What Do DJs Do Anyway?
This is the beginning of a series of articles that we will be writing to help people understand more about DJing, specifically, wedding DJs. After recently hiring 2 brides onto our staff (one in sales and one as a music planner), we began having weekly meetings over coffee with them. These articles will answer all the questions they had and most likely some questions that you yourself have right now.
We asked them dozens of questions about the process of hiring a DJ for their wedding. One bride is a savvy analyst and psychology masters student who planned her entire wedding in Florida based out of Vancouver, BC. The other bride, is a young, cool, hipster musician who held a low key reception designed to match her own personal style. The biggest question they said they had when hiring a wedding DJ was trying to answer the question, what do DJs ACTUALLY do?
Sure, DJs spin the little knobs around and bob their heads to the music. They bring the speakers and they know how to set up all the crazy cables and lights into the “mixer”, whatever that is. But from there, what makes them different from ipods? Really, truly worth hiring? The answer to this question depends on each DJ. At Airwaves, we interview over 60 DJs a year and hire maybe 2 or 3 at the most.
The biggest benefit to hiring a DJ is service. That may sound strange but think about it, the product is already made. Every song is already written, ready to be played. But having a great DJ is like hiring one of your best friends, for the entire night to focus on nothing BUT the music. They meticulously plan out every detail ahead of time. They check the songs and the equipment in advance and have a backup plan to make sure everything goes right for you. They don’t do all these things because they have to, they do them because they NEED to in order to take pride in their work. But this DJ is even more committed than a friend. This is their job, they take pride in it. Their friends know them as “the music guy/gal” and they’re reputation is at stake at every single event they do.
Now we’re at the dance. This isn’t a 1 hour grade 8 spring dance at a high school. There are two groups of people that may have never met before. It is a hugely important day to the bride and groom and a good DJ not only knows that but takes it to heart and cares about them. He takes time to meet the couple ahead of time, talk to them on the phone, get all the details and comes prepared. Everything is backed up. Everything is setup perfectly in advance. The dance is long, 4 to 6 hours usually and the DJ is the most high energy person in the room the entire time. How does the DJ do this? Because that is their job. They are the cool, fun, friendly and neutral face in the room. You can think of a good DJ as the one person at the party who is everyone’s friend and at everyone’s service. The best part? They are there SOLELY to create the party FOR YOU. This means reading the crowd, knowing when to take a guests drunk request and knowing when it’s inappropriate. It means allowing the bride to change her mind and think of a song on the spot, or slowing it down when the DJ sees that the bride and groom seem exhausted.
There is no such thing as a one sized fits all approach for a wedding. Each bride and each DJ will gel differently and we believe it’s important to find a DJ who isn’t only experienced or technically good at what they do, but also someone who is likely to get along with your guests. Will your family and friends feel comfortable around the DJ? After all, they are the same person who is going to be in control of the music and the tone of the party all night.
So yes, a good DJ knows his gear. He knows his music. He can take a request your guest hums. A good DJ knows how to fade out and into anything and beat match songs together seamlessly so that the music never stops. He knows how to read the crowd and play songs that get everyone dancing. A great DJ knows when to pick the music up and when to slow it down, or when to get on the mic and when to just let the music play.
No other service at your wedding will be in the spotlight for so long and have such a profound impact on how your night turns out. All you have to do is go to a wedding without a DJ or with a bad one to see what happens. We aren’t saying you should hire based on any one of these things, but it’s the bigger picture that counts.
In the next few blog posts we will dive into some of the more technical aspects of What Does A DJ Do and how to hire one. We will show you the basics of a mixer, the basics of how we plan and choose music and most importantly, what we look for when we audition and interview DJs.
Click here to learn more about our roster of great Vancouver Wedding DJs