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Key Questions To Ask Before You Hire A DJ

Keys To Unlocking The Answers To A Professional DJ

Keys To Unlocking The Answers To A Professional DJ

Key Questions To Ask Before You Hire A DJ

Nobody Wants A Bad DJ…
Some People Just Don’t Ask The Right Questions To Avoid One!

The following list has evolved over several years as a result of questions and concerns posed by potential clients as they planned their events. We feel it is beneficial for you to look over these questions and view your event through the eyes of another.

Keep in mind, the DJ Industry is largely un-regulated. It is up to you to take the time necessary to carefully investigate your entertainment options.

“Praemonitus Praemunitus” is a Latin saying, translated “Forewarned is forearmed”

1: What Company Have I Reached?

HINT: Make sure that you reach the company you dialed. Be cautious if the company answers by a name different from the phone listing. You may have reached a company intercepting phone calls intended for another company – or – you may have reached a company operating under different names due to poor customer service, or for failure to show up for performances.

Take note of how professionally your phone call is answered and what background noises are evident.

2: Are you a full-time (career) DJ, do you do this part-time or only as a hobby?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

3: Should I Meet In Person and Interview Entertainers Before Booking.
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

4: Did You Really Earn Your “Best of Title” or “Award”?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

5: Is My Date Available?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

6: Am I being taken advantage of?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

7: What Is The Deadline To Reserve My Date?

HINT: Generally speaking Professional Mobile DJs will allow you a reasonable window of time to make an informed decision for entertainment. However, keep in mind that some dates are more popular than others. It is up to you to make your intentions clear and to take the initiative to secure your entertainment.

8: Should I obtain Wedding Event or Wedding Liability Insurance?

Hint: Check to see if your venue requires these coverages. Planning a wedding is a substantial financial investment. Wedding Event and Wedding Liability coverages can help protect your investment for your wedding day. What happens if a vendor goes bankrupt or fails to show up? What if a guest is injured during your event?

Wedding Event and Wedding Liability Insurance

9: What Type of Event Do You Specialize in?

HINT: Ask how much experience they have & how many events they’ve done. 100 events per year for 10 years is more experience than 10 events per year for 20 years. Be EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS of embellishments that relate to experience. Recently several upstart DJs have been laying claim to years of experience far beyond their actual experience. Do the math! It’s highly unlikely that a 30 yr old DJ has been DJing for 20yrs.

10: How Many Years Have You Been in Business?

Hint: Experience is the key to any successful event. Being knowledgeable about music and gear is only a portion of being a well rounded DJ. There are social graces and performance skills that DJs develop over years. These graces and skills are rarely duplicated by amateur DJs. DJs that attend conventions, conferences and seminars to continue their education and further their skills are qualities that represent an entertainer that takes your best interests at heart.

11: Are you currently registered with the Secretary of State?

Hint: If the answer is NO…hang up the phone an move on. Never hire a DJ or Entertainment that is NOT state registered. Most states require some form of business registration with the Secretary of State or State Tax Department. Establishing and Reserving a business Trade Name is the very first decision any legitimate business makes. DJ Entertainment is no exception. Several companies choose to operate “off-radar” to avoid taxes & other legitimate business expenses. Additional drawbacks may include difficulty seeking recovery and finding the person responsible for a failure to show up for an event.

12: Do you carry General Liability Insurance?

Hint: If the DJ you plan on hiring damages the reception facility or injures a guest you could be liable since you are hosting the event.

13: Is Your Equipment Insured?

Hint: Non-insured or Under-insured DJ Companies are extremely risky to hire. If the DJ you plan on hiring loses their music & equipment due to theft, fire, flood, storm…etc, will they be able to replace the music & equipment to be ready for your event without causing you undue stress?

14: Do You Currently Have Workers Compensation Insurance to Cover Your DJs?

Hint: Demand Proof! Most states require workers compensation insurance coverage for workers. Demand to view a Valid Workers Compensation Insurance Certificate, Independent Contractor Verification or Independent Contractor Exemption Certificate (ICEC) before hiring entertainment for your event. If the entertainment you plan on hiring doesn’t carry Workers Compensation Insurance for themselves or their staff, you could be liable for the injuries since you are hosting the event and their performance is for your benefit.

