With the pulse of your event in my control and the mic in my hand, your event’s success is truly held captive at the mercy of the DJ. It is a scary to think how much authority a DJ plays in the execution of an event like a wedding. That one wrong mispronunciation or playing the wrong song for the first dance can mark disaster, no matter how good at music the DJ probably is. Most other vendors typically stay behind the scenes — take for example the caterer who operates in the kitchen, or the decorator who sets up stuff the night before, the photographer who produces after the fact. The reality is the DJ is the only vendor that is front and center and where the unexpected can happen.
DJ Yogz, above, of Boston Sound and Light, says that above all else the DJ should take the “music worry” out of your wedding or other event. Photo courtesy of Boston Sound and Light
How does one find the right DJ? Well, it really depends on your requirements. If all you are looking for is a DJ to play music throughout the course of the event, then there are several starter DJs that can probably give you the best bang for the buck. Better yet, you would probably be ok renting equipment and playing music off your own iPod. Then again, it is never that easy, especially considering how extravagant Indian weddings have become. In my opinion, the only person that can bring it all together is your DJ.
The biggest question is, how does one evaluate DJs? I’m going to spill some beans on the DJ process, and I almost feel like the masked magician on TV giving away all the tricks, but here are some very helpful hints in your DJ hunt. In having been a DJ for over 13 years, I have learned that traditionally customers ask the same questions. Let’s start with the analysis of a few.
“Can you send me some samples?” Music is so easily obtainable through the Web and iTunes that DJs can simply pass off other people’s music as theirs and you wouldn’t even know the difference. If your DJ has permission to share with you videos of other events or can invite you to an event where they are djing that would be your best bet. However most of my booked customers rather not expose their wedding to strangers. Remember, to ask for this is like you opening the doors for strangers to come to your event.
“If we contract you, do you personally show up?” Typically in Boston you should not have this problem. The market is still small for any of the vendors to be double-booked. But as a safeguard, this should be your concern; make sure you know exactly who would be showing up to your event. This year alone I have had several inquiries that fall on the same day, but if your DJ has integrity they will be honest and commit to only one event. Beware of “DJ companies” so you don’t end up in a situation where you think you have signed up for one person, and they might send somebody else. I too offer other DJs, but I explicitly let it be known to customers that they are getting somebody else. What tends to throw people off is when the DJ company is named after one of their star DJs, leading you to believe that you might be getting one person, but really you are getting somebody from their staff.
“Do you have references?” The best way to learn of your DJ is through the honest opinion of others. This way you can relate to people who have been in the same boat as you. But again you are at the mercy of the DJ’s selling ability, as they may have picked and chosen the best references for you to contact, conveniently forgetting those that may not have worked out so well. Or better yet, I can pull together 123 references from 123 weddings I serviced in 2010, but how would you know if they are real references or cousins from my extended family? The best way to learn of your DJ is to ask other vendors. Boston is small enough that vendors work together (and often). And as the DJ is front and center, your caterer, your decorater, your banquet manager must have seen these DJs perform. Ask your vendors to rank the DJ of your interest and prompt them who they would hire if they hosted a party. You can use this exercise on any wedding service provider, and eventually you will be able to filter out the best service providers in the area for your wedding.
“Do you have a Web site?” We live in the age of technology. A 16-year-old computer whiz can whip up a nice Web site to promote DJ services that will wow you away. My advice is, don’t believe everything you read or see on the Internet. Use this information to ask questions about a DJ, maybe to ask questions to the references or other vendors whom may have recommended him. Take for example on my Web site, www.DJYogz.com, I write about a unique Baraat service where we deejay music directly from a DJ station setup in a luxury SUV.
Even writing this now is mouthful, but it engages into a nice conversation when you bring it up with my references, vendors or even while talking to me.
And lastly, know your style. Every DJ is an artist in their own right with their own spin on music and delivery thereof. Just like you may like country music and not hip hop, similarly you may like one DJ’s style versus another. The more research you do on a particular DJ, the more you will get a flavor of their style.
The most important thing in hiring a DJ is “feeling that connection” — feeling that level of comfort that your DJ will be able to execute your vision. There is certainly no true measurement that helps build this comfort, because after all only you can evaluate this for yourself. But as your plate is already full, the right DJ should “take the music worry out of your event.” A motto I have stuck by for the last 13 years!
DJ Yogz (djyogz@BostonSoundandLight) is owner of Billerica, Mass.-based Boston Sound and Light Co. (BostonSoundandLight.com).