1. Music selection.
Well the first thing would be to check out their online song list to get a good feel for what they can deliver and if it will suite yours and your audiences tastes for your event. It’s usually a good idea to get a wide variety of styles to suite everyone in the audience.
It’s not just about the audience watching and partying to a band or DJ’s performance, it’s about having a band / DJ enabling the audience to have a fun, great time. Calling on and having fun with individuals in the audience. A lot of the show should be about the audience which includes reading them and playing the right song selections and requests. We believe it’s important in the first set to play songs that are appealing to both young and old to get a lot of people on the dance floor early, this alone gets the momentum going.
2. Will the band / DJ personally connect with your audience?
What’s their branding? Serious and about themselves, or fun and outgoing? Simply make sure you’re getting a well rounded friendly band / DJ that will serve your entire audience and isn’t a one-trick pony.
3. Experience counts.
Busy bands / DJs are usually busy for good reasons, they are organized, have great equipment, they keep delivering top notch shows, are friendly and can quickly adapt to any situation or preferences. Well established bands / DJs have seen what works and what doesn’t work over the years. Often times it’s from word of mouth only that keeps these bands / DJs busy which is proof positive.
4. Gear, gear, gear.
Most musicians love this subject however gear is very expensive and takes a lot of effort to keep it well maintained, up-to-date and experience to run it properly. For a band a van is typically required to carry a decent sized show with proper PA and lighting. Some bands / DJs try to get away with taking as little gear as possible or severally under deliver on what a show should be. Of course this is a subject of individuals’ perspective but it’s sometimes sad to see how little effort is made / how little a band / DJ has invested into their show. It’s worth asking if they have a full PA and good light show.
See the band/ DJ before hiring or send a friend to see them first or at least watch a few videos! This is ideal as it can take a lot of guess work out of qualifying. You can see the band’s / DJs demeanor, how they engage the audience, what their sound is like, song selection, etc.
You would hope that any band/DJ will dress at least somewhat for the occasion but likely not as strict as most guests. As an client, you may wish to mention dress-wear if it means something to you.
7. Setup time.
Try to make sure the band / DJ can have the vast majority of their gear setup such as PA speakers, lights, power and hopefully drums, amps and other bulky items before guests arrive in your performance room. They should have sound check completed by this time too. Keep in mind guitarists will have to do a quick tune up and band members may need to do some last minute tasks like putting in their headphones etc. You don’t want a band making a bunch of noise sound checking during your dinner, etc. You might want to ask the band / DJ ahead of time where they will be storing there empty cases. Having a neat looking stage area is worth it and will indicate to the band / DJ that you trust they will tidy up.
8. Support for the band
What should I provide for the band / DJ? I believe it’s our job to make the clients job easy. Water is a key essential so perhaps a couple bottles of water for each performer. If a band / DJ is travelling say more than an hour from out of town, offer a couple of meals to the fellas who are setting up most of the gear early in the day.
9. A Contract.
Having a contract is very important, it takes the “what ifs” out of the equation. If you’re hiring a 5 piece band, 5 members should show, there will be no confusion of date, setup times, cancellation agreement, agreed compensation, that sound/lighting is supplied or is 3rd party provided and any other details that seem important to you . Any legit band / DJ should be able to provide this for you before putting down a deposit.
There are a few things that affect pricing. The amount of demand a Band / DJ has of course affects pricing. Date demand is another, long weekends, summer months, NYE, etc are high demand times. Driving times need to be taken into consideration if it’s out of town. How much gear and services are being provided should also be taken into consideration although it’s hard for a client to know if a band / DJ is bringing enough quality gear. When it comes to experience, it’s tricky to put a price on that too. If the band / DJ is very popular/ busy, there’s usually an indication they are and have been doing things right. Like anything it is possible to get “lucky” finding a cheap band / DJ that comes with great gear and a great product however if the price is too low, it’s unsustainable in this business and you should wonder why the pricing is so low.