10 Must Ask Questions Before You Book

  • By Justin Pitts
  • 28 Jan, 2016

What to ask your DJ before you book 

Today, I just wanted to give a heads up about 2016.  As of right now, we only have 12 dates open for 2016.  So if you haven't booked a affordable, reliable and professional DJ, today I wouldn't wait to much longer.   Most highly requested DJ companies get booked between 6 months to a year in advance.  So, if you are getting married in 2016 and have not reserved your DJ yet.  Then you better get a move on! So if you haven't booked a DJ here are a few questions to ask the DJ you are considering to book before you actually book them.
Now, also keep in mind that no one goes into business to intentionally make your wedding a huge disaster.  The questions to ask are for your safety to ensure that you are getting a true professional to make your dream wedding become a reality.
What to ask your DJ before booking

1. H ow many years have they been in business?
 Experience performers should have a minimum of at least 5 years and references to prove it.  Any kid with a i pod can play music, but it takes a professional entertainer to manage the crowd through music and motivate your guest to be interactive.  Being interactive is definitely a plus, however, a DJ that is inexperience will also be too interactive to the point of being plain out annoying which can destroy a dance faster than playing the wrong type of music.

2.  Are They Licensed and Insured or Bonded?
 Every professional DJ in business today should have a business license in the State they are doing business in.  If they can't provide a license, then walk away.  Also, they should have a at least a 1 million dollar insurance policy.  Companies with multiple employees should also be bonded.  A bond is basically to ensure that they stay honest with the public they are doing business with.  It ensures, that they are not going to commit any dishonest acts towards you, the venue and or your guests.  Meaning if they steal from you during your event, a claim can be issued on the bond to cover your loss.  

3.  If Booking a Multi-OP Company, Do You Know Who Will DJ Your Event?
 Several companies have employee's or sub contractors.  Be cautious on booking a company that works only with sub contractors.  The reason being is because the company your bookings has very little control over the quality of equipment and performance of the DJ.  The reason is because the company has no if very little equipment and therefore, will contract other little companies with very little exposure or experience to DJ your event.  

4.   Are You Getting a Sub Contractor or Employee of the Company Your Bookings?
 This basically is a recap on question #3.  Employees are regulated, paid and trained by the company they work for.  The equipment is owned, managed and maintained by the company you book.  A company with employees will more than likely have multiple DJ Systems that are nearly identical. Therefore, if you see one event that is hosted by that company, it is more than likely the other events and your event will have the same if not nearly identical as the equipment you seen before.   Sub Contractors are usually performers who own their own equipment, unregulated by the company they are hired by, usually has little to no insurance (not all but many).  Since they are unregulated by the "booking" company, you cannot for sure know exactly what type of performance your going to get or the quality of equipment unless you seen that specific performer in action before.

5.   DO They Provide A Backup DJ or Back Up Equipment?
 This is a tricky question to ask and it easy to forget.  However, equipment can fail and DJ's can get sick or emergencies may happen.  I used to work for a company when I was a sub contractor, and they purposely would over book or completely booked with no emergency staff.  During that time, I was expecting the birth of my first born son.  I advise the owner of the situation and gave him 7-8 months of notice and advised him he can book me but to at least keep a back up DJ for me in case my son decided to say hi on a day of a wedding.  Sure enough, July 12, 2009, the day of a wedding, she went into labor at 6:00 am that Saturday morning.  As stated the owner who sub contracted me, did not have a back up and I was forced to go to the wedding.  I nearly said to screw off and stayed at the hospital.  However, She told me to go and so I went, DJ the wedding.  The whole night I was checking on her and advised the clients of the situation and they said if I needed to go, I could go. In the end, she held out till I got done with the wedding and I arrived 5 minutes before my son was born.  So, ASK ABOUT A BACK UP EMERGENCY PLAN!!! If I would of said forget it and stayed at the hospital, those clients would of had NO DJ for their wedding.

