Searching for wedding vendors is hard, and sadly, a lot of DJs aren't making it any easier. Here are the top 5 DJ red flags to look out for -
🚩5. "I do the same thing, but for a lower price."
This “used car salesman” tactic is one of the oldest in the book, and no one should fall for it anymore. This phrase comes in many variations: “It shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg”, “People shouldn’t have to go broke to afford a DJ”, “Why pay more?”
The old adage of, “You get what you pay for.” has never been more true when it comes to choosing certain vendors for your weddings. This is especially true of Caterers, Videographers, Photographers, Decorators, and Entertainment. The other secret that somehow most people miss when doing their wedding planning, and most people don’t realize until after the wedding is over, is that entertainment has more impact on how your day will go than any other vendor you hire.
So why is it offensive for a DJ to say, “I do the same thing, but for a lower price.” The first reason is artistry. DJing is an art form, and no two DJs are alike. Claiming to do the same thing as another DJ would be like Van Gogh claiming to be Picasso. You would never hear Diplo claim to do the same thing as Deadmau5 because they’re not the same despite that they’re both among the most successful DJs in the world. The only DJs that are exactly the same are the ones at the bottom of the barrel who don’t put any artistry into what they do.
The second reason it’s offensive is because it’s dishonest from a business standpoint. Oftentimes when a cheaper DJ claims this it’s because they run their DJ business as a side-hustle/side-hobby rather than a legitimate business. The reason this should matter to someone looking for DJ services is simple: if you’re planning a wedding a year, or more, in advance you want to feel confident that the person you’re hiring will still be in business when your day comes.
Another way to put this is: Good DJs ain’t cheap, and cheap DJs ain’t good.
🚩4. The DJ service that bundles everything at a price that's too good to be true.
I promise, we’re not going to harp on price too much here. The reason why these price issues come up is two-fold though:
1. Couples are often times surprised by the actual costs of services for their wedding. Often times couples experience an adjustment period to come to terms with the realities of what a wedding will actually cost.
2. Some businesses get the idea that they’ll try to sell these couples everything under the sun, for this dream price, but then not deliver in the end – Sometimes to disastrous results.
If you don’t believe it can happen, or think it hasn’t happened in Wisconsin, simply look to the story of Scott Sockett. Click here if you’d like to read the article WTMJ released about him.
It’s understandable that everyone has a budget, and sometimes all someone can afford is an amount that’s below the average customary amount for a particular service. That being said, what is lacking in budget has to be balanced with greater due diligence. You have to research the people you’re considering even harder, and really investigate their background. Even after that, if you go below average, you’re likely still taking a risk – and that’s stressful.
🚩3. The DJ service that buys fancy equipment to look better than they really are.
In the video above this DJ has equipment in front of them, but none of it is plugged in or connected to anything. They’re simply standing there miming. Some DJs do plug in their gear, but their ability to use it is about the same as this guy in the video.
This is a tough one to spot, and it’s not the worst offender on this list. However, here’s the catch. If you pay for a DJ service that has a flashy/sleek setup, but doesn’t have the training, talent, or experience to deliver all those tools have to offer, then you’re likely overpaying for that service. In the end, the real value that a DJ brings to your event is the experience – more specifically, the memories they helped you create. We’ve seen DJs say things to the effect of “You’re not hiring us for our experience.” Uhhhhh ok. Are you saying you don’t have experience, or the people you send to my wedding are inexperienced? The moment a DJ tries to diminish the importance of professional experience is the moment a huge red flag is thrown up.
To put it another way, if you hired a carpenter to make you a beautiful piece of heirloom furniture, you would want to make sure the carpenter’s work gave you the best piece of furniture. What you WOULDN’T want is the carpenter that simply showed you all of their shiny, fancy tools, but the furniture they make falls apart and gives you splinters.
That being said, a good carpenter that does amazing work, and gets new tools because their skill has outgrown the previous tools, may have a bunch of shiny new tools, but it’s because they earned the tools through their skills, not by simply purchasing them. The first priority should always be the results.
🚩2. The DJ that says, "I don't have to mix to make a good wedding."
This one goes hand in hand with #3 on our list. DJs who claim they don’t have to mix, or even go so far as saying that mixing is showing off, or the DJ making it more about themselves . . . the only reason they say this is because they can’t do it – or to be more accurate, they haven’t put in the hard word to learn how to mix, and give up when it doesn’t come easily.
Programming music – which is the art/science of knowing what to play at a given time, is the most important skill a DJ learns. If you were a cook this would be like learning the basic ingredients that go into making a cookie. You at least have to get the basic ingredients right. However, when a DJ learns how to mix songs together and do blends or mashups, that’s like a cook learning how to use special ingredients & techniques to bring an incredible flavor out of that cookie. It’s like browning the butter, whipping the eggs a certain way, which sugar do you use, do you chop an ingredient more coarse or more fine… It’s like this video says, “Chocolate Chip Cookies are always good, but a REALLY good one is life changing.” By the way, this video is a really great cookie recipe! A DJ who can create a unique musical experience will be life-changing at your wedding.
THE ONLY WAY TO KNOW IF YOU’RE GETTING A DJ WHO CAN MIX IS TO ASK THEM TO DO A LIVE AUDITION. Seriously, audition them the same way you would a band. Ask them to give you a private performance.
1. DJs that use fake/stolen marketing.
Again, due diligence is so important when it comes to researching your wedding vendors, and this, again, is one of those harder things to spot because it requires you to act like a detective. Sadly, in the end, caveat emptor applies when booking wedding vendors. If you don’t know what that means, bookmark this page just so you remember! Caveat Emptor is Latin for, “Let the buyer beware.” In other words, it’s ultimately up to you to spend your money wisely by making sure the quality & suitability of goods is up to par before a purchase is made.
If a DJ, or any wedding vendor, claims they’ve won an award I encourage you to go to the site that issues that award and look up that service to see if they actually won it. We’ve seen DJ companies put awards on their websites that they haven’t won in an effort to appear as successful as other companies, and sadly, people who don’t do their research fall victim to these nefarious marketing tactics. Sites like Wedding Wire and The Knot will show you who has won their awards and for which years. If a business has less than 5 reviews on their profile in a given year, they are not eligible to win the award that year. We’ve seen DJs who don’t even have 5 reviews total claim to win these awards! Here’s a hint, one of them we’ve seen is based out of Waupun, WI.
Another one we’ve seen is when a DJ steals pictures from another DJ, or uses stock photos excessively. Excessive stock photos/videos is a sure sign that you’re dealing with someone inexperienced who wants their marketing to look better than the events in which they’ve actually participated.
The secret cheat code . . .
We could be self-serving and say, “Just hire us”, and while that would be true when it comes to DJs, we’ll give you an even better suggestion to make sure you get not only a good DJ, but other good vendors as well:
HIRE A REPUTABLE WEDDING PLANNER. They are the secret cheat code to making wedding planning immensely easier.
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