music by design | Music By Design Professional DJ Service FAQ Page
Why hire DJ Steve? What do you do to prepare for an event? How do you handle song requests at a function? What do you do when no one is dancing? What happens if you (DJ Steve) gets sick or is an accident and can't perform ay my event? What attire do you wear as the DJ? Do you drink alcohol whole performing? Can I bring my own music to an event if you (DJ Steve) don't have it already? What type of format do you use (records, CDs, or MP3's)? How many songs do you bring to an event? How many songs can I request for an event? How much do you charge for an event? Other than AC power near were the DJ sets up, are there any other requirements you need as the DJ? When do I need to return the music requests or bridal announcement lists for my event? Do you have references I may contact about your services? What money/items are required to hire you? Do you require a meal at an event? What kind of advertising signage (if any) do you use at an event? What value does a DJ bring to an affair other than simply playing music? Why hire a professional DJ instead of using an iPod, iPad, or MP3 device? What is the difference between a mobile DJ and a DJ that plays on the radio, in night clubs, or in the studio?
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Faq

Questions Frequently Asked

Why hire DJ Steve?

- experienced in creating wonderful memories at over 975 events

– uses your input, his expertise, and requests from your guests to play the right music at the right time

– personalized service (he does all the events himself)

– ethical

– affordable

What questions should I think through before before talking to a DJ?
  • Is the date and location of the event firmly decided?
  • What budget do I have for music?
  • How many hours will I need the DJ?
  • What activities should the DJ provide (for example, ceremony music, background music, dance music, announcing)?
  • What style(s) of music do I want at my function?
  • What are the general ages of the guests I expect for the event?
  • How much DJ-audience interaction do I want (if any)?
  • Do I need lighting?
  • Do I want the DJ to use props to engage the audience?
  • Will song requests from guests be allowed?
  • Are there certain items I do not want at my event (specific songs, types of activities, announcements, etc.)?
How can I obtain the best experience when using a DJ?
  • If you expect dancing at your function, have a designated dancing area that has a hard, non-carpeted surface. The ideal dance floor is wood or tile. Cement is an alternative if there are no other options available.
  • Locate the DJ as near to the dance floor as possible. This provides better DJ/audience interaction and a greater control of the music volume.
  • Room acoustics can greatly affect sound distribution. The lower the ceiling and the denser the carpeting/draperies, the better the sound quality. Halls and spaces with very high ceilings and bare walls or floors tend to reverberate sounds and can make the music sound louder and “muddier” than what it actually is.
  • If possible, assign the younger guests to seating near the DJ’s setup. Your older guests will appreciate this accommodation.
  • Keep small children away from the DJ table and equipment.
  • Inform the DJ in advance of any activities that must start at an exact time.
Other than AC power near where the DJ sets up, are there any other requirements you need as the DJ?

Table and a Place to Set Up

If the facility can supply a 6-foot or longer table for us to setup our equipment, that would be helpful (we can bring our own foldup table, though, if needed). For space, we need a 10-foot by 5-foot area for the table, equipment, and speakers. Most facilities already have a suitable space for the DJ mapped out.

 

Proper Covering for Outdoor Events

For outdoor events, we require proper covering in case of rain for the DJ and the equipment. AC power must be accessible within 150 feet of the DJ (an outdoor generator is fine but must be supplied).

 

“Clean” Power in Unusual Locations

For outdoor or unusual areas like patios, decks, garages, basements, building lobbies, museums, etc., please make sure no other high-current appliances such as toasters, coffee machines, microwaves, refrigerators/freezers, air conditioners, air compressors, pool filters, well pumps, etc. are connected to the same AC circuit that the DJ uses. This will avoid loss of power to the DJ that results from power surges caused by these high-current appliances.

What do you do to prepare for an event?

