As those of you who have met me will know, I’m not afraid to highlight the things that CAN go wrong when you engage the services of a wedding DJ. I work hard in an industry which I absolutely love, but as with hiring any trade, there are pitfalls to be aware of!
Search online for DJ horror stories and you’ll see all manner of results, starting with the DJ not actually showing up right through to the equipment failing and the DJ not playing music suitable for the event.
So what exactly CAN go wrong when you hire a DJ?
Problem 1: The DJ fails to show up
Probably the biggest fear of any bride or groom is that they’re going to be left high and dry by the evening entertainment….and not without reason.
Sadly it happens all too often in this industry and for most of us, makes our blood boil.
It’s not just weddings this happens at by the way. Popular dates such as New Year’s Eve are also big dates when this happens….and its unacceptable.
Whist there may be completely genuine reasons for this happening (people really DO get ill, close relations die, roads become closed), there are a couple of usual reasons for this happening:
- The DJ you’ve hired isn’t a professional and doesn’t see your event as being important enough not to let down. These are normally “hobbyists” who DJ for fun (some will say they do it for “the love of music”, and have decided they’d rather be out with their friends for the evening
- The DJ you’ve hired has been offered more money to work elsewhere. This one happens a lot and is the exclusive realm of the DJ who’s working for very little money for the evening – an extra £10 at that level can seem like a lot of money
- The DJ you thought you’d hired was subcontracting the job out to the lowest bidder, who has in turn used one of the two items above to avoid doing the job for little return.
FACT: I don’t work in this way. Once you’ve signed my booking contract, I’m legally obliged to be there and will do everything in my power to make it happen. As already mentioned, I’ve NEVER in 30 years had to let a couple down yet. There WILL come a time when this happens (illness happens etc.), and in that case I have procedures in place to ensure that a suitable and equally capable colleague will be there in my place and at my own personal cost.
Problem 2: The DJ has substandard equipment which isn’t suitable for your venue
This is sadly another one which happens a lot.
Some DJs have only one set of equipment (even the lower-end stuff isn’t what you’d call cheap), and adopt a “one size fits all” approach. This can also present another problem when things break down (if their music playout system breaks….because things can and DO stop working….how are they going to continue the party?)
Some will even “steal” photos from other’s websites and pass them off as their own, something which you may not realise until it’s far too late (this by the way is the reason that all of the images on THIS website contain a watermark!).
FACT: I have numerous different setups available to me (all owned outright), meaning I’m able to match the right equipment to your venue. If I’ve never been to your venue before, I’ll make every effort to visit it before the day to ensure I’m going to have the right tools for the job. On the day of your party, not only will I have the equipment you see on stage with me, but backups of all of the essential parts to ensure that the party continues should something go wrong (it’s a LOT of investment).
Problem 3: The DJ doesn’t have physical copies of their music
This one still makes me chuckle when I hear instances of it happening.
Copyright law in the UK is complicated and dated to say the least, but one thing which IS clear is that we have to PAY for our music and have physical copies of it.
In the olden days that was easy to prove. You either had a physical vinyl record or a CD.
Nowadays with music being stored on hard drives, we’re supposed to have the physical file stored locally. However, there are some that think they can get away with streaming the music via the likes of Spotify and YouTube. Apart from being completely against the user agreements for such services, what happens when they suddenly have no network connection, or if there’s a sudden advert break (as YouTube tend to do) in the middle of your first dance song? And yes, I’ve heard of the latter happening on more than one occasion sadly).
FACT: All of my music is physically stored on the hard drives of all three of my playout laptops (yes….THREE – that’s in case something goes wrong!). A lack of network connectivity or ads in the middle of songs really isn’t a problem.
Problem 4: The DJ isn’t playing the music you want to hear
OK – being a DJ (especially a wedding DJ) is never an easy job. You’ve got a room of 100+ guests, all with their own idea of what makes a good party and what they want to hear – it’s a real juggling act at times.
This can become even trickier when the requests from your guests start flowing in. When do you fit them in? How do you make the transition from what’s currently playing to the request? Where do you go to after the request has been played (most of us work several tracks in advance by the way).
To be able to perform this juggling act, you need to have a really in-depth knowledge of the music in your library, what works when, what not to play at certain times of the evening and when to take a risk and play something just a little left of field.
And yet each and every week, posts appear on DJ Facebook groups (why they’re posting on Facebook instead of working with their parties I don’t know!) along the lines of “help….I’m at a [insert party type here] and don’t know what to play”.
This raises two questions.
- Why is this person even claiming to be a DJ if they don’t know what to play and
- Why did they take on your function if they thought they might struggle with it. This one smacks of being desperate to be out gigging rather than providing a professional service
I also hear reports of DJs refusing to take requests. Now whilst there may be genuine reasons for this, such as an entire playlist being provided by the client or the client simply asking that requests aren’t taken), it can also mean that the DJ in question has a very limited selection of music at his or her disposal.
FACT: I have in excess of 35,000 tracks on my playout laptops. Now whilst it’s utterly impossible to know each and every one of those intimately, my memory is good enough to know how to keep a party (in fact even entire parties in a particular genre) going for the night. It’s what I do for a living after all.
Problem 5: When it all goes horribly wrong
Yes ladies and gentlemen, the party is in full swing and suddenly….the music stops.
Actually – I have nightmares about this one.
Electronic equipment can and does fail from time to time (especially with the vibrations some of it gets from the sub-bass standing where we stand), Equipment gets drinks spilled on it. I’ve even had a case where my entire booth was pushed over and everything landed on the floor (and that really WAS frightening!).
The trick here is knowing how to recover from these situations as quickly and professionally as possible.
As already mentioned, I have spares of ALL of the major components with me at every party – I don’t like taking risks. That costs a lot of money though and there are a LOT of DJs that just aren’t prepared to make even a basic investment on this front.
As an example, should one of my laptops fail, there’s another one ready to take over at the push of a button (really, no more than a couple of seconds to achieve). Yes, it breaks the “flow” of the music but it’s soon forgotten. In more extreme cases (such as the booth being pushed over) – yes it can take a while to get going again (that one was catastrophic!). The fact that I had spares to replace everything that was broken to be able to continue the party is something that I like to think sets me apart from the rest of the crowd.
What’s also needed is an intimate knowledge of all of the equipment in use, how to recognise what’s wrong when it happens (is it a mains lead which has failed? has something come unplugged? is it something as simple as the venue fire alarms going off and cutting power to the booth…..and yes that one DOES happen!).