SuperSounds DJ Co.
How to Choose a DJ
How to Choose A DJ By Grant Allendorf (DJ since 1978) (this article will take 10-15 minutes to read but could save you heartache and headaches down the road)
Selecting the right dj can be confusing. At last count there were over 100 djs in Vt, all promising they will do a good job for you. So how do you pick the right one for you? This article will provide some guidance and advice to make your selection easier.
The best and easiest way to find a dj you'll like is to hire one you've already seen. If you've been to a wedding or a party where the dj was great, find out who he or she was. If you didn't get a card, ask the host or manager of the function room who the dj was. He/she should have the information readily available on file. If you haven't seen a good dj recently, ask your friends. Your friends' taste in music is probably similar to yours. Maybe they have been to a function that you missed. Let them know ahead of time you'll be looking; ask them to keep their eyes and ears open.
If the first two suggestions don't work, your job gets a bit tougher. I suggest calling several reputable banquet facilities or caterers in your area (Cloud Nine, Catering By Dale, and Let's Pretend are some of Vt's finest) and talk to the people in sales. They usually have a list of people they recommend and would be happy to send it to you. Conversely, if you are thinking about a particular dj that is not on anyone's list, please be very cautious.
If you are still looking you might go to the yellow pages. Look under Disc Jockey, Music and Entertainment. Call them and have them send you promotional materials and dvds. It is imperative that you see the dj in action at an event similar to yours before you hire them. You want to know exactly who your dj is before you hire them! Next, google them or search for Vt Wedding DJs or whatever you are looking for. They should have organized, well laid out websites that make sense. Many will have online video demos that you can see different djs in action. Again, make sure you see the actual dj in action before you hire them.
How do you tell which one is best? Probably the worst way to choose a dj is by price alone. Some djs are more expensive than others. Prices in New England range from 200.00 to over 2500.00 for 5 hours. That is quite a difference and it would be very tempting to choose the cheapest alternative. If that is all you can afford then you have no choice. But consider the law of supply and demand. There is a reason that some djs cost more than others. They are usually worth it.
More expensive djs tend to be more experienced djs. They charge more because they have a lot of jobs. They have a lot of jobs because they have a good reputation. Generally, djs on the low end of the price scale are new to the business and are trying to get established. There is more risk hiring a less experienced person and you may not want this level of risk at an important, once in a lifetime event, such as a wedding reception. If they have been in business for 10-15 years and are on the low end of the price scale that is cause for concern.
Why does someone with experience not command experienced pay for what they do? Some djs have a lot of experience, but perhaps not the kind you, or anyone else, is looking for. I have heard of a person planning a $50,000.00 wedding, hiring a 300.00 dj and wondering why everyone left after the meal. I have also seen weddings with very modest budgets (2,000.00-6,000.00) hire an excellent dj for 1000.00-1500.00 and have a superb event because of the entertainment. The strength of the dj, many times, will determine the strength of the party. Great dj great party! So so dj so so party! So don't try to save money on your event by searching for the cheapest dj. Trim back on something, but not your entertainment. I realize that everybody has a budget but you can determine where you want to put your money. If entertainment and dancing is important to you you might want to spend a higher percentage of your budget on entertainment. If your total wedding budget is $20,000.00 (all aspects of the wedding (food-dresses,tuxes,flowers,transportation,etc) what percentage should you spend on the dj? 5%, 10%,15%? 10% is $2,000.00 on entertainment. Does the entertainment account for 10% of your event? If you spend 5% you are looking at a $1000.00 dj. Many people I have spoken to say the dj or entertainment is 50%-60% of the event. So if entertainment is such an important element of your event make sure you invest in an excellent dj.
The Role of the DJ's Personality
With over thirty years of experience in the business providing wedding entertainment, I have found one of the most important elements of any wedding reception is the role of the DJ.
The DJ's equipment can be the best, the music selection perfect, but if the DJ can't coordinate and work with the bride and groom and their guests on a personal level the reception will fail to live up to expectations. The DJ needs to have the experience to understand all couples in order to read their cues properly; furthermore, he needs to take the time to fully appreciate and respond to the musical and DJ style preferences of each couple and certainly know to avoid playing anything doing anything the couple does not want. Perhaps most importantly, the DJ needs to be charismatic, energetic, and enthusiastic about the wedding and appreciate the experience for what it is—one of the most significant rituals in our culture.
