Mobile Music Basics

Over the last 15 years, the mobile music industry has grown by leaps and bounds. Great sound, a wide variety of music and affordability are all reasons for this rising trend. As in any other industry, quality of service and product vary as does the cost. A little bit of homework can help you find the right service for your special event.
Complete the “Mobile Music Basics”.
Determine what you need and what you want
1. If you want dancing to serve as your principal entertainment, you need a DJ who knows how to get your guests up and moving. This can be a formidable task and a DJ’s success at this can make or break your function.
There are two basic categories in which successful disc jockeys fall:
A. “the quiet DJ” – this person should have at least 5 years experience and an aptitude for knowing what music to play to get the crowd going. Their personality tends to be more introverted, preferring to use the microphone sparingly.
B. “the DJ/ Entertainer” – this type of DJ should be charismatic and outgoing with a talent for building rapport with your guests and conducting group activities. When your event requires more than just music, use this type of DJ.
2. Determine your budget – Your reception entertainment is the single most important factor that will determine its success. Budget enough money to hire a person you feel confident will do a good job. Rates vary from $300 to $1,500 for a 4 hour event. A service on the low end could do a great job but you have to factor in more risk.
Use your sources to find a good recommendation
1. The easiest and best way to hire a DJ is to get someone you’ve already seen and liked. Recall an event you attended where you really enjoyed the DJ. If you didn’t get a business card, call the host and ask them who it was they hired. If you’re drawing a blank, pay attention at future functions. Good service providers are always valuable contacts.
2. Friends and family are good resources for DJ recommendations. Pick people whose opinion you trust and if they can’t help you now, have them keep their eyes and ears open. WARNING: amateur “friend of the family” DJs have been the source of frequent disaster stories.
3. References from caterers and consultants may prove valuable (remember some “hand washing” may be going on). There is no substitute for speaking with your DJ individually to make an informed choice.
What to consider in the final selection process 3
1. Hire someone who is experienced. DJing requires an in-depth knowledge of music and the ability to anticipate what people will dance to. An emcee must be at ease in front of a crowd and be able to articulate what s/he wants to say. DJ companies sometimes have several DJs working for them and not all of them are experienced.
2. To find out if a DJ is experienced and knowledgeable – ask:
A. How many years have you been in business?
B. How many DJs do you employ?
C. How much experience does my prospective DJ have?
D. How old is s/he?
E. How many years has s/he worked for you?
F. What does the DJ do in addition to playing the music?
G. Can you describe their strengths? Weaknesses?
H. What kind of training/education have they received?
I. Do you carry liability insurance? With who? (if you sense dishonesty, ask for a copy of liability certificate)
3. If you find someone you like on the phone, ask them to send 5 or 6 references (if you have trouble getting that many – beware). Go ahead and call a few of them. While no DJ would give you a number of someone who didn’t like them, you can get some candid comments from actual clients. Sample questions:
A. Did you feel you received good value for your money?
B. Did the DJ play the music you requested?
C. Did s/he have a good rapport with the guests?
D. What did the DJ do that you liked?
E. Was there anything you didn’t like?
F. Was the DJ flexible and responsive to your input?
4. Book an appointment to meet your prospective DJ face to face. People who give you a sense of honesty, confidence, and friendliness will no doubt do a better job than those who don’t.
5. As one bride put it, “The most important quality a DJ can have is flexibility. A DJ who can roll with the punches is a DJ who is worth his weight in gold.”

The Music
1. While large numbers of songs are impressive only 60 to 70 can be played in 4 hours. It’s more important that the DJ have the right 100 songs. Request a songlist be sent to you and this will give you an idea of the music in their library.
2. Once you have a songlist, look it over and see if it contains music that appeals to you. While most lists contain only the more popular selections, it should contain a wide variety of styles and several songs you like. Additional titles in the style of your choice should be available upon request.
3. Check to see if the service guarantees to have the music you specify. Frequent complaints are that some companies show up without the music the client has requested or, if they have it, fail to play it!
4. In most cases, you will probably want your guests to be able to make requests. If not, make sure to inform the DJ. If there are certain styles of music or specific songs you don’t want played, make it clear which ones they are and decide if that includes requests.
5. When guests’ requests are important to you, ask the company if they can supply a comprehensive songlist at the event. People may not know the song they want but if they can browse through a list they should be able to find something they like.
Sound Equipment
1. It is important that the gear used is professional sound equipment. Pro sound equipment is designed to be transported and to be played at high volumes for long periods. Any company who uses home stereo components runs a higher risk of equipment failure. Ask the company if they use any home stereo equipment. The answer should be a resounding “NO”.
2. If sound quality is a top consideration, here are a few points to remember:
A. Compact discs have the cleanest sound. New compression
technology (MP3) is making it possible to store music on
computer hard drives but the sound quality is not as good as CDs.
B. The power amplifier is the heart of any sound system and a
professional amp should deliver at least 200 watts per channel at
8 ohms (for small rooms 100 watts per channel should be adequate).
C. A bigger bass sound is produced by using an additional speaker
called a sub woofer. This speaker boosts the lower sound frequencies
which may be harder on the ears of the older folks but the younger
people tend to enjoy it. This set-up often requires extra equipment
so an extra charge may be added.
3. Make sure to ask if the company carries back-up equipment.
Mechanical devices do fail so everyone should be prepared. Backup equipment should include CD players, an amplifier, a mixer and a speaker.