing is a lost art form. But to me – experience has proven THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB OF A DJ IS TO GET PEOPLE DANCING!
It’s not about how loud the speakers are or how many plasma TV’s are flashing visualizers. IT’S ABOUT GETTING PEOPLE ON THE DANCE FLOOR.
Now on the flip-side I’ve been to parties where no matter what was being played people were just not dancing. Imagine you spend thousands of dollars for a party and no one is dancing. A good DJ will...
…MAKE OR BREAK YOUR PARTY!
We’ve all been there. Whether it be at a back yard BBQ or a formal party. If the people are not enjoying the music it’ll ruin the party. Now if the DJ is doing a good job engaging the crowd – it can make for an EPIC PARTY!
CASE IN POINT
I was covering an event where the majority of the attendees were Latino. And let’s just say the DJ was out of touch…
People went to the party, well to party. And I think it’s safe for me to predict 99.9% of Latinos living in NYC DO NOT HAVE the song “Rhinestone Cowboy” on their computer, iPod or even in their consciousness!
I know I wasn’t the only one scratching my head as to why in the world was he playing this song! Do you think anyone was dancing – NO.
THE THREE THINGS PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER MOST FROM YOUR PARTY
1 – THE FOOD
Why people equate food with a good party – why I’ll never know. Ask someone who attended a party with you years ago and ask them what they remembered. Most likely they’ll say the food.
2 – THE VENUE
This can go two ways. If it’s a fancy over the top catering hall, people will soon not forget. Conversely if it’s a crumby hole in the wall, people will be clamoring “how crappy this place is”. As a side-note: it seems the more you pay for a “fancy place” the more people will not like the food!
3 – THE MUSIC
With most wedding services the proof is in the pudding (or in this case the cake). What I mean is if your looking for a cake, bakeries will offer you samples to taste. If your scouting a venue you can schedule an appointment to walk the grounds. Photographers can show you a wedding album while videographers can provide a DVD for you to view.
But when it comes to finding a DJ very rarely do they have videos showing their work. But more importantly you’ll never find a video with DJ’s interacting with the crowd. Sure you could listen to a mixtape – but to me IT’S ALL ABOUT ENGAGING THE CROWD. This is the very essence of DJ’ing. If a DJ isn’t having people dancing – they’re not doing their job.
ASK A DJ…
I’ve created a list of questions to ask a DJ. That way you’ll spend your money wisely and you’ll be an educated consumer…
WHAT IS YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE?
Aside from the price, there are many choices when it comes to finding a DJ. It’s your job to find out what differentiates one DJ from another. Simply ask them – “why should I hire you”? That question alone will speak volumes!
WHAT STYLE DO YOU SPECIALIZE IN?
You must make sure the DJ your hiring is able to suite the musical needs of your guests. Different strokes for different folks as they say. Sure there are requisite songs that “must be played” nowadays. The Cupid Shuffle, Electric Slide and now Gangnam Style.
But if I’m DJing a party in the suburbs, the music selection will be way different than if I were going to DJ a party in an urban area.
Another thing to consider is the nationality of the crowd. If it’s an Albanian party obviously one should hire a DJ well versed on Albanian music. If it’s a party where Latinos are the majority, your going to want to hire someone who knows good salsa music.
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND EMCEEING.
Being an event DJ also requires someone to be the MC. It’s very important to find out if they are willing to make announcements. Conversely too much talking can be a nuisance. For those of you who’ve ever listened to a hip hop mixtape, there’s nothing worse than a DJ that talks thorough the entire mix.
On the flip-side a DJ’s job is to be sure everyone is dancing. Or at least enough so it doesn’t look like the party is dead. This isn’t an easy task not everyone can “get the party popin”.
MIXING & BLENDING
If a DJ isn’t capable of blending the music (seamless transitions between songs) – what’s the point of hiring a DJ in the first place?! Your better off playing music off an iPod. Or downloading a mixtape from numixtapes.com and play that. Mixing / blending should be a very fundamental skill, if they can’t mix – they’re not a DJ.
DO YOU HAVE BACKUP EQUIPMENT?
Its happened before where a DJ’s equipment stopped working (albeit on rare occasion). What would happen if your DJ’s computer stopped working? The last thing I’d ever want to tell is a client I cannot continue shooting their wedding because my camera stopped working! Which is why I carry 3 cameras to make sure I get the job done. Be sure to ask if they have a backup equipment and what their game-plan is if a worst case scenario happens.
DO YOU TAKE REQUESTS?
It’s inevitable – every party I’ve ever covered there’s always someone asking the DJ to play a particular song. Some DJ’s are accommodating while some will get very annoyed. It’s very important to know how they will handle requests. I can assure you, your not going to want to hear your guests are disgruntled because the DJ wouldn’t play their song.
DO YOU OFFER A CONTRACT?
Nowadays a handshake agreement isn’t worth much. It should go without saying that it’s always important to have a written agreement. Also be sure to read the fine print!
WHAT IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT?
Let’s face it – things do happen. And when it rains it pours. Find out what will happen if the DJ has a catastrophe – will they be able to send a capable and comparable replacement?
HOW WILL YOU COME DRESSED?
This is something you shouldn’t have to ask – but I’ve been to fancy weddings where, let’s just say the DJ came dressed inappropriately. Be sure you hire a professional who’s has experience playing weddings.
BELLS AND WHISTLES
As with any service – the sky is the limit. It all can come down to a want vs need + can I afford it scenario. Many DJ’s offer many add-on options. You may not need fancy pyrotechnics, smoke and 5 plasma TV’s. But I would highly suggest some kind lighting. Lights can make a drab room and make it look magical. When it comes to taking pictures I love colorful lighting!
THE BOTTOM LINE
If your looking for a wedding DJ – be sure to find someone or a company that specializes in weddings. Odds are you’re not going to want to hire a club DJ. Different DJ’s have different styles. Nowadays a monkey could DJ a party. At the end of the day your going to want to hire someone who can move the crowd – regardless of age or gender. Skip all of the fluff but be sure they have lights as it’ll make your pictures pop!
We hope you found this post helpful. If you haven’t done so already take a look at our wedding portfolio and if you’re looking for an outgoing and fun wedding photographer please give us a call and feel free to ask us these same questions!
Mikey Colon – Owner
Next Level Photo®