Hiring a DJ

By Bill Smith / ProDJ.com “The Internet’s Source for DJ’s!”

Listen to the ADJA Radio Interview of Peter Merry on KLOU in St. Louis

Unknown Track - Unknown Artist
00:00 / 00:00

When you plan a party of any sort, your objective is to ensure that your guests have a good time, period. Your choice of entertainment, particularly if you are considering a DJ, is crucial to that end. Who you choose for your wedding reception or special event will have a greater degree of effect than any other factor, such as food or location. The DJ you choose is a direct reflection on you. Here are some important points to remember when you interview a DJ company.


1. Prompt return of your phone calls or Emails. You should expect to get a call back or an Email back within      24 hours. Many DJ’s are out working and may not be able to return your call within an hour or two.


2. Willingness to meet with you and present his/her service. Will the DJ try to meet with you soon, or is            he/she just trying to book the date sight unseen? Is their material neat and professional looking, and is        their presentation organized and informative?


3. Disc Jockey rates vary based on talent, experience, emcee ability, service, coordination, equipment              needed, music knowledge, mixing ability and personality.


Rates for the DJ industry vary greatly, ranging from 300.00 to 3,500.00 with an average of $1,500.00 for a 4 hour booking. The best price is not always the best deal, especially if you are planning a wedding. As a matter of fact, surveys conclude that nearly 100% of brides would have spent more money on their entertainment and made it their #1 priority in hindsight.


A full-service disc jockey company will normally invest 12 to 30 hours to your special event but it may appear that you are only paying for “4 hours”. Consultations, music purchasing & editing, preparation, set-up and tear-down, education and other business related endeavors add up to the overall success of your special occasion.



  • 72% of all brides say they would have spent more time choosing their reception entertainment.


  • Almost 100% say they would have spent more of their budget on the entertainment.


  • During wedding planning, Brides say their highest priority is there attire, followed by the reception site and caterer – reception entertainment is among the least of their priorities. Within one week after their reception, 78% of Brides say they would have made the entertainment their highest priority!


  • When asked 81% of guests say the thing they remember most about a wedding is the entertainment.


  • 65% of all couples that chose a band to entertain at their wedding, said, if they had it to do over again, they would have chosen a disc jockey.


Is the price too good to be true? It seems that the DJ is often the last service chosen, after much of the budget is expended on a venue, food and clothing. This often leads brides and party planners to shop for the cheapest price possible because of a lack of resources. This often backfires when holding out for the lowest price. However, if you have adhered to the guiding principals noted here, you will know to avoid services that have a rock bottom price because they will not be able to display the level of quality and attention to detail that EVERY client deserves!


4. Do you LIKE the person that shows up? There is NOTHING worse in the world than having to do                  business with someone you do not like. Choosing the person who “feels” right is the most important              factor in picking the right entertainer for your party or reception. The DJ you choose should be very open about what he/she can do for you and should volunteer information and “show” you that knowledge base.


5. Is the person knowledgeable about your type of event? There are all kinds of DJ’s. Club DJ’s, wedding          DJ’s, Rave DJ’s.the list is endless!! Can the DJ you interview handle your type of event? Ask the DJ how      many events of your type that he/she has done.


6. What sort of documents does the DJ use to procure your business? In a good interview, the DJ should        show you several documents. First and foremost is a planner. This planner should impress you enough        to the point where you begin to understand that the DJ you are hiring is a professional, and is capable of      handling your event. A sample copy of the CONTRACT to be used should be available as well as a              schedule of pricing information. A DJ may also give you a list of references. CALL THEM!! Ask if there          were any issues or problem areas when the person dealt with the DJ.

7. Does the DJ have a music list that shows you what sort of music he or she has available? Many DJ’s do      not use music lists, others do. In some fashion, you the client, need to be assured that the DJ you hire          not only has a sizeable collection, but has a variety of music, especially for wedding receptions, where          many different styles of music and guests will be in the same room together.

8. Does the DJ use professional grade equipment? If the DJ does not have pictures of his or her gear, you        should ask to set up a time to see the equipment or see pictures of the DJ’s set up. Although there are          many fine stereo equipment components made, they are not suitable for commercial or repeated use            and varying room conditions. The DJ should be able to tell you what he/she uses and characterize the          equipment as professional grade.

9. Will the DJ offer to meet with you AFTER signing the contract to plan your event? A professional DJ is          ALWAYS willing to discuss your event at any time before the event starts, and should display the                  flexibility to accommodate changes and help you solve problems. Meeting your DJ to plan your event is        of paramount importance to a successful event such as a wedding reception.

10. Will the person that you interview be the person that will perform at your event? This is THE most                  common complaint about the DJ industry today. The person you meet turns out NOT to be the person          that actually does your show. Often, you are not made aware of this. Ask the DJ you interview if he/she        will be the actual person performing, or will someone else perform the event. You need to know this UP        FRONT before you sign a contract.

11. Consider this when pricing your DJ service: You should consider your DJ service an insurance policy            that ensures that all of the other money you spend will not result in bad memories or a less than                   enjoyable occasion. You do get what you pay for. Good entertainment is NOT cheap, and cheap                   entertainment is NOT good!! And yet many people will pay far more for a cake, flowers, or food than             they will for the most crucial ingredient at a party – the music. When was the last time you saw a cake           reading a crowd and spinning a CD, motivating a dance floor crowd, or making announcements in a             dignified elegant way? Further, when was the last time you heard a guest tell you “Boy, that prime rib           was great, I can’t wait until I go to another party to have that again”? No, that DOES NOT HAPPEN.             Instead, they mainly talk about the music that was played, and whether they had a good time or not.

12. Your DJ, if you have chosen a good one, will display many of the following skills and attributes before            and at your event:


  • Master of Ceremonies

  • Party Organizer

  • Sound technician

  • Light technician

  • Ability to read a crowd and pick the right music

  • Flexibility to adapt to sudden changes

  • Follow the plan that you and he/she have worked out using the planner

  • Seamless continuous music at all times unless otherwise specified

  • Extensive library of music

  • Professional grade of equipment

  • Audience motivator

  • Ability to co exist and coordinate with other professionals at your event


13. Are you insured? Can you supply me with proof of liability? Many responsible business owners carry            liability insurance to protect their businesses and the consumer.

Many locations are beginning to require proof of liability. Ask for proof of liability insurance. Disc Jockeys receive a Certificate of Liability which can be used as proof.

14. Do you belong to a professional organization or trade group?.
      Although belonging to an organization or trade group does not guarantee the talent or professionalism          of a disc jockey, it may indicate the companies willingness to network, learn and grow. Disc jockeys can        learn through local chapter meetings, national DJ conventions and seminars geared toward the                    entertainment professional.