"This DJ is awful." How many times has this been said at a wedding reception, high school dance or birthday party? The answer is too many. Why, and how, does this situation occur? Not every DJ out there is good and some do make false promises about what they offer, but it is not always their fault for a party going wrong.
The first thing that must be taken into consideration is what kind of a party it is. A common misconception is that every DJ does the same thing and can play any music required. When the only method of playback a DJ had was vinyl or CD turntables, what they owned significantly affected the kind of set played. The proliferation of digital music has expanded and diversified DJ collections, but it is still important to know their musical tastes. Hiring a Drum and Bass or hard House DJ for a wedding reception will only guarantee an awkward situation for all parties involved. The solution here is to find one who strictly does weddings, or provide a general track listing to serve as a guideline for what you expect from the DJ.
Another crucial factor is the venue size. This determines the necessary equipment for an event and carries far more weight than what is usually given credit. Some DJs have their own equipment, while others use what gets provided by the event sponsor. In either case, having the appropriate equipment is paramount for a successful experience. A P.A. system that's great for a small backyard party will most likely be inadequate for a large reception; DJs are often hired to provide music for dancing, and the low bass frequencies factor largely into it. Ask a professional sound mixer, and they will tell you that one of the worst situations to be in is mixing sound for a large group with a lackluster P.A. One example of this is the early stages of the electronic music scene. It is bass-driven music, and when inadequate equipment was used (unfortunately common due to its lack of popularity at the time), the show was almost always a failure.
So before hiring a DJ and proceeding to blame them for ruining everything, ask these questions:
- How big is my event?
- Am I responsible for providing the equipment or is the DJ able to provide it?
- Is the proper equipment being brought? (i.e., find out if the DJ has adequate equipment for your event or not.)
- What kind of styles does the DJ play? Will these styles fit my event well?
- What songs does the DJ have? (If certain songs are expected, DO NOT assume the DJ will bring them. Instead, request those to be brought or provide them.)
These considerations may seem like common sense, yet it is surprising how routinely they are ignored. Some DJs even report being crystal clear about who they are and what genres are played, but still get hired for parties they are ill-suited for. Planning and running a successful event is hard enough; using this information as a guide will help make obtaining the perfect DJ for your event that much easier.