Choosing a DJ for your Atlanta Wedding DJ event is one of the most important decisions you can make to be sure it is successful. If the only requirement was if the wedding DJ was green, carbon neutral, eco-friendly, then in the Atlanta area, the choice would be easy. There is only one. Green Wedding DJ. But let's face it you do have other concerns. Everything else can be perfect, but if the music sucks, the party will fizzle. Selecting the right DJ can be confusing. There are over 80,000 professional DJ's in America (and plenty of them live in the Atlanta area), and they all promise they'll do a great job. So, how do you pick the right one for you? What are the right questions to ask? Hopefully, now you'll get some guidance to help make the decision easier.
I got it (what you need)
Many people think that they need to pick a DJ by the type of equipment or the number of songs he has. It's much more important to realize what a DJ does at a party before you hire one. Yes, a DJ plays music, but if it was only music, you could just use an iPod. The DJ performs several functions during an event. He will make sure your event goes smoothly. Even if you have an event coordinator, a professional DJ becomes the center around which the party revolves. He coordinates all the separate parts and makes sure they come out at the appropriate times. It is key to make sure you fill out and send a Reception Timeline and a Reception Planner to your DJ! He's the MC, and will guide your guests from activity to activity. He'll play the right music at the right time. Many times (if he's doing it right) you may not even notice your DJ. You'll just notice the fun and energy in the room! It's a skill and an art to mix music that keeps things flowing when they need to flow and breaks things up when you need to change. It only comes from experience. If it's junior high party, it may be okay to have some guy doing his first gig outside of the bedroom, but when it matters, a once-in-a-lifetime wedding, an important corporate function, your high school reunion, etc. You want a DJ that already knows what to do, that's made his mistakes years ago. Why take the chance? Ask how long they've been a DJ.
You ain't seen nothing yet
The best and easiest way to find a DJ you'll like is to hire one you've already seen. If you've been to a wedding or a party where the DJ was great, find out who he or she was. If you didn't get their card, ask the host or the manager of the place where the party was held. If you haven't seen any good DJ's recently, ask your friends. Your friends probably have the similar tastes in music as you. (BTW see below on music tastes.) Maybe they've been to a function you missed. Let them know ahead of time you'll be looking, and ask them to keep their eyes and ears open. If the first two suggestions don't work, your job gets tougher. You might have to go to the internet. Google Disc Jockeys or Mobile Music or DJ and the city where you're having the event. As you find DJ's check to see if they mention the type of party you are planning. For example, if you're planning a wedding, a DJ's web site says "We specialize in weddings", that would be a good one to call. See if the DJ has a web site that has planners or forms to make your job easier. Some DJ's even can set up guest request lists customized for your event.
I want you to want me
How do you tell which one is best? Probably the worst way to choose a DJ is on price alone. Some DJ's are more expensive than others. Prices can range from $100 to $2,000 for a 4 hour event. That's quite a difference, and it would be very tempting to choose the cheapest alternative. If that's all you can afford, than you have no choice. But, consider the law of supply and demand. There is a reason some DJs can charge more money than others. They are usually worth it. Remember, Thomas Ruskin said,
The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the pleasure of low price. More expensive DJ's tend to be more experienced DJ's. They can charge more because they are in demand and have a lot of jobs, and they have a good reputation. Generally, a DJ on the low end of the price scale is probably newer to the business, and trying to get established. They could do a great job, and might be worth a shot, especially if your party is on the informal side. But there is definitely more risk with a less experienced person. When it comes to a special event like a wedding, or other types of parties, you want a professional entertainer, not crossed fingers. You'll know, as you speak with DJ's, if they know their business.
Tell me something good
The most important thing to ask about is their experience with your type of event. If you are planning an event like a wedding, school dance, or company party, it would be normal to expect a professional DJ to have performed for at least 20 of these events. A number in the hundreds is actually common for a DJ who is well established. If you talk to one who sounds interesting, ask him or her for testimonials. Or look on web sites like LinkedIn. Get several names and phone numbers (or emails) of people who have recently hired them. Contact these references and ask about the DJ's performance. Have they hired them more than once? If you see a DJ at a live performance, (ie: nightclub, private party, etc.) observe how they interact with the crowd. Are people having fun? Are people dancing? Is the music too loud? Is the DJ dressed appropriately? Does the DJ keep the event moving? Will that DJ fit in with the type of event you're doing?
You are what you is
These are all good clues to the DJ's skills and personality. But remember a club DJ is not the same as a wedding DJ. A radio DJ is not the same as a reunion DJ. They might be good at what they do, but you don't hire a psychiatrist to do brain surgery. Both work with your head, but they each do something completely different. Always ask the DJ how they handle requests. The best DJ's will take requests from the audience and work them into their routine. However, do not expect the DJ to play every request. Some requests simply won't work for the mood of an event. A good DJ is not a jukebox. He or she will blend requests with songs he or she feels will get the crowd going. Timing is critical in the art of DJing and this takes experience. Forcing a DJ to ignore his or her instincts by making them play every request will result in an "uneven" (and less fun) party. On the other hand, the DJ should try to play as many of your audience's requests as possible. It is your party after all. Try to get a feel for their philosophy of requests as you interview them. It is appropriate to give a DJ a list of several songs you "must have". Just don't make that list more than 15 or 20 songs long.
Take your time (do it right)
Many DJ's boast about the number of songs they have. While variety is great, the fact is they will only be able to play about 60 to 70 songs in a four hour event (and remember part of that may be dinner or cocktails, so really you may get 20-30 dancing songs) Having the right 60 songs is a lot more important than having 10,000 songs your crowd doesn't want to hear. After all, many people nowadays have mp3 players with nearly that number of songs. It's knowing when to play which song that's crucial. Having trained hundreds of DJ's myself, I know that some of that comes
from inside but a large part of it, unfortunately, only comes from experience. You especially don't want your wedding to be a DJ's training ground.
After you tell the DJ what type of party you are having and who the audience will be, ask them what type of music they'd suggest. You should feel comfortable with most of his or her selections. Also, be sure to tell the DJ what YOU want. It's YOUR party!
Don't worry, be happy
When it comes to a DJ's sound equipment, you probably won't know the difference between which brands are great and which are budget unless you are familiar with professional audio gear. However, your DJ should at least have professional grade equipment. We used to say
If they list brand names you are familiar with at the local electronics retailer, that is cause for concern. But many professional DJ brands are branching out to reach a "home" audience. So, we should warn you about bedroom DJ's that use home stereo equipment. It is not designed to stand up under 4-5 hours of high volume use, so it could fail in the middle of your party!
The difference between professional, custom designed and built sound and lighting equipment used by professional Disc Jockeys and bedroom DJ equipment is still there, but it's a lot harder for you to tell. All you can do is ask. A pro will be able to point out the differences to you. And, they'll have backups for their equipment.
You're the one that I want
Some DJ companies have more than one DJ working for them. In this case, it's important to get references on the particular DJ who will be assigned to your show. Even if the company has been around for ten years, they might have hired your DJ last week. The DJ might be a pro, or might be newly trained. Be sure of who you're getting. Meet your DJ. The perfect DJ for you will be affordable, experienced at your type of event, and have great testimonials. There are probably a lot of DJs out there who fit that description. As you search, remember that above all, you want your event to be fun.
Finally, don't try to be the expert. You don't try to tell the caterer how to prepare and serve the food. Nor would you think of telling the photographer how to use his photographic equipment. Talk to your professionals and let them know what you're about and then, let them use their expertise to make your reception amazing. A DJ's mission is to make your event outstanding and he or she knows it. Your guests will praise your DJ selection if you let the "artist" perform.