The High Cost of Hiring Low Price DJs

Some food for thought when it comes to hiring entertainment for your wedding day.

It is definitely hard not to feel sorry for all of these people, who tried their best to hire quality entertainment for their events, but who did not know what to look for.  The common denominator for many of these reviews is what a “good deal” these folks thought they were getting on a DJ.  The mistake in all of these cases was the decision to shop for quality entertainment based on price alone.  The assumption was made, even if unconsciously or unknowingly, that all DJs are created equal, or that they all offer “pretty much the same thing.”   “After all,” it is reasoned, they’re all ‘just playing music and making some announcements’ right…?”

Once we think that all DJs are “pretty much the same,” we start to think its okay to shop for them like we would, say, a tube of Crest whitening toothpaste.  At that point, price does seem to be the main, or even the only, real consideration left.

The only thing you can really compare to that tube of Crest whitening toothpaste is another tube of Crest whitening toothpaste, and once you do that, you can search around for a “better deal” at another store.

The problem here is that DJs are not tubes of toothpaste. No two DJs are the same, and no two have the same personalities & philosophies, talents, approaches to event planning and organization, musical programing, etc.  While there are millions of tubes of Crest whitening toothpaste, there is only ONE ME, and to try to assume that someone is going to get anything resembling me and what I offer my clients for $300, $400, or $700 less (or more!) is just silly.

The key is to MEET with all of the DJs you are considering for your event first to get a feel for their services, personalities, styles, and approaches before you even think about price.  First find out what is available, and start to understand what it is you want.  A quality provider will take steps to not only learn about your vision, but will help to enhance and solidify it for you as well.

We know we need to “get some quotes” to “DJ a wedding,” but do we really know and understand what it truly means to “DJ a wedding” successfully?   Do we fully understand everything that a quality individual does behind the scenes to facilitate a streamlined, steadily flowing, highly charged, and memorable celebration?  If we don’t know or fully understand all of these things, how can we honestly say we would know a “good price” for these services if we heard it?  Certainly if you’ve been to celebrations and events like the one I just described, it might have looked like it was “easy” for the DJ involved.  It might’ve even looked like they weren’t really “doing much” at all!

The reality of the situation however, is that the more awesome the celebration was, and the “easier” it looked for the DJ/MC performing it, the more likely it is that he was charging a LOT more than just a “few hundred dollars” for a “few hours of his time” to DJ that event.  Many years of experience, many dollars and a lot of time and effort went into their business, and their ability to make it all “look so easy,” and many hours of planning and preparation went were invested before that same event to make it’s execution as seamless as it was.

There’s so much more to a successful event that just playing music and making some announcements, and when you meet with or talk to a quality service provider, chances are you will start to realize how much more they bring to the table from the second you start talking to them.

On the other hand, if you talk to a service provider who is just trying to sell you “music and some announcements,” (often with a price to match) chances are that is all you will get at your event, and there will more than likely be very real ramifications from that as lines of communication at your event get crossed, or don’t exist at all between your DJ and your other vendors, venue staff, etc.  The result will be a very reactionary approach on the part of a DJ where they appear to be just stumbling through your event from one thing to the next and are left reacting to things that “just seem to happen” rather than proactively guiding the entire celebration from beginning to end.

We’d like to do our best to help you avoid these types of nightmare experiences with your wedding entertainment, and we hope that whether you hire us or not, that our website, and this blog will give you some food for thought, and will help you determine what is, and should be, important to you in hiring DJ and entertainment services.

Since we know that the “best deal” isn’t always the best deal, we are left wondering…  what is?  Why do some wedding DJs charge “so much?”  How do I know when I’ve found a great value at any price point?  These are the questions we need to be asking, and we learn a lot in our search for the answers.

Here is a great read on wedding DJ prices, and on some of the differences between more amateurish and unprofessional providers, and those who invest serious time, passion, and resources into providing you with the best service possible.

