I created this page so I can speak my mind and be even more frank about the DJ business as a whole. Some of the points made here are strictly my opinion, others are cold hard facts.
Since my very first wedding in 1994, I still believe in focusing on a solid mix than boring the crowd with a microphone and a cheesy routine. When I was just starting out, I met my share of entertainer (prop) DJs who tried to take me under their wing and they told me that I needed to conform to their style of DJ entertainment if I was going to last in this business. I did my thing and they kept doing their tired routines and playing the same music every weekend and I watched them fade away and 19 years later, I'm still standing.
With that being said, if you're looking for a DJ who wears sunglasses, glow stick necklaces, plastic leis, Village People hats while yelling into a microphone and leading a conga line, thank you for stopping by, but I'm not the DJ for you. I am not a prop DJ. I don't offer props as part of my services as I don't believe in the concept. Some people will think it's a bad business decision of me to turn away a particular wedding market (clients who want party props, choreographed routines and high energy interaction), but I'll take my chances. Ask around. No one appreciates the cheesy, loud, self-serving, over-the-top DJ who likes to hear himself talk and his obnoxious, game show host personality.
Why do I shoot straight with prospective clients? Because I don't need to mislead you to generate business. Go ahead and research the local wedding DJ websites. It's amateur hour out there. You'll find most are the equivalent of an online business card. When I created this website, I went a step further because I want to educate you so you have a general understanding of how a reputable DJ conducts business. I have the most detailed DJ FAQ page on the Internet today because I have nothing to hide. I'm an honest, hard working DJ and I'm good at what I do. You hire my services, I get it done. I'm not a sales guy, so I'm not going to hound you with repeat phone calls or send you emails everyday about making a decision. That's not my style. I book more weddings from word-of-mouth referrals than advertising and Internet search engines. That's a pure indication there's a demand and an appreciation for what I do.
Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event and you cannot jeopardize the memories of one of the most important days of your life with an old, cheesy, burnt-out DJ whose better days are behind him. My guess is you should be interested in working with an experienced DJ who is professional, personable and can keep your dance floor full all night long simply by reading the crowd.
OK, if you're not convinced I'm the DJ for you, very well, but before I let you leave, I feel an obligation to educate you on what to look for and what to avoid as you continue your search for your DJ.
: There are hundreds of hack DJs in Massachusetts who claim to be DJs "specializing in weddings". Keep in mind that anyone can buy an illegal hard drive off the Internet, buy some used gear, order business cards and claim they're a wedding DJ. Not so fast.
Having a great set of tools doesn't make you a mechanic. It's 2013 and every DJ who is serious about this business has an informative, fully-functional, updated website that gives you a broad overview of performance style, sound system, online planning tools, FAQ, photos, video and general information. A reputable DJ company will respond to all email and telephone inquiries in a prompt and professional manner within 24 hours.
: Before you hire a random DJ off Craigslist or another free business ad directory, do not bargain shop when you choose your DJ. I cannot emphasize this enough. DJs who book weddings every weekend will always expect to be paid a market rate, so don't expect to find that sweet deal. I'm not suggesting paying top dollar, but please consider quality before value as you simply can't trust a hack to deliver the quality service a reputable, experienced wedding DJ can. There's a reason budget DJs use unconventional methods of advertising to attract clients. There's no demand for their services. They resort to very low prices (well below market rate) to get whatever work they can because they know a skilled professional will not work a five hour wedding reception for short money. If you hire a DJ just because they're cheap, don't expect much. DJs who quote low prices to attract clients offer little in return and keep prices very low to compensate for their lack of ability. If you hire a bargain DJ, you'll save a few bucks, but your reception will probably bomb.
The Multi-Op DJ Company/DJ Agency : Before I touch on this subject, I want to make it clear that I do not believe all entertainment agencies are deceptive. That would be unfair. There are a few multi-system DJ companies/agencies based in Massachusetts who will allow you to select one of their DJs and put your DJ's name on the contract of services and are upfront about subcontracting bookings to other DJs. That's running an honest business. However, there are many wannabe agencies who are slick and all they want is to book your wedding, get paid and put your wedding behind them and this is how they operate.
