Professional DJs

I found a great article a while back that discusses the differences between us wedding DJ’s.

The 9 themes of this linked blog post revolve around the concept of:

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional Wedding DJ, just wait until you hire an amateur”

So, here and now, I want to dispel, and possibly confirm some of the myths associated with this paradigm — and please stick with me here, this is going to be a long one….

“1. There’s a high probability that a cheap (or free) DJ won’t be in business by the time your wedding arrives / There is a chance your DJ won’t turn up on the day”

Unbelievably or not, this does happen. I’ve heard it all. DJ’s that become double booked and don’t turn up. DJ’s who just flat-out forget your date. DJ’s who take your deposit and then disappear. Crazy, huh.

All I can say here is that you need to start forming a professional and working bond with your wedding DJ. You should be meeting your DJ during the quotation process. You should be planning, preparing and meeting face-to-face with your Wedding DJ at least two times before your wedding event.

When a DJ invests that much time, energy and love into your event, I promise you that he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure you truly get the day you deserve. In a way, your wedding day almost becomes the DJ’s actual wedding day. They are that dedicated, focused and committed to your event.

“2.  Amateurs are less invested in their performance than a wedding professional.”

Unfortunately this can be true. It’s simply a business model problem within our industry. Professional DJ’s who work throughout the week on their wedding events simply have more time to plan, prepare and execute great nights. More thought, and a clearer mind frame can be put into your event. More-so, it’s in their interests to perform above and beyond for their client, on the night. Typically their business model relies on these amazing results. They require their events to be unique and to stand out from the crowd. This is what will return them solid word-of-mouth referrals. When the DJ wins, you win. His business shines, and you experience an ‘out-of-this-world’ fun and totally amazing wedding night.

Personally speaking here, I know when my time was being taken up with an (almost) full-time job (even when it was just 3-4 days a week), I found it harder to perform on the weekends. I wasn’t as focused, I wasn’t as mentally ready to undertake such an important task as to host and entertain at a wedding event. After ‘busting my guts’ through a week, there was little to no time to rest and recuperate. Instead, it was off to my next booking.

I’m very glad and blessed now that I have as much time as I need to put into my business and all of my wedding events.

“3.  A wedding is an unique event that requires the skills and experience of a wedding specialist for a smooth, flawless ceremony and reception.”

100%. No more in a wedding environment is a smooth and flawless flow to the night important to a successful, engaging and fun event. To think I actually started my DJing career with a multi-operator (i.e.: a larger DJ company that has multiple rigs and DJ’s out at multiple events on one particular night), trying to do weddings to the best of my ability. I was given a very short amount of training, and I think by about my 5th night out with the company, I was out doing someone’s wedding reception.

I cannot begin to explain what a specialised art wedding DJing actually is. Not to mention the production side of things that come into play when you become serious about producing personalised wedding nights. Creating an entertainment run-sheet (not just a venue run-sheet), coming up with unique and fun ways to undertake formalities, preparing and working with the MC, preparing and working with the celebrant, meeting with and working with the venue. It’s a high end production, and I promise you, years and years of skill and experience will pay dividends in the end.

“4.  Your guests won’t dance without an experienced entertainer who can read the crowd and keep the momentum going.”

Your mileage might vary with this one. Even a DJ in his first year of operation might do a great job, with a great crowd, on a great night, in a great situation. You may get lucky. You may also get unlucky, too.

I find that one has to plan for success. Going into a night with a “Plan A”, a “Plan B” — all the way through to a “Plan Z”, I find, is a solid way to ensure success. I know that in my business I personally take the time to get to know the couple over 3 or 4 meetings before the wedding date. I also meet with the MC prior the event and work on the all-so-very-important run-sheet and scripting with them. I meet the event manager at their venue and ensure that we’re all the same page. I try to get to know the immediate family and seek to understand the overall demographics of our guests for the night. These are all great ways to ensure a better chance of success for your event.

Yes! I hear what you are thinking. It really makes a difference. Doing your homework is really that important. It means that you can create a better vibe and a warmer feel to your event from the moment your guests walk in the front door.

They talk about reading your crowd and keeping the momentum going. Don’t be confused here and think that’s just for the dancing component of the night. We apply this measurable to the full duration of your wedding reception – and maybe even the ceremony too.

So, suddenly you have a wedding DJ who has already warmed up the crowd during the background component of the night. They’ve created this amazing vibe to the night, they’ve connected people, they’ve engaged your guests. When it comes to dancing, I promise you, your guests will be flocking to the dance floor and staying there all night. When you have a wedding planner and entertainer of that caliber, keeping the momentum going on the dance floor will be the least of your concerns.

“5.  The MC (the guy or girl on the microphone) has a huge impact on the mood and outcome of your party, for better or worse.”

Absolutely. This is the exact reason I always have a dedicated, one-on-one meeting with all of my MC’s that I work with for all of my wedding events.

I must say here, that I typically don’t MC my weddings. As I hope you have picked up from my company’s name, I see myself as your wedding entertainment producer. I produce weddings from start to finish. From the initial planning stage, concept design, formality planning — all the way to loading out after a successful night.

An MC is like a director, and is your guest’s “go-to” representative on the night. This person helps to facilitate the action, formalities and the very underestimated transitions within the structure of your night. It’s quite an honour to be in this role, and sometimes people tend to underestimate how important this role truly is in the engagement of your guests and therefore, the overall success of your night.

To do both, be the producer and the director, I feel, is quite a task. Just like in Hollywood, it’s quite rare to see a high-end director that also helps to produce the film at it’s grass roots. It’s important to be focused in the role of director, just as it is important being focused in the role of MCing. Much like my Hollywood example here, it’s critical that the producer works closely with the director and ensures that they are both on the same page (they should both share the same vision for the night). This is why I think it’s important when a family member or friend is playing the part as the MC at your wedding, that he or she should work closely with the DJ prior to your event.

Ultimately, it’s this DJ that performs at weddings week in, week out. They’ll have a fair idea to what works and what doesn’t. The overall structure of the night, the flow, the transitions and the scripting for your key formalities. You then get the best of both worlds. Instead of having an MC who you don’t personally know (assuming that you haven’t met your MC/DJ or don’t know them on a very personal level) try to deliver a truly unique and personal account of you and your night – you now have a personable and familiar face as your Master of Ceremonies, backed up and supported by a DJ/producer who will help them shine with the right tools and structure to make it into a memorable performance on the night. This bond is critical to the success of your wedding night.

“6.  Your special events may not happen if you don’t hire a specialist who’s experienced in channeling the flow of events.”

Indeed. Refer to point #4.

“7.  An amateur doesn’t have the experience to include your unique requests in a way that truly expresses your personality AND keeps people dancing.”

This can be true. Typically I find that operators that are more budget conscience will perform weddings pretty much in the same way, week in, week out. There’s really not much room for added customisation or personalisation. You typically just get what their package offers. More times than not, they are charging a cheaper rate. Therefore it’s safe to assume that a more budget conscience operator won’t have the time or more importantly, the drive, to plan an event that is ‘outside the box’. It’s normally a ‘cookie cutter’ wedding (Google this if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Once again it comes down to their business model. If there is additional lead time to discuss how you truly see your wedding night, and some time to plan and work on the overall concept for the night, then you can typically come up with some really creative and fun ways of making your event different, unique and stand out from the rest.

It truly is a back-and-forward process. A creative process. You need to work with your DJ and together you can start to create a night that truly expresses you and your true personalities. Of course this does take some additional time, and naturally, your vendor/operator will need to charge you for it. This keeps his business model sustainable. Just what you would wish for if you had a business in any other industry too.

“8. An amateur DJ has inadequate or non-existent backup equipment, which means that if something fails you have no music at your wedding.”

This is not necessarily true. If you hire a DJ from a multi-operator (once again, a DJ company that will have multiple rigs and DJ’s out on the road on a particular night), they might have a free DJ that might be available to pickup the slack if they find themselves in a tight situation. Then again, they might not, too.

An amateur DJ is sometimes referred to as a ‘hobbyist’. Typically they work in isolation to the rest of the industry. More times than not, these operators will not have the budget within their businesses to have back-up equipment – not to mention a network of trusted DJ’s that they can fall back on to ensure that you still have entertainment at your wedding if things go wrong.

I think the best course of action here is two fold. Firstly, find yourself a DJ that has a strong network of colleagues around him. This could be within the same company, or in my case, just a network of fellow colleagues who I know I can rely on if I ever get in a tight spot. The DJAA is a great example of this, and houses a professional network of DJAA Accredited DJ’s that will drop everything for a fellow member in distress.

Secondly, as an example, given what I typically charge for my events, I simply cannot afford to have anything fail or not go smoothly at one of my events. My reputation of my business is really only as good as my last event. This means I carry back-ups of most things, or at least have the ability to obtain back-up gear through a trusted network, as quick as humanly possible. I also ensure that I arrive at the venue hours before the first guest is due to arrive. I really do mean hours here. Sometimes up to 3 hours, depending on the situation.

Regardless if you are working with a sole trader or a company that has multiple DJ’s on the road, it’s always a good idea to ask your DJ at your quotation meeting, “What exactly is your backup plan?”. You will find that the more professional, organised and planned DJ’s will have a strong and positive answer for you. Avoid the DJ’s that look dumbfounded when asked this question.

“9.  DJ’s who charge less invest less into their equipment, which means you have inferior sound and performance at your wedding.”

Firstly, inferior sound and performance, to me, are two different things. A good performer can perform well, or at least, to his best ability, on poor sound equipment. However, a good performer that performs well on a top-quality sound system is an even better proposition.

As I keep coming back to, it’s all about their business model. If they are charging a decent amount to do your wedding, a wedding vendor typically will have more of a budget to invest in better sounding equipment for your day. The same goes for the light show too.

However, the same goes for a performer who charges a decent amount to ensure that his or her own personal performance skills are also kept at a high level too. Typically vendors who charge more generally invest more of their financial intake, back into their own business — but more importantly, invest more, back into their own personal skill sets. 

Remember, our best asset as a DJ in a personalised service industry is really our own selves – not our DJ gear. Our own performance and brand on the night is worth it’s weight in gold when it comes our own marketing, advertising and referral networks.

 

“Your wedding day only happens once; make sure you hire a DJ who gets it right.”

Absolutely. People have probably heard this saying a million times over – however, I’m going to say it again. We plan for these things only to happen once in our life. I firmly believe so much of the success and enjoyment of your wedding reception comes down to high quality and professional entertainment. Simply, there is nothing else at your wedding than will make more of an impact on you and your guests.

I would suggest by saving a little bit of money on a cheaper DJ might return inconsistent and poor results by the close of your wedding event. As the opening saying goes, if you think a professional wedding DJ is expensive, wait until you see what an amateur DJ will cost you when it all goes wrong.

I would strongly suggest that before you book anything else, source yourself a DJ and make sure you are completely happy with the vendor. Please don’t make compromises with “already full” budget. I promise you, it will be the best decision of your whole wedding event.

I’m always available for a chat anytime, on a full-time basis. Feel free to contact me via my homepage. Peter Yacono Productions – Your Melbourne Wedding DJ.