Stacie Tamaki’s point in her blog post above is itself priceless.  She urges folks to not just think about how much they “want to pay for DJ services,” but to instead answer the question:  How much would YOU pay to avoid having an experience like the ones we started off with above?  For just a brief second let’s leave what various DJs charge for their services out of the equation altogether.  What is important, and what you need to consider is this:  How much is the success of your celebration worth to YOU?

On a similar note, do you want to get a bunch of quotes for “a wedding,” or is this your wedding we’re talking about?  Do you want your DJ to treat your wedding just like every wedding they’ve ever done?  More to the point, do you want YOUR wedding to be just like every other wedding you’ve ever been to?  My guess is not. :)  This is why it’s so important for your DJ and Entertainment provider to understand your needs and wants before they can nail down “a price.”

Asking a DJ “how much do you charge for a wedding” is like calling a mechanic and asking “how much do you charge to fix a car?”  There’s so much additional information your mechanic needs to come about a price, and chances are they will have you bring your car into the shop (think free consultation with your DJ :)) so they can really get to the bottom of things and see EXACTLY what services are needed, how they need to be performed, etc.

Let your DJ, and ALL of your wedding vendors for that matter, have just a few minutes of your time to properly understand your needs and show you how they can best tailor their services to meet the needs of your special occasion.  While they’re doing this with you, you might just find yourself learning that the vendors you’re talking to are actually bringing far more to the table than you initially thought.  Along the way, you might even find yourself thinking more about results than cost, and realizing that “price” is almost never as important as value.

Please take the time to browse our website and blog to learn more, and feel free to contact us about our offerings.  We’d love the opportunity to meet with you and see how we can help you realize the best value in entertainment for your wedding.

Thanks for reading!

Musical Transitions Make All the Difference!

Musical transitions are key to a successfully flowing event, and we understand the roll that musical dynamics and mood can play in transitioning successfully from one part of your reception to another.  Very rarely should your guests ever be jolted into dancing without a gradual build-up of tempo, or ground to a halt without a winding-down period to ease the transition.  This is of course unless you’re doing this intentionally at the end of a dance set or the end of the night to leave your crowd wanting more and ending on a high note – which in and of itself is a great option!

Wedding Reception Transitions:

Wedding receptions are often chock-full of fun, special events requiring changes in tempo and mood.  Sometimes, even breaks in music altogether.  Understanding how to make these transitions smoothly is a crucial skill for your DJ/MC to have.  Your guests should feel like they are along for the ride at your celebration – not like they are being rushed or pulled along, or forced to stop abruptly many times throughout the night.

The following is a sample time line using this approach, our “Dance Theory” if you will, and is an example of how to design an event flow that uses music thoughtfully to transition between certain parts of your reception.

Even things like the time of day, and specifics of your venue and/or room layout can play into designing an ideal event flow.  There are no rules of course, and we will always work with you to construct the event that is right for you and your guests.  Just remember the below is only a general guideline meant to give an insight into the careful use of musical transitions throughout your event.

First Dance – For the sake of our example, we’ll start here, assuming that dinner and toasts have just wrapped up.

Transitional/Build – Build into upbeat, open dancing slowly or quickly. You decide what feels right for you and your guests.  We have different ideas about how to draw your guests to the dance floor to kick off dancing.  And no…  they don’t include cheesy “snowball” games, or putting anyone on the spot.  Just ask!

First Open Dance Segment – Keep to slightly older, more accessible, and familiar mid-tempo music to encourage dancing by older friends and family, and those who might otherwise be inclined to leave earlier.  Some folks may not want to dance to faster, more upbeat music at all, but will jump at the chance to share a special slow dance with their special someone.

Wind-Down – There are times, for example, when getting ready to stop music for cake cutting, etc. that you want to wind down your upbeat, open dancing.  This will provide a nice slow transition, and will eventually (by design) clear guests off the floor.  Use parent dances, anniversary dances, money/dollar dances, etc. for this effect.  For money/dollar-dances, stick to slower songs, so there is not an abrupt STOP when moving to cake cutting, and also because all your guests want to share this time with you, and not all folks (think older) will necessarily be comfortable with high-paced fast dance selections and may not come up to dance with you to faster songs.