Some agencies create a corporate image and with their extensive "staff" of DJs, deep advertising and presence at most bridal shows, it makes them seem like a safe choice. Truth be told, many multi-op/agencies will not allow you to select a particular DJ before you sign a contract because they cannot guarantee the DJ you want will be affiliated with their agency when your wedding day arrives. They claim to retain the most requested DJs on staff and it gives the prospective client a good feeling that they will be working with a well-oiled machine. Let me expose this myth. Aside from the owners (top DJs of the agency), the "most requested DJs" are not staff. These DJs are a pool of independent contractor DJs who accept bookings from the agency because they do not have the established reputation to draw regular bookings on their own. They ride the coattails of the reputation the owners have built. Go to a DJ agency website and look at the DJ profiles and you'll see standard DJ photos (headshot, wearing a tuxedo, holding a microphone poised like they have something important to say). Now Google some of the DJ's names. You'll find that many of them are associated with more than one agency and many have their own companies. These DJs will accept work through the agency for dates that the most requested DJs have already booked or the price you are willing to pay is deemed too low for the top DJs to commit to that date. If the top talent is unavailable, the agency will book your wedding, subcontract it out to a less experienced DJ, pay them a few hundred dollars and the agency pockets the rest. The subcontracted DJ makes a day's pay with no risk, the agency makes a nice chunk of change accepting liability and brokering the deal and there's a good chance you will get a DJ who cannot deliver the quality service you're paying for.
So who's getting the deal here? Not you. It's win-win for the agency. While this sales tactic is somewhat shady, it's perfectly legal. The agency's loophole is, you signed a contract with the agency, not the DJ. Believe it or not, it can get worse. Some agencies overbook the availability of their "own" DJs and have to outsource bookings to DJs outside the agency. Do you want to do sign a contract with an agency who cold-calls local DJs hoping they are available to help them out when they're in a pinch? Be careful and don't get lost in the shuffle of "big business."
Market Value vs. Highway Robbery
: If you've been contacting DJs for prices, you've probably received price quotes ranging between $600-$2500. You ask yourself, "Why do some DJs charge so little and others charge so much?". The lowest priced DJs are usually rookies who are building their experience or hacks who hope a very low price is exactly what you're looking for. There are bottom feeders in every line of work. So, now you're wondering, "What does a $2500 DJ do that a $1500 DJ doesn't?" In my opinion, not much. Most brides book their DJ at least a year in advance, some even earlier. It's 2013 and let's say you're interested in a Saturday in October 2014. Saturdays in the fall are the most requested dates for DJs in demand. Since these dates always book, some DJs will quote you an inflated rate in hopes you will book the date now. If you don't book, they still have a whole year to lure in someone else.
You can't teach an old dog new tricks
: Thinking about hiring that DJ everyone raved about at your cousin's wedding 15 years ago? Are you skeptical because he's older now and seems a little out of touch with today's music and wedding trends? You should be.
In the past 20 years, the roles of the wedding DJ and bride and groom have completely changed. The wedding DJ of the late 80's/early 90's used props and played songs of their choice (mainly Motown, Oldies and Classic Rock) and were constantly interacting with guests. The bride and groom pretty much went with the flow of what the DJ wanted to do and had very little say regarding music and wedding reception events. Meeting with a DJ for a personal consultation back then was unheard of. Times have changed. Today's bride and groom are much more involved in the planning process and the "showtime" style of DJ entertainment is considered cheesy in today's standards.
Why did I just quickly recap the history of the wedding DJ? Because some of these DJs are still in business and believe Oldies, interaction and props are what people want and what makes a successful reception. I don't care if a DJ claims to have performed at more than 10,000 functions since 1975, you're only as good as your last wedding. Many DJs hang around the business too long and don't know when to call it quits. They just go through the motions, delivering one lackluster performance after another because they just can't keep up with new music, technology and the constant change in wedding trends.
The Golden Oldies DJ plays the same old mix, week after week, year after year with little to no variety. Why? Either he doesn't care or he doesn't know any better. Let's face it. It doesn't take a musical genius to play the same overplayed wedding songs. These songs may have worked in the past, but what about now? Some guests cringe after hearing the first three seconds of these songs and run off the dance floor. These songs peaked over 30 years ago and people expect a balance of old and new music. Music has evolved since the 1970's. Top 40, 80's, Hip Hop, Alternative, Techno, Disco faded and returned and Country crossed over to Top 40. Granted, some of these genres of music may not reflect your musical tastes, but shouldn't your DJ carry should carry the current Top 40, Modern Rock and Hip Hop hits should your guests want something new, something different? My point is we all know a 50 or 60 year old wedding DJ doesn't listen to Flo Rida or Pitbull in his spare time, but if he's still performing weddings, he better have their hits. The Golden Oldies DJ just opens his CD case and says, "What you see is what you get." This is unacceptable and all too common. Not just in the DJ business, but in any business. If business practices change, you either step up and roll with the changes or become a second rate hack.
