Questions & answers to ask a Band, Musician, DJ or entertainer. With the right answers.
Please take the time to read all the questions and answers to help you make the wright questions & answers in hiring a DJ, musician or band for your special event.
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1. Do you offer a written contract?
All of the wedding djs, bands, musicians, you interview may not have the same standards of professionalism. A written, legal contract is one of the first indicators of whether there professional and reliable. Furthermore, a contract establishes the entertainers obligation to the client and outlines what is required for the event success, by outlining the requirements and other factors related to his performance. For this reason, a written contract is absolutely essential and any entertainer not using a written contract should not, in my opinion, be considered for a wedding reception.
2. May we meet with you in person before we sign a contract?
Many wedding entertainers attempt to conduct their interviews over the telephone and through email instead of meeting face-to-face with prospective clients. In my experience, there are two reasons a entertainer would do this – either they don’t feel you are worth their time, or they have something to hide. Some entertainers are very different in person than on the telephone and what is presented on their website, and you should insist on meeting in face-to-face so you can judge for yourself whether they are a good match for you and your wedding.
3. How long have you been a entertainer and how many weddings have you done?
A wedding is such an important occasion, and you should only trust an experienced entertainer to provide entertainment at a wedding. The number of years someone has been a pro will give you some indication of their experience level, but some entertainers only perform for a few events each year. An entertainer with half as many years in the industry may have many times as many weddings under his belt, so you should ask how many weddings the entertainer has done.
4. How many weddings do you do each year?
Just like any other profession, performing for weddings requires one’s skills to be in top form. If a entertainer performs for only a few weddings per year, they may not be “at the top of their game” by the time your wedding comes. Asking how many weddings they do per year will give you an indication of their level of commitment to your type of event.
5. How many other types of events do you do per year?
Different entertainers focus on different types of events – some consider themselves a “jack of all trades” and claim expertise in all types of events, and others are specialists. The ratio between the number of weddings a DJ performs for and the amount of other, non-wedding events they do will tell you where their focus lies.
6. Do you perform for more than one event in a day?
Some bands and djs will do as many events as they possibly can, and often try to pack their weekends with all types of entertainment work. If a entertainer has already done an event in the afternoon before your wedding, they may be physically exhausted by the latter half of your wedding, which is when they need to be the most alert and active. This is most common at agencies, where “weekend warriors” may perform at four to six events over a three-day period. I find it hard to believe that any entertainer could give that many couples an adequate amount of attention leading up to, and on, their wedding day.
7. What makes you different from your competitors?
Any professional wedding entertainer will take pride in their work, and be able to answer this question honestly and communicate the things that make their services unique. Some entertainers, however, will take this opportunity to “bash” their competition and say negative things about specific entertainer or agencies. I consider this type of behavior unprofessional , and is a poor reflection on them. In fact, you may want to consider making it a point to meet any entertainer that they say something bad about – entertainers that engage in this type of thing will often target the band, dj ete. they know you’ll book instead of them, and they’re probably right!
8. Have you played at our reception site before?
Wedding experience is important, and so is familiarity with your reception site. Every site poses different challenges – different load-in and security procedures, different room sizes and configurations, even antiquated electrical outlets that need to be grounded manually. Hiring a entertainer that is familiar with your site will give you peace of mind that you won’t have any surprises on your wedding day. Obviously, even the best entertainers can’t have performed at every site in the area (since there are hundreds available), but if he hasn’t been to yours, he should be more than willing to adequately prepare himself prior to your event by visiting the venue and/or speaking with the site contact and studying a floor plan.
9. Do you act as the “emcee” and make all of the announcements?
Any wedding entertainer should be comfortable with making announcements and serving as the emcee for the wedding. Some band, djs, however, are not comfortable with this and prefer to pass these duties on to someone else, such as a site manager, who may not have a professional voice or experience speaking on a microphone.
10. What do you do to motivate the crowd if nobody is dancing?
Different wedding bands and djs handle this situation in very different ways – some opt to use the microphone to try to “energize” your guests and motivate them to dance. Others would never do something like this and prefer to use careful song selection to ensure dance floor success. You need to know what the band orDJ would do in this situation, and determine if that is the way you would like the situation handled.
11. What if something happens to you and you can’t make it to the wedding?
Despite meticulous planning and preparation, accidents do happen. If the band or DJ is injured or otherwise unable to perform on your wedding day, what is the backup plan? Most responsible professionals have a carefully planned backup strategy should this situation ever arise, but others do not. Often, pro’s will network with other pro’s who would be able to provide backup services for them in the event of an emergency. You need to feel comfortable that you will still have a DJ or band on your wedding day, regardless of the circumstances.
12. Will we meet again before the wedding?
Just as some musicians and djs will prefer not to meet you when you book them, others will prefer to conduct a “final meeting” in the weeks before your wedding over the telephone instead of in person. While having a face-to-face meeting for the final meeting is arguably less important than meeting personally for an initial interview, the band or dj should still offer to meet you in person for a second time, if you want to.
13. Can we visit you at a performance?
Hopefully the answer to this question is “no.” I’m sure that you wouldn’t appreciate the entertainers inviting prospective clients to your wedding to see him in action. A professional should be willing to take a stand for his clients’ privacy and not offer this as a possibility.
14. How involved can we be in selecting music for our event?
This is an important question to ask, because some pro’s prefer to control the majority of the playlist and supplement their choices with a handful of your specific requests. Other entertainers prefer to let the client choose the majority of the music, and then use their expertise to make it all work. The band or dj should be accommodating of your music tastes, and you should feel comfortable with the there approach and the amount of involvement you’ll be able to have in choosing the music.
