Top 20 Questions To Ask A DJ Before You Hire One
Courtesy of: Show On The Road Productions Entertainment, Inc.
1. Do you belong to any professional trade organizations?
The most common professional trade organization in the DJ community is The American Disc Jockey Association (ADJA). Another popular one is National Association of Mobile Entertainers (N.A.M.E.). Belonging to a professional trade organization symbolizes the DJ company’s commitment to excellence, to stay plugged in to their trade, to stay on top of the popular trends in the wedding business, and more importantly, an outward promise to operate their business at high ethical standards. These organizations meet regularly, allowing members to openly share ideas that make the overall wedding entertainment industry better. However, being a member of one of these trade organizations does not automatically guarantee that your DJ will be the right fit for you.
Show On The Road is a proud member of the American Disc Jockey Association.
2. Are you insured?
Stay away from DJ companies that are not insured for at least $1,000,000 of general liability insurance. Ask to see their certificate of coverage. This liability insurance protects you, the DJ company and the venue against any liability in the event of injury or accident caused by the DJ. In fact, many banquet facilities and venues now REQUIRE the DJ to provide proof of insurance prior to setting up any equipment. Don’t get caught with a DJ company trying to set up their equipment on your wedding day, and the venue denying them access to the room due to lack of insurance. This insurance is not very expensive, and is simply irresponsible on the DJ’s part not to have it.
Show On The Road carries $1,000,000 of general liability insurance.
3. Do you have professional equipment?
Sadly, this is an area where a lot of amateur DJ’s spend their time trying to convince you to use their service over another competitor… by bragging about their gear. Why? Because if they have no other credentials to talk about, they will automatically use their sound system and song list as their sales pitch. Beware of companies that put too much emphasis on this area.
With that being said, it is still a good idea to at least see an equipment list. Professional-grade, concert-quality equipment is what you are looking for. Your DJ also should have equipment mounted inside a protective case (also referred to as a “flight case” or “road case”). These cases are aesthetically appealing, as they hide all the messy cable from plain view. You should stay away from DJs that use “home audio” brands or components because they are not designed to endure the frequent bumps that take place when transported. Some top brands for DJ equipment include Pioneer, Numark, Denon, Crown, JBL, Electo-Voice (EV), Mackie, RANE, Serato, QSC, American Audio, American DJ, Shure, and many others. It’s also a good idea to see a photo or video of the equipment set up in a banquet hall, so you know what to expect.
Show On The Road has an equipment list and photos available upon request.
4. Do you bring backup emergency equipment with you to the wedding?
Have you ever had an electronic piece of equipment fail on you at no fault of your own? Your answer is probably “yes”, but it doesn’t happen very often. Unfortunately, being a DJ does not make them immune to equipment failure either. How prepared will your DJ be in the event of equipment failure? Most competent DJ companies will have an emergency back-up plan. Are you comfortable with this back-up plan? Be sure you discuss this important point before you hire them.
Show On The Road has one of the best emergency back-up plans in the business. Be sure to ask how we go the extra mile to protect you.
5. What if something happens to the DJ and can’t make it to the wedding?
Illnesses, family emergencies, tragic accidents, or even death are all facts of life. The question again is, how will your DJ company handle this, if something should happen? Regardless of how it is handled, be sure you are comfortable with their ability to address and manage this crisis. Most DJ companies will have an emergency back-up DJ that is “on call”, just in case something should happen. Have you ever thought of what would happen if the DJ gets into an automobile accident en route to your reception site with the equipment in the van? What would your DJ company do to handle a DJ being rushed to the hospital by ambulance and all the DJ equipment is scattered all over the expressway? This, of course, is a very extreme scenario, but you should be curious to know how the situation will be handled.
Show On The Road has one of the best emergency back-up plans in the business. Be sure to ask how we go the extra mile to protect you.
6. How many weddings do you handle per day?
Does your DJ company accommodate other weddings on the same day as yours? There are definitely pro’s and con’s in working with a multi-unit company versus a single unit operator. A multi-unit company is usually much better at providing quicker customer service (usually have a staffed office) and can provide better solutions for emergency back-up DJ’s and equipment. However, if you don’t go with the right multi-unit company, you can get stuck with one that doesn’t take the time to personally service their clients the way they should. Remember, the larger the company, the more challenging it becomes to give good service. Can it be done? Absolutely, but you have to know you are working with a company that can deliver at your level of expectation. Single-unit operators are usually “weekend warriors” and have another full-time job that keeps them occupied all week long. So, they probably don’t do their DJ business as a full-time career. They usually cannot take your call immediately but can also work to your advantage because they only have to concentrate on one wedding at a time as opposed to a multiple-unit operation that has several weddings going on. There is no right or wrong in this area. The most important thing for you is to find someone who will give you the attention, peace-of-mind and service that you deserve.