Don't believe the hype : The majority of wedding research is done online and message boards are a great resource for brides to network ideas and help each other plan their weddings. I've been told by prospective brides that my name has been mentioned on a few message boards and while I'm very flattered that brides have said some very nice things about me, don't believe everything you read. If a bride raves on a message board about a florist and you buy into it and this florist delivers ugly, half-dead flowers to your church, what's your recourse? Take everything with a grain of salt and remember that everyone's taste is different. While message boards are very helpful, there's also a downside. There are plenty of shady wedding vendors lurking, posing as brides in hopes of luring in unsuspecting brides to use "their" DJ, florist, limo or photographer. It's very important you draw your own conclusions from your research... not because a seemingly nice bride (or vendor) you never met raved on a message board.
While on the subject of deception, you've probably noticed disc jockey companies who proudly boast winning the prestigious, 2012-13 “Best of” online awards and having received hundreds of 5 star reviews from some of the many popular wedding network websites (which will remain nameless). While I applaud these DJs for their so-called accomplishments, but maybe I’m one of the few people that doesn’t believe everything on the Internet is true. These meaningless online awards and stellar reviews are usually bogus and nothing more than a means to give you, the prospective client, a false sense of security and book them based on a figment of their vivid imagination and embellished reputation. Honestly, I don’t have time to create phony email addresses and vote for myself in online contests that don’t matter. I have a business to run.
Research your vendors and be patient
: I know the time and effort that goes into planning a wedding. It's no picnic. The research process is time-consuming and can be frustrating. Reviewing websites, sending emails, making initial and follow-up phone calls, scheduling and traveling to meet with vendors for appointments, it's a long process. Most people get to the point of "If I have to meet with another (insert vendor type here), I'll scream!"
. This is when people make careless, brash decisions because they just want it done, one less thing about the wedding to worry about. They roll the dice and hope for the best. Sometimes the gamble pays off, sometimes it doesn't. You cannot gamble on your DJ. Music is too big a risk to take. Take the time to do your research and select your vendors based on their professionalism, style and people skills... not because you're tired of planning and they just happen to have your date available.
Unsure about a vendor? Ask for references. Ask to meet them in person. You can save yourself one or two year's worth of worrying with a 30 minute, informal meeting. Most people can tell in the first few minutes of meeting a vendor whether or not they would seriously consider hiring their services simply by their character. People skills are very important in this industry and this short process could save you from making a huge mistake as vendor websites can be very deceiving and the actual vendors themselves even worse. The vendors you hire are a reflection on you and I've met plenty of vendors who do not dress properly, spend a lot of time outside smoking cigarettes, talking/texting on their cell phones and some are more concerned about when the vendor meals will be served than doing their job. I've worked with some creepy people over the years and your vendors will be with you, your family and friends for several hours on one of the most important days of your life. You should be 100% comfortable and confident the vendors you have chosen will conduct and carry themselves as professionals.
DJ Understanding and Compliance
: You and your DJ should always be on the same page. What you want and what your DJ might do or what music he might play could be quite different. Have you ever been to a wedding and the DJ takes it upon himself to start a "Dollar Dance" and you see the horrified look on the poor bride's face? Have you been to a wedding when the DJ asks a guest from each table to take out a dollar and everyone lets out a collective groan because everyone knows the cheesy "Pass The Dollar" game is about to begin to see who wins the centerpieces? These so-called wedding "traditions" are outdated and it's in your best interests to give your DJ detailed instructions of what music and reception events to showcase and even more important, what music and events to avoid.
You need to ask and consider how often your DJ uses the microphone and what special effects/lighting they intend to use. Some DJs use the microphone to segue into every song like they're a radio DJ and it's very annoying. If you're having a simple, elegant wedding of less than 100 people in an antique/rustic reception venue, do you want to run the risk of booking an obnoxious DJ who won't shut up, playing bad music with blinding, flashing lights running the show? If you don't make yourself perfectly clear, your DJ could negatively impact or ruin your wedding.
Well, that's it. I think I covered everything. If you thoroughly reviewed my website, you should have a very good impression of the type of DJ I am. You've seen my music lists, sound system, video and my wedding page, and if you read my FAQ page, you'll agree that I know this business. Add that with my experience, professional approach and extensive knowledge of music, you will soon realize you made a wise decision choosing me as your DJ for your wedding.
Thank you for considering my disc jockey services.
South Shore DJs