15: How Do You Charge by the hour, flat rate, etc.?

Hint: Legitimate businesses will charge for products and services that are are provided to you, for your benefit. Determine how you will compensate your entertainment before you sign a contract to avoid any hidden costs.

Wedding Packages

16: What Are Your Rates For Dances?

Wedding Packages

Hint: Keep in mind that price is a statement of value. That value is set by the company owner and is generally a fair representation of how much or little their services are actually worth. Lowest price usually equals lowest value.

Good Rule of Thumb: ** You can’t be the “BEST” if you’re cheaper than the rest! **

17: Can You Provide Background Music During Dinner & Cocktails?

Hint: Finding the right entertainer with the stamina and experience to keep your guests engaged and feeling invited and involved is a vital part of any successful event. Be cautious of DJs that try to “woo” you with “Free Dinner Music”. Most people don’t work for free and competent DJs don’t either. You generally get what you pay for and “free” isn’t worth much. Insist that your DJ is present during the Background Music During Dinner & Cocktails to assist you and emcee announcements when needed.

18: Can You Assist Us With Our Wedding Ceremony If Needed?

Hint: Experience is the key in handling a Wedding Ceremony. Whether it’s a religious or secular ceremony, be cautious of DJs that appear unfamiliar with Wedding Ceremony protocols. Your DJ should be ready to offer you Wedding related suggestions to assist you in planning and handling your event. REQUIRE:That your DJ be on-site with their sound equipment a minimum of 2hrs and be completed with setup at a minimum of 1hrprior to the start of the ceremony. Insist that your DJ is present during the Wedding Ceremony to assist you with any technical needs. Also insist that there is sufficient staff to tear-down and load-out the equipment used for your wedding ceremony to avoid additional location charges and to insure your wedding reception starts on time.

19: Do You Charge a Deposit? If so, how much?

HINT: DO NOT pay a deposit to a company that is not registered with the Secretary of State or Tax Department. Be cautious about paying a deposit to a comany that does not maintain an established and published business address where they can be located. Be equally cautious about companies that may be on the verge of bankruptcy. Avoid companies that have a poor track record or minimal experience.

20: When Is The Balance Due For Our Event?

Hint: If you expected your entertainment to perform on a certain date and time, expect full payment to be provided on or before that date and time. Look over your contract carefully and determine if full payment is due prior to your event to insure that your entertainment will be on time and on location. Be sure that your contract states what payment methods are acceptable. Do not expect a vendor to accept credit cards, and if they do, while they are away from their place of business. Generally speaking it’s awkward or cumbersome to “settle up” during the event or at the end of the evening. Most event planners would rather enjoy their evening and complete their vendor payments in advance of the event.

21: Do Your Performance Fees Include Lighting?

Hint: Verify if lighting is included, what is included and whether or not it is commercial grade. A common trick among lower end DJs is to claim they provide lighting to appear more worthy and end up bringing shabby novelty store lighting designed for a basement of bedroom incapable of being effective in most venues.

22: What Is Your Travel Charge?

Hint: This is great way to identify whether or not you’re dealing with a credible business person. There are DJs that use gimmicks to entice potential clients. One of those gimmicks is “Free Mileage” or “No Travel Charge”. One of the most vital things to a Mobile Disc Jockey is mobility which involves travel, insurance, fuel, vehicle maintenance, meals, parking and in some cases lodging. DJs that itemize a travel or mileage charge are simply passing on a regular cost of doing business.

23: What Is Your Cancellation and/or Postponement Policy?

Hint: Date availability is a perishable thing. Service begins when you book your event and the DJ system becomes unavailable to other potential clients. Make sure that the contract you receive contains specific details pertaining to Cancellations or Postponements.

24: Do You Offer a Written Contract?

HINT: Although “oral contracts” are recognized by several states it’s always a good idea to your agreement in writing. Make sure you review your event details for accuracy. Refuse to pay a deposit if the company does not offer a written contract and never send cash in the mail. Remember the saying: “A fool and their money are soon parted”.

25: How Do I Book Your Services? Be Cautious of “Assumed Contracts”.

