Music is an essential part of a great party and is certainly important when you are celebrating a birthday. If you have the right music in the right venue, you’ll have your guests dancing all night long.
Before you simply choose the first name in the phone book, or hire your nephew’s band, here is what you will want to know about how to hire a DJ or band for a great birthday party:
• Get some names – Ask lots of friends and family who they have liked at recent parties. You can also contact dance clubs and radio stations for recommendations. Check the yellow pages and other local magazines for professional entertainment company listings. After you have done this you should have a list of several options to work from.
• Request interviews with prospective DJs and bands – It is important to check out both DJ’s and bands to determine what you really want at your party. Explain your wants and needs for the party and be specific about the demographics of your guests. This is extremely important since you will want far different music at a sweet sixteen versus a 21st birthday party. You should also ask to see videos of their performances since true professionals will have these available to you. This should be able to get a feel for their personalities. Pay special attention to how a DJ or lead singer interacts with the crowd and his willingness to take requests.
• Understand the scope of the music – Check out all DJ’s record/CD collections and see whether he would be willing to get music specifically for your party. The key to successfully hiring a DJ is to find one with a large selection of music. In addition if you are considering a band ask to see a written play list to determine if this is what you really want at the party. Just as you would with any DJ, ask the band if they would take requests or be willing to get additional music for your party. Of course, be sure to schedule some actual playing time with the band to see if you like what you hear.
• Get references – Ask about the experience and request references. Whether you are hiring a band or DJ you want to know that they have successfully satisfied other clients. You should call other people who have used his services to be sure you are hiring the right entertainer for your party.
• Negotiate fees – You should keep in mind that prices may be higher on the weekends, during heavy party months and for big-name DJs or bands. While DJ’s may be a little cheaper than bands it is important to understand that you will get what you pay for. Often the best choice for entertainment is not the cheapest. Make sure that any costs are spelled up front in the contract. Consider not only fees for performance but if you must reimburse travel expenses, feed the DJ or band or provide time for breaks.
• Clarify any special equipment needs in writing – This can include venue requirements, issues around speaker size and aesthetics and custom-lighting plans. You do not want to have leave your party to go searching for something your entertainer needs at the time of performance. Make sure that you both have a clear understanding of what will be needed.
• Determine exactly what the duties will be – This also includes whether the DJ will be expected to perform emcee duties in addition to spinning tunes or whether the band will play “Happy Birthday” when the cake is rolled out. Ironing out every detail beforehand will help determine the ultimate success of your party.
• Get it all in writing – This should include the date, time and location of the party; his name and that of an acceptable substitute, the performance schedule, as well as breaks and what will happen during any breaks, emcee duties, clothing and food, normal rate and overtime fees, equipment responsibilities and cancellation and refund policies.
Use this comprehensive checklist to make sure you ‘cover every base’ when choosing musical entertainment for your next birthday party.