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Helpful Articles from Professional Overland Park DJs
How much money should I spend on a DJ? Wedding How To / Instructional
How much money should I spend on a DJ? And how do I really know if a DJ is “good”?
How much money should I spend on a DJ?
Spoiler Alert: I'm sorry, but there really is no quick answer for this. With a little research you can easily find out what your local range of prices are, and after that, how much you spend is up to you…
First and foremost, this article is not going to imply that you “get what you pay for” or use fear to motivate you into spending more money than you should. There are lots of articles out there that already do that. If you’re serious about planning your wedding, you probably have already come across one that does. Most of the advice you get will be along the lines that the DJ is the most important aspect (either before or after the food) of you and your guests having a good time, and a high percentage of brides wished they had spent more on entertainment after their weddings.
I personally believe that the entertainment is ABSOLUTELY the most important aspect of you and your guests having a good time. (I have been a professional DJ for over 15 years) I also believe that how much money a DJ charges has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with how good a DJ is at entertaining. You can be confident that the most expensive DJ’s are in fact, the best salesmen, but there really is no way of telling how “good” they are from the price alone.
If you’ve ever gone through a high priced department store and had a laugh at some horribly ugly shoes that you wouldn’t be caught dead in, but still cost nine hundred dollars, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. A little bit of common sense can go a long way when it comes to picking out a DJ. Obviously, finding a hundred dollar DJ on craigslist should let you know that DJ is not as experienced as one that charges fifteen hundred. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the one hundred dollar isn’t a good DJ – he might be a young up and comer new to the business that is really good at playing music. However, it does mean that you should investigate them thoroughly and make sure their deal isn’t too good to be true. (it probably is, but you can’t tell just from the price).
The reality of DJ pricing is that they provide a service: the price can be whatever they feel like. If you talk to 3 DJ’s in your area, chances are good you will get a wide range of prices. If you use the internet to increase your research to 5-7 DJ’s, or talk to a local wedding planner, the range of “normal” prices will start to appear. This will give you a good idea of what to expect. Then it’s basically down to a matter of what you can afford, and if you find someone you can trust at that price point.
A more expensive DJ is going to be more established, but just like the nine hundred dollar pair of shoes, that alone doesn’t guarantee they’ll be the best fit for YOU. If you find the “perfect” DJ, no amount of money will be too much. If you hire a DJ that just isn’t right, no amount of money will make them any better.
Next, I’ll point out some common sales techniques that DJ’s use to maximize their revenue (at your expense) and lastly, some advice on what’s really important: how to know if a DJ really is “good” for YOU.
Don’t fall for the high pressure sales trap!
More than likely, one of the first things you’ll notice when you try to find out how much you should spend on a DJ, is that half of the DJ’s won’t even tell you what they charge?!! These of course, are the good salesmen at work. They want every available minute of face time with you to feel you out and see how much money you are willing to spend.
Don’t take this lightly, weddings are big business, as your checkbook is about to find out. Most of the sales techniques involve talking about how important and special your wedding day is, and then scarring you with horror stories of the DJ that showed up late, didn’t dress or look professionally, say obnoxious things on the microphone, and stubbornly play music that you don’t like.
To be real, I’m sure this has happened occasionally, but if a DJ’s sales presentation is built around this bad DJ scenario or they bring it up whenever you ask a question: it’s a trained sales technique based on fear. Don’t fall for the high pressure sales trap! Your wedding should be about love and happiness and the beginning of your marriage that you will remember fondly for the rest of your life. You shouldn’t have to be scared into having a good time.
The nightmare DJ scenario above happens probably one time out of a hundred. It is important to make sure that one time is not yours, (explained below) but what happens much more often is where you have a competent DJ, that doesn’t quite fit. You’ve probably been to several “cookie cutter” weddings. Everybody has an OK time, but it’s nothing special. The bridal party hangs out for a while, and then they try to figure out where they can go later to really have a good time. You’re already paying for a party right there at the reception – the good time should be at the reception.
These OK weddings happen in large part, because couples get talked into signing up with a DJ before they get to know them. If a DJ does the same thing over and over again, they’ll get very good at selling it to people, even if it’s not quite what you are looking for.
The next section finally give a simple, quick, effective way to know if a DJ is “good” for YOU. (and money has nothing to do with it).
How do I really know if a DJ is “good”?
Here it is: the really easy way to know if a DJ is good for you. Does he talk or does he listen? The way he approaches the personal interaction you have during your meetings is a good indicator of the way he’ll approach playing the music.
The only way a DJ can tell you about how good he is, is if he repeatedly does the same thing. A really good DJ listens first. They listen to the bride and groom and take good notes beforehand. They listen to the crowd feedback during the night and put that together with their notes when choosing what songs to play. A DJ that listens will make the reception feel special, because it is special, and unique. It’s created as the night goes along, with the DJ being flexible and making quick decisions that anticipate the mood of the crowd and move the night along in the right direction.
The idea that you should ask 10 or so questions to a DJ to find out if he’s good is in fact, completely backward. Those questions are provided just so that they can TELL you the tried and true sales techniques. You really should just have to ask one question: tell me a little about your DJ experience. The answer to that should let you know if he’s competent, has good equipment, dresses professionally, shows up on time, etc. Once you’ve established that they are competent, a good DJ should be asking you questions to find out if it’s a good fit.
Out of the thousands of possible songs, a good DJ needs to focus in on the 100 or so that will make you happy. If you already have strong feelings about the song selections, that’s great – just tell the DJ what they are, and he’ll listen. Most of the time though, that is something you and the DJ will have to work on.
A good DJ will give you some suggestions and listen to your responses. They’ll talk about your ideas for the reception, what kind of memories you’re hoping to create.
After you’ve talked to a few DJ’s, you should be able to know who paid attention to your vision and who pushed their ideas onto you. A good salesman can point out lots of shoes that look good on the rack. It really takes the input from you to ensure that it’s a good fit.
Stephen Scott has been a professional DJ since 1993 and as run his own company - Soundworks since 1996. Stephen is located in the Kansas City Metro area, and more information can be found about his company at www.kcsoundworks.com
Written by Soundworks of Shawnee, KS
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