It is often surprising how late in the day many people consider booking a DJ for their wedding or party, despite how critical a great DJ is to the success of their event. This guide, written by DJ Anton Foley, aims to help the first time booker understand what to look for when you hire a DJ, with tips and insights into how DJs work and what you need to do to get the best out of yours.
It is often surprising how late in the day many people consider booking a DJ to provide their party or wedding entertainment, despite how critical a great DJ is to the success of their event. This guide aims to help the first time booker understand what to look for when you hire a DJ, with tips and insights into how DJs work and what you need to do to get the best out of yours.
Written by DJ Anton Foley
What Makes A Great Party?
So what makes a great party? Ask most of your guests and they'll say they had a great time if they were up dancing all night to the music they love. But how do you know what music they'll love? Surely everyone has varied tastes?
When guests decide to get on the dance floor at a party, there's a certain process involved of losing their inhibitions as they escape into the exciting world of music & lights. Memories and emotions can be ignited by the DJ’s choice of music and songs, often taking people back to their youth. What a great journey this can turn out to be if the DJ perfectly judges all the right tunes to play for your guests.
A good DJ can read the crowd to ensure a full dance floor
A good DJ should have a passion for all genres of music so that he can predict the response of people in the room when he plays certain classic songs from his collection. It is important for a DJ to read his crowd and he should instinctively know what kind of music will get people dancing.
If you are providing a DJ with a playlist, it is advisable to allow the DJ some discretion to choose which tracks to play from your list and at what time to play them.
When guests share the dance floor it is similar to an audience laughing together at a comedian. Dancing helps people to unwind and relax and laughter relaxes muscles, boosts energy and triggers the release of feel-good chemicals. The feel good factor can also be promoted by the DJ if he plays positive uplifting music that is mainly found in songs written in the major keys.
A good DJ knows what music to play to make people feel better
It can be quite a challenge for a DJ to get guests dancing, especially early on at a wedding where many of the guests might not know each other. Sometimes interaction over the microphone is required to help people feel more relaxed, and occasionally a little encouragement can be given to help create that essential party spirit.
There are a variety of different techniques which can be used and this is where DJ’s have varying styles and approaches. Some people like a DJ to be vocally interactive with their audience, where as others prefer the more modern approach of minimal talking with the focus mainly on good music and taking requests.
My personal tendency is to keep microphone interaction to a minimum whilst making sure my audience feels comfortable and happy.
When to book a DJ
If you leave booking a DJ to the last minute then it is likely that you’ll end up with a less experienced DJ. The best and therefore most popular DJs get booked well in advance. If your event is on a Friday or Saturday night you should look to secure your DJ around one year in advance.
How much will it cost to hire a DJ?
To hire a good professional DJ you should expect to pay anywhere between £400 to £600 including travel. DJs in this price range should have really good equipment (which makes a huge difference to your enjoyment of their music) as well as excellent experience and a huge library of music to choose from.
It is possible to book very local guys for less than this but unless you're working within a really restricted budget - don't go there. The quality really won't be as good and that could mean an empty dance floor and no atmosphere.
Top 5 tips to consider when you hire a DJ for your event:
1) Make it clear what style of DJ you would like
This applies to both the music they will play as well as their style of audience interaction. Do you want a DJ that will focus on the music and talk very little, or is it more important to have a DJ who specialises in audience interaction and party games? Do you want a wide range of classic party hits or a modern set of club anthems? A really good DJ can adapt to most situations and requests - bit it's important to make it really clear what type of DJ you're looking to hire from the start.
2) Recent customer references
Make sure you ask for plenty of testimonials from previous customers which show the DJ was able to read the audience and keep the dance-floor entertained. Make sure the DJ is experienced at working the same type of event you're organising. Being a good wedding DJ for example requires specific skills, equipment and experience.
3) What equipment and lighting will they provide?
Will your DJ provide a high quality sound system and suitable lighting for the different stages of your event? For example, a Wedding DJ should be able to provide subtle 'mood' lighting and quiet background music for early in the evening, as well as more exciting flashing lights, scanners and effects for the dance floor. A really good quality PA system will allow the DJ to play music loud enough for people to really feel the energy and thump of the music - but without the music sounding too loud. Cheap PA systems sound awful when pushed past a certain volume and it makes the music sound harsh and tiring.
4) Is the DJ prepared to allow you and your guests to use the microphone?
Although this is sometimes taken for granted by event organisers, many DJ’s do not like other people singing, presenting awards or giving speeches through their microphone/PA system - mainly so they can be sure nothing gets broken. It is best to get it clear prior to the event to what extent the DJ will allow other people to use his/her equipment.
5) Hire a professional
Although it's tempting to look for a cheaper local DJ - don't underestimate how crucial the quality of the DJ will be on the night of your event. The DJ will be responsible for entertaining all of your guests over at least four hours. They will be the main focal point of the evening. Do you really want to risk hours of complete embarrassment for the sake of a few hundred pounds? A great DJ will make your party - so expect to pay in the region of £400 - £600
Written by DJ Anton Foley available to hire through Alive Network Entertainment Agency