Before an Event

  • We meet or discuss the general atmosphere you want , such as elegant and sophisticated, high energy, laid back, etc. We also find out what line dances you want the DJ to play (if any), and how much DJ-audience interaction/talking you prefer.
  • We go over the itinerary and logistics of the event. This may include what entrance the DJ uses to load his equipment, what room is booked, the location of the dance floor, is there going to be a cocktail hour, will the DJ need to play music in two different rooms, when and who does the DJ introduce for the bridal party, is there a cake cutting ceremony, are songs required for special dances, etc.
  • We find out musical styles, artists, and specific songs you would like and offer suggestions that may enhance or compliment the mood you want to create. We provide you with a song list that is categorized by era and style, such as Top 40, R&B, Country, Big Band, etc. to make it easier for you to pick out songs appropriate for your function.
  • We go over all announcements for proper pronunciation of names and to avoid embarrassing introductions. For example, the brides mom is not “Mrs. John Smith” but really “Ms. Jane Doe” because the parents are divorced.
  • For formal events, we may meet with you several times to make sure everything is in order.

 

At the Event

  • We do a sound check before the guests arrive to check out all of our components for proper operation. We also monitor the music periodically throughout the event by walking around the room and talking to guests to make sure the level and types of music are appropriate and are evenly distributed.
  • We try to be accommodating as possible with those whom we are working. At receptions, we do our best to help in the coordination of the wedding events with the banquet manager, photographers, and wait staff so you may enjoy your celebration to the fullest.
  • We setup our music list on the DJ table for the guests to browse through and make requests from. Moreover, we make it a point to actually play these requests, unless it conflicts with your wishes or it is inappropriate (see FAQ on playing song requests).
  • We watch how the audience is reacting to the music and make appropriate changes to styles, tempo, and genre when needed. Our job is to make sure you and your guests are enjoying the music and dancing if they are so inspired.
How do you handle song requests at a function?

First, this issue, like many others, depends on the wishes of our clients and how much control they want to exercise over the music. Some clients allow us to play virtually any requests their guests make. Other clients allow us to play requests as long as it is not on their “Do Not Play” list they have given us ahead of time. Some clients prohibit us from playing any requests from their guests. We have even encountered situations where we were told not to take requests from certain guests. The real point here is to communicate to us what is acceptable and what is not for your event.

 

Second, when we are at a function and are able to take requests, we try to be as honest as possible to the person making a request. Consequently, we strive to do the following when requested to play a song/artist:

a) We will let the person know if we have the song/artist with us.

b) We will let the person know if we can play the song/artist, based on your (the client’s) wishes.

c) We will try to indicate when we can play the song/artist, if the song/artist is not appropriate at the time of the request. As an example, during a meal or cocktail hour, we may receive requests to play upbeat dance music. In this situation, we would tell the requestor that song/artist would be more suitable when the dancing segment starts (say, after dinner).

d) If a guest is adamant that a particular song be played (or be played immediately), and it goes against the wishes of you or against “common sense” (as in the example in “C” above), we will try to contact you at the function to explain the matter, or send the requestor themselves to get “clearance”. This way, you (the host) can make an informed and final decision in the matter, as you are the one paying for our services.

What do you do when no one is dancing?

During Cocktails or Dinner

We won’t be very concerned – most people are more interested in socializing than dancing at that point in an affair.

 

After Dinner or During the Dancing Segment of an Event

We scope out the issue quickly and make the necessary corrections:

  • We change the musical pace, genre, and style using our experience as a DJ. For example, we might switch to playing older music if we were playing new music or switch to slower dancing if we were playing fast music (or vice versa). We review the requests from guests, you (the host), and the overall guidance we were given from you ahead of time to see what helps.
  • If we can play line dances, we might teach and play one or two and try to engage the audience.
  • We might play an upbeat ethnic dance song such as a tarantella, polka, hora, merengue, etc.
  • We might approach you (the host or bride/groom) and ask you to join in on the dance floor to one of your favorite songs.
  • At a casual party, we might start the limbo or do hula hoop contests if this been planned for your function.
  • If cake or dessert is being served, many times guests will sit down and enjoy it immediately (especially if it involves ice cream!). We might play something on the slower slide to entice couples to get up or keep dancing during this time.

 

If All Else Fails

On rare occasions, sometimes nothing we do motivates people to dance. In those cases, we will try reaching you (the host) and have a quick discussion to see what else we can do. We may both come to the same conclusion – this particular audience at this particular event does not feel like dancing. That’s OK. We (DJ Steve) might play music trivia or name-that-tune so at least the audience is doing something engaging. This has occurred several times during our career (at an outdoor fund-raising event, a Sunday night anniversary, and a senior citizen celebration). Interestingly, we’ve received some very nice compliments after these types of events because the guests still enjoyed themselves.

