The following information is a compilation of frequently asked questions about DJs and a variety of parties. If you have more questions, please write us and we may add your topic here for others. Our Email address is below.
General FAQ's Index
DJs vs Bands - The Bottom Line: Basically, you will get more continuous music for less money using a DJ; sometimes at a quarter the cost of a band. Disc Jockeys also carry a wider variety of music to satisfy everyone. And, specific songs can be played as the requests come in.!!! Add a small light show, a blow up guitar and an energetic DJ and you'll have tons of excitement, music for everyone and a whole lot of dancing all night long.
Flexibility - Black tie affairs to Beach themes: DJs are the most versatile type of entertainment you can hire. Disc Jockeys can be sophisticated or wild, depending on the atmosphere you want to create. And, at times, the DJ can change the atmosphere as the night progresses. You can start off with a "black tie" cocktail and dinner hour with light jazz and/or piano music. Then kick in the dance music after the speeches, loosen up the ties and party!!!
Are you having several parties with different themes throughout the year? DJs would be perfect, especially if you find an individual DJ or DJ Service you like. Instead of spending time auditioning different bands for that Beach Party and later that Southwestern Fiesta, your DJ can bring the music and dress the part each time. Plus, you are not "stuck" with just a marriachi band or steel drums all night. Instead, your DJ can "switch" over to the party music your friends and guest love when it is time to dance. DJs can fit into any type of function!!!
Why do Prices Vary so Much? First, according to recent studies, the average price for DJ services on a Saturday Night, for four hours, is approximately $900. This price will vary, depending on your region and several other factors within your region. For most areas, peak months are April - June, September - October and December. Saturday Nights, starting after 7:00 pm, are the prime time slots, with Friday Nights and Saturday and Sunday Afternoons a close second. Sunday Nights - Friday Afternoons are typically slower periods for most DJ Services.
For the most part, prices vary depending on the month, the day, the time and, of course, the availability and demand of the DJ Service and/or particular DJ. Other factors, such as type of party, location of the party, time frame between the the time booked and the actual event and, sometimes, the size of the party, will play a part in the pricing.
Keeping everything equal, prices between DJ Services will naturally vary as well. This is dependent on things like overhead costs (offices and office staff), how much the DJ Services pay their DJs and offer other benefits, equipment upkeep and music libraries. This is true for any industry. So the real question is, what is the difference between a $550 DJ Service and a $1350 DJ Service!!! This is not an easy question to answer, so the short of the long of it is to use your best judgement... but for those of you with "inquiring minds", read on.
Within the DJ Industry, "Quality" is based on three basic factors; sound equipment, music library and talent. Of the three, talent is probally the hardest to judge. As a customer, you can easily view the DJ's sound equipment and music library or sample music list, but judging a DJs talent is more difficult, even with videos and seeing the DJ "in action" at another's party. A video will highlight a particular DJ's or DJ Service's potential at a party and seeing a DJ in action will only give you a glimpse of what his ability is, depending on the party and when you actually see him work. Thus, if the the DJ Service and DJ has professional sound equipment, that looks presentable, and the music library is kept up-to-date, with a variety of selections, then "Quality" is dependent on the DJ's talent and DJ Service's reputation. And this "Quality" is reflected in the price.
A DJ's talent means a range of things like; his/her ability to mix the music selection for a particular party, friendliness to guests and openess to their requests, stage presentation and general appearance, ability to speak clearly on the microphone, and general consistency of showing up on time for parties and pleasing the client and a majority of the guests.
This is not to say that a $1350 DJ is better or more talented than an average priced DJ. Nor that a $550 deal on a DJ will be of less quality. But there is a reason that a DJ Service or DJ is charging so little or so much and that is what an educated consumer has to figure out. Some DJ Services and DJs are so popular that they can charge a higher amount. Volume oriented DJ Services usually have extra "inventory" or DJs available and are willing to cut prices to get the booking. Other factors, such as last minute cancelations, promotions, or new entry into an area or hotel can effect the pricing.
Lastly, if your DJ Service quotes a price outside a + or - $200 range of the average of $900, ask more questions. When comparing two or more DJ Services, look beyond the basic price at things like customer service, how easy was it to get a hold of someone at the office and the DJ, how fast did they return your calls or send mailings, did you feel rushed on the phone, can you speak and meet with your DJ and other intrisic feelings. For the most part, it you feel really comfortable with the DJ Service office and like the DJ's personality, you'll more than likely have a great party, at whatever price.
