How to shop for a DJ
What should I look for?
Hiring the right DJ is an important decision for any event as it can dramatically affect the experience your guests will have. You should be comfortable with your DJ and confident they can meet or exceed your expectations. A DJ should work to understand your needs and be able to deliver your vision. Examining their references, website, viewing their equipment and having a consultation are all important steps in determining if you have found a good DJ service. Professional DJ services always have commercial grade audio visual equipment. Be sure to meet with a DJ face to face if at all possible. This will give you a chance to assess his or her professionalism, knowledge, and people skills.
What sets you apart?
A few things
We like to be on the cutting edge with fresh ideas like text message requesting, live music and mobile internet media libraries. For example massive music collections are an outdated way delivering digital music. Instead we carry a very event focused media library with access to internet mobile music – that enables us to target the music we need. No hard-drive music collection can compete with the access the web provides. We are the only company in Calgary with an in-house DJ and classical guitar offerings and a custom quote generator. We provide a very comprehensive event entertainment service ranging from DJ service, to live music, to event lighting, to rentals.
We believe in exceptional genuine service that often exceeds expectations while remaining affordable. We are always looking for ways to exceed your expectations and be thoughtful. We understand what it takes to provide amazing service. We are honest, reliable and have passion for what we do. We don’t believe in up-upselling, we’d rather fit our clients with the perfect package. We’ve engineered our company so you can request a specific DJ that will be with from planning to the last dance. According to our customer satisfaction survey’s 96.3% of our clients are happy they went with 1st in Entertainment.
We’ve been in the industry since 2002. We know our music genres, how to improvise on the mic, read a room and work with wide age groups and tastes. We know when to mix, scratch and beat match and when to simply present the hits at the perfect time. We know every aspect of our equipment and how to keep it reliable. We can tune a room for the best sound and create the perfect lighting installation.
What should I ask?
A few useful things you could ask your DJ or entertainment company to try and get a sense for them. It’s important to be comfortable with a DJ or entertainment company.
- Is my event date available?
- How long have you been in business? How many events have you completed?
- Do you specialize in certain types of events? For example weddings have quite a few specific elements
- Will you be posting any content to social media related to my event? Your entertainment company should be considerate of your privacy.
- How does your service provide value? Are you getting more for paying more?
- Who will actually be performing at my event?
- What sort of references or reviews can you provide? Do you have a blog? Are they reputable and active in the industry?
- Do you provide other services I might find useful such as lighting design, projector, or live musician? What package do you recommend for me? Are they up-selling or genuinely trying to fit you into the best service.
- I have questions about entertainment event planning, can you help? We’ve worked numerous events since 2002, you might find our knowledge useful.
- How do you maintain your music collection? Is your music targeted? Do you have lots of songs? Can you download music on the spot?
- Do you accept client play-lists and take requests? How do you choose what music gets played and when?
- What’s your booking policy?
- What about logistics and fees? They should be upfront about costs and helpful with logistics. It’s important to consider things like power, playtime, meals, and travel if outside Calgary.
- How is planning handled? Do we meet again?
- What’s your style? How do you go about entertaining? Are you interactive?
Do you take requests?
Absolutely! Taking requests is part of our job. Most guests simply approach the DJ table to make requests however most of our DJs are also able to accept text message requests. Any advance request can be guaranteed and some of our packages include on-site mobile downloads – that makes our selection as vast as the internet! Our hard drive library houses about 15, 000 songs.
Can you perform MC services?
We are able to perform MC services, but generally we are only asked to handle announcements – your own MC is almost always more personal.
How loud do you play the music?
That decision is entirely up to you, our DJ will adjust the volume to your guests’ preference – we start with average levels that work at most events and adjust accordingly.
How do you choose the music?
We have our clients fill out a questionnaire that rates music style preferences along with a ‘must play’ and ‘please do not play’ list. From this we tend to read your crowd and use the strongest dance music in each selected genre. It’s up to you how much control you want; you can select every song or leave most of it to us. We can guarantee any advance request that is available from major music retailers online.
Should we feed the DJ?
You are not required to feed your DJ; however, we certainly appreciate it for events over four hours. It is not always possible for us to bring food to the venue and we can be at an event for up to ten hours including set up and tear down.
What is your policy on alcohol consumption?
As a matter of professionalism we have strict rules for alcohol consumption. In terms of minimal social drinking we allow you to set the policy with a yes or no box on our questionnaire sheet. Many clients will offer our DJs a glass of wine or beverage at the end of the night, but we will only accept these offers with your prior consent. We are there to work for you.