What happens if you (DJ Steve) can’t perform at my event?

Our contract states that we will provide a back-up DJ if the need arises, such as a last-minute emergency situation that is beyond our control. We will not leave you “high and dry” for your special event. That is why we are in a network (Connecticut Professional Disc Jockey Association) of like-minded DJs that have similar ethical and professional standards and are willing to help each other out in times of need. For the few times we have needed to rely on this, it has proved very beneficial to all involved.

Do you use "props" to engage the audience at an event?

Explanation

“Props” is a term used in the entertainment industry to describe items brought to an event to engage an audience for games, activities, and special dances. Examples of props can include blow-up musical instruments, dark glasses, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, hula hoops, and a limbo pole. Props maybe be supplied by the DJ, by the client, or a combination of both.

 

Formal Events (Weddings, Anniversaries, etc.)

We normally do not use or bring props at a formal event. If you (the client) wish to use props at a formal event, such as for a special dance at a wedding, you are welcome to bring them – just let us know in advance when they will be used.

 

Informal Events (Birthdays, Backyard Outings, Block Parties, etc,)

We can supply hula hoops and a limbo pole (if requested) at informal events. These are what we consider “universal” props which can be used at any informal function. You are welcome to augment these universal props by bringing your own “specialized” props such as blow-up musical instruments, dark glasses, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, etc. This way, you can decide how much you want to spend on the “extras” (and we can keep our prices reasonable).

What attire do you wear as the DJ?

For formal events such as weddings, we normally wear a traditional black tuxedo with black tie and cummerbund. However, we will always verify this with you. Sometimes, our clients just wants us to wear a suit, especially if no one in the bridal party is wearing a tuxedo. For less formal events, we find out the level of dress you would like, such as a suit, business casual, or beach party.

Do you drink alcohol while performing?

Absolutely not. A DJ needs to be in “top shape” when performing, and even one drink can impair good judgment. If you do see us with a glass of a clear liquid, however, don’t be alarmed – it’s only water!

Do you provide lighting as an option, and if so, what kind?

We provide lighting as an option (it normally works best at an evening event). The lighting consists of a spot light shining against a rotating mirror ball (aka as a “disco ball”), a strobe light, and several devices that create multi-color light patterns around a room in time to the music.  Of course, not all lighting devices will be in running at one time, but each will be used appropriately to enhance the mood of your affair.

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY CONCERN: We do not use laser lighting at our events. According to the FDA, you need to project the laser light on a surface/wall at least 9.8 feet (3 meters) above where people will be standing, sitting, or dancing to use lasers safely and properly. At most mobile DJ events, this is normally not possible due to the ceiling height of the venue. Even if you direct laser lighting down onto the dance floor from a high point or reflect it off a mirrored surface, your guests will be still be exposed to the full intensity of the laser whenever it is in their visual path (for example, if they look up or see a reflected laser light). Repeated exposure to laser lighting is not healthy, and we would rather not jeopardize our guests (and the DJ’s own) safety.

How much do you charge for an event?

We try to be reasonable. Generally, casual parties run in the $350-$650 range, while most wedding receptions run in the $1000 -$1500 range. Items affecting the price include the number of hours, location, size of playing area/number of guests, lighting (if any), and if music is needed in more than one room or area.

 

Please contact us and we’d be happy to provide a quote for your occasion.

When and how can I meet with you (DJ Steve)?

The best way is to set up an appointment. We try to be flexible in accommodating your schedule (we can meet in the evenings and on weekends if needed). The normal place for meetings is at our office in Oxford, CT. However, if this presents an issue, we can meet halfway at a mutually agreeable public location, such as a Starbucks, a restaurant, or a library. Sometimes, we wind up meeting at the actual venue, especially if there are questions/concerns about the logistics and setup of the DJ. If you are out-of-state and planning an event in Connecticut, we can talk on the phone or use Skype until we can meet in-person.

Can I bring my own music to an event if you (DJ Steve) don’t have it already?

Of course. All we ask is that the music be on a CD, MP3, or iPod and that we (DJ Steve) can listen to the music beforehand so we can decide how best to fit it in at your event.

