Selecting Your Wedding DJ
Seven tips for choosing a DJ

Seven tips for choosing a DJ, by Adrian Makarov, Goldbass Records

So you have decided you want a DJ to entertain at your event, the next step is to choose a DJ that will play for your style of event and is within your budget. From over 12 years experience in the industry below are some non-biased tips that will hopefully help with your DJ entertainment selection.

1. Decide your DJ style

The first step is to decide what type of DJ you want for your event. There are many different types of DJ's nowadays. You may be after a DJ to entertain a mixed age group with a variety of genres of music at say a wedding or a genre specific DJ who will play for a certain age group.

Every DJ has his/her own style. When you book a multi operator company (a business that employs or contracts 2 or more DJ"s), ensure you talk and plan with the DJ who will play at your event and make sure you feel comfortable with that specific person.

Ask what type of music the DJ enjoys the most. You are half way in your selection if it"s the style that you want at your event. Common events usually require the following types of music.

Weddings Partys Corporate Events
All Genre Mix DJ All Genre Mix DJ All Genre Mix DJ
Ethnic Music Knowledge Club DJ (Urban & Dance) Cocktail Music Knowledge
Dinner Music Knowledge Pub & Bar Music Knowledge Pub & Bar Music Knowledge
Cocktail Music Knowledge Specific Genre DJ Specific Genre DJ

2. Budget

Decide your budget. Prices range from approx $400 Inc GST for a basic DJ service for 4 hours up to $2000 Inc GST for a fully qualified, in demand and experienced DJ (in and around Australia). This can be more if they are a celebrity or a well known music producer.

DJ rates vary based on talent, personality, experience, music knowledge, mixing ability, demand, equipment required, venue accessibility (for load in/out) and location. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for in the entertainment industry.

Do a little research before locking a DJ in for your event. Talk to friends and venues that hold events like the one you are having. Usually a word of mouth DJ service is the best to choose. Your guests will always remember a bad DJ in the same respect they will also recommend a good DJ.

3. Experience

It"s simple. Ask your potential DJ how many events similar to the one you are having he or she has performed at. It"s important your DJ will have the knowledge on how to direct the event with the right music and show to suit the style of event you are having. If they can back up their experience with solid testimonials and even provide an entire gig on DVD / Video that you can review, you are on a winner. Short video clips will not represent the entire night. A DJ"s performance is really judges by the 5-6 hour experience.

4. Music

In the hands of a master, a DJ"s Playlist will direct a room of people who came for a relaxing dinner or social call into a fun & exciting party. Each song that a DJ plays creates a mood for each person and the room as a whole. You should have a say in what music you would like for the night. Make sure your DJ will accommodate your ideas, play the music you want at the event and will take guest requests on the night.

The DJ service should provide a music list for you choose a few styles and songs and also let you choose the music you do not want played. This is usually filled out on the event planner. On average around 20 songs per hour are played. From experience it"s good to choose say 20-30 must play songs and a few genres to follow. This leaves a little room for the DJ"s creativity and will give the DJ an idea of you and your guest"s tastes.
The "don"t play" song list is just as important.

5. Event Planner and Written Contract

A DJ needs in-depth knowledge of your style of event so he/she can be prepared for the day. An event planner can give this information to the DJ to assist in creating a successful event. A contract should also be signed by the DJ service and client to ensure a legally smooth running event which protects the DJ along with the client if there are any issues that may arrive. For your own piece of mind make sure you sign a contract and even pay a deposit (usually 30-50% of total price) for your booking as it makes it more legally binding when money changes hands.

6. Equipment

Ask if your DJ service uses professional sound and lighting equipment. If you can, get them to send pictures of what their setup looks like. Cables should be hidden, there should be minimum light trussing (unless they have a large lightshow) and it should suit your style of venue. If you have paid good money for a nice venue, a DJ"s setup should be subtle and blend in with the venue. Check with the DJ to make sure they have backup equipment in case of failure. This should include amps, mixers and cd players / turntables / computers.

Remember that sound & lighting equipment is only the DJ"s tools and does not reflect their talent, personality or type of service you will get at the event.

7. Summary

Follow these steps and the rest should be easy..

1. Choose your style of DJ and budget
2. Talk to friends, family and venues to see if they have recommendations
3. If you cannot source someone you know, check the Yellowpages or Bridal Magazines
4. Make sure you feel comfortable with the DJ you are speaking to..
5. Ensure they are accommodating and will assist with the style of your event..
6. Remember you are the hirer, if you are not happy with something, say so..
7. Check their experience & equipment used..
8. If you are happy & confident with what they do book them and ensure you get a contract / event planner
9. Liaise with the DJ leading up to the day..
10. Most importantly, enjoy the event!

Adrian Makarov
Goldbass Records
Moovin & Groovin Perth, Broome & W.A.