Show On The Road is a mid-size DJ company with a high level of personalized customer service with an impeccable attention to detail. You will notice this within your first meeting with us.
7. Can we meet with you before we book our date?
Beware of companies that don’t offer to meet with you in person. That practice alone should tell you that customer service is not one of their top priorities. Most DJ companies will have a professional office space to meet, while some other smaller or single-unit operators will offer to meet you at a Starbucks, Panera, or even in your own home. Unless you’ve seen the DJ company in action at another wedding before, it is highly recommended you to meet with them in person. The way they present themselves over the internet, or on the phone can be very different than how they present themselves in person.
Show On The Road insists on meeting with every client in person whenever possible to make sure our services are a good fit for the type of party you are having. Most of the time, we can meet or exceed your expectations, but once in a while, we do turn business away if we feel that we cannot provide what the client is looking for. It’s all about ethics and doing the right thing for the customer.
8. What is included with your services?
All companies are different, but regardless of who you go with, it’s important to know what you will get at what price … and get it in writing. Some companies will offer different packages, while some others only have one package and take on a “one size fits all” approach. Others will offer various add-ons such as lighting and video montages, while others won’t. You will have to figure out what is most important to you and locate the company that can provide it to you.
Show On The Road has various packages from a simple DJ to an elaborate celebration with accent lighting, video montages, photo booths and much more. Regardless of what you’re looking for, we have a package (or can customize one) for you, within a wide budget range.
9. Do you offer a written contract?
A written contract will outline the DJ’s obligation to provide his services and the clients’ responsibility to pay. It should include the wedding date, start and end times of the event, the location of the event and cost, just to name a few. NEVER work with any wedding vendor without a written contract. This will protect you against any misunderstanding. Any DJ promising to provide service to you without a contract is not a responsible business professional and should not be considered as a candidate to perform at your wedding reception.
Show On The Road has a contract for every event we perform at. We have the ability to hold your date over the phone and accept deposits/final payments over the phone with a credit card number. We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.
10. Can we visit you at a performance?
Hopefully, the answer to this is “No”. Ask yourself this question: On your wedding day, will you want strangers in your private reception passing through your banquet room to audition and interview the DJ? Be careful about a DJ that invites you to come see them at someone else’s wedding. It’s not only rude to the bride and groom who is celebrating their wedding, but should also demonstrate that the DJ is taking his attention away from an event that he’s getting paid for. Gee, you wouldn’t want that to happen at your reception, would you?
Show On The Road will never invite a prospective client to your private wedding reception. We believe it’s tacky and unprofessional.
11. May we speak to your references?
Hopefully, you won’t need to take it this far. But if there is still something inside of you that’s telling you to speak to some of their past client, they should be more than willing to give you a list of people to speak with.
Show On The Road has become proactive in this arena and has taken the initiative to prepare video testimonials on our website. However, we can provide a list of references upon request.
12. How do you keep your music collection up-to-date?
Stay away from DJ’s that download their music from free or illegal websites. First of all, it’s illegal. Secondly, it may be inferior in sound quality. Thirdly, the versions of songs most commonly found on these types of sites may not be edited for vulgarity and not suitable for wedding receptions. A pro DJ will usually subscribe to a professional subscription service that provides all of the new music, edited for all the vulgarities, on a monthly basis. This music is generally available to professional DJ months before the songs even become popular on the radio. Some popular subscription services are PromoOnly, Prime Cuts and RPM.
Show On The Road maintains monthly subscriptions to several service providers. If there is a song you want that we do not yet own, we will purchase the song for you on iTunes at no additional charge to the client.
13. How involved can we be in selecting music for our event? Can I see a music list?
Your DJ should be able to explain to you their policy in this matter, but most DJs will want you to provide some sort of list that the bride and groom would like played throughout the night. Most experienced DJ’s will also have a music list, or some type of online music library for the bride and groom. The best DJs will be sensitive to your music choices, and you probably should avoid any DJ that refuses to play your music selections. After all, who’s paying the bill?
Show On The Road has their music database available online at www.ShowOnTheRoad.com. We allow our clients to have 100% input to the type of music played at their event.