What type of format do you use (records, CDs, MP3's)?

We started off with records and have been migrating our musical library ever since (through tapes, CD’s, and now MP3’s). The important thing to realize is that as long as the DJ brings and plays the right music for your event, the format should not matter.

How many songs do you bring to an event?

We currently bring over 45,000 songs (and growing) in mp3 format on our computerized system. Our music library is diverse, comprehensive, and completely tagged so we can find anything we need extremely quickly. This allows us to play last-minute requests and/or to change the musical style in a moment’s notice to reflect an audience mood swing or to accommodate your (the host’s) wishes.

How many songs can I request for an event?

We leave that up to you. Our printed request list has room for 25 selections. Some clients may only list a few songs/artists; others may provide us with a list of 75 or 100 songs. Just keep in mind that you can generally play 15-20 songs per hour, and for a four-hour party, that means between 60 – 80 songs. Also, if we receive a list that is over 25 songs long, we need you to mark the songs that are “must play”, so we can make sure we play those and they don’t get overlook among all of the other choices.

How do you deal with songs with explicit or highly-suggestive lyrics?

First, we (DJ Steve) never (knowingly) play songs with explicit lyrics. We obtain and use the “clean” versions of songs (that is, the same versions played on the radio). If we are asked to play a track that we are not familiar with (especially one from a recently released album), we would like to listen to it ahead of time to ensure it is not offensive.

 

Second, we try to limit highly-suggestive songs to events with adults only. However, with today’s music, it is increasingly more difficult for DJ’s to play Top 40 songs at teen parties that are not highly suggestive. A good discussion with the us (the DJ) and with your teen on this topic is strongly encouraged so we can come to some consensus when planning music for your teen party.

How do you respond to inquiries for DJing at fund-raising and charitable events?

Giving back to the community is very rewarding to us. We try to allocate 10% of the events we do in a given year to charitable organizations. Please contact us so we can discuss your event, organization, and our availability. We will try to set up something affordable if possible.

When do I need to return the music requests and/or bridal announcement lists for my event?
We like to receive them no later than two weeks before your event so we can have time to go over them and prepare for your affair. You can always contact us with questions if you need help.

Do you provide references?

We can provide a list upon request.

What is reqired to hire you?

We require 1/3 deposit and a completed and signed contract by the responsible person(s) “booking” us for the event. The balance is due by end of the event, including money for any additional hours performed. Check or cash is fine (we will provide a receipt if necessary).

Do you require a meal at an event?

We don’t specifically require one in our contract. There is an old saying, though, that says “A well-fed DJ makes for a happy event”.

What kind of advertising signage (if any) do you use at an event?

We bring a 24” by 18” black felt placard with removable 2″ white letters that we use to put the name of the bride/groom or the event (with our business name in small letters at the bottom). It looks like a classy greeting sign used in restaurants, hotels, and corporations. We place this on our DJ table and call it our “event sign” because it is usually the first thing people see when coming into the reception room or dance area. Because the name of the event is in large letters, it helps your guests confirm they are in the right room for your event. We also place our business cards out on the DJ table.

What value does a professional DJ bring to an affair other than simply playing music?

The DJ sets the mood and atmosphere of the occasion

By carefully mixing the right type of music to what is going on during the event, the DJ can enhance the mood. For example, by playing the appropriate music at the right volume for cocktails/dinner, guests can enjoy their eating and socializing as if they were dining in a fine restaurant. After dinner, appropriate music for dancing (both slow and fast) can be initiated to entice your guests to move to the dance floor, as if they were in an upscale night club or ballroom.

 

The DJ knows when to change the tempo and style of the music

By carefully watching and analyzing the guests reactions to the music, a good DJ can make the appropriate changes to suit the mood of the audience to keep them dancing and/or entertained. The DJ can also take requests and play them at the proper time, which further enhances the audience/DJ experience.

 

The DJ acts as a focal point to get things done in an orderly fashion

A DJ can help you, the caterers, photographers, wait staff, and guests make things run smoothly at an event. Whenever something needs to be announced to your audience, the DJ can do the chore. This can include items such as asking people to take their places at their seats, starting the buffet line, the introduction of the bridal party, the announcement of the bride and groom’s first dance, leading the parent’s dances, doing raffle drawings, etc.

