So I guess I should introduce myself… I’m Tomiwa, some of you may know me as Omowunmi’s boyfriend. I’m also a DJ and I’ve been doing it for almost 5 years. As it’s #Blogmas and she’s doing a whole bunch of posts, I figured it would be good to chip in and drop some jewels.
As a DJ I’ve come to realise that a lot of people don’t know how to deal with DJs, and I don’t blame them because there are no set rules. DJs vary quite a lot in their operations, styles and personalities, so it’s often difficult to know how to get the best out of your DJ and, in turn, make your event as good as you would like it to be. In this blog post, I hope to shed some light from the perspective of a DJ who has had a variety of clients over the years.
*Disclaimer*: These tips apply mostly in regards to dealing with function/mobile DJs (who cover birthdays, weddings, christenings etc.) as opposed to club DJs – though some tips do apply to both types of DJs.
1. Think about what you want from your DJ
So you’re throwing a party. You’re inviting friends. There’s gonna be food. So you need a DJ right? Actually, maybe you don’t! Sometimes people make the mistake of assuming that a DJ is absolutely necessary for their event. However sometimes you’re actually fine with just playing some music from Soundcloud or Youtube to prevent awkward silences.
Or maybe you have a helpful friend that’s not a DJ but is happy to control the music for the period of the event. I say this because, from the perspective of a DJ, I would actually feel a bit bad charging you just to play background music for what is essentially just a gathering where people have come to just chat and eat. It’s the same way you would balance up whether you need to get a venue or not, or whether to get a caterer or not.
The cost needs to be balanced against how big the event is, your guest’s expectations and the type of event you would like it to be. The key point here is to think about what it is that you want before looking for a DJ. As a very rough guide, I would say if you’re booking a venue or if your event is over 30 people, you would need a DJ. If you’re really worried about whether to get a DJ or not, your worry will itself suggests that you really want the event to go well, so definitely get one!
2. Finding a DJ
In my opinion, the best way to find a DJ is through word of mouth. Ask your friends and family if they know any good DJs. Most likely there would be a suitable DJ that you’re a couple of connections from. Usually this works well because the DJ is somewhat similar to you and your people in terms of background, personality, culture and music taste.
This is a key reason why my DJ name is just DJ Tomiwa – Tomiwa is a common Yoruba
name, therefore Yoruba/Nigerian people will know that I will probably know their music better than someone called DJ Steve Smith lol. Also finding a DJ with whom you have a mutual connection may end up in you getting a cheeky mates rates discount.
If word of mouth is unsuccessful then look online. Google, Soundcloud, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook – there’s a lot of ways to find a DJ in your area. Even if you don’t get straight to the perfect DJ, you may be able to get contacts that will point you in the right direction. Maybe try and get a few options if possible.
3. Choosing the right DJ
Style, cost, availability. Get one of these wrong and you could choose the wrong DJ. People often look at cost first but style is actually the one I recommend you consider the most (after availability of course, a DJ can’t DJ if they aren’t there!).
I recall attending a wedding with Wunms a couple years ago: the DJ had an awesome set up equipment-wise but it was a Nigerian wedding and he was Caribbean. He managed to play a few Afrobeats but he was unable to keep the crowd entertained after 15-20mins because he didn’t really know what they liked. In the end I was asked to jump on his decks and I got the crowd moving again. Now I’m really not bragging because he did waaay better than I would do with a Caribbean wedding! I was born and raised on Nigerian music myself, but even then I’m constantly updating my library of Afrobeats. The type of Nigerian music varies massively as well: for example, what works at a 25th birthday would probably not work at a 50th birthday.
All DJs strive for flexibility to please many types of crowds but no DJ can impress all types. Get a DJ that knows the music you want played – pick their brains a bit if you like, make sure you know what you’re paying for. If you don’t have particularly strong/precise preferences then you may want to factor cost more.
4. Factoring Cost
Everyone wants the best value DJ. Generally a DJ will charge dependent on his/her demand, reputation and experience. Other cost factors include hours of service, location, amount of equipment required as well as the type and scale of event. Some DJs have an hourly rate but some charge an overall figure. The price can literally be anything so it’s difficult for me to give you specific figures here. Ask around and compare quotes – make sure you give your DJ accurate information so that you get a solid quote. Once you have that quote, balance it against how closely that DJ matches your preferred style.
*Bonus Tip*: Something I come across a lot is haggling. For those that don’t know this is basically when someone asks to reduce the price of something. This is different from negotiating in that nothing is offered in return for the proposed reduced price. Personally I’m British-born so I’ve been raised to understand that a price is a price – you don’t go to Sainsbury’s and start negotiating prices for your groceries. Why? Because they will not take you seriously. This also applies with DJs. Some people think DJs start at a high price on purpose to be haggled down, but most DJs will charge you a fair price because they actually want the booking and don’t want you to go elsewhere. So if you start asking them for their “lowest price”, consciously they will naturally begin devaluing your seriousness about your event. Just something to bear in mind (yes, Nigerians I’m talking to you!). It’s pretty stressful as a DJ to hear people give excuses like “I will tell all my friends about you if you do it” or “just give me discount this time and God will bless you”. Nah mate, that’s the price. As with anything else in life, if you don’t want to pay for something there’s often cheaper alternatives. This isn’t a bad thing of course – sometimes cheaper is better value!
5. Paying the DJ
So once you’ve agreed on the price – what happens next? Most DJs will ask you to put down a deposit. This is a part-payment towards their fee so that both parties can be assured that the DJ will reserve the date. It is good practice to pay the deposit as soon as possible to avoid disappointment if someone else books the DJ first. Also from a DJ’s perspective, when clients pay earlier it settles my mind so I can fully concentrate on giving them the best service possible as a sign of gratitude. If a client says they want to pay me after the event, there’s always a danger I could spend my time DJing for them and they could refuse to pay up. I’ve had a few tense situations like this but that’s a story for another day…
In terms of method, typically the deposit is paid by bank transfer. The remainder may be paid by bank transfer or cash – ask your DJ what their preference is. Finally, if your event overruns and you want the DJ to stay longer than the agreed time, ask politely and also offer to pay extra accordingly. Some DJs may be happy to extend it for free, but you should at least ask as you will be getting more than you initially paid for.
That’s it for Part 1 of my Guide to Dealing with Your DJ! Now check out Part 2 which includes tips on making song requests, getting your money’s worth, building a rapport for future discounts and more.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
– John 15:11
God bless y’all!
Listen to his new 80’s Party Mix here:
*There are 4 days until Christmas!*
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