15. When do we need to submit our music requests and event details?
Most professional’s will give you a printed song list and planning worksheet with which to communicate the details of your event; others will give you access to an online planning system that will guide you throughout the entire process. You should be given ample time to make decisions regarding your music choices and event timeline, but the band or dj should also require this information far enough in advance so that he can adequately prepare for your event. A pro who doesn’t ask for your requests at least a couple of weeks before your wedding may not be able to fulfill them. In addition, the entertainer should be willing to accommodate any later changes or additions whenever possible, rather than locking you into a first dance song that you later regret or refusing to alter the order of your toasts.
16. Do you take requests from our guests?
Most entertainers are happy to do so, but you should also feel reasonably assured that any request they chose to play would not be something you didn’t like.
17. Can we submit a “Do Not Play” list?
Any professional band or dj should be willing to honor your requests, including your request for certain songs and genres to not be used. Submitting a “Do Not Play” list will giveJ a clear idea of your limits and your expectations for their song selection at your wedding.
18. What will you wear to our wedding?
Most wedding bands, musician and djs own, and are comfortable wearing, a tuxedo when they perform. If the groom will not be wearing a tuxedo, then it is inappropriate for the entertainers (or any of the staff) to wear a tuxedo. You should also ask what type of tuxedo the entertainers wears. Brands are typically unimportant (most tuxes look practically identical), but ask about the style of vest, cummerbund, and neckwear. Some pro’s prefer a classic, understated look and others wear flashy, shimmering or patterned vests and matching bowties. It is important that the entertainers look” meets your expectations.
19. How much of a deposit is required to secure our date?
Almost every band, musician,dj will require some sort of deposit or retainer in order to secure your date. This is for their protection and yours. The industry standard for deposits is 50%. Some require far less, but this is not always a good idea. If the contract language doesn’t stipulate a specific guarantee of services and clearly outline a cancellation policy, the entertainers may only legally be responsible for returning your deposit (sometimes as little as $25) in order to back out of doing your wedding. While it would certainly be considered unprofessional, there certainly isn’t any financial repercussion to the entertainer if he’s only forced to pay $25 for backing out on you.
20. What is included in the cost of my event?
Band, djs use vastly different systems when pricing their services. Most price their services a la carte, charging an hourly rate and adding charges for any additional equipment needed. Others choose to use a flat-rate pricing system and make their packages all-inclusive. You need to be clear about what a entertainer is offering for the price they’ve quoted you, so you can compare their package to those of the other bands, djs you are interviewing.
21. How much would you charge for overtime?
Hopefully your band or DJ will do such a wonderful job at your wedding that you’d like to keep dancing! Be sure that the band or DJ’s contract outlines a specific rate for additional time at the end of the night, whether it is a set price or a pro-rated amount based on the original price.
22. What do you require from us?
Every Band, musician, DJ will require a few things that you’ll need to provide them in order to be successful. The most common are adequate shelter, electricity, and a table for their equipment. Make sure that you understand exactly what the entertainers need from you so you can communicate those needs to your reception site and caterer.
23. Are you insured?
It is absolutely essential that any Band, muician, DJ you consider carries a full liability insurance policy. They are fairly inexpensive, so being uninsured is inexcusable. Some reception sites have even taken the step of requiring all vendors working at their facility to provide proof of insurance before the wedding. Liability insurance protects you and the reception site in the unlikely event that your Band, musicians, DJ injures one of your guests or burns your reception site to the ground.
24. What is your policy on alcohol or smoking during the wedding?
A professional Band, DJ will never consume alcohol or take cigarette breaks during your wedding. If you interview a Band, DJ and he tells you he needs a few drinks to “loosen up” while working, you should probably look for a entertainer with higher standards of professionalism.
25. What kind of equipment do you use?
Any pro you consider should be proud of his sound system, and should be using professional-grade equipment. Ask the entertainer to describe his sound system to you. You should not hear very many “home audio” brands in what he describes – the top brands for Pro sound equipment are Yahama, Peavy, QSC, EV, Numark, JBL, Mackie, AKG and Shure.
26. Do you bring backup equipment with you to the wedding?
Even the very best and most well-maintained equipment will malfunction at some point. Your Band, musician, DJ needs to be prepared in case this happens at your wedding. The only way you will not suffer a setback on your special day is if the entertainer brings a full second sound system with them to each and every wedding. Having backup equipment in a warehouse 50 miles from your reception site won’t do much good if there is no music at your wedding for an hour.
27. Do you have a “light show”?
Some Bands, DJs also offer “party lights,” either as part of their package or as an additional service they can provide. You should find out whether the Band DJ plans on setting up lights for the dance floor, and whether this matches your preferences. Also, if you do desire a light show, you may want to ask how this will affect the aesthetics of your reception (in other words, how bulky/cumbersome the setup is) and the quality of your photographs or video. In my experience, most weddings do not need (and practically none of my clients even ask for) a light show.
28. Do you set up a sign or banner with your equipment?
Shameless self-promotion sometimes rears its ugly head at wedding receptions in the form of a sign or banner advertising the Bands, DJ’s company name and contact information. These items inevitably find their way into your wedding pictures and video, and ruin what is an otherwise commercial-free event. I personally find this practice repulsive and completely unprofessional, and believe that any Band or DJ that does this should never be hired for a wedding.
29. Do you belong to any professional associations or trade groups?
If a entertainer is serious about his craft and interested in becoming a better performer, they will often join a local pro association or trade group. These are great opportunities for entertainer to interact with one another, share ideas, and network with other bands, musicians, djs who might be able to help them should they ever have an emergency.