6.  What is Your Attire During Weddings?
 This day in age, the T-Shirt Tuxedo is out.  In fact, Tuxedo's for DJ's are even rare.  However, you don't want a DJ showing up in dirty Khaki's and a wrinkled polo.  Most DJ's don't object to a tux if that is what your wanting, however, a professional will know that at a bare minimum, a 3 piece suit is a must regardless of climate or temperature.  If your DJ is not dressed to impress, his or her performance will not be to impress either.  Personal Hygiene is a must too.

7.  Do You Have A Website?
 A professional will have a professional website.  You should be able to see their event in action on their site with pictures of past events and reviews submitted by clients.  You should also see a professional availability checker or see contact information.  If it looks home made or cluttered, then 90% of the time, the DJ system, and their appearance is going to be the same.  If they can't afford a professional website, then that is a good indication that they are not getting referrals because they are probably not recommended as much by their clients.

8.  What is Your Process of Selecting Songs and Taking Requests?
 Many DJ's absolutely refuse requests, others will take all song requests regardless of popularity, genre or if its edited or not.  A Professional DJ will handle requests diplomatically and logically.  They will be able to filter requests through popularity if the song is proper for the type of crowd or event they are performing at.  Music selection is also a very crucial and tedious job.  It's not just about selecting a hand full of songs and put the system on auto play.  There is some serious mathematical calculations when selecting and mixing songs.  Yes, Math... DJ Math to be precise.  There is also a degree of Musical Theory implied as well as even some psychology.  So yes, any one can play music on a MP3 Player but it takes skill, practice and talent to know how to actually perform with prerecorded music.  Make sure your confident the DJ you choose has that ability.

9.  Does the DJ have a Set Up Team or Assistants That Will Be Attending?
 Some DJ Companies have a set up crew, others do not.  Some have assistants or even have employees they are training to attend.  In some cases, you may have to feed those extra people or there may be extra charges to have these people work at your event.  Its a good ideal to offer food to your hired help, but at least know how many people your going to have to account for.

10.  Know What Your Paying For.  Ego vs Experience and Talent.
 I've stated this in a few blogs before, it is VERY frustrating to hear about people paying $2,000.00-$5,000.00 for a sub par talented DJ.  They pay for an ego of a DJ more than for a service of talent and skill.  There are DJ's that may be worth that and they may have taken classes in Emceeing, or DJ mixing.  They may of gone to actual academic accredited institutions in broadcasting and feel they deserve that.  However, that is very rare.  I believe that it is intuitive for a DJ to take professional training classes in how to be a Professional Master of Ceremonies, however, those classes are not accredited by any agency to ensure the professionalism.  However, when a DJ tells you, he doesn't need it because he knows it all already, then its time to look elsewhere.  A DJ's training is never done.  Every event, we learn new and intuitive ways to interact with the crowd or mix music to create that unique style that each individual DJ is known for.  So, trust your instinct.  If they seem to have a huge chip on their shoulder vs being humble and take pride at what they do, then its best to go with the humbled DJ that just has that passion and love of music.   Know exactly what your paying for.  Don't be afraid to ask what is all included.  What equipment are they using, do they have online planning.  The amount of time you get with the price and any additional fee's.  If there is no contract stating all your charges then look the other way.  Also, a professional DJ will have a contract completely laid out with provisions, cancellations policy, penalties, travel fees, accommodations, and other terms in the contract.  If your dealing with a 1 page contract that is very vague, BE CAREFUL.  Look over the contract.  A standard contract for a performer is usually about 2 to 3 pages long with a very detailed description of terms.  A detailed contract protects you and the DJ company that your about to hire for your event.
Obviously there is many other questions to ask when booking a DJ for your wedding.  It can be fun shopping around.  If you have fun talking to them, then you are more than likely going to have fun on your wedding night.  As I stated before, no DJ goes into business to destroy your one and only chance to celebrate your marriage together.  However, its about the level of customer service and reliability that you should be concerned about.  Whomever you choose, make sure you are happy with whom you choose and confident in their ability.  If you feel sold, then you won't be happy but if you feel you have hired a reputable DJ, you will be.   I tell clients all the time, that I would rather that they book a company that they are happy with then feeling to choose my company because of some promotion I'm running.  Don't look at prices, look at reviews, personality and reputation.  If you choose your entertainer based on price alone, you could be paying WAY too much or Not enough.  