Types of Services Provided: Some DJ Services offer a variety of service packages that include Karaoke, Light Packages, different size speaker systems and the amount of DJs included. When considering these options, think about the amount of value you and your guest will receive from the package. Lights are great if you want a "Disco" or similar feel on the dance floor, but may "take away" from the focus on a Bride and Groom, for example. The amount of people and size of the ballroom is definitely a consideration for speaker size and the amount of interaction you want the DJ(s) to do with the guests will help you with the amount of DJs to hire. Most DJ Services can help you with these decisions without feeling like you're being upsold.
Various Service Issues:
Why do I only get Answering Machines when calling DJ Services? Many Individual DJs and One Man DJ Services have full time jobs and do shows on the weekend, hence the reason for getting answering machines during business hours. And having a full time employee to answer their phones for these Services may not be cost effective. Most larger DJ Services will have a small support staff to answer calls during certain hours, but depending on the season, overflow calls will be transferred to voice mail.
It can be very frustrating at times to call several DJ Services and never talk to a human, especially during your lunch hour. But be patient and leave as much information as possible, such as, name, date and times of event, type of event, location of event and work and home numbers, as well as the best times to call you back. A good DJ Service should call you back before the end of the day and not more than 24 hours. Remember though, the weekends are when most DJs are working and probally the worst times to call. Most DJ Services will have a manager on duty, on the weekends, whose responsibilities are to handle emergencies, not to discuss particulars of your event. Be kind and someone will call you back and give you all the time you need!!!.
Where the heck are DJ Services located? In order to keep overhead costs down, most DJ Services have home offices. Home offices are condusive, because very few DJ Services get clients walking in off the streets wanting to purchase their services. Because of this is why most DJ Services can keep their prices down as compared to live bands. The only time this really becomes an issue is when a customer want to drop off materials or special music or wants to sit down and talk to someone one on one. Usually, it is actually more convienent to meet at the reception site or somewhere more in the middle to where the customer lives and where the DJ lives. Meeting on "common ground" also reduces any pressures for both parties involved.
What will the DJs wear to my party? This really depends on the type of party that you are having. For the most part, DJs should be dressed according to what the guest are wearing. A suit and tie is the most common dress code for Weddings, Mitzvahs, Corporate Functions and other adult parties, except if the party is an outdoor event like a picnic or a pool party. Usually, the DJ will dress in more casual clothes for outdoor events and kid related parties.
Tuxedos should be requested only if the party is a Black Tie affair, in which the majority of the guests are dressed in tuxedos. The premise behind this is that the DJ shouldn't stand out any more than the guests and possiblly be "better dressed" than say the bride and groom. Obviously, with a wedding, it is the bride and grooms day and the spotlight should be kept on them as much as possible. There is a safe argument that a DJ would look "more professional" in a tuxedo, similar to a band or the banquet/catering staff, but how much of the party should be soley focused on the DJ as the center of attention? This will depend on the type of party and atmosphere you are trying to create, so check with your DJ Service for more advice. Keep in mind that a DJ will naturally become the main focus once the dancing starts regardless of the tuxedo or a professional suit.
Music Selection Questions:
How Many Songs Should I choose? This is the most frequent question asked!!! Generally, you can fit about 15 songs per hour, so depending on how long your party is will be how many songs that can be played. But before you run off to find your top 60 songs, keep in mind that not everyone loves the music you love. And, not all of your favorite songs are crowd pleasers or even dancable. The best parties are when the host/hostess picks a few of their absolute favorite songs and leave the rest up to the professional choice of the DJ. Remember that you are hiring a DJ to not only play your favorite tunes, but also to take requests from guests and to be able to read the crowd on what they will most likely dance to.
Don't get us wrong... picking a lot of songs is not necessarily a bad thing!!! In fact, giving the DJ a choice of different songs is very good. But you may want to separate the absolute "must plays" from the "these would be great if you played them!!!" Also, you may want to avoid "programming" the DJ. This means that instead of listing 60 songs and the order to play them, allow the DJ to take requests, be creative and mix the music to his/her best judgement of what will work with your group.
If you're still not convinced about not "programming" the music for the evening, then at least review the list with your DJ and be open for suggestions. Most DJs have been to hundreds of parties and know what works and doesn't. And hopefully, you'll be able to come to some middle ground that will make your event quite successful.