HINT: If you did not specifically request a contract from a specific company…don’t sign it. Some companies make a practice of sending contracts to everyone that calls for information. Some unfortunate wedding planners end up hiring a company they did not intend to hire. Only request a contract from the company you intend to hire & read the contract carefully. Always ask for clarification if you are unsure of a term or item in a contract.

26: If We Hire Your Company, Will You Subcontract Our Event to Another Company?

Hint: Read your contract carefully. For example: If you hire a DJ through a Radio Station be specific about which ON AIR DJ you expect & will receive. Make sure that the contract clearly states the NAME & LOGO of the Radio Station you are hiring. Be EXTRA cautious of Mobile DJ clearing houses that make empty promises of low rates and great results. Generally speaking, DJ clearing houses give lacklustre DJs that have failed in business a second chance to impose their inadequate services on potential clients. In many cases Mobile DJ clearing houses con DJs into paying a yearly fee to connect them with potential clients and then use “bait and switch” tactics to entice unwitting clients into hiring inferior entertainment.

27: How Many Events Can Your Company Handle On A Given Day?

Hint: It’s very important to know how distracted your DJ or DJ company will be on the day of your event. There have been situations where local Mobile DJ companies have hired, briefly trained and assigned events to DJs the day they were hired. Distractions can lead to disaster but lack of experience guarantees it. Inquire about company protocols that are in place to assure that your event will be handled correctly and on time. Low rates that attempt to maximize bookings also maximize the risks to your event.

Those risks can include but are not limited to:

Lack of Customer Service
Lack of Pre-Event Planning
Lack of Performance Consistency
Failure To Show Up
Drunken DJ
DJ Under The Influence of Controlled Substances
Convicted Felons
Sexual Predators

ND Sex Offender Search
MN Sex Offender Search
SD Sex Offender Search
Family Watchdog
Sex Offenders

28: What Type of Guarantee Do You Offer in the Event You Don’t Show Up?

Hint: Listen very carefully and to how well recited – what protocols are in place to handle your event details in case an unforeseen health or family emergency occurs.

29: Will You Be A Master of Ceremonies or Only Play Music?

Hint: Don’t assume that all DJ entertainers are appealing. Meeting in person can help you discover whether your DJ is interactive and fun or simply someone that pushes play.

30: Do You Encourage Audience Participation? If So, How?

Hint: Pick an item that they give as an example & have them explain how it is done. Keep in mind that if they can’t explain it over the phone they probably won’t be able to explain it over the microphone the night of your event.

31: Do You Use Props, Inflatable Toys, etc?

If we don’t want them, can we negotiate a discount?

Hint: Each entertainer possesses different skills. Some have the ability to engage your guests with their personality and music. Other DJs rely on props and inflatable toys to give the appearance of being more dynamic. Think about how you want your event to come across and how you want your guests treated.

32: Will You Be Selling Glow Products or Props To Our Guests?

Hint: There is a professional line that gets crossed when DJ begin selling Glow Products or Props to guests. It’s a tactic used to offset low rates and in most cases is being done illegally without a proper tax permit. Avoid sending the wrong message to your guests of you being cheap.

33: Do You Offer 3-Hour Events with Ability to Add Additional Time?


Hint: Several reception facilities will not allow music to play until 1am; more reputable companies know this & should not contract for time after the music is required to shut down.

34: Do You Take Breaks? If So, How Long Are They?

Hint: Unlike bands, by design, DJs do not normally need breaks every hour. DJs have the ability to keep more guests dancing for a longer period of time with the songs, exactly how they were meant to be. Keep in mind that is not uncommon for a DJ to make a quick run to the restroom during an evening. However, scheduling an hourly smoke or drinking break lacks professional courtesy towards you and your guests.

35: Do You Expect Food and Beverages To Be Provided During The Evening?

Hint: While it is a generous gesture to offer to feed your DJ, it can become awkward. In many cases your DJ will need to emcee at the precise time that they receive their food. It is your choice to offer a meal to your DJ as opposed to having them help themselves to the food intended for your guests.

36: Will You Be Drinking Alcohol During My Event?

