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Tips On Booking A Professional Mobile Disco And DJ
An article providing tips on booking a mobile disc jockey and discotheque. This article may not cover every aspect of what to look out for in booking a DJ but treat it as a guide, and you will not go far wrong!
It's a wonder there isn't millions of DJs in the UK as opposed to thousands!
Think about it.
The sophistication of modern music and the advance of the internet and data storage is so far advanced technology wise, anyone with a laptop or i-pod these days can literally plug and play for a party!
If we compared service providers in the entertainment and leisure industry, probably the most important aspect of ensuring a function is a memorable success is professional entertainment, not helium balloons, Wedding Cakes or confetti!
Client demand today expects a premium high quality service all-round that's excellent value for money.
However, due to changes in the music industry, statute and regulation (safety) requirements for the public practice of DJ'ing and of course good (legal) business practice, the modern day professional mobile DJ is by no means a cheap and cheerful alternative to the local band or vocalist.
Of course, without bands the mobile DJ entertainer is 'nothing' yet the diversity of the band is nowhere near to that of a DJ who can access thousands of songs in seconds and present a variety of genres for all tastes!
In fact in many cases, the Mobile DJ may have to be licensed to practice the profession, be registered with the Inland Revenue and produce accounts.
It is increasingly likely that regulation is just off the horizon too and consequently, the shortfalls will undoubtedly be picked up by the client!
Although the overheads and running costs are reflected in the fee quoted for a function, premier DJ entertainment is gradually being brought into line with other supply services; the cheap and cheerful approach is about to change.
The shock and awe from clients when they are quoted £80, £90 and £100+ per hour for bespoke quality entertainment is very common, yet hardly an eyebrow is raised when the quotes for a professional Wedding Cake can be £500+ or the services of an MC is quoted from £350+ for a little over two hours work!
If we take a Wedding Reception as a basic example, it is overlooked that the experienced entertainers day does not start with the playing of the first music track on the night!
Whilst DJs may use equipment that looks and sounds out of this world, they don't just beam-in to the function and start performing.
Explaining an example background, once satisfied that all paperwork is in order (licences held, certification, contract, etc) the DJ entertainer has to prepare which equipment will be used for performance and may have had to specifically set aside requested music for client. In many cases, this can be done prior to the actual day of the booked function.
The transport vehicle will need to be in good (clean) working order before safely loading of equipment and journey to venue.
Taking account of the journey times, distance, fuel costs, road charges and parking, additional costs, etc., the entertainer will usually arrive at the venue in good advance of reception guests in order to safely set-up equipment with clear access (usually confirmed and agreed prior with the client).
This is not always straight forward as other services may have exactly the same window of opportunity (time) to supply and set-up their provisions; venue staff may be unavailable to liaise with whilst the overall access areas and times specified can become a physical and mental assault course of negotiating, manoeuvring and problem solving before one item is unloaded from the entertainers vehicle!
Please note, some venues follow a strict RISK assessment procedure which must be adhered to under the guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive.
Once the entertainer has unloaded the gear safely and set-up not only to the satisfaction of the venue management but to health and safety guidelines, the sound-system may be tested before actual function times if permitted by the venue management. Else, the entertainer may only be able to check the whole system just prior to actual commencement (time) of entertainment.
Therefore, the standard and quality of the equipment used needs to be in a well maintained and top quality condition to minimise faults and unreliability. Therefore again, the entertainer is likely to have invested thousands of pounds on proven track-record equipment including flight cases to protect the equipment (some of which can not be hired from the local disco shop!) regularly servicing the equipment, etc, etc.
Satisfied that the equipment for entertainment is set-up ok, the DJ entertainer will need to get ready and present themselves for the booked occasion.
Please note, the difference in time from set-up to actual performance can literally be a number of hours.
Also, it is quite common for DJ entertainers to stay in close proximity / near to the equipment as left unattended may invalidate insurances.
Once the DJ entertainer is ready, they will be expected to perform, calling upon all their experience of reading the crowd and accessing not only their music knowledge but generally ensuring that everything runs smoothly on the night, liaising with venue staff, guests and even photographers, videographer and caterers to name a few!
