What questions should you be asking a prospective DJ for your event?

I thought I would take a moment and try to highlight some questions prospective clients should be asking the DJs they are interviewing. What follows is a "Top 10 List" of questions and thoughts any shopping customer should be thinking and asking themselves as they speak with DJs. I also want to point out what you should be looking for and some red flags.

1. Will you be the actual DJ for my event?
  • Be sure to clarify who will be the DJ and or MC for your specific event. Will you be dealing with the person you are speaking with on the phone? Will it be the owner, an employee, some guy they know, or a sub-contractor? Do not get stuck with a bait and switch.
2. Do you own the equipment?
  • What is the nature of the equipment ownership and condition? Do they have all the equipment currently in great working condition? Are they borrowing or renting additional equipment? Will this cost you more? Do they know how to properly set this equipmnet up and use it correctly?
3. Are you insured?
  • Do they have just equipment coverage for themselves or do they also carry a policy with additional coverage for unfortunate events that may happen to you or your guests at the venue? Most larger venues will carry their own insurances, but they may not cover your guests if the DJ is at fault either personally or through catastrophic equipment failure. Do YOU want to be liable for this? I do not think so.
4. Will they committ to an events contract?
  • A contract protects both parties. It does not need to be complicated or long. It does need to layout basic items, like payment dates and cancellation policies and credits, venue location, event times, and total costs. If your DJ wants an oral contract, beware. What happens if they simply do not show up? Do you really want to deal with that at all? 
5. Can you see them perform prior to hiring them?
  • This topic may be a bit more complicated as you do not want to be wedding or events crashers. However, many DJs such as myself, maintain residency at a local bar or nightclub. This is a great way to see them in action. Be aware though that these venues are drastically different than any contracted event.
6. Are there reviews from previous clients that can be accessed?
  • What do former clients have to say about their experience with this DJ? Are there Google Plus reviews or is there a website they maintain with client written responses?
7. What kind of personality does this DJ/MC have?
  • You are hiring more than a button pusher. If your DJ starts the conversation talking about technical aspects like "I have this top of the line speaker, and this super cool light," you better watch out. Every DJ should have top of the line equipment. This is a basic prerequisite to being a great DJ. Your DJ should have an outgoing, fun, and pleasant personality. Do they find ways to say "Yes", or do they go straight to "No?" This person will be interacting with your family, friends, and guests. Do they represent you and your interests, or are they in it for themselves? You do not need to be best buddies with this person, but you should be able to see becoming friends with this person.
8. Where is this company/person based out of and how do they handle the business side of being a DJ?
  • Is this a local company? How long have they been in business? Is this DJ familiar with your city and have a stake in the community? How often can they meet with you? Do they have a website that lists their packages and prices for everyone to see, or do they charge their clients based on where the venue is and how much money they think you have? Do they have preferred vendors in their industry they are proud to introduce you to for additional services you may not have even thought of? How long does a return phone call or email take? Ask yourself if this company/person is going to go the extra mile for you based on your first meeting and trust your instincts. Is this company/person just trying to make a buck or are they truly going to do everything they can to create a great party for you?
9. Ask about their competitors or similar vendors.
  • Do they get defensive? Do they bad mouth their competetion, or worse, previous clients? This could be you being spoken of badly to their next prospective customers. Do they encourage you to shop around and ask as many questions as you need to be comfortable with making this decision? Do they offer to educate you about the industry and answer questions about DJing that you may have? How forthcoming are they about their company? What is their mission? Why are they in business?
10. What kind of person are they?
  • This last point is fairly simple. How do you FEEL about this person you just spoke/met with? Did they speak to you with proper eye contact? Did they smile? Did they speak to you in a manner that was business appropriate, without swearing and the use of slang? Is this the kind of person you would want your grandparents sitting next to on a bus? What kind of body language did they have? Did they use technical jargon or explain concepts in a manner that you were comfortable with? Did they try to "close" you at the soonest possible moment or were they comfortable with themselves and their presentation to let you go explore other companies? Simply put, did I just meet a trustworthy decent person, or somebody that just sees dollar signs above my head? More often than not, people's instincts are correct. Go with that.

I am sure there are many more areas we could be going in to, but these 10 questions should give you a great starting point in your search for a truly great events experience.