Wedding DJ Blog

Tips on When and How to Hire an Event DJ for a Party or Special Occasion

So you’re having a party? Great! Everyone loves a Party! If you’re trying to decide if you should hire a event DJ for your party, I’d like to help. Here at Elegant Event Entertainment, our DJs make the bulk of our living as Wedding DJs, but we all still DJ for parties in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, a ton of them in fact. Since so much of our marketing is directed to Brides and Grooms, I thought it was time to write an article for those of you who are having a party or special occasion which might require a DJ Service. I speak for all of our DJs when I say, We believe Every Party would benefit from hiring a DJ…but…I’m going to give you some tips on how to decide if you really need a DJ, and if you do, what you need to look for and questions you should ask when hiring a DJ for a party.

First thing’s first! What type of party are you having? Is it a Birthday Party? DJs for Birthday parties can be great, but not every birthday party is created equally. Is this a sweet 16, a 21st, 40th, 50th, 60th? You get the idea. Milestone Birthdays are typically more emphasized than an odd numbered birthday. And there’s a big difference between a 16th and a 21st birthday, or a 40th and a 60th birthday for that matter. So, when you’re hiring a DJ for that special Birthday party, consider these tips:

If you’re throwing a kids birthday party, make sure the DJ is comfortable with and experienced with working with children. Also, be sure that the music is age appropriate. Ask the DJ if he has “edited versions” of current music, without explicit language. Also, if you plan to be really involved in the control of the music for your child’s party, make sure you explain that to the DJ ahead of time and be sure he understands and is ok with those constraints.

On the flip side, no matter the reason for the party, you don’t neccesarily have to spend an arm and a leg and get the worlds most experienced and well known DJ…perhaps you can hire a younger, less experienced DJ who is eager to improve his skills and his craft and who works well with clients, but just hasn’t had 5 or 10 or 15 years of Pro DJ experience. We have a few young guys just like this on our staff and they do a great job for parties that don’t require the best MC/DJ in the world.

When hiring a Party DJ, some of the most important things you need to know are: Does the DJ have at least a full year of training with a reputable DJ agency…or if not, do they have at least 5 references you can talk with on the phone? You Must call the references! Ask the references about the type of music the DJ played, what type of equipment they had, how they dressed and presented themselves at the party. Make sure to find out if there were any uncomfortable breaks in the music, inappropriate actions from the DJ, or technical difficulties, and if so, how did the DJ handle that? Ask a lot of questions and if the positives far outweigh the negatives and the price seems right, make the deal and book the DJ before someone else does!
If the DJ is really “green” and you’re willing to give him a shot, he should be relatively inexpensive, but make sure you have some type of written contract and not just a “Verbal” agreement. The Contract should list you as the “purchaser” and the DJ should be listed by name. The date, start, and end times should be clearly listed, and the address where the party is going to be held should be on the contract. The DJ should arrive an hour early to set up their gear and prepare to entertain, and this should be in the contract somewhere. You should also make sure there are no “hidden” fees in the DJ contract, and see if there is at least some mention of the “manner of performance” the DJ will give.

When you hire a DJ for Party or some other type of momentous occasion which requires music, make sure to have a list of entertainment ideas, music requests, and general guidelines for what you want from the DJ. Ask the DJ to give you some ideas of how he will entertain your guests and what type of music he suggests. Keep in mind that the DJ will likely be playing “Background” music for dinner or cocktails and then switching to dance music later in the evening. When you’re shopping, bear in mind, there are some great “Club” DJs who have a vast knowledge of Dance music, but they sometimes fall short when it comes to playing great background music. Background Music is still very important, and it should still incite nostalgia and a general sense of happiness and joy. Your guests will subliminally “hear” all of the music that is played throughout the event, and you want a DJ who can play across a wide variety of genre’s and age groups, and not just showcase their ability to creatively “mix” music you and your guests aren’t familiar with.
For example: If you’re hosting a Retirement Party for a 65 year old, the DJ needs to know music from the appropriate genre’s that the guest of honor loves to listen to and the party guests love to listen to and/or dance to. Whereas, if you’re hosting a 70’s or 80’s themed party, the DJ needs to have a vast library and knowledge of those particular genre’s. All the better if you find a Party DJ who has knowledge of all sorts of musical genre’s and artists.

There may also be some announcements and “Emcee” responsibilities at your party, and you’ll want to ask the DJ how he handles those issues before you hire him. If he isn’t comfortable on a microphone, he may not be your guy!
Most of all, you’re looking for someone who is confident, upbeat, and passionate about their work. They need to have professional equipment, a large library of music, a sharp look, a good speaking voice, and a professional attitude. You can expect to pay anywhere from $450 all the way up to well over $1000 for about 4 or 5 hours of performance time. There will most likely be additional charges for upgrades and rental such as Wireless LED Uplighting, dance club-lighting, video screens & projectors, etc. You should also be prepared to pay a deposit or retainer to reserve that particular DJ for the date of your special event.

Please keep in mind, some DJs will be more expensive than others, and some may be really cheap, but always ask yourself how important the success of your party is to you and the guests. A Bad DJ can ruin an event faster than almost any other vendor, and a Great DJ can turn any party into an unforgettable and fantastic event! You may decide that your event is so small and low key, that you’d be fine playing some tunes on your i-pod and a home stereo system, but if you don’t want to worry about the music and you want your party to be a Blast, Hire a DJ and relax and Dance the night away!

Best of Luck to you in your search for the perfect DJ for your special event. You might also like to read my article on Hiring a Wedding DJ, which has a list of questions to ask the DJ before you hire, many of which can be used when you hire a DJ for a party or special event. Cheers!

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