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Los Angeles & Orange County Wedding DJ - Bob Ricci
Wedding
Entertainment
Director
&
Master of Ceremonies

 

Centerstage Productions
5829 Primrose Ave.
Temple City, CA 91780
626-287-3775
800-308-3775

 

 

Helpful Hints For Hiring A DJ
 

Most people have never had an opportunity to hire a DJ service before and don't really know what questions to ask, what a fair price is, what services to expect, or what add-ons to consider. We wanted to take a moment to discuss these areas with you. We believe that an informed client is ultimately a happier client.

When selecting a DJ service here are some basic questions to ask:

Will your DJ discuss your musical selections and play advance requests?

A professional DJ knows that they cannot know or own every song. A professional will discuss your selections in advance and be prepared. A professional DJ will always try to play requests appropriate to your event or within the guidelines that you have asked for. Centerstage provides a Morality Policy that prohibits violent, profane, or demeaning music.

Will your DJ provide a written contract and guarantee?

It is extremely important that your event be confirmed in writing specifying the terms and conditions. While the actual performance of a DJ is subjective and cannot be guaranteed, the services provided can be. Insist that your DJ provide a written contract and guarantee.

Does the DJ know the proper format and etiquette for your type of event?

A professional DJ will become involved in the details of your event and will be prepared to handle announcements and other aspects. Insist that your DJ take time to discuss your needs in sufficient detail to satisfy your questions. A professional DJ will not need to be asked - a Centerstage DJ will insist that you take the time!

Is your DJ registered and insured?

A professional DJ has taken the time to obtain a business license and insurance. This is a good indicator that your DJ is a professional, not one that "occasionally" DJ's as a hobby, and is prepared for liability issues. Select only a DJ that has done this.

Does your DJ / Host use professional equipment?

There is a big difference between sound equipment used in your home compared to equipment designed for the rigors of the road. It all comes down to reliability. Select only a DJ that uses professional equipment.

How Much Does A Professional DJ Cost?

This is the question on the top of most people's list. Frankly, most don't know and many factors need to be considered. Let's first talk about your needs.

You are planning a wonderful event. You daydream about your friends laughing and singing, having a fantastic time. You have spent a lot of money on food, decorations, perhaps a hotel or banquet hall. Consider also that an average wedding costs approximately $20,000, then ask yourself why you would consider spending $200 on a DJ. It's really simple: you get what you pay for. You may spend thousands on food alone, but remember that your guests may not remember how good the food was but will always remember how good the DJ was. There are many negative reasons that some DJ's charge significantly less than others -- no scare tactics here, but simple logic: if the average price for a professional DJ in Southern California is $1000 why is DJ So 'N So charging so little? But price is only part of the issue -- what do you get for the price? There are some good DJ's that charge little, but not usually. You should always talk in detail with a prospective DJ first, then talk about price.

The average cost per plate at a wedding is $50.00 Multiply that by, say, 150 guests and it comes to $7500. A Veggie Platter will cost $15.00 per Person. That's another $2250. Now consider once again how important a good DJ is to your event -- they are the entertainment! A professional DJ will play excellent music and motivate your guests to have a great time long after the meal was served. The success of your event does not rely on the food, but the entertainment! Still want the cheapest DJ you can find, or would you rather listen to "Aunt Lily" rave for the next year about what a fantastic time she had? A successful event is entertainment driven. Statistically, 85% of the success of your event is based on the entertainment.

Some areas to consider when looking for a DJ are the services that you will receive. These areas include the number of hours needed, what type of lighting will be provided, number of DJ's, whether you need a separate MC, whether you want Karaoke, party games, give-a-way prizes, etc. This is why most professional DJ's don't have a set price.

Here's what you need to know:

Professional DJ's don't charge by the hour (although they may offer a package with preset hours included as a maximum), but by the event. Although you may be thinking that your DJ will play for 4 or 5 hours, a professional DJ does a great deal before your big day -- meeting with you once or twice, preparing an itinerary, talking with your other vendors, surveying your reception or event location, meeting your banquet manager in person, coordinating with your photographer, etc., so determining an hourly rate is not accurate. In many cases we will spend about 15 hours getting ready for your event. If you really need an hourly rate simply divide the cost by the number of hours. This method, however, tends to overlook what a professional DJ is doing beforehand, as mentioned above. If you use this number as a comparison between DJ's you may actually be getting far less with another DJ. We call it comparing Apples to Apples, not Apples to Oranges. For those on a strict budget there are many fine DJ's that work for less, or by the hour, but they don't offer this level of service. Yep! I said "don't." We've checked.

With many DJ's the minimum quote will be for a 4-hours and will cost between $150-$500 per hour. Prices during the slow season or off day/night may be lower. The cost is not based on the number of people that will attend your event, with the exception that if you have hundreds or thousands of guests a larger sound system is required and will cost more. A professional DJ does not make a huge "profit" on each event. There are many expenses to run the business, maintain equipment, buy new music (monthly!) travel, insurance, telephone and internet service, marketing, etc. Your DJ will have invested a significant amount of time and money into his or her business -- we just hit the bottom line! A Professional! When a DJ does this month after month you can be assured that they are dedicated to success. Your's and their's. Far too many part-time DJ's care only about making a quick buck.

