This is Part 3 of an eight-part guide, ‘The complete guide to booking a DJ‘.

Questions, so many questions…

If you’re looking at booking a DJ for your event, you’ll probably already have a list of questions you want to ask them when making initial enquiries. How the DJ responds to those questions will help you make an informed decision as to whether they’ll be suitable for your event. But had you considered that the DJ will have questions for you, too? There are a number of basic questions most DJs will ask you at the enquiry stage of a booking. They’ll ask them to help you and them decide if you can both proceed and confirm a booking. Here’s my guide to what most DJs will ask you about your event.

The first questions a DJ will ask you

A good DJ will ask these questions during your first phone call or email exchanges, as they’re the most important ones prior to confirming a booking.

When is your event?

The first thing every DJ will want to know. If they’re not available to perform, they won’t want to waste their time or yours asking anything else!

Where is your event?

The next most important consideration for a DJ, and one that affects the quote they will give you. If your event is local to them, you might be able to get a discount. If it’s further away, the DJ may have to include travel costs or even the cost of overnight accommodation.

What type of event is it?

While many DJs consider themselves a ‘jack of all trades’, an equal number specialise in certain types of music or event. For example, some DJs prefer not to perform at children’s parties; others specialise in them. They’ll want to know whether they are the right DJ for your event so they can provide you with the best advice – even if that is to enquire with another DJ rather than them!

Does your venue have a speakers or lights for performers?

This might be the first tricky one for you to answer straight away. Ask your venue manager if they have a ‘house pa system’ or ‘disco/dancefloor lighting’ that DJs and other performers can use. In some cases, venues insist on performers using the house system. A few may charge extra for it, in which case you should consider that when budgeting for entertainment. That said, in most cases, venues will either not have a suitable sound/lighting system, or allow DJs to bring their own. Most mobile DJs will prefer to use their own equipment anyway – that way they can ensure it is in perfect working order and sounding great for your event. This leads on to the next question:

What size is the venue in which I will be performing?

This is important for DJs to know when deciding what, and how much, equipment will be required for your event. This may also affect the quote they give you. If your event is very large, some DJs may not be able to provide sufficient equipment. That said, a few DJs (including myself!) are prepared to quote for the additional cost of equipment, vehicles and even rigging crew – all of which they then arrange on your behalf.

Is there a sound limiter at the venue?

A sound limiter is a device designed to limit the volume of music to a level either set by the venue themselves, or by the local council. This is one of the most important questions a DJ will ask you. Why? It may affect not only whether they can even perform at your event, but also whether you want to use that venue for your event at all. Some sound limiters work by cutting the power to sockets in the room which the DJ must plug their equipment into. These can damage or destroy DJ equipment. Depending on the maximum volume level of the volume limiter, some DJs may simply refuse to perform if a sound limiter of this sort is in place. They may consider the risk of damage to their equipment to be too great. Their insurance may not even cover damage in the event of a sound limiter being triggered. Why would a venue’s sound limiter affect your decision to make a booking? For two reasons:
  1. If you are also booking a band, or you want to have music played by your DJ at a volume sufficient to get the dancefloor jumping, a sound limiter affects both of these choices.
  2. Venues are often desperate to get your booking for your event. Some venues actually avoid telling prospective clients about sound limiters or council mandated noise abatement orders in place. It is not uncommon for clients to find, on the day of their event, that their DJ has to play too quietly, or that a band cannot perform at all due to stringent volume countermeasures in place.
If your DJ doesn’t ask you about sound limiters, or your venue hasn’t mentioned it, ask them.

How many guests will be at your event?

Again, this has a bearing on what, and how much, equipment will be required for your event. Human bodies soak up sound vibrations like sponges, so the more guests you have, the more amplification is required to ensure the music on the dancefloor is heard loud and clear!

What is the age range of guests at your event?

If you’re organising a party with guests of a similar age, that gives the DJ a good idea of what they’ll be into. If you’re planning a wedding or work event, it’s much more likely that there’ll be a broader age range, which also affects what a DJ plays, and how/when they play it.

What sort of music do you want to hear?

A discussion about the music you want played at your event is likely to start when enquiring about a booking, and continue right through to the day of your event. A DJ will, initially, want to know roughly what sort of music you want to hear. Do you have no idea at all? Do you want a good mixture of current and classic tracks to entertain a broad range of guests? Do you want music within a specific genre for part or all of the night, e.g. 90s House or Classic Rock? Do you have any ‘must hear’ or ‘do not play’ tracks? It’s important to remember that if you have no idea what you want, or aren’t sure exactly what ‘genre’ of music you want, that is fine. You don’t have to be an expert, but your DJ does! A good DJ will ask questions to get a feel for your tastes, then base their set around what they find out.
Every DJ will have some questions other than these that they may ask you, depending on the nature of your event. That said, this should give you a good idea of what most independent DJs will want to know before they provide you with a quote, and before you confirm booking with them. Read Part 4: How to confirm a DJ booking

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