This particular subject is one which really makes me angry.
It also happens far too often. In fact, it happens every week!
The DJ world like any other trade unfortunately has more than it’s fair share of “cowboys”. After all, there are now budget versions of the equipment available if you know where to look, music is available on YouTube and Spotify (I’ll add right now that neither of those two are legal for use in public performance!), and after all, it’s just pressing buttons on a laptop, isn’t it?
There are actually two very distinct types of DJ.
- The professional DJ who runs as a business with all that is involved in that and takes a pride in what they do. Most of the time, these DJs are full time and rely on their reputation to put food onto the table. As a general rule, the professional will have a more “polished” way of working, have reliable and top class equipment, and charge a fee worthy of the service they’re going to provide for you.
- The hobbyist who does it for fun. Whilst this job IS a lot of fun, it also takes a lot of time and commitment to provide a professional service. Before I’m shot down in flames from the rest of the DJ world, there are some very good hobbyists out there who provide a top class service. Sadly though, they are few and far between, seeing each gig as beer money and the chance of a night out.
So, back to the plot….the DJ didn’t show up on the night.
Sadly, this is something which happens all too often. I’ll regularly be setting up at my own party for the evening and the phone will ring, or I’ll receive and email , text or Facebook message along the lines of “help….our DJ isn’t coming…can you help?”
This is often made worse by the fact that the person requesting help is a bride or groom. This is the one which REALLY makes my blood boil. They’ve let you down on the most important day of your life!
Unfortunately in all but very rare circumstances the answer to that question will be “sorry….there’s nothing I can do”. I’m normally booked up 6 months or more in advance and if I AM off for the evening, it’s normally because I’ve scheduled a rest-night. Most other professional DJs work in the same way.
I’ve heard stories in the past of wedding receptions being played out using iPhones over a hotel PA system because the budget DJ booked for the party didn’t bother to show up. Hardly the perfect end to your fairytale day 🙁
However, if I can put them in touch with somebody who may be available, I will. Unfortunately it depends on whether I have the time to do that though….remember, I’m busy setting up for my own customer for the evening.
There are various excuses used for a DJ not arriving as well.
- He/she is suddenly ill
- A close relative has suddenly passed away
- They’ve been involved in an accident on the way to the party
- Their transport has broken down
- Their equipment has been stolen
The list is actually endless.
There have been cases in the past where any one of the above have been true. We’re all human just like you and things happen. It’s life unfortunately.
One of my close colleagues recently suffered a major heart attack. He’s reliable and professional, but obviously wasn’t able to fulfil his bookings for a little while. Nobody however was let down – he managed to arrange cover from his hospital bed!
Believe it or not in these genuine situations, we DJs will always work together to try to help you.
I have covered for these parties in the past. On one occasion the DJ had been arrested for domestic abuse an hour before the party, and on another occasion it transpired the DJ couldn’t actually drive and his lift had let him down!
From personal experience though when trying to help somebody in this situation, my first question will always be “what was your budget for your DJ”.
The answer is normally an unbelievably low fee which neither myself or most of the DJs I know would work for.
This by the way isn’t some sort of snobbery….it costs an awful lot of money to run as a legitimate business and do everything properly. We charge what we charge because that’s what’s needed to pay for everything plus actually earn something from what we do (it’s our job after all!).
Nine times out of ten, the missing DJ will be found working elsewhere (remember, he’s suffered a major illness/dead relative/stolen kit/breakdown/accident). In reality, he’s been offered more money at another party and that’s where he’s gone. He really doesn’t care about the trail of destruction or broken dreams he’s left in his wake – he’s earning more money and that’s all that’s important to him (and believe me….we can be talking as little as £20 extra for the night!).
This isn’t a scare story either. It genuinely DOES happen each and every week. It absolutely appalls me as somebody who takes what I do seriously.
So…how can you ensure you’re booking a professional over one of the cowboys?
- A professional will ALWAYS provide you with a contract, clearly laying out the terms and conditions of business. This assures both you and your DJ of certain things such as fees, what’s expected on the night, an agreement to actually provide the service and so on. This is a legally binding agreement and breach of it from either side can result in a visit to the courts.
- A professional will ALWAYS charge a fee which is relative to the service being offered. As a very rough example, my fees as advertised throughout this website are considered to be “average”. I know this from extensive research and from what it costs me to run as a legitimate business (just take a moment to think about how much you pay for music from the likes of iTunes or Amazon and multiply the track cost by around 35,000 and you’ll get an idea of the costs involved….and that’s just the music!)
- A professional with ALWAYS insist on a deposit being paid to secure your date. It shows commitment from you as a customer to what we do and from our side of things helps us to budget our income and expenditure accordingly for the year (we have to plan ahead).
- A professional will be easily contactable. There will be contact details on their website which actually work, and they’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have or even meet up with you if required
- A professional will have documentation with proof of Public Liability Insurance (PLI) and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT). Neither of these cost a lot of money in the grand scheme of things by the way, but by holding both of these shows that you chosen DJ takes what they do seriously.
- A professional won’t charge a rock-bottom fee for your party. There’s a saying that if something’s too good to be true – it normally is. It applies as much to DJs as anything else. Our charges are based on many things, including the cost of the equipment, music, insurance, testing, legal compliance….and the need to actually earn something from what we do. The average value of a professional DJ setup at your party will be in the region of £10,000 to £12,000 – and that’s not including the cost of the music!
- A professional will have a proven track record. This may well include independent reviews on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and lead generation sites such as needadisco.com.
- A professional will belong to trade bodies such as the National Association of Disc Jockeys, the South Eastern DJ Alliance or the Alliance of Mobile and Party DJs, and have contacts within the industry which allow for short-notice cover to be provided at their own cost should the worst happen and they can’t attend.
- Probably most importantly – a professional will demonstrate that they’re prepared to work with you to provide the perfect party well ahead of the date of the function itself.
You’ll also get a “feel” that you’re dealing with somebody who’s committed to your party and is actually going to be there on the night.
This has to be the longest blog entry I’ve ever written. At over 1,500 words in length, it proves how strongly I feel about the reputation of the entire industry because of the few who manage to let us down on a weekly basis.
So when you book your DJ for your party – please don’t let the price be the deciding factor.
Get a range of quotes as you would for anything else in life and go for the best you can afford. It’s much better to pay a little bit more and have your DJ actually turn up and entertain you and your guests rather than panicking on the night and trying to arrange cover from elsewhere because he hasn’t shown up!