Chicago DJ Questions – Fourth Estate Audio

“Jay did such an amazing job at our wedding; every single thing was so much more perfect than I could have imagined. He was always so quick to respond to every email, he helped me along the way of creating my song list, and his entire set up and sound system was incredible. So many of my guests came up and asked me about him, and said how great he was. He worked with me every step of the way, and the end result was absolutely perfect.”
Wedding Wire

As much as we’d like to believe that a couple’s first question of a wedding DJ is, “How good are you, and can you prove it?”, the reality is that somewhere between 99 and 100 percent of couples ask the same question before any other:

So let’s address it, right up front. A “DJ” can cost anything from $50 to $5,000, just as a car can cost anything from $100 to $500,000. But you know that a $100 clunker won’t be quite the same as a half-million-dollar Lamborghini. It’s the same with a DJ. A high school student with used Radio Shack equipment, no experience, and a handful of his favorite songs isn’t quite the same as an experienced professional DJ/MC with lots of great client reviews, a massive music library, professional equipment and a host of helpful wedding planning resources. You have to decide what’s right for your wedding, your reputation as party hosts, and of course, your budget.

Fourth Estate Audio’s 6-hour packages start as low as $1100, and increase as you add optional lighting, photo booth, photography and other services.

Many of our clients have been kind enough to share their stories of working with Fourth Estate Audio by reviewing us on sites like Wedding Wire, The Knot, Yelp, Google and the Better Business Bureau. Here’s what they say.

We’re more than just your music experts. Our wedding planning resources are unmatched — from more than 200 helpful advice articles and inspiring wedding galleries on our blog, to cool new wedding ideas posted every day on our Facebook page, to our interactive music-selection list, to simplified online worksheets that let you direct us on exactly how you’d like your event to proceed, to hundreds of online reviews from our clients. We also have a network of other trusted 5-star wedding vendors that we can recommend, to help fill out your vendor list. And unlike many DJs, we respond to all questions promptly, so you won’t have to wait a week to get an answer from us. We’ll be right by your side every step of the way. You’ll never feel abandoned. We want you to be relaxed and confident, from that first contact with us, all the way through the final note of music on your wedding night.

Black tuxedo, unless you’d prefer something else.

Whatever you like. We have large collections of rock, R & B, swing, pop, hip hop, Latin, country, Big Band jazz and ethnic favorites.

Of course. We have everything from classical to cocktail piano to jazz instrumentals and vocals. Or we’ll be happy to play something else if you’d like.

Yes. We do that often. We provide a microphone, too.

Yes. But an even better option is our exclusive Fourth Estate Audio FlashCard — a credit card-size flash drive that holds up to 200 songs. We’ll provide it to you at no cost as a client. Just copy your songs from your computer to your card, and hand the card to your DJ. It’s better, safer and more reliable than a CD or an iPhone.

No. We play non-stop, unless our clients want to stop for special presentations.

We’d prefer not to. This one pops up a lot at class reunions. A popular garage band from high school decides to reassemble and give the old classmates a thrill. They practice one or two songs. But when they get a taste of applause, their egos take over, and they press on by butchering 5 or 6 other songs they didn’t practice. While your Fourth Estate Audio DJ is interested only in serving the client, bands tend to be more interested in their own personal glory. They’ll keep playing as long as a handful of people clap, even if the dance floor stays empty all night. Then, the DJ gets blamed for not playing enough music. Our 5-star customer satisfaction rating has made us the envy of Chicago area DJ’s. You shouldn’t hire a DJ if all you really want is a jukebox between a band’s dance sets. Just burn some of your favorite music on a disc or an iPhone, and let the band play it through its sound system.

That’s fine. We do a lot of parties where a jazz band or string quartet or harpist plays during the early part of the evening. And we’re happy to provide music if they need to take a break.

Because most ordinary DJs are fine for spinning tunes, but awful at being professional MCs. They have high, shrill voices; they speak too fast; they constantly pump the crowd for applause and keep the entire party focused on themselves because they lack the confidence or discipline to turn the mic off and trust their ability to read the crowd and get people dancing. So the giant companies that hire dozens of DJs are hiring from a weak talent pool, and they need to hire separate talent that can handle MC duties. Fourth Estate Audio’s elite DC/MCs have at least 20 years of experience each – no trainees, and no need to send a second person (at much higher cost) to perform what amounts to just a few minutes work.

Of course. Here’s one. Here’s another. And we’ve done many more.

