How to Book a Professional DJ: Six Things to Look For
You’ve got an event on the horizon, and after figuring out the theme, venue rental, bartending staff, catering crew etc you finally land on a question as tricky as the rest — booking a live DJ service.
Where to begin? You load up the Google, type in CITYNAME +DJ, and get… hundreds of results, modern- and not-so-modern-looking websites, fancy DJ profiles, mix samples… information OVERLOAD.
So how do you figure out which DJ is a top-shelf professional and who shouldn’t go 1,000 feet near your event? Aside from booking with LUXELIFE — duh — here are six really helpful pointers for finding the best DJ for your event.
Make sure they’ve worked outside the club scene
DJing in clubs is a very, very different experience than performing at corporate events.
Clubland is really casual, the opposite of the professional ethos you want for your event — there are a LOT of club DJ practices you want to steer clear of, like playing songs using the N word, curse words or other disrespectful language that will really quickly offend your event audience, acting boorishly on stage, and not dressing to match the calibre of event.
One word: AVOID.
Make sure you set guidelines for your event
Before agreeing to anything, discuss your specific event needs and the qualities (mood, feel/vibe) you are looking for. This includes the type of music you want, dress code, start and end times and break periods. Also, ask about what happens if your event goes beyond the agreed-upon set time.
If you feel the DJ isn’t taking you seriously when you are setting out these expectations that is a big red flag.
Get their policy on song requests
Clearing the air on how the DJ will handle live song requests is another thing you want settled on before the dance floor starts filling up, so as not to discover your seemingly cool DJ gets all grumpy when faced with an audience request.
There are good reasons DJs may not take requests — it distracts from the mix, the song library may be thin, downloading new songs mid-set can trigger technical problems — so talk to them about it before booking.
Find out if they live-mix
Sad to say but a lot of DJs phone it in for their “performances,” playing a pre-recorded set instead of DJing on the fly. This isn’t DJing! And it can totally sink the mood at your event when the crowd realizes the DJ isn’t controlling the music live.
When the mix is done on the fly the music can react to the interests and energy of the crowd, creating a really unique experience. Don’t assume all DJs live-mix, and don’t be afraid to ask — and if the answer is no, they use a premade playlist, find another DJ. Obviously our DJs are mixing live, like the pros they are.
Make sure they attend a soundcheck
Little things can always go wrong, which is why any live music event — even if the only performer is the DJ — needs a sound check beforehand to catch any glitches. Your DJ should be totally on board with doing a sound check test run, so make sure you find one that agrees to do it. If they’re professionals, they’ll want to make sure the technical setup and sound system is flawless by the time they hit the stage so they can give a great performance.
Here at LUXELIFE we send our DJs in 30 minutes before start time for a sound check, and also offer a sound team to set things up when the event host cannot — because you can’t have a good performance without good sound.
This may seem a bit formal, but it’s really not. Ask for references from the DJ’s past gigs. Don’t just believe the glowing client testimonials they splash on their website. Ask for a list of at least three references and a client list so you can independently check their performance pedigree.
Also, check the DJ’s social feeds to see what kinds of recent events they have been booked at. If you see some big-name clients booking them repeatedly, that’s a good sign they’re pros and know their stuff.