I hope this article helps you choose the right DJ for you.  As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.  You can visit our website at www.siouxfallsdjsquad.com , email us at events@siouxfallsdjsquad.com or call us at 605.338.2761.  We hope you choose the right DJ for your event, so you can have your perfect mix... for your perfect night.

Sioux Falls DJ Squad News & Articles

By Justin Pitts 22 Aug, 2016
Brides & Grooms To Be... Its mid swing 2016 and the wedding season has been busy as ever.  Many of you have probably been to a few friends and or family weddings already and quickly gathering ideals to make your wedding absolutely perfect and unique.  Well, now your in luck.  After several discussions with our past and current customers, we asked what they would of chosen if they could do their wedding all over again.  After several suggestions, we have devised several new add on and all NEW inclusive ALL IN ONE Package.

 So with out further delay... Allow us to introduce to you our NEW, IMPROVED, AND COMPLETELY AFFORDABLE Packages for 2016!!
By Justin Pitts 04 Aug, 2016
Decorations are set and the day is here, everything is perfect.  At this very moment, you don't think that anything could be more perfect... till you get you photo's back from your special night.   Yes, you looked stunning in your dress, and your now husband was very dashing in that tux, but every picture of you and your husband standing at the head table had that "Drab" and dull wall behind you.  If only you knew to have that back drop would make all the difference when it came to your pictures.  It a little but amazing how a simple a bit of lighting and cloth can make so much of a difference.

Many clients don't even think of the back drop behind the head table till it is a lot closer to the wedding date.  Which is fine, however, with the popularity of having this elegant addition to the head table, or the entire room, availability can be scarce as your date quickly approaches.  It is recommended to reserve your back drop 4 to 6 months in advance prior to your event.

DIY  vs Professional Back Drops.
As the DIY phase is high in the bridal industry, many people don't realize that it cost just as much as building your own back drop as it is to rent one from a professional decorating company or wedding vendor.  For example, a popular concept is to use PVC piping and cloth.  Now, PVC piping is a type of pipe used typically for plumbing.  It is a very cheap typically about $3.00 for a 10 foot pipe.  The cloth can be anywhere between $2.00/sq ft to $10.00/ sq ft depending on the quality of fabric you use.  Now, PVC pipe is very cheap, however, if not constructed correctly, it can be flimsy and fall over.  I have seen some brides use this and have used it very efficiently.  I've also seen some instances where it is nothing but an epic failure and it looks just so cheap.  It just depends on how much money your willing to spend on making your back drop.  The back drop cloth can be purchased at any local fabric store and with a little seamstress work you can have a nice back drop.  If you do go the DIY route, make sure that you use fire retardant cloth.  It may cost a bit more, but if some one knocks over a candle, that back drop can burn up very fast and your dream wedding will turn into your worst nightmare.  On a final note, make sure you use some sort of weight to hold down the ends of the back drop.  This is so then it won't tip over on you or your guest.  PVC piping is VERY light and flimsy, so make sure your using hard points and weights to secure it.  This may take a little bit of structuring engineering on your part, but with the right construction method, your back drop can be secure and will last through the night.  The only down side with DIY is that after the night is over, you now have to decide what your going to do with your back drop.  Also, you will want to ensure that when you set up your back drop or pipe n drapes, that your not violating any fire codes by blocking emergency exits or other codes that may be enforced in your governing jurisdiction.