No. You didn’t pick your doctor based on his looks. And a professional DJ is no different. The “cutest” DJ may have musical tastes entirely different than yours. So he/she may not be a good fit for your party. I promise, you won’t get some high school student, or an aging hippie with a pony tail and a Hawaiian shirt (I hear you chuckling. You’ve seen him, haven’t you?). We’ll ask you the right questions to determine which of our entertainment directors is just right for you, your guests, and your event. Then, if you’d like to meet your Chicago DJ, we’ll be happy to arrange it.

We offer several lighting options, starting with a focused dance floor light show to raise the energy of your room. We also offer elegant room uplighting that surrounds you on all four sides. And it can animate during dancing, with chases, multi-color medleys and strobe effects — a virtual explosion of color that will electrify the whole room. We also offer personalized monogram lighting, so we can put your names in lights.

No. You’d have to program the entire evening’s music in advance. And any time you want to change or insert a song, you have to go into the phone, and the music has to stop, along with the dancing, while you search for another song. Then people start arguing over which song to play next, and you end up with long blocks of silence. The dance floor empties, the party loses its energy, and you’re finished.

Yes. But I’d like you to spend more time on our website first. View our video clip. Call our references. Read our reviews on Wedding Wire. Read our blog for helpful planning advice. If you’re getting married, make sure your fiancée sees our site, too. Then, when you’re ready to make your buying decision, call us for a face-to-face professional entertainment evaluation.

We don’t. If you want a low-price one-size-fits-all DJ for a few hours of dancing, our friends at Craigslist have hundreds of them. By contrast, Fourth Estate Audio’s clients want a night of special memories, and an entertainment professional who can guide them through the maze of planning the perfect event with no stress. That’s why we book a 6-hour minimum, to ensure a smooth evening from start to finish. Remember, if your DJ is bad, he’s the only thing your guests will remember about your party, and the rest of your careful planning will all be wasted.

Nothing, with two exceptions. If you require your Chicago DJ’s equipment to be completely set up, and ready to play the first note of music, more than 60 minutes before his scheduled starting time, we charge an extra $100. Also, if we’re required to carry all of our heavy equipment up and down a flight of stairs, we charge an extra $100. All of our basic service fees assume either ground level or elevator access.

Each of our clients submits either a Wedding Reception Fact Sheet or a Party Fact Sheet (we’ll provide the interactive forms online). Your answers give us some general guidance about your musical tastes, among other things. Typically we assign a DJ with the same tastes, so he’ll know a lot of songs that fit well with what you’ve already requested, and he can ensure the appropriate pacing for the evening. Plus, he gets to listen to music he likes! And that means a more enthusiastic performance for you.

Unfortunately, we have to draw the line there. You may select most of your music, but if you select every single song, and your guests don’t like your selections, somehow all of the blame ends up going to the DJ. It’s frustrating for a DJ to play undanceable music to an empty dance floor, and be forbidden from playing music the guests would prefer. If you’re just looking for someone to play a pre-set selection of songs, any of the kids on Craigslist will do just fine.

Of course. We carry a $2 million liability and personal injury policy, even though we’ve never had to file a claim (we’re exceptionally careful about the placement of our speakers, cords and cables). Beware of any DJ who doesn’t carry liability coverage. Many a bride has gotten that awful phone call, three days before her wedding, from a cheap DJ with no insurance who’s just been told by the venue that he can’t perform there. Don’t be that bride. Another very important form of insurance: We keep a full set of backup equipment on site in case of equipment failure.

It’s an excellent way to reward a DJ who goes above and beyond, to make your party special (anything from $50 to $200 is appropriate). We don’t put out a “tip jar,” because it’s tasteless. And we don’t accept tips from your guests to play specific songs, because those songs may not be appropriate for your party. Tipping your DJ is up to you. It’s just more professional that way.

Fourth Estate Audio makes it simple to change your date in response to unforeseen external circumstances. Your payments and planning information remain completely intact. Only your date changes. No other vendor makes it that simple.

The “Fourth Estate” is a nickname for the news media (coined by the 15th century British parliamentarian Edmund Burke). And our founder and president, Jay Congdon, has been a newsman for most of his adult life. He’s worked as a radio news anchor and reporter at Chicago stations WBBM, WMAQ, WKQX and WJMK, to name a few. He’s also been a television news producer and writer. Now you know.

You’ll never go wrong if you choose a Chicago DJ who is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau, and 5-star rated on Wedding Wire, The Knot, Yelp, Google and the BBB. Most of our fellow 5-star companies charge more than we do; but 5 stars means a reliable performance and a great party, so it’s worth it. Good luck!