Cake-Cutting – There’s usually a sentimental, or quirky/fun musical selection while you cut your cake.  Most of the time, even if doing a dessert bar, cupcakes, doughnuts, etc., the couple will still have a small cake for the ceremonial cutting.

Tosses – Use tosses, traditionally high-energy and emotionally charged events, involving several people on the dance-floor, to segue back into open dancing.

Second Open Dance Segment – Here it is!  This second dance set is when you would start to pump it up with the newer songs, more dance/club/top-40 music for younger generations, current radio music, some throwback hip-hop and R&B, and maybe some hard-rock party favorites.  At this point, all that “wedding stuff” is over and its time to let go and really just spend the night dancing and hanging out with your family and friends.

Wind-Down… or Climax… YOU Decide! – Use Last Dance and Last Song of the Night (if applicable/different) to slow back down in preparation for the end of the event.  As an alternative to the wind-down, you could choose to end your celebration on a high-note with real high-energy selections right up to the end to leave everyone wanting more. The time your guests are having when your reception ends or when they leave will likely play a large role in their lasting impressions of your celebration, so leaving them pumping and asking for more can be a good thing too!

A thoughtful, strategically-designed send-off to cap off your night can be one of the most memorable parts of your reception, so be sure to ask your DJs what kinds of ideas they have to help you close out in style.

In the end, just remember: there ARE NO RULES! There is only what works best for you, your guests, and your event!  Our expertise is geared towards helping you achieve and strike that perfect balance!

Our Dance Theory

People often ask us “How do you encourage people to dance, or try to get them dancing?”

This is a question you should always ask any service you are considering hiring for music for your event.

Our answer is simple: With music!

Our presentation style is essentially low-key when it comes to “mic-time.” We prefer to let the music do the talking, and we get everyone on the floor and dancing by playing the right music for your crowd.

How do we know what “the right music” is?  We determine this in two ways:

During our pre-event planning, we go to great lengths to find out about not only your preferences, but those of your guests as well. By providing you with “Must-Play,” “Play-if-Possible,” and “No-Play” lists, we gather all kinds of particular songs, and general guidelines about what kinds of things will be best for you AND your guests. That, and we give you a sortable and easy-to-read database of our entire music library to select songs from.

Encouraging Requests from the crowd. Subtly throughout your event, we solicit requests from your guests.  We let your guests know that this celebration is about them and what THEY want to hear – NOT about what we want to play!  Getting everyone involved in the action and giving everyone something to dance to is the best way to ensure people have the best possible experience.

We never resort to cheesy or embarrassing (for us or you!) gimmicks or routines to get people involved in dancing. You could say our approach could be summed up as “Play it, and they will come!”

New Beginnings

It’s been an awesome six years years since I started Sounds To Go DJ service.  I’ve had so much fun, and I have tons of people to thank for such a great beginning to this ride.

First and foremost, of course, I thank my wife Laurie & daughter Madison for all their sacrifices during this time as I set out spending my weekends and evenings away from home.  So many thanks to my wife Laurie for her constant support & help.

Secondly, ALL of my wonderful clients need a special mention.  There are too many of you to list, and you know who you are.  Thank you SO much each and every one of you for entrusting me with your celebrations, and to spend some of your most memorable and important moments with you, your friends, and family.  You know I don’t take that trust lightly, and I love you all.

In addition, many, many, many thanks to all of my fellow Sacramento wedding vendors, and venue staff for all of your help and support at every event I have done.  My successes are yours, and are made possible by your devotion and passion for what you do.

2012 is a year of new beginnings for me, and I am hoping it will usher in another great series of wonderful events and memories.

Already, my new website is completed, and many blocks are laid in what I hope will be a solid new foundation for future success.

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for your support.