How To Choose A DJ
Just like choosing a doctor, lawyer, mechanic or any service professional, finding a DJ by the age-old referral is the best place to start. If you are fortunate enough to attend an event as a guest where you can actually see the DJ perform....even better. This will give you a chance to see him or her in action, handling the myriad of think-on-your-feet situations which may occur at any event.
Organizing, being tastefully informative, while motivating guests to participate in the variety of key events is the true talent of today's DJ. She should present herself with a friendly, yet leadership-like personality to coordinate toasts, announce food service and continue as Master Of Ceremonies through introductions, special acknowledgments, raffles, awards, dance format, etc.
If you cannot get a confident referral or you are relegated to choosing a DJ through publications or directories, I recommend taking the following steps. First, call the prospective DJ and get acquainted or leave a detailed message. Professionalism, or the lack of it, is usually easy to spot. A loud, incomprehensible outgoing phone message or a preoccupied "hello" without identifying the business usually means the DJ is not a professional.
Many DJ's work only part-time. They often are not very concerned with the success of your event and a less than enthusiastic attitude may be evident. Conversely, full-time entertainment companies are more often committed to excellence. They are genuinely concerned with the success of each event which will refer them new and continuing clients. They should gladly answer questions about experience, presentation, music, equipment, etc..
Musical diversity is the key, but a DJ should know what will keep your guests involved based on your musical tastes. A Top DJ will perform at two or more events on most weekends. I recommend that you schedule an interview at one of the DJ's upcoming engagements where you may meet him or her in person before hand. This is suggested instead of viewing a highly edited promotional video where little truth can be revealed.
Summarily, your DJ, appropriately attired, should be able to greet guests, emcee, coordinate and keep the dance floor energized simultaneously with ease. Clearly, the DJ you select represents your taste in entertainment to all of your guests.
Yes you can judge a DJ by his equipment. Loosely wired consumer-grade stereo equipment on a banquet table, records in milk crates and homemade speaker cabinets are not the hallmark of a professional. While there may be a few DJ's out there with a hot set-up and no personality, it is more likely that only top talent will have earned their way up to owning the finest in dependable, professional stage gear. This should include a customized DJ console housing a multi-channel stereo mixing board, professional-grade, two-channel CD player, auxiliary cassette deck/CD player as well as microphones, headsets and various accessories. This should be coupled to a pro-series sound reinforcement system including 500-to-3,000 watt power amps, sound imaging enhancers, a pair of full-range or satellite/subwoofer speaker enclosures, and a broad music library in road-worthy cases.
For most DJ's, the use of a wireless microphone is a must for remote toasts, organizing dance floor activities and generally opening up the room while communicating with guests and vendors alike. A DJ assistant is also recommended as a team effort for larger scale events.
Your Disc Jockey should arrive at the event site an hour or so before your guests. This allows ample time to set-up and sound check his equipment. He may then go over the itinerary with other vendors so they aren't scrambling to get things at the last minute. In short, the DJ is at the helm, coordinating, announcing and keeping everyone informed for a smooth, successful event.