Hint: There is a big difference between participating in a Champagne Toast and getting “lit” during an event. There are no other work environments that condone drinking and DJing is no exception. There are many misconceptions that DJs impart to justify drinking on the job. One of the greatest misconceptions: “I’m a better entertainer after a few drinks – it makes me the life of the party!” Alcohol leads to belligerence. There’s nothing more shameful than a rude, drunken DJ, hitting on or offending your guests.

Need a visual? Adam Sandler as The Wedding Singer where the father of the Bride punched Adam Sandler in the nose after offending guests at the reception.

Perhaps a better question to ask would be: What if the DJ gets a DUI the night before your wedding due to their drinking habits?

37: Do You Offer a Pre-Event Music Meeting?

Hint: Pre-Event Music Meetings are a great way to convey your wishes and ideas to your DJ. It’s gives you the opportunity to make requests, arrange introductions and finalize your event itinerary so that you make feel assured that your event will be handled in the correct way.

38: Will I Be Able To Speak With The DJ That’ll Be Performing At My Event?

Hint: It is also a good idea to speak directly with the DJ that will be the emcee for your event. It ensures that nothing is lost in translation and that your DJ has your best interests at heart. A great way to defend against unqualified DJs is to reference phone numbers in the Help Wanted classified listings. If you call a DJ Help Wanted number and reach the DJ company that you’ve hired for your event it’s time to regroup! INSIST on receiving in writing that you will not receive a brand new hired DJ without experience or ask for your money back.

39: How involved can we be in selecting music for our event?

Hint: Determine early on whether your DJ intend on controlling the play list or if they’ll allow input from you. Professional DJs will accommodate your music tastes and use their expertise in guiding you into a successful event with their experience and knowledge. It is important that you comfortable with your DJ and how much involvement you’ll be able to provide in choosing music for your event.

40: How Do We Choose The Music That Will Be Played?

Hint: Most credible DJ companies will offer to meet with you in person to go over music selections for your event. If travel is an issue, they should provide you with the proper forms to make your selections. BE CAUTIOUS of “online only” request forms. Your data could become lost or corrupted. Always make copies of related event forms for your records. They may come in handy if you find you need to change DJs at the last minute.

41: Is The Play List Predetermined?

Hint: There are DJs that fall into the fatal trap of music sets. The common misconception behind music sets is that a certain series of songs will always work no matter what. In reality, music is a fluid energy that changes as dynamically as the guests in attendance. DJs that rely heavily on music sets are failing you and your guest as an entertainer. Reading a crowd and dance floor and responding appropriately, with music that promotes dancing, is the best way to maintain a successful event.

42: Do You Take Requests?

Hint: Requests are important, however, they are requests…not demands. Music knowledge is the foundation to any qualified DJ. That knowledge includes experience of how well most genre’s of music work on the dance floor. If you do not feel the DJ you’re considering is familiar with your music tastes, test them on a few song titles or artists to see if they have what it takes to be your DJ. Sadly, many young DJs don’t even know what artist does the YMCA or the Chicken Dance :(

Little Known Fact: Most would be DJs that enter our training program score between 7% – 18% on their initial music quantification test. Dude Walker’s Music On Wheels requires a score of 100% or the applicant DJ never performs at one of our events.

43: What Kind Of Equipment Do You Use?

Hint: Commercial Audio Equipment and Lighting is essential to the success of any performance. There are DJs that get hung up on a brand name over durability and performance. It all boils down to performance. Home end gear simply cannot meet the demands presented by most dance environments.

BE EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS of DJs that build their value upon the brand name of their equipment rather than their performing abilities. A lousy DJ can use top of the line equipment to chase guests out the door. Whereas, a great DJ can use any equipment and keep the guests entertained at your event.

44: Can The Volume Be Adjusted During The Event If It’s Too Loud?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

45: Can You Provide A Sound System For Partial or Fully Deaf People?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

46: What Age Groups Do You Usually Cater To?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

47: What Is the Standard Attire for Your DJs? Are Jeans & T-shirt acceptable to you?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

48: Do You Offer Packages?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

49: When Do You Typically Set Up Your Equipment?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

50: How Long Does It Take To Set Up and Will It Be Completed Before The Guests Arrive?
      Read Related Tips and Secrets »

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