10 Tips for Hiring a Corporate DJ – By a Caring Calgary DJ
Suggestions for maximum success with your Corporate Event Calgary DJ
These same tips apply with MCs, bands, musicians and any kind of live entertainment.
I love performing for corporate audiences because there is always a way to justify having a party! In the winter and early spring it’s Staff Retreats and Conference season. In the summer you have Stampede parties. In the fall, more team building events, and come November and December there are lots of holiday and Christmas parties!
I get a kick everytime I speak with a corporate client for the first time. The 2 most common statements made in the phone call are, “we’re looking for something unique and different.” and “how much?” If I earned a nickel for every-time I’ve heard that in the past decade, I’d be a much wealthier man!
Another common statement from clients that hire DJs for annual events, is “The DJ was really dull and boring.” Then I ask them, “What was your budget?”. Answers of $500-700 are quite common.
To the average person, the idea of making $500+ in 5 hours seems astronomical. Especially for “pushing a few buttons”! But consider this. What would your party look like without a quality DJ or other form of entertainment? Take 5 seconds if you need to…
– It would be a really expensive and dull gathering!
Also now consider if we were to break down all responsibilities of a DJ, into 5 different corporate job categories –
Select 120-300 songs out of thousands. Play them each at the the perfect moment.
Connect $10,000+ of audio, computer and lighting gear. If there’s an issue the DJ must be able to quickly fix the problem
The DJ be an ambassador of his/her client. Speak with confidence, direct the audience, and be entertaining
Be professional at all times, including occasional hard-to-please guests
Workplace Health and Safety
Keep audio at safe decibel level, secure lighting from falling on audience, avoid theatrical smoke-induced asthmatic attacks, etc
If the job of being a DJ was a regular