While there's no such thing as a bad question when you are face-to-face with your DJ, there are some questions that are frequently asked that don't give you much useful information. Let's run through them:
One: Have you done weddings before?
This isn’t going to work because, most likely, a first time DJ isn’t going to say “no.”
Instead ask: How many weddings have you done this year and can we contact some of your previous recent clients?
This covers you on so many levels. As a general rule, we don't hand out client’s information but there are many clients who have offered to talk to anyone who wants to ask about their experience with us. Or read up on their reviews. Another option is to ask them to describe wedding challenges they’ve faced and how they have handled them.
This is crucial because an experienced DJ makes all the difference on so many levels. Wedding DJs do a lot more than just press play!
Two: How long have you been DJing?
This is so fraught with loopholes that it can boggle your mind. Many DJs are single genre DJs (one type of music) so they play rare-crate hip hop or psytrance for years but might not know about any of the music you actually want at your wedding. There are also plenty of DJs who got back into DJing when they wanted to make some extra money outside of their day job so they technically have 30 years of experience.
Instead ask: What are some of your favorite songs and artists right now.
Why? It’s simple. If they can’t name anything that fits your vibe they might not be a good fit. You’ll also get to see how the feel about music and if they’re stuck in one genre. A good follow up question is asking about how they run their wedding. At Stylus, we make sure we're helping the couple fulfill their day so it's not so much about how we do weddings as it is about how we help you do your wedding day.
Three: What type of equipment do you use?
This is difficult to justify but it's understandable why you would ask. This is a great question if you understand DJ equipment, otherwise you might get a lot of DJ jargon. Consider asking a photographer if they shoot on Canon or Nikon – how would you best judge their answer? In some ways, the equipment is less important than what they can do with it.
Instead ask: Can we see a photo of your set up from a recent show? Why do you use this particular set up?
It’s not that you’re going to understand every facet of the Turntable/CDJ/Controller or JBL/QSC/Martin Audio debate but you’re going to get a sense of what their equipment allows them to do and why they chose it.
The best follow up question here is, “What do you do when something goes wrong?”
Four: Can we come and hear you at a wedding?
If you ask this and the DJ says “yes” you need to consider how that would make you feel if your DJ brought prospective couples to your wedding. I imagine at some point in the distant past it was OK but they also used to wear purple tuxedos and there’s nothing alright about that.
We would never invite someone to your wedding because I can't honestly say that I'm giving you my full attention when I'm literally trying to get another couple to book us for their event.
Instead ask: Do you have recordings or video we could watch? Do you have any public nights where we could watch you perform?
This covers the bases pretty well. Be warned: there are subtle dangers to this approach and it’s also why some DJs will post mixes instead of videos that way you can see how they're handling the music instead of focusing on other distractions in the frame.
If you visit a DJ on a public night, you’re going to hear that DJ’s interpretation of the format handed to them. A good DJ knows how to play their role and if the club owner wants them to play Bassnectar or Teefli you better believe they’re going to do it even though that may not be the sound you want at your own wedding.
The trick to this one is to listen for how they’re transitioning between tracks and managing the flow of the evening. Can they combine different genres together cleanly? Do you notice the mixes or do they flow? Is there silence (silence is bad for DJs)?
Five: What song should our first dance be?
Ok, I’ll admit, I could probably pick several great first dance songs for you to consider, once I got to know you much better, but a consultation is like a first date… you don’t ask what to name the baby. This is a very personal choice and, while we're happy to help come up with ideas, you should pick this yourselves.
Instead ask: What do you think makes for a great first dance?
This allows you to gauge a thousand things from their response including “how much have they been paying attention” and “do they know anything about music?” The best answer to this question from the DJ is “Well, that depends…” and then following it up with concrete, reality-based opinion.
Six: How many songs do you have?
The Library of Congress has 90,000 songs but none of them are going to be floor-fillers. However, if your DJ has too few (10,000 or less) they’re probably missing some big chunks of tunage but the vast majority are going to be songs you’ll probably want to hear. A good dance party will cruise through around 15-30 songs an hour so you don’t need 80,000 songs to crush the party. The question is does your DJ have the resources and knowledge to respond to the moments developing at your reception.
Instead ask: How do you organize your music? What are your favorite go-to floor fillers?
This also makes a great segue into how they can get the crowd involved. Professionals will have a variety of organizational tactics and will happily share them with you.
Seven: Do you take requests?
The reason this question is troublesome is because they'd better take your requests!
Instead ask: How do you take requests?
Some DJs will play anything a guest asks for, others will work it in when it feels appropriate (and it may never feel appropriate). Your DJ is going to be your final line of defense against inappropriate song requests so understanding their thought process will help you decide whether to work with them.
You can nip this one in the bud by asking them for some ideas about how they’d warm up or follow certain key songs you’re looking for. If you like Drake and they’re following it up with Glen Miller they’re either cutting-edge or off their rocker, hopefully you’ve asked enough questions at this point to get a sense of that. Other DJs are uncomfortable outside of what they know so they’ll be less likely to be able to handle an esoteric request or respond appropriately.
Eight: How many performances will you do that day?
Some DJs can stay fresh and thrive over long shifts (you know they’re in demand!) while others can barely maintain through one event.
Instead ask: What happens if we want to add more time to our event?
Pros will dedicate themselves to your event and make sure you get exactly what you’re asking for. Bear in mind, adding time at the event is usually more expensive than adding it in advance – so plan ahead!
Do your homework, check out your DJ’s credentials and don't forget to ask away (as long as it's the right questions!). Stay tuned for more tips on what to ask (and not ask!) your DJ coming soon.
Still looking for your right DJ? Contact Stylus Weddings today by clicking here!