Professional back drops use a high quality system of aluminum piping , weight bases for the pipes with a fire retardant cloth.  Some vendors will even set it up for you as well, but may charge a delivery or set up fee.  Many vendors include up lighting with their pipe and draping as well.  Yes, it may be a bit more expensive vs the DIY, but you won't have to worry about set up, tear down, and have the ease of mind that it would be set up properly.  You also will have a better quality of cloth to ensure a very elegant and professional look for each picture.  So let's talk money, Just to rent a pipe and drape system, your looking at a minimum of $4-$6 a linear foot depending on color and fabric type. Generally  10 foot back drop would cost approximately about $60-$80.00.  Delivery and set up fee's can charge between $50-$150.00.  So unless you have a way to deliver it and set it up to and from your event, you may consider the additional fee.  It will also give you the peace of mind that it will be set up properly and not violate any fire codes or other governing jurisdiction codes.
By Justin Pitts 03 Aug, 2016
So before we dive into this article I must disclose that I own a professional DJ company and therefore, the opinions and statements made in this article are upon my own observations and point of views from experience of lighting design and entertainment.  With that being said I'm going to try to be as unbiased as possible, however, I will say that your results may vary from my experience of working with DIY up lighting.  For best results and cost effectiveness, go with a professional to up light your event.  It will save you time, money and the knowledge base for design lighting is priceless.
By Justin Pitts 26 Feb, 2016
So recently, I had a client ask me about my thoughts of fake flowers over real flowers for wedding reception.  Now, being a DJ and professional Emcee (not to mention a man), I know very little on flowers.  So this young bride to be (We will call her Ashley) and I decided to take a trip down to a few floral shops in Sioux Falls and to the hobby shops.  After 3 hours of looking and pricing flowers, we started a list of pro's and cons of real and fake flowers.  I will say, it was a bit fun and reminded me of the days when my wife and I would go to hobby shops just to play with floral arrangements when we were planning our wedding day.
By Justin Pitts 19 Feb, 2016
 To begin with, I am by no means nor claim to be a marriage expert.  In fact I'm far from it.  My marriage has struggled through much of the subjects that I'm about to talk about in this article.  However, I am going off my experience as a husband who is trying all he can to keep a hold of his marriage.  The suggestions I am about to give is of my personal opinions and are suggestions from books I have read about marriage and also from counselors who specialize in repairing damaged marriages. Therefore, take my words of experience and put them to use in your own marriage so you won't have the same experience that many marriages have.
By Justin Pitts 08 Feb, 2016
He asked and you said yes.  Next you got the dress, then the big planning starts.  From floral to catering and of course, the venue.  There are several factors to choosing what venue is the best choice for you.  This article is just a few things to ask yourself and the venue to ensure it is the best choice for your wedding celebration.
By Justin Pitts 04 Feb, 2016
This is a very fun project that many of my colleagues like to talk about.  What will we see as the top trends for 2016.  Some trends are actually revived trends of weddings pasts, and others are completely new trends that have never been seen before.  Either way it is a exciting venture to see what brides are coming up with to make their huge day one that is unique and will forever be remembered.
By Justin Pitts 28 Jan, 2016
Today, I just wanted to give a heads up about 2016.  As of right now, we only have 12 dates open for 2016.  So if you haven't booked a affordable, reliable and professional DJ, today I wouldn't wait to much longer.   Most highly requested DJ companies get booked between 6 months to a year in advance.  So, if you are getting married in 2016 and have not reserved your DJ yet.  Then you better get a move on! So if you haven't booked a DJ here are a few questions to ask the DJ you are considering to book before you actually book them.
Now, also keep in mind that no one goes into business to intentionally make your wedding a huge disaster.  The questions to ask are for your safety to ensure that you are getting a true professional to make your dream wedding become a reality.
By Justin Pitts 22 Jan, 2016
Let's face it, music can make or break any event.  It's the life force, the energy, the pulse of your event.  Your performer, whither be a band or a DJ is a VERY important factor of your event.  Music set's the mood, and the tone of your event.  So, choosing the right entertainment for you is indeed the most crucial aspect of your event.  So do your research, and literally interview each performer to ensure their personality won't clash with yours.

