I recently had a chat with a colleague on his Facebook page about these, what I call, “bargain bin DeeJays” that drum up business for themselves by selling themselves at incredibly low prices.
Before I go any further, let me explain where I’m coming from:
Most people understand that more than half of the success of the party (some people even say 80-90%) is based on how good the DJ is. A good, experienced, professional wedding DJ accepts that responsibility with great pride. We know that when your guests leave and, as they appraise how “good” your party was on the drive home, they’re going to spend a lot of the conversation on A) The DJ and B) The food.
So, considering the importance of hiring a great, knowledgeable, professional wedding DJ cannot be overstated. A DJ like this spends countless hours preparing for parties, planning out the party with their client, always making sure to keep up with music trends, investing in their library, maintaining their excellent equipment, and they also have TALENT as a DJ. Yes, talent. Since the advent of online music downloads, and computer DJ software, the marketplace has been flooded by guys armed with a laptop (loaded with thousands of illegal MP3s of varied quality) calling themselves “DJs.”
But being a DJ means so much more than a laptop and a bunch of songs. It means you have the ability to weave songs together in a way that drives the crowd wild. It means you are somewhat of a music expert; That you can discuss music, songs, artists, and genres that span decades. And with this expertise in music, you should be able to “read” the crowd and create a unique and exciting variety of music that appeals to everyone. Paired with the ability to “read” the crowd is the talent of improvisation- A good DJ isn’t stuck to particular sets and songs, and should be able to think on their feet to make adjustments at the drop of a dime if a particular set isn’t working. These are the bare essentials that any real DJ should have.
A real DJ also takes pride in their work. They know they’ve spent years honing their craft, investing in their career, and becoming a polished performer. Therefore, they could not- and should not- settle for substandard payment. Considering that he/she is taking on the bulk of the responsibility of making your event a success, they shouldn’t be accepting what amounts to 2% of the budget for the party- because then the client is spending the other 98% on things that don’t have nearly as direct an affect on the outcome as the DJ does*. [I’ll provide the figures at the bottom of this blog] If the client is willing to spend $1000 on the veggie plate at the cocktail hour, then they can afford to spend that or more on the DJ. To paraphrase my mentor, Mark Ferrell: “Is the DJ worth more than broccoli??”
So then you get these cheapie wedding DJs. They’ll work for peanuts because for them it’s just fun, they get to “party,” they get to meet people, and they get “free food and drinks.” These guys don’t tend to take their job nearly as seriously, or bring as much dedication to each event. I’ve heard horror stories.
Cheap DJ Horror Stories:
(Names have been excluded)
“I hired a bargain wedding DJ and…”
- They showed up late.
- The music sounded like it was being played through a Pepsi can.
- They showed up in jeans, sneakers, and a polo. And then stayed that way.
- They called me the day of my wedding and said, “Someone called me for a gig today and they’re going to pay more than what you are. So I’m not coming.”
- They came with a tablet and the speakers that you hook up to a TV.
- They came with old gear that skipped whenever the dancing got too intense.
- They didn’t show up at all.
- They sent a replacement DJ without telling me about the switch.
- They got drunk and hit on my mother.
- They didn’t bother to bring or play any of my requests.
- They were rude.
You Get What You Pay For!
As with anything else, when shopping you get what you pay for. Some DJs treat this as a hobby, and so they haven’t put in the time to become the seasoned wedding professional you deserve. Choosing the right DJ will have a huge impact on the success of your wedding, so it’s not really a place you should be looking to cut corners.
I’ll leave you with this quick breakdown of the math I cited earlier:
*If you’re spending around $25,000 on your wedding, but want a wedding DJ for $500, then you’re offering them 2% of the total cost of the wedding- Despite the fact that you’re asking him/her to contribute 50%-90% of the success of your party. Even at 10%, a great DJ is a steal, isn’t it?