Can I Bring My Own CDs? Check with your DJ Service first!!! Generally, it is not a problem to bring your own CDs, especially if it is a hard to find or out of print CD. Keep in mind that most DJ Services have huge libraries of music and CD titles to pull from and bringing your own CD may be more of an inconvenience for yourself. Also, if the song is a First Dance or other special song, the DJ Service should make a good effort to supply that song, just in case you forget to bring it with you due to everything else going on that day.
If you do opt to bring your own CDs, make sure you number and label the CDs, supply the DJ with a list of track numbers and songs to play from the CD, note which songs are fast or slow, or good for dinner or dancing and give specific instructions on who the DJ should return the CDs to. Try not to bring your whole CD library and check with the DJ Service on which titles they are not able to supply.
How Does That Song Go? Not everyone knows the names of songs or the artist that sings them; DJ Services understand this. If you're not sure of the songs on the list, try listing catagories of music, like Motown, Oldies, 90's Dance music. Also, listing favorite radio stations you listen to in your area will help the DJ with ideas of music you like. Keep in mind that most DJs will be playing a mix of music for everyone and if you're not sure of the names of songs, but are certain on the decade of music you like, then picking specific songs may not be needed.
If you are looking for a particular song you heard on the radio, try writing the time and day you heard the song, if it was slow or fast, and if it was a female or male singer and then call the radio station with the information, they keep logs or playlists of everything they play over the air. In the worse case, play "Name That Tune" with your DJ Service and hum a few bars or lines from the song... they just might recognize the song!!!
What Do I Do With the Songlist? Most Songlists are really just a guide of music most often played at various parties. More than likely, they won't contain every song ever made. But instead, the Songlist would represent the best and most popular songs to dance to. Simply check the songs you would like to hear and return to your DJ Service about 30 days prior to your event. This 30 days will allow them and the DJ to review and make sure they have all of your requests. Highlighting the songs is fine, too... providing that you are NOT planning to fax the list back to the company. Highlights may come through as black streaks or will not be noticable when reproduced from the receivers fax. Check with your DJ Service on what they prefer you to do with their Songlist.
What About Picking Songs For Other People? This may occur when you are planning a wedding anniversary or Surprise B-Day Party. And just because they are your "parents", they might not be that old!!! As a general rule, most people relate to music they grew up with in High School through their early college years. A simple equation might help you narrow down the decade. Figure out when they were 20 years old and subtract 4 years and add 4 years; that is the time period of music that they will most often relate to!!! For example: if you are planning a 50th B-Day party in 1998, in 1968 the B-Day person was 20 years old (1998 - 30), so 1964 - 1972 (before disco became popular!!) would be the time period of that person's music. Surprised? 1964 - 1972 was the era of Motown and the beginning of classic rock... not Big Band!!! In fact, Big Band music (1940-1950) would be more appropriate for a 70th B-Day party!!!
So you've narrowed down the time period, what about picking the songs? Again, you may want to rely on the DJ Service to provide you with the answers. Another resource would be Billboard Magazine; Billboard has some excellent CD compilations for sale, separated by decade and can be found at most Music Stores. Lastly, check off the catagory on the songlist that best represents that time period. If your DJ Service does not provide you with a songlist that separates the music by decades, try our Sample Music List!!!
Will The DJ Play All The Songs From The List? In short... no! In fact, if there are songs on the list that you do not want played ( Electric Slide, Macarena, Michael Bolton ), just make a separate list of "Do Not Play" songs. It is much easier to have a list of "Do Not Plays", then going through the songlist and trying to find songs marked through or crossed off. And, just because the song is listed on the Songlist, does not mean that the DJ will have time to play it. Or, conversely, just because the song is not on the Songlist, does not mean that the DJ does not have the song or won't play it during the event.
Remember: The Songlist is just a guide, a sampling of music, so if there are songs that you want played, but are not on the Songlist... make your own list or add to the back of the list. Whatever information that you can provide the DJ Service concerning your likes and/or dislikes is extremely helpful in making your party the best ever!!!
On tipping the DJ: Tipping is an appreciation for a job well done. If your DJ went over and above your expectation, tipping is an excellent way to show your appreciation. 5% to 20% of the total cost is suggested, but any amount is truely welcomed.
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