Another point of note is that DJs can be looked upon as a central figure to co-ordinate a number of tasks and duties on the night because they are well experienced and even calm when everything seems to be at crisis point!
Once everything is done and the function is drawn to a close, the DJ entertainer has to safely pack the equipment away, safely load the vehicle and journey back to home.
In this basic example, the Wedding function was in the evening but the entertainer had to prepare some considerable time before the actual day, start off in the morning in order to set-up in the afternoon.
Given all the above, does it clearly demonstrate that DJ entertainers can be present well-before a function and usually well-afterwards too!?
It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that DJ entertainers can allocate a considerable number of hours on the day for a few hours actual entertainment!
Please note, like everyone else, the entertainer also needs to eat and drink on the day!
Whilst not every entertainer will expect to be included in the guest numbers for allocation of food and drink, clients should not expect hired entertainment to function for long periods of duration without forms of sustenance!
Dehydration and muscle cramp can affect the performance of any entertainer. Likewise, the working conditions (if not already specified in the hire contract) must be duly noted, especially in extremes of temperature and adverse weather conditions.
It has been said that expensive Wedding Cakes do not get people dancing!
Entertainment is by far the biggest contribution to a successful function and will be remembered as the biggest aspect on the day by the attending guests.
Because the time suggested for all the arrangements for a bespoke function can literally be anything from several months to even two years in planning, choosing the right entertainment should equally not be rushed or compromised.
Being honest, booking a professional DJ entertainer service for a Wedding or private function can be just as much a headache as booking the right caterer or right venue.
Word of mouth is a great way to hear about the DJs reputation and how a particular function panned out, but what if the function was totally different to what you require? What if the DJ in question is unavailable or not suitable for your function? Who would you book?
People don't generally book DJs everyday and are not as clued-up on the 'requirements', let alone the specifics that one should be looking for when booking a DJ!
So what are the basic points of note?
We will outline some of the essential pointers to look for in booking DJ entertainment to help your special occasion run as smoothly and as memorable as possible.
Most function hire room venues require an entertainer to hold Public Liability Insurance cover.
This indemnifies the venue in the event of an accident claim on the premises should it involve the disco equipment.
More often, the P.L.I. cover requested for an entertainer to hold can be anything from £1m to £5m+.
Please note, the Musicians Union offer £10,000,000 Public Liability cover for their members as a benefit.
The venue may ask the entertainer to present a Portable Appliance Test 'certificate' too. The P.A.T. 'certificate' states that the electronic (disco) equipment used by the entertainer is electrically safe and has been passed. In other words, it is a paper trail to refer to in the event of a claim.
So before a DJ ventures on to a premises, it is important that he or she holds these requirements and can present or forward copies of as requested. *Check with the venue what requirements must be in place before commencement of entertainment.
*Please note, the UK Licensing Act was changed in 2003.
Although Mobile DJs (whether registered with a DJ Association such as DJ Associates, or not) may carry both P.L.I and P.A.T. cover or are in the process of renewal, please ensure your mobile DJ entertainment is covered for statute / local authority licence requirements to avoid disappointment on the night.
Your entertainer should also provide a written confirmation of the booking, either in letter or client contract (booking form).
Usually, the process of returning a signed document (contract) and a reservation fee to secure a booking is the 'accepted norm', but remember to study the Terms and Conditions of hire for balance of payment.
Apart from the pricing details, it should state the nature (type) of function, the date, the times required and contact details for the client and the venue.
The letter or contract may also include entertainer hire terms. Please read all the terms and conditions of hire before committing to any agreement.
Always confirm your booking within the requested time-frame to guarantee a successful booking. Sometimes, late return of a booking and contract form may not be enough.
Some DJ hire terms may only quote initially for performance time and may not include travel time to/from venue, location of venue, setting-up/de-rigging and vehicle loading times for the full final quote.
Additional fees may be charged to the client for parking, standing time and additional function/hire requirements.
Some DJ hire terms may include specific client obligations so again, always read the terms and conditions of hire before committing to any agreement.
It is worth noting that whatever your mobile DJ quotes for your function, please take into consideration some of the points noted in this guide as well as the reputation and experience of the DJ in question.
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