Also, when I speak to prospective clients I try to find out what qualities the bride and groom are looking for in a DJ. I can then refer them to two or three specific DJs who might meet their needs and whose work they can view on our website. At Supersounds, we hire many school teachers as DJs because of their well-developed interpersonal skills with people of all ages, their organization, their outgoing personalities, and their ability to think on their feet. Not everybody is cut out to be a DJ.
How then does a couple sift through the over 90 DJs in Vermont and determine which one is the right choice for them? First, if you have seen a particular DJ at an event, make sure you get his or her name and company. If you haven't seen a DJ lately make sure to view DJ demos on the DJ company website. We at Supersounds list three to four video clips of each DJ so that prospective clients can listen to the DJ's voice prior to choosing one. Musical selection on these clips isn't as important as that will change with the bride and groom and their playlist, but the voice of the DJ introducing the wedding party should be something that appeals to you. Another way of checking out specific DJs is to visit weddingwire.com or TheWeddingChannel.com where brides evaluate their DJs after their event. Much can be learned from these references as they are not written by the DJ company but by the brides and grooms themselves. I hope I have raised some questions to ask your DJ when hiring for this important event.
The next area I would like to touch on is equipment. Quality equipment is a sound investment and a must in the special event business. I remember a banquet manager telling me about a large Vt wedding in Morrisville, VT some years ago. More than 300 people were in attendance. During the second dance song the dj's amp malfunctioned. He had no backup equipment, so he packed up and went home. After months of planning, the reception was over almost as soon as it had started. Having quality backup equipment ensures that you event will have music as long as you want. Make sure the dj doesn't just own backup equipment, but will bring it to the job. Get it in writing or you may find out the hard way. Listed in the table below are professional grade equipment. If the dj you are considering has little of the above brands make sure you shop elsewhere. Also, make sure that your dj has music on a reliable high quality format. Music today must be in a digital form either with cds or mp3s. Mp3s seem to be the most popular with djs nationwide and most djs have libraries in the 20,000-30,000 range. One dj in Vt makes an untrue statement about Mp3s sounding bad at loud volumes. This is simply not true. Mp3s sound fantastic if clear versions are recorded initially and many of the world's finest club djs spin Mp3s. If the sound of a Mp3 was poor the I-pod would have gone out of business long ago. Most djs today use traditional cd players, laptop computers, and digital media controllers. Supersounds has chosen digital media controllers because of their reliability. You have music on a hard drive (2 backup hard drives at every job) and you have the media controller. (see our equipment list for a video demo of a media controller) With a laptop you have so many things that can cause the computer to lock up and you must have a backup laptop for every laptop you bring to an event. While videotaping weddings around Vt we have documented proof of laptops locking up at weddings and emitting loud noises that were unable to be silenced by the djs. We have experienced none of these issues with digital media players. Supersounds also has a full backup mini disc system of music incorporated into each system in the event of the digital media player being effected by fluctuations in power at a banquet facility.
Next, I want to touch upon the importance of having a backup dj for your event. If a dj is sick or in an accident what will happen to your event? At Supersounds we have a dj on call every weekend who can step in at a moments notice. Make sure your dj has a similar plan! Also, along the same lines can you reach your dj the day of the wedding or the day before? Supersounds has emergency cell phones and pagers listed on their answering service. Check with the company you are considering after hours to see if they have a similar communication system? Most don't and you must have access to the dj and company to cover any last minute details. Another important consideration is to have an emergency generator for your event. Last year (2009) there was a major power outage in Vermont on a Saturday. 5 of our 12 weddings were affected and 4 of the events had backup generators and no problems arose. One did not and their event had to be moved to an Inn down the road. If there is not any power for your dj then your event is over. Besides the disappointment and embarrassment of having zero music after months of planning and anticipation, you will still have to pay for the services of the photographer,dj,food service, florist, etc.. A wise decision would be to rent a small generator (2000 watts or larger) to have just in case. It could be the best 75-100.00 you have ever spent!!!
Finally, your dj should want to do your wedding or special event. Enthusiasm is another good sign of a professional dj. Enthusiasm and good communication skills are essential elements in hiring a competent dj.
In conclusion, I hope I have raised some questions that might not have been considered by the prospective client when hiring a dj. My philosophy in wedding/event planning is to make sure you have everything in writing and have planned for a variety of situations. If you do this you will not have any unpleasant surprises on the day of your event. Please check us out at www.supersounds.com and happy wedding planning!!!
Grant Allendorf Supersounds Entertainment (owner since 1978-UVM83) Voted Vt's #1 Dj Service
79 Meadow Lane
P.O. Box 214
Underhill, Vermont 05489
Tele. U.S. (802) 899 - 2823
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