How to choose what is right for you. Band or DJ?

There is never a truly correct answer on what is right for you.  It is more on what YOU like.  You need to know the difference of hiring a DJ or a band.  Things to consider is space, style, experience and expertise. 

So what is the difference?
Typically a DJ is in most cases more flexible than a band when it comes to music selection.  A band usually  will cost more because there are more people involved.  Now, that being said, in some cases the same is true with DJ's depending on their skill or entertainment.  In some cases you end up just paying for an over inflated ego but we will just stick to the facts and touch base on ego's in a different article.

With Band's, there are several musicians which in return can cost a bit more than an actual DJ.  Now, in many cases, having a band to set the mood is great and let's face it.  Live music has a unique and unparalleled sound and feel and if the band is energetic and interactive, your guest will have the time of their life. The down side, is that the band may only know a handful of songs and would be limited to requests.  Usually they have a "set" play lists which they practice together over and over again.  However, that doesn't make the night any less of a value, but just limited on what can play.  If you have a band that plays mostly 80's cover songs, then it may be a bit difficult for them to play something in the top 40 lists because they simply may not know it.  The skill for multiple individuals playing different instruments to make the whole of the band requires a lot of practice.  So, when you choose a band, make sure you have heard of them or read reviews.

DJ's are also in a league of their own now.  The skill of mixing, scratching, beat and key matching is now a art and skill more than just selecting songs and pushing play.  There is also the ability to host the event to ensure the flow of the night works in your favor.  Now days, a DJ is more than a over expensive i pod.  They can do so much more to make your night flawless.  Music selection is more variable compared to bands.  Many DJ's have on hand (at least they should) have a minimum of 50,000 song selections with a wide variety of different genre's. Also, if space is an issue, a DJ would be friendlier to the venue space requirements vs a band.  In most cases a DJ only needs about a 10-12 foot x 8 foot area to set up their audio and lighting system.  A Band on the other hand would need MUCH more space and even possibly require an actual stage.  Now for the ugly truth about DJ's.  Being a DJ myself, it pains me to say this, but it is true.  There are individuals out there who simply think that being a DJ means to just be playing the music.  They are usually younger DJ's who are out there for the mere fact of being a DJ.  When they perform at a wedding, they see it more as a "frat" party vs a actual wedding.  Songs that are inappropriate for family events are played, and may possibly say a few ill taste things on the microphone.  All in all though, no one is in business to make your wedding a disaster.  Every person that DJ's weddings have the true intentions of making your night one to remember.  Its if they truly have the experience or even the know how to do just that.  Make sure you look at reviews of the DJ.  Many DJ's have a review system that they cannot alter.  We have one on our website, and we also have reviews on wedding wire, social media and also other wedding related websites.  Also, meet with the DJ in person.  Not just the manager or booking manager.  Also, know who your going to have.  In many cases, there are companies that use a multitude of Sub-Contractors.  Now, i'm not saying that sub contractors are bad, but it causes the company to have less control of the quality of equipment and performance style and there is usually no training when training is needed.

These are just some of a few examples of differences between DJ's and Bands.  I hope this has been helpful for you to decide what is best for you and your event.  

As always, if you have any questions about how to make your event a success, please feel free to call us at 605-338-2761 or just visit our website at www.siouxfallsdjsquad.com
By Justin Pitts 20 Jan, 2016
Your event is set, the date, the decorations, the caterer, rings, dresses... even your entertainment.  But have you considered a secondary form of entertainment? Why need a secondary form of entertainment?  Well, its simple.  There is only so much your DJ or band can do.  Yes, we provide a planning service and we help with making the night go smoothly and above all else, we entertain your guests during the dance.  However, what if you can do more to make your night enjoyable and memorable?  Well, you can and it is quite affordable.  
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