14. Do you take music requests from our guests?
Again, you are paying for the service, so you should get what you want. Some clients want the DJ to take requests from the audience, and some clients don’t trust their guests and would prefer to have the DJ NOT take their requests. Your DJ should be accommodating to your preferences. However, if you want your DJ taking guest requests, you should ask how they do it. Some DJs will leave tacky index cards at each dinner table asking guests to write their requests down and turn in the card. Others will make an announcement inviting guests to come to the DJ booth to make requests.
Show On The Road has a very unique way of gathering requests. Be sure to ask our office staff exactly how we do it.
15. Can we submit a “Do Not Play” list?
You certainly don’t want music played at your reception that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Perhaps there are certain songs that remind you of your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend that you just care not to hear on your wedding day (it’s okay to laugh). Maybe it might be an audience participation dance like the “Hokey Pokey” or the “Macarena”. You should ask how you communicate this information to your DJ, and if the DJ is willing to honor your forbidden list.
Show On The Road gives each client 100% control and communicates this information to us by completing our online wedding planner.
16. How and when do we submit our music requests and event details?
At some point in time, you will need to let your DJ know what announcements he is expected to make, when to do them, the names of your bridal party for the introductions (with correct pronunciation), the name of your first dance song, cake cutting music, bouquet and garter music, and the list goes on. Any professional DJ will provide you with a worksheet, or provide you access to an online wedding planner for you to complete. The DJ should give you plenty of time to work on this information, but you should also have this information completed and turned in with plenty of time (4 to 6 weeks prior to wedding date) for the DJ to review and prepare for your wedding day. The DJ will have plenty of time to track down any requested songs that are not currently in his music library, and make special arrangements for your out-of-the-ordinary requests.
Show On The Road makes wedding planning easy with our online wedding planners. Our office staff will set up an appointment with you for a final consultation approximately 2 to 3 weeks before your wedding to go over all final details. Remember, we pride ourselves with an impeccable attention to detail.
17. After the contract is signed, will we meet again before the wedding?
Depending upon the DJ company, they may or may not need to meet with you before the wedding date. However, always work with someone who puts customer service as a priority. Some DJs will prefer a final telephone meeting just weeks before the event. Some DJs will prefer a final face-to-face meeting with you. And some will give you the preference of a phone meeting, or a face-to-face meeting. Unfortunately, the amateur DJ will not know how to answer this question. If you had a choice to meet with the DJ at the initial meeting versus at the final meeting, it’s far more important to meet with them at the initial meeting.
The Show On The Road office staff will set up an appointment with you for a final consultation approximately 2 to 3 weeks before your wedding to go over all final details. Remember, we pride ourselves with an impeccable attention to detail.
18. How many DJ’s will perform at my event, and how will they be dressed?
Most DJ services will have 1 or 2 individuals working your event, depending upon how big your sound and light show is, and the degree of difficulty with set-up challenges. Having more than 2 people behind the DJ booth starts to look messy, unprofessional, and really unnecessary. An amateur might have the tendency to start inviting their friends to hang out with them behind the DJ booth and pretend they are a part of their staff, just to “hang out” at your party. You should also ask what they will wear. A tuxedo or a suit should be standard, but you will never know unless you ask. So, please … ASK!
Show On The Road, with most wedding packages, will have at least one DJ, but no more than two DJ’s at your event. For larger wedding packages where an expanded light show, video montage and/or a photo booth is ordered, there may be more individuals present to ensure smooth operation of all the equipment. Regardless, all our staff members that will stay the duration of your party will be properly dressed in tuxedo or other appropriate attire.
19. How many weddings do you do / how experienced are you in weddings?
Some companies only do strictly weddings, while other DJ’s will also do corporate events, bar mitzvahs, school dances, and so on. Whatever the case may be, it’s a good idea to ask how much wedding business their company does each year. You definitely want to work with a DJ that does mostly weddings.
Show On The Road has performed at nearly 6200 weddings since 1995. Weddings comprise of a little more than 50% of our business, which is our largest category of events over corporate events, school dances and private parties.
20. How do you get your business?
This is a great question to ask your prospective DJ company. You’ll be able to tell if this DJ company is a big player in the industry or not by the way the question will be answered.
Show On The Road has developed relationships since we started in 1995 with various Banquet Halls, Wedding Photographers & Videographers, Bridal shops, Tuxedo companies Limo companies and Florists who refer business to us. We also do an occasional bridal show, send out mailers and advertise in bridal magazines. However, a large portion of our business is also “word of mouth”, from someone who has seen us perform as a first-hand experience. The “word of mouth” referral is the best form of advertising for us, which further proves that we WANT to deliver an ultimate entertainment experience for you and your guests because we will get more “word of mouth” referrals from your event! We love what we do!