A professional DJ wears many hats: entertainer, music programmer, coordinator. While you are having a great time your DJ should be working with your caterer, banquet hall manager, photographer, event coordinator and anyone else that you have hired. This will help keep things running smoothly and on time. It also makes your day a lot easier.

So here it is: if you want the best that you can afford you will need to be willing to pay for what you want. This is not a set-up to get you to pay more; it is a reality that is part of our lives, whether you are buying a new TV, a VCR, or eating in a nice restaraunt. With a better idea of what a professional DJ does you should be ready to look at features and services now that you have determined what you can afford.

Services & Features

Hiring a DJ for a small to medium size event will cost approximately $600-$700 for 4 hours, and a little bit more for a wedding. Some more experienced entertainers will charge more, but their experience commands a higher price. Set-up and tear-down time should always be included in the price, not extra. If your event is formal a suit or tuxedo should also be included at no extra charge. You should not have to pay extra for travel expenses in most cases. A DJ is not automatically a better choice if they are 1 mile from your event or 20.

Sound System Requirements

An event with less than 300 guests only needs a medium sized sound system with two speakers, or four speakers if you want really awesome sound quality and deep bass (highly recommended.) A wireless microphone should always be available for your use and flexibility. Larger events require larger sound systems and often times two DJ's. Centerstage DJ's use only computerized systems or CD's today, not turntables. No more snap, crackle or pop! Just crisp, clean sound.

The Importance of Lighting Effects

A successful event is both audible and visual. Lighting effects create an inviting, festive, energy building environment and cannot be overlooked in your plans. Even an elegant wedding can benefit from lighting effects. Some professional DJ's will provide both sound and light. Some companies charge extra depending on the type of effects used.

Basic Lighting usually consists of one tripod mounted T-Bar with colored lights that flash to the beat of the music, as well as rotating effects that cast multi-colored beams and patterns on the floor, walls, and ceiling.

Semi-Intelligent lighting is a step above Basic and includes all of the above but usually doubled. The effects are then run through a specialized controller that the DJ operates while also operating the music (can you say "three hands required?")

Intelligent lighting is the absolute best. It is all of the above and more. Intelligent effects are very expensive to purchase and maintain by the DJ but are well worth considering for your event. Intelligent lights are syncronized effects that project awesome effects and patterns around the dance floor. They are often used with Fog or Haze. Neither Fog or Haze is hazardous to your health. Intelligent lighting should always be considered for events with 300 or more guests, or those events where you want the best!

All Centerstage event packages include Basic Lighting at a minimum!

Types of DJ's

Centerstage offers three types of DJ's. Low-Key, Medium Interaction, and Let's Party! It's your choice. A low-key DJ just plays the music. A medium interaction DJ plays the music and motivates your guests to some extent, while a Let's Party DJ is all of the above and more. They go all out to entertain, but never by being rude, insulting, or obnoxious. This involves audience participation dances, perhaps games or skits, or costumes. It really can be a lot of fun while being tasteful. But again, it's your choice.

The most common question not asked is about the DJ style. There are some DJ's that believe in cheese -- they think that cheesy jokes and actions are necessary. They don't work for us! You are spending thousands on an elegant affair, not a circus act! We will make suggestions about what we know from experience works, but as mentioned above, when it comes down to the bottom line it's your event.

Music Programming

This is an area that is often confusing to those looking for a DJ. Many simply don't know exactly what a DJ does as far as playing music. Here's what Music Programming entails:

Your professional DJ will discuss with you in detail what music you would like to hear, what you don't want to hear (equally as important,) and the age range of your guests. A Centerstage DJ will always take requests, but unlike a jukebox that allows you to select each and every song, your DJ will use this information to create powerful "sets" of music. These sets are designed to build energy and to encourage a good time. It is important to remember that a professional DJ knows from experience what will work and will try very hard at building a flow and rhythm. As a suggestion we would encourage you to work with your DJ, give them your thoughts on music, get their input, then let them show you just how much experience they have. A professional DJ is most effective when they are allowed to use their experience and talent, but they will always listen to your input. Your special songs are our pleasure to play!

Add-On Services

Consider adding Karaoke to your event. It works wonderfully at most and can either be incorporated into the main event, or run separately. Karaoke is so popular now that you see it in movies and on TV shows. Plus, there are hundreds of bars and restaurants each week that offer karaoke for their guests.

We also have Video Jockey packages available where we show full-motion Music Videos on a large projection screen. This is always a huge success at teen events, Bar Mitzvah's, Bat Mitzvah's, and other events where the absolute best is desired.

Party supplies, decorations and prizes may be purchased directly from Centerstage for significantly less than if you went out to a store to get them. Visit our on-line party store and buy what you need at wholesale prices. We have supplies for all events.

Wedding Ceremonies

Beach Weddings

Karaoke DJ
     

Party Favors, Decorations, Gifts

 

 
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