 

The DJ has the professional equipment needed for your affair

The DJ has the right type of audio equipment to play music in a way that will encourage your guests to get up and dance (or allow them to enjoy conversations with other guests). Most importantly, a professional DJ will have backup equipment if anything should fail so your party will keep going and you won’t need to worry.

Why hire a professional DJ instead of using an iPod, iPad, or MP3 device?

Rationale

There’s nothing wrong in trying to save money when possible. The more formal the event, however, the more effort and planning you are likely to be putting forth to make the event turn out well. It really comes down to this: What kind of impression do you want your guests to leave with after attending your event, especially if you are inviting relatives and friends that you have not seen in years, and/or they are traveling from out-of-state (or out-of-country)?

 

Reality

In a survey* of brides taken after their reception:

  • 72% said that they would have spent more time choosing their reception entertainment.
  • Almost 100% said they would have spent more of their budget on the entertainment.
  • During wedding planning, brides said their highest priority was their attire, followed by their reception site and caterer. Entertainment was among the least of the priorities. However, when surveyed one week after their reception, 78% of brides would have made their entertainment their highest.
  • When asked, 81% of reception guests say the thing they remembered most about a wedding was the entertainment.
  • 65% of all couples that chose a band for their wedding, said, if they had to do it again, they would have chosen a DJ.

 

Based on these statistics, entertainment seems to be very important for the success of a formal event such as a wedding. What’s interesting is that hiring a professional DJ only adds about 10% to the total cost of most receptions.

 

Do-It-Yourself?

If you are leaning towards doing the entertainment yourself, keep in mind the time, effort, and cost you’ll need to do the following properly:

  • locate the correct songs in the right and/or clean versions
  • rent or borrow the right type of sound equipment
  • plan the order or agenda of the songs
  • have someone watch over the equipment so your music or volume doesn’t change “by accident”
  • respond to requests
  • have someone do announcements
  • handle emergencies that may crop up such as equipment failure, people not showing up, things not ready when they were promised, etc.

 

Finally, at the end of the event, will your guests leave satisfied and be raving about what a good time they had? Most importantly, will you have had the opportunity to relax and enjoy the event yourself? Please think about these issues carefully when considering entertainment for your next function.

 

*These statistics were published in St. Louis Bride & Groom Magazine in 2003. Sources include: Simmons, 2001; USA Today, 2002; National Bridal Service, 2001; The Knot, 2002; Brides Magazine, 2001.

What is the difference between a mobile DJ and a DJ that plays on the radio, in night clubs, or in the studio?

A mobile DJ is a DJ who is “on the move”, performing at events in different locations and for different occasions. The mobile DJ brings his/her own equipment and music to an event. These events are typically social occasions such as weddings, parties, anniversaries, and reunions. A mobile DJ usually plays a wide variety of music (Top 40, Hip-Hop, R&B, Rock, Country, Latin, Swing, etc.), and may be asked to do some announcing.

 

A radio DJ performs at one location (the radio station), does not need to bring his/her own equipment, is usually limited to the type of music that he/she can play (it must fit the “format” of the radio station), and makes many announcements during his/her shift. Commercial radio stations may or may not allow the DJ to choose the songs to play from the station’s own format. DJs at college and public radio stations are allowed more freedom to choose their own music.

 

A club DJ performs at one or more night clubs, and like the radio DJ, does not need to bring his/her own equipment (he/she may bring their own music, however). Also like the radio DJ, the club DJ is limited to the type of music that he/she can play (it must fit the “format” of the club). The songs played are usually “remixed” versions of current hits as well as dance songs not normally heard on Top 40 radio. The club DJ makes very limited announcements during his/her shift, as the emphasis is to keep the music flowing.

 

A remix DJ create his/her own mixes of songs by manipulating sound files, sampling others’ songs, editing, and adding instrumentation (usually electronic). He/she may even be a producer or performer of these songs, depending on how popular he/she becomes. Many remix DJs perform at large, special public dances known as raves. Like the club DJ, the emphasis is to keep the music flowing.

 

Someone can be a mobile DJ (only), a mobile DJ and radio DJ, or any combination of the above. When you are considering any DJ, the basic question you must ask yourself is: Does this person have the necessary “DJing” experience for my event?