Here are some answers to questions you might have.
DJs can play a much wider variety of music non-stop for hours on end - at some functions this can be 10 to 12 hours, and are skilled at choosing specific music at all times to cater for guests. The energy on the dance floor and style of music also changes many times during a party. A friend with a iPod may be a great cost saver, and will usually have a preset playlist set up, but it is unlikely that they will be able to cater for all your guests as effectively as a DJ who will gauge the crowd and energy on the dance floor, and select music accordingly.
Speak to friends/colleagues/venues/related service providers for a recommended DJ they have used or seen at one of their functions. Usually a positive referral from a venue will be best as they see many different DJs in action and can usually judge who is good and above average from functions that are successful and those that are not. Alternatively ask your prospective DJ for contact details of recent clients (with their permission) and ask them directly. Meet with your DJ and discuss your requirements at length, as well as any favourite music and any music you dislike. Establish a rapport with him/her as this will help the DJ in preparing for your function. Bear in mind he/she will be catering for a wide variety of musical tastes.
The makings of a good DJ are a confident but humble person eager to please others. A hard worker who gives his best at all times without developing an ego is ideal. Good people skills and patience are important too. A DJ should have a passion and an ear for music, and enjoy bringing enjoyment to others with his passion. Appreciation for all types of music is really important, and a DJ will relish the ability to entertain people they hardly know with music. No matter what style or genre, whether it is one of the DJ’s personal favourites or not, a good song of any type is a weapon in the hands of a DJ catering for a varied audience. The merits of every song are evaluated over and over in a DJ’s head based on almost a dozen variables before actually playing it. Its madness, yes, but this is how it works. Song selection and timing is critical. A good DJ plays these songs, but a really good DJ will play them in the right order at the right time based on the variables / madness above. Playing songs off a playlist doesn’t cut it, and just playing the same songs you played last weekend doesn’t either. A DJ who plays in different environments and entertains different audiences on an ongoing basis will be versatile and adapt his/her style and music selection to any situation. A DJ who just plays in clubs, or only at Weddings may be good at reading that specific crowd, but he will be at a disadvantage when faced with a different or mixed crowd he is not used to playing for.
A DJ should be concerned with giving you the best music at your function. This ability takes years to learn. Rather he should focus on the job at hand, and leave other specialised services up to other professional people who have also spend years honing their craft.
How do you put a price on the service you offer? There are a lot of factors which influence a DJ’s pricing. Every client should be charged a fair rate based the following: The quality of gear you use – good equipment is not cheap to buy and maintain, and the right type of gear must be used for the right application. There are a handful of recognized brands in the industry one would expect to see a DJ using, and the cost of this gear has to be recouped over time. Generally speaking, the better the equipment used, the better the sound quality the audience will experience (providing it is set up and used correctly) and the more you can expect to pay for the DJ. Carrying spare gear with you to functions - yes sound equipment and technology does occasionally go faulty, and these mishaps are often unpredictable (ever had your laptop suddenly go ‘blue screen’ in the middle of something important, or your cellphone just go faulty unexpectedly?) This is why a DJ with a reputation to protect will carry spare essentials: spare laptops with music backed up on drives/cd's/memory sticks, speakers, amplifiers, cables, microphones, batteries for microphones etc. and, of course, he or she will be ready like MacGyver to remedy a problem before it spoils a function.
Music Licensing - what many people don't realize is that Mobile DJs are required by law to pay licenses to play copyright recorded music at your function. Fees are payable each year, and these amounts escalate year-on-year. Many DJs are not even aware that these licenses exist and do not factor this cost into their rates at all.
Levels of experience – be prepared to pay for hard-earned experience. In any field or career, to use a cliché, you must “do your time.” When comparing quotes, if you find that someone is far cheaper than other service providers, consider if they have priced themselves that way in order to get a foothold into the market, or if they are just undercutting more well-established competitors. Contrary to popular belief, not all DJs do what they do as a hobby... An experienced DJ cannot just sit back and charge exorbitant rates and rake in the money. They also have running costs like purchasing music, consumables, licensing, repairs, travelling costs etc. They are where they are because of the successful way they do their job, and they are constantly upgrading the service they provide to their clients with improvements in equipment and sharpening their skills over time to keep on top of their game.
If budget is your primary concern then by all means accept the cheaper quote. Bear in mind that you cannot “redo” your Wedding or event. If you place more emphasis on the success of your function, then consider carefully what you are paying for.