Taken from the Mobile DJ Network Booking Tips My answers are in RED
How much music do you have ?
Your DJ should have something over 8000 songs, this should give enough scope to fill the dance floor with a wide variety of music for the various age groups, but also satisfy requests on the night.
I have around 14000 songs and 4000, karaoke tunes. In truth, I regularly use less than 5% of either but it’s nice to have them for those unusual requests. Tunes go in and out of fashion too, who would have thought late in 2008 that one of the biggest songs of 2009 would be Journey, “Don’t stop believing”?
What music do you have ?
If you have international guests, or you like styles which are perhaps not general commercial chart, you will need to ask about this. Your DJ should fill you with confidence that not only does he carry these styles, but is happy to use them to fill your dance floor. Many professional DJs will carry at least a small amount of just about every style you might need, right across the various era's of music, including many nationalities such as French, Serbian, German, Latin, Scottish, Irish, African, Israeli and much more. Perhaps just as important is the fact that he will be happy to play it !
I am primarily a party DJ, this is not the same as “Cheese” but I do play a fair amount of 70’s 80’s party music, R&B, Rock and my own favourite, Dance. I recently performed a Filipino Karaoke night and played some Filipino tunes as well. I work with my customers to guarantee that we cover all musical tastes wherever possible, but I certainly would not claim to be an expert of world music.
What music will you play ?
If you have chosen the styles and any particular songs, these will be your DJs priority. Around this brief your DJs will gauge the audience, and using his experience, will choose songs that will get people on the floor .
Anything... Except, I really am not happy about playing music with expletives at a wedding, especially if older relatives or children are present and may take offense. I collect as many “radio” versions of songs as possible.
Can I choose songs for you to avoid playing ?
Either giving him a list, or using an online music request system you can select songs for your DJ not to play, and he should discuss general styles you like and dont like so the evening goes the way you want it to
Yes please, just be aware though that your guests may ask for it and I can’t always claim not to have it.
Can I choose the music ?
If you want to choose every song for him to play, and even the order, he should advise against it, but be happy to accommodate your wishes. When booking a professional DJ, he ought to know better than you what will fill the dance floor, but should be equally keen to incorporate your favourite songs and styles. He should offer advice, but be open to your suggestions.
Many DJs offer a free online music database where you can choose as many songs as you like (bear in mind around 19 songs per hour is the most he can play!). You also get a further login for your guests, so they can choose 2 songs each, and of course he should be happy to take requests on the night
I am currently looking at an online selection tool, the problem is, guests will choose music that they like listening to in the car, or the bath, or because there’s an office “in joke” associated with it.
I prefer to work with the party hosts and I don’t expect you to trawl my lists, if you have songs that you really need to be played, within a reasonable number, I’ll buy them. To put this into perspective though, I usually have to buy two or three songs a year for this reason. Or you can loan me your own CD.
I do like to get a guide list, a shortish one from my customers and often Brides send out a song request with the invites asking guests for one song that gets them dancing, this, I have to say is my personal favourite.
Can my guests choose music ?
Yes, either on the night, of perhaps via an online music database system if he has one. You may also have the facility to remove any guest requests you don’t like !
As above, I love on the night requests. I set up an email account for your guests to post requests to
Do you have 'clean' versions of songs ?
Your DJ should have a large amount of 'radio edit' and cleaned versions of songs, so if you need him to make sure he plays these instead of the originals, just let him know and he should be happy to accomodate your wishes.
Again, where possible I prefer to play the family friendly versions.
Can I bring an iPod ?
Check with your DJ before the day, in case you want to play your own background music perhaps, or if you have some special music you need included which he doesn't have.
You can, or a keyboard! However this is not extended to guests on the night, the reason for this is that we have no control over what gets played or the quality of it. I will not download songs to order, legally or illegally, on the night.
Can I bring a CD ?
You shouldn't need to, but most have the facility to play CDs
Party hosts (my customers) can provide me with a CD, indeed for the first dance it is the best way because if you have rehearsed a routine, you want to be sure it’s the same version of the song. I will not play impromptu CD’s that turn up on the night for the same reason as iPod comments above. Also, some homemade CD’s will not work on my players.
Can I bring a memory stick ?
Once again you shouldn't need to, but many DJs will have the facility to play it
No, only because a virus on your stick will wipe my system and affect your party and the ones following it. I will not download songs to order, legally or illegally, on the night. you can email me songs prior to the event though, or use Dropbox.
How big are your speakers ?
Unless you are in the business, most brand names will be meaningless, you may have heard of JBL and JAMO, but do you know which is far better than the other ? (it's JBL by the way) Size often isn't a good indicator of quality (how many times have you heard that !!) If you are booking for an 18th birthday, then high volume may be something you are looking for, but if it's a Wedding, then more discreet speakers would be more appropriate. Your DJ should help guide you through which systems he has, and which he recommends, you may not understand half of what he says, but you should get a feeling that he knows what he's talking about. He should point out that it will be loud enough to encourage dancing, but he will monitor the volume so that those guests who would rather talk than dance, get to enjoy their evening as well
Currently I use a combination of 3 systems, all three are Warrior audio active systems
Active speakers are 15” 12” and a pair of 8” which are perfect for Civil ceremony background audio.
What if your system breaks down ?
He should reassure you that he carries extra equipment with him, both sound and lighting, so in the unlikely event of a problem, he can be up and running again very quickly.
I have spares of everything I own, except me (see below)
What if you get ill ?
You need assurance that if he gets ill, you will still have a DJ. Most DJs will know other DJs who may be able to cover your gig at short notice, and many DJs are members of DJSupport, an online facility to quickly locate emergency cover. Have a chat with him, he should reassure you how he would cope in this emergency
You should never end up with him sending his roadie/ friend/brother to entertain on your special day
Your booking will be logged with my agent, if I get ill, or stuck in North Africa because of a volcanic ash cloud, my first call is to my agent who ensures that you know what is happening and offers to cover the event for you (at no additional cost) or help you locate a replacement. As soon as possible we talk to ensure you are happy with everything and at that point we agree a price for the service you have received. The last time this happened in 2007, a Disco was provided for the customer, who was happy with the excellent service my agent provided and I paid a small difference in cost due to the mileage concerned, and offered the customer a 25% reduction in cost, which was declined.
How long does it take to set up ?
For a normal amount of equipment with reasonable access to the room/ marquee, allow an hour. Should you book extra's such as Uplighting, this takes longer but your DJ would discuss this so you are fully aware.
About an hour for the Disco, and the same for venue lighting and a dance floor.
How long does it take to break down ?
For a normal amount of equipment it's usually around 45 minutes. You may need to bear this in mind when planning your timings, in case the venue insists both guests AND equipment are out of the venue by a certain time.
From last song to closing the car door, 55 - 60 minutes is normal for smaller venues 30 minutes is achievable. Access is an important factor, if we are upstairs with no lift I need longer and need the guests to keep the stairs clear.
What will you wear ?
For a Wedding, most professional DJs would normally wear black tie (dinner suit) as we think you and your guests have made an effort, therefore so should we. However if you would prefer him in shirt and tie, fancy dress, very loud Hawaiian shirt, then just let him know ! He should be flexible to your requests, as with all other arrangements
As above, the focus for the event should be on you but I prefer to wear a shirt and tie, perhaps a colour coded waistcoat and in cooler times, a dinner jacket. I do love dressing for a theme though. My roadies wear a smart shirt, dark smart trousers.
Will you get drunk ?
"Absolutely not !" should be the answer, hopefully followed up with "I don't drink alcohol while working". You wouldn't expect a plumber to be sipping a Bud while sorting your central heating, or a doctor with a hip flask. The waiters & bar staff are unlikely to be drinking, so why should your DJ ?
I usually carry my own drink to the venue, and it’s usually Diet Pepsi. I do drink lime and soda in the summer too. My roadie occasionally enjoys a pint but he’s got lots of lifting to do later so it will be one pint.
My venue has asked for PLI (Public Liability Insurance)
Many venues now ask for this in case of claims by guests following an accident. Your DJ should have cover, but do check the level in case it's below that required for the venue. Some ask for £2million, some for £10 million just in case of any accidents with their equipment or set up. Your DJ should be happy to email either you or your venue with the policy. If you get contact a DJ from this website, they will have £10m PLI already in place as part of their membership !
Yes I have PLI to £10m
My venue has asked for PAT
This is Portable Appliance Testing, all electrical equipment taken into a venue should be annually tested by a qualified Electrician, with each item having a sticker as well as having a test certificate. Some venues will insist on seeing this, either before the event, or on the day. Your DJ should be happy to email either you or your venue with the Certificate
Any portable appliance I have on site which has not been tested will be less than 12 months old.
Can you set up earlier ?
You may wish to have everything set up early, perhaps before a Wedding Breakfast or conference, although it's not always appropriate. In a marquee this is the preferred option as guests will rarely go somewhere else after the Wedding Breakfast, so bringing a lot of equipment through your crowd of guests is not really what you want. If however you have chosen a beautiful venue with nice architecture, do you really want 21st century equipment in your photo's... probably not.
It's something you should discuss, but my general advice is to enjoy your venue for the Wedding Breakfast, then take a one hour break when you can relax and greet evening guests as well as chatting informally with your daytime guests, while your DJ sets up a great show for you.
I prefer to set up early when possible as it means I can spend more time getting it right, when this happens I’ll do what I can to ensure the equipment is clean and tidy and aesthetically appealing as possible. I do insist however that your guests do not play with the equipment. A £200 dry hire charge is added if this happens, it seldom does!
Other notes: I can use smoke and snow effects if the venue allow it, I really don’t use true “strobe” effects any more though I can get a similar effect on the night from the lighting I do use. I can and do use lasers and also I can use monitors to play a slideshow of wedding photos or karaoke upon request, these are not part of my normal set up and need to be requested.