Hiring a DJ for an event can be a real challenge.
You might have the equipment all lined up, but you still need to figure out exactly the right person for the job.
And you probably have a mate who says they can do it, but the fact is a really great DJ can be a real make-or-breaker for events, and risking it could be costly.
So the question remains: how do you pick the perfect DJ?
How do you know if you’re onto a winner, and how do you choose between a selection of strong candidates?
First, determine what it is you really need
Plenty of DJs specialise – they might be a Pedding DJ, or a Party DJ, or a Club DJ – and that gives you a great shortcut for narrowing your market.
But beyond that, what is it you want them to achieve? What kind of vibe do you want your event to have? What is it a DJ’s going to bring to the equation you can’t do without one?
As an exercise, spend a little time really imaging the event, and try to figure out exactly what the DJ is doing to make it come alive the way you want.
DJs are experience makers, but you have to know what kind of experience you want them to help cultivate before they can go about doing it!
Ask for samples
You might not feel you’re in a position to critique a DJs work – what do you know? – but the reality is it’s your event, and you need to feel confident and secure that the DJ you hire (and pay!) is going to deliver the goods in a way you’re happy with.
So ask for samples.
That might be directly from the DJ themselves, but it’s often easy to simply find their work on SoundCloud or their websites nowadays.
And regardless of your misgivings, you’ll be surprised how quickly you find yourself picking up on differences and nuances between different candidates.
Before you go any further, you need to establish exactly what is off limits at your event.
There might be songs that are trigger points for a guest, there might be styles of music you want to veto.
And it might even be an issue of behaviour – you don’t want them drinking too much or turning up too late.
As with so many things related to event-planning, the key is to be clear without being too restrictive – don’t feel you need to direct every aspect of the set, but don’t shy away from giving instructions and setting limits!
Meet them first
One of the brilliant things about technology is it means we can meet people and feel out their ‘vibe’ without driving 100 miles.
So before you official hire a DJ, you should ask them to do some kind of Facetime or phone call or even just text a little bit to make sure your personalities mesh and that they seem to be professional and capable.
It doesn’t need to be heavy or involved – just make sure you get a little sample of what they’re going to be like on the day!