20 Essentials for Hiring the Perfect DJ

  1. Get it in writing. If the DJ doesn’t offer you a written contract with no surprises, he’s free to add, subtract or change his terms without warning; and you could get burned.
  2. Meet in person. If your schedule and location permit it, meet with the DJ personally, to see whether you hit it off. A Zoom or Facetime meeting is another great alternative.
  3. Ask if your DJ company subcontracts its work. The best DJ companies use their own people, because they have a genuine stake in your happiness.
  4. How long, how many. Ask how long the DJ company has been in business, and how many events like yours (wedding, reunion, corporate event, etc.) your DJ has done.
  5. Get independent references. Don’t believe those glowing testimonials a DJ posts on his own web site. They could be fake; or at the very least the DJ may have removed the bad ones. Rely on sites like Wedding Wire and The Knot for honest reviews.
  6. Speak to a DJ’s past clients. If he won’t let you, find a DJ who will.
  7. Beware bashers. If a DJ is good at what he does, he won’t have to bash his competitors to try to make himself look good. That’s a sign of insecurity.
  8. How’s his voice? Remember, your DJ will probably be your MC, too. You want someone who can speak with a clear, authoritative voice… and without rushing.
  9. What’s your “Plan B?” Be sure your DJ has a backup for everything and everybody. Professionals always have backup equipment on site and a backup DJ on call for emergencies.
  10. Insist on professional grade equipment. Professional DJs use top brand names like Bose, JBL, Shure, Sennheiser, Rane, Crown, QSC and Electro-Voice. Amateurs use generic brands that don’t sound as good or last as long. 
  11. Do you have a wireless microphone? Cords are cumbersome and potentially dangerous. Wireless is better.
  12. How do we select our music? The best DJs will make it easy for you by putting their songlists online, making them interactive, and letting you click-and-pick all your favorites. A DJ who just displays a page of selected songs isn’t very helpful.
  13. How do we enter all of the details of our event? The best DJs have easy-to-use online planning worksheets through companies like Gigbuilder or DJ Intelligence. So all you have to do in plug in the variables instead of writing everything out in longhand.
  14. Do you offer a light show? Is it mandatory? A great DJ has several lighting options, from dance floor lighting to uplighting to monogram lighting and so forth. But he doesn’t force you to get lighting as part of his basic package. So you won’t pay for a light show for your afternoon outdoor picnic.
  15. How does the DJ dress? You want someone in a tux, not a t-shirt, for an elegant affair. Tattoos, nose rings, ponytails and Hawaiian shirts are the clear signs of a DJ who doesn’t take his business seriously.
  16. Will your DJ drink alcohol at our party? He’s there to work, not to get drunk. A non-drinker is best.
  17. Will the DJ post banners at my event? If it’s an elegant affair, your DJ shouldn’t cheapen it with a gaudy neon sign or billboard.
  18. Does the DJ require a meal? Be sure he knows in advance whether he’s invited to your meal, or needs to eat before he arrives.
  19. Does the DJ take breaks? A DJ shouldn’t have to take breaks like a band.
  20. What is the DJ’s policy on overtime and tipping? Be sure you have a clear understanding in advance, so there are no surprises. 

To learn more about Fourth Estate Audio’s incomparable service, just call me at 630.654.4440. I’m here to help.

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2014 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.

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