Is a gratuity required for the DJ?
No, our DJs are well paid for their services so a gratuity is not expected and never obligated. However, gratuities are a common way of showing your appreciation for an exceptional job or for services that are above and beyond the job description.
Are your DJs interactive?
We love having a great time with your guests but interactivity depends on what the situation requires. We play to your crowd and not all events are the same. An interactive DJ can be a wonderful thing in the right circumstance, however interactive DJs can also be obnoxious in the wrong setting. This should be discussed during the planning stages of your event. Our DJs can work your crowd and conduct all kinds of fun activities, check out our blog for some current ideas.
Do you carry backup gear?
Yes, we carry backup equipment including a backup music system for our laptops. Backup DJs are usually on standby. We have never had an equipment problem that couldn’t be rapidly fixed in over twelve years of operation.
How will you dress?
Appropriately from casual, to business attire to a suit and tie. You’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaires that tells us what’s right for your event. We might even wear a costume if your doing a Halloween event.
Audio Visual Q&A
Do you supply a laptop with your projectors?
Yes we can supply a PC laptop with PowerPoint and media player, however it often incurs an addition laptop rental fee. To avoid compatibility issues we recommend using the computer that the presentation or slide-show was created on – just ensure that it has a working VGA and headphone output. If you are moving a power-point presentation remember to embed your images and audio.
What is up-lighting?
Coloured lights are placed around the room and shine upwards at strategic architectural features such as walls or pillars.
What is a custom monogram?
A gobo design is custom cut from steel or glass and placed into a special spot-light. The light then projects the image onto your venue (usually on the dance floor or behind the head-table). Steel gobos are less expensive and monochromatic, glass allows for more colours and complex designs. Monograms are usually used to display company logos and wedding initials.
Do we get to keep our gobo?
Yes! Just ask us for it at the end of the evening, alternatively you can have us store it for you for a future event.
What do I need to consider with up-lighting?
Where will the lights be placed in the room? You can mark a floor plan for us or have us decide where they should go. Not all venues are appropriate for up-lighting – you have to consider plugs and windows when designing a lighting layout. The lighting should fit with the wedding colours or event colours already being used. Standard par-can lights are warmer and offer more shades while LED up-lights have specific hues and better energy efficiency. If electrical is an issue battery powered LED lights are an alternative.
Do you supply a microphone?
Our DJs are always equipped with a wired microphone available for use at no charge. We also have high quality wireless microphones available. We recommend only using high end UHF wireless microphones, as mid to low price range microphones tend to suffer from interference issues.
How large is your projector screen?
Our standard tripod screen is 100″ measured diagonally. We also carry a selection of large screens over eight feet for an additional cost.
Can you accommodate dual projections?
Yes we can, it’s accomplished with a long 100 foot video cable taped to the floor. It’s important to consider where the cable run will be located.
Can you service remote events without power?
Yes we can, we offer battery and generator remote power solutions. Our battery power system is essentially silent and best for shorter events such as a wedding ceremony. Our inverter generator isn’t silent but quieter than most and best for longer events with larger power requirements. These options are available as a rental or full service package.
Do you require a deposit?
We require an entertainment contract and a $200 deposit to confirm a booking on any event. Payments to 1st in Entertainment are made by cash, cheque, money order, or paypal. A deposit payment can be made during an in person consultation, with paypal, or by mailing a cheque and signed contract to our address. Once your booking is confirmed, you will receive notification and a receipt. Your deposit is deducted off the total cost of service; it is not an additional fee.
Do you charge for consultations?
Consultations are free with 1st in Entertainment – this will help you decide if we are the right DJ/live music company and plan your event. Consultations can be done in person or over the phone; we leave this choice up to you. Whenever possible we have you meet with your actual DJ during the consultation, this way you can feel comfortable with your entertainer. At minimum, we require your DJ to phone you at least two weeks prior to an event to confirm details
Why sign a contract?
A contract should always be signed before a performance as it guarantees service expectations and costs. It outlines a clear course of action in the event of a cancellation or unforeseen circumstance (by either party). It should reassure you to know that we have never cancelled a performance in over twelve years of operation. Professional entertainment companies always use a contract, as it protects both the client and the entertainer.
Are there any hidden fees?
No. We pride ourselves in being up front and honest in our pricing, so all our quotes will include setup, tear down, sound equipment and lighting.
Is a gratuity required for the DJ?
The deposit is due whenever you would like to confirm a booking; we advise booking sooner rather than later as most of our clients book well in advance. The final payment is due prior to the beginning of your event.