1. Music selection
The first thing would be to check out their online song list to get a good feel for what they 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’s /DJ’s performance, it’s about having a band/DJ that enables the audience to have a great time and join in. Calling on and having fun with individuals in the audience makes it personable and memorable. Much of the show should be about reading the crowd, playing the right 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’s /DJ’s personality connect with your audience?
What’s their branding? Serious and about themselves, or fun and outgoing? Make sure you get a well rounded, friendly bunch who will serve the entire audience and not a 1-trick pony.
3. Experience counts
Busy bands/DJs are usually busy for good reasons, they’re organized, have great equipment, they keep delivering top notch shows, are friendly and can quickly adapt to any situation and preferences. Look on their websites to find out how busy they are. Well established bands /DJs have seen what works (and doesn’t) over the years. Often times it’s only word-of-mouth that keeps these bands /DJs busy which is proof positive.
4. Gear, gear, gear
Many musicians love it however great 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 fair size van is typically required to carry a decent sized show with proper PA and lighting (and a car to carry the rest of the guys). Some bands /DJs try to get away with taking cheap or as little gear as possible and severely under deliver what the show should be. Of course this is a subject of individuals’ perspective but it’s sad to sometimes see a band /DJ make little effort and little financial investment into their show. It’s worth asking if they have a quality full PA (tops & subs) and light show. Sometimes bands require a sound company which is likely an extra cost to the client. Sometimes it’s a great sound company with a talented sound man which is better than an inexperienced band doing it’s own sound. Some experienced bands will have an amazing PA and even their own sound man.
See the band/ DJ before hiring. Or send a friend to see them first or at least, watch a few videos! This is ideal and can take a lot of guess work out of qualifying. You’ll see the band’s /DJ’s demeanor, how they engage the audience, what their sound is like, performance, song selection, etc.
You’d hope any band/ DJ will dress somewhat for the occasion but likely not as formal as most guests. As a client, you may wish to mention dress-wear if it means something to you. Maybe no ripped jeans or shorts to start with :).
7. Setup time
Make sure the band /DJ can have the vast majority of their gear setup such as PA speakers, lights, power, drums and hopefully 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. Ask ahead of time where they’ll store their empty cases. A neat looking stage area is worth it and indicates to the Musicians /DJ that you trust they’ll tidy up!
8. Support for the band
What should I provide for the band /DJ? We believe it’s our job to make the clients job easy as possible. Water is a key essential so perhaps a couple bottles of water for each performer. If a band /DJ is traveling more than say an hour from town, maybe offer a couple of meals to the fellas who set up the gear early in the day. If you’re feeling extra generous, offer a few drinks, it’s an instant way to get the guys to play extra hard!
9. A Contract
Having a contract is very important, it takes the “what ifs” out of the equation. People make mistakes and forget details. Keep the band /DJ professional. 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 quality sound/lighting must be supplied or provided by third party. Also write all other details that are important to you. Any legit band /DJ should provide this for you before putting a deposit down regardless how you pay them. A fair deposit is 15-25% however some ask 50% or more.
Demand for a Band /DJ of course affects pricing. Date demand is another, long weekends, summer months, NYE, etc are high demand. Sometimes days that fall on other than Saturdays will be less (for many vendor services). Driving times need to be taken into consideration if out of town. How much gear, services and extras are being provided should be considered although it can be difficult for a client to know if a band /DJ will bring enough, quality gear (they were great in the club but have very little gear here). When it comes to experience, it’s tricky to put a price on that too. If the band /DJ is very popular and busy, there’s usually an indication they are and have been doing things right for a fairly long while up to now. Like anything it’s 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 is unsustainable in this business to function properly and you should wonder why!
Eddie Fisher. 18/09/26. Also see: Top-10 Recommendations for a perfect-event