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Why it's hard to find a professional quality DJ for cheap.

Let me retype the title where I can emphasize the key words: Why it's hard to find a Professional Quality DJ for cheap? Take a few moments to consider what can make your event a great memory or dreaded memory. While there are several aspects of your event that can have this level of impact this entry will focus on the musical entertainment or specifically your DJ. Just to be fair, anyone who owns a business is in it to make money. Like most DJ's and other wedding entertainers there should also be a passion involved to make sure it is done right. Even though this is not always the case, we will assume it is for the sake of this entry. Like any legitimate business there are expenses involved. Some items we are not even going to dive into:

  • Transportation - Not even going into vehicle upkeep and maintenance.

  • General Business Costs (ie. advertising, software, general office costs)

Items with a little more detail that definitely impacts your event:

  • Quality equipment - Do you want someone showing up with a living room entertainment system, or low quality PA equipment? Even if the music is high quality a cheap or un- maintained music system can make it sound terrible. They should have a quality sound system that can easily handle your size event and venue.

  • Backup equipment - The truth is electronics is electronics. and they can fail at any time, do they have backup systems on site they can put in place within minutes. Not just audio equipment, this also includes backup of the music library (see below). Large music libraries require large backup and should be backed up multiple times.

  • Music Library & Legitimate Music Sources - You have been on iTunes or another paid music service. Think about how much you would spend just to you have your favorite songs in your preferred genre. A good DJ has to maintain music in several other genres to accommodate a wide variety of tastes. This is not a 1 time purchase with a depreciation. This is a constant expense to keep the library up to date and ready to go. There are some DJ's who actually depend on streaming services... what of the internet goes down. Even if they bring their own mobile hotspot... it could go down.

  • Business License (ask to see it)

  • Insurance (ask to see it) I would not even consider a DJ who could not provide me with proof of the last 3 above items to be professional. Each of these items speak to honesty, integrity, & legitimacy of the DJ and his business. You would not hire an unlicensed caterer or rent an uninsured venue, would you?

The biggest impact item that will show before, during and even after your event:

  • TIME - The truth is you do not hire a DJ for just the length of your reception.There are not too many shortcuts in this business, especially when it comes to quality and doing things right. Like most anything done well there is no bigger expense than time. In my years of experience in this industry, starting from when I worked for a multi-op in high school until now; there is nothing that tops time as the biggest impact on an event. It has been my experience that for every hour of an actual wedding reception I spend playing music there is a minimum of an hour to hour and a half of additional time involved. (Example: a 4 hour reception = 8 - 12 hours total work time) Why?... because I want it done professionally and to the absolute best of my ability to make sure my clients who put their trust in me are more than satisfied! Why? because if they are happy, I am happy, and the more people I want to continue making happy. It is a challenge to make sure I can do it each and every time. Yes it is obsessive. Now let's look at that time frame, 8 - 12 hours. We will split the difference and go with 10 for our calculations. Let's subtract 4 right off the top for the actual reception time. [Note: A professional mobile DJ is not just up there pushing play. he is constantly looking around the room. Noting who is paying attention to the music, what people are liking, what they are dancing too, always knowing where the bride and groom are, working with the planner {do we need to shift the schedule, the bride went to get her makeup touched up} or venue manager or caterer {are the plates out for the cake cutting in 20 minutes}, and photographer {about to have a room focus event:cake, bouquet, etc..., are you ready?.] Now we are down to 6 hours, lets take 2 more hours for setting up at the venue before the event starts. Out of those 2 hours about 1 is our actual setup time the other hour is spent testing the equipment (speakers; mics; lights; if there is a problem resolve it... getting out the backup, re setting it up, testing again; sounding out the room determine the best volume levels for the music; mics for toasting; etc...) the other hour (or remaining time) spent reviewing the timeline, practicing name pronunciations, double checking the playlists (we'll touch more on this later), reviewing the details with the event or venue coordinator or planner. Now let's take away 1 more hour for tearing down the equipment, cleaning up afterwards (again we are not including the travel time to or from the actual venue). Ok, so here is where we are now: 10 - 4 (actual event) - 2 (setup and testing) -1 (tear down and cleanup after event) = 3 hours remaining. What takes up those additional 3 hours? The initial meeting with the client letting them know why you are the DJ Service to fit their needs (could be 30 minutes, could be 1 hour itself). More time working with the client to make sure you have the songs they want no, they need & deserve at their event. Review time with the client to go over name pronunciations for the Grand Entrance, timelines, their room focus event songs, any additional announcements, etc... Setting up the playlist(s) for the event. I usually have at least 2 preset playlist for each event: (1) for room focus events (Grand Entrance, 1st dance, parent dances, cake cutting, bouquet & garter, anniversary dance, etc...) and (2) a list of songs they specifically requested to hear or from their genre of preference. [I do not believe in playlisting out the entire event in advance; it is better to have flexibility for small schedule changes, guests requests, etc...

As you can see we have easily used up the average 10 hours. We also listen to every track requested in advance to make sure the song plays through correctly.. so add more time for that. The above example does not even address when enhancements are needed for the event like uplighting, Monogrammed GOBOS or our Live SlideShow (!live-slideshow/c1p1j).

Why is all this time important? This is a lifetime event, there are no do overs or second chances. This is a something you want done right the only time. Take the time to find the musical entertainment professional that you can trust to take the time to make sure it is done right and the way you want it. Take some time research your DJ, check reviews, references, etc... (

The old adage is true.. you get what you pay for... so if you set out looking for a $300 DJ you are going to get a $300 DJ.

Thanks for your time.

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