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HOW TO HIRE A BAND OR DJ: What you should know

HOW TO HIRE A DJ: What you should know 

1. You need to book your band or DJ at least 8-12 months ahead of time. If you are looking for quality most bands cost from $500 to $1000 per musician for four hours and DJs can cost from $250-$600 per hour. If their prices are lower it is for a reason. Be prepared to pay a one hour charge to either for the booking deposit (this is usually non-refundable so know in advance exactly who and what you want).

2. There are many ways to find a great band or DJ: Ask photographers, site managers, and caterers for suggestions. Call your local musician's union, or check out entertainment "brokers," who manage and book bands, DJs and other performers. If you're on a budget, local music schools and community colleges are great places to search for a band.

3. Interview a few different acts. Find out if they are open to playing the songs you want them to, and learn what styles of music they love. If you want a certain genre, go straight to the source. No use hiring a classical vocalist to sing power pop. By the same token, if your wedding needs a mix of pop and jazz, classics and country, you'll need to find a band that has the chops for your eclectic requests. Ask for referrals from the DJ or Band.

4. Make sure the musicians can take care of their own amplifiers, instruments and sound systems. Depending on the size of your venue, your DJ will likely need a professional sound system with at least two CD players so there's no break in the music. A good DJ can also mix music with professional CD players just like they did on turntables. MP3 players and there docking stations are not cut out for the heavy use required for a professional sound system. As well laptop computers do and will overheat and shutdown. A laptop should only be used as an emergency backup system. Make sure the Band or DJ have back-up equipment in case of equipment failure. Also keep in mind that their speaker systems should be on raised stands. Speakers at floor level will only be muffled by crowd noise and inaudible for dancing, etc...

5. It's also important to be aware that generally, for every 45 minutes of music, a band will expect a fifteen-minute break. Sometimes these breaks can throw off the pacing of your reception -- but if the band or DJ is familiar with the wedding circuit, they will be able to space their breaks to coincide with opportune times. On occasion, musicians will play through their break for an extra fee. Ask ahead of time. You may also have both a band and DJ so there will be no breaks in music although do not expect a price discount just because they are not performing or playing continuous, they are still there for the entire time.

6. Will your band leader or DJ make a good master of ceremonies? In other words, can your guy (or gal) play and talk at the same time? Most couples rely on their DJ or band leader to guide them through the wedding celebration, announcing everything from the first dance to the garter toss. Is your pick up for the job? Ask to see sample agenda’s.

7. What are the hidden costs? Will your band charge more for learning your first dance song? How much will they charge for overtime? Is there an early load-in charge? Most DJ’s and Bands do not include set up and take down times in their fees. Is lighting and special effects included? What about meals for the band or DJ? Also, who's your contact if anything changes? Be sure to get the phone, cell and pager numbers you'll need.

8. Be clear about what you want your band or DJ to wear to your wedding. Formal attire is appropriate and a must for a DJ. Bands should at least wear suit and tie. You probably won't want them in t-shirts and shorts, so make sure they know what you expect.

9. Keep in mind a Band is the Band and works for themselves. A DJ may be working for a larger company. Make sure you ask for personal references for each DJ. Remember if they work for a larger company they are usually only paid 10 – 20% of what you are being charged. Again, you get what you pay for. Individual and family DJ’s are more reliable, professional and will give you your money’s worth as this is their business to make or break. STRESS – References, References, References.

10. Use caution hiring a DJ or band that offer multilple services (photography, videography, etc...) for what seems like a deal to good to be true as part of there package. It usually is too good to be true. Most all DJ's that offer this as part of their service have the DJ doing the photography and videography on top of their real job of playing music. They are not professional photographers/videographers and it will be reflected in the quality of the music, photo's and video. Keep in mind that a photographer and/or videographer must move around to get the best shot. If the DJ is doing his or her job properly they will stay with the sound sytem at all times. The only photo's/video's you now get are from that position only or are taken in haste so they can get back to change to the next song. Good and Reliable DJ's and bands work hand in hand with other professionals to ensure you get the best of service.

11. Be sure they perform their sound checks well before their talents are needed. You probably don't want your guests arriving to the ear-piercing sounds of feedback!

12. Check the written proposal to ensure it includes all the points you've discussed when you first met. You should also have a guaranteed written contract with the Band or DJ. This may be the only thing to protect you (or them) if something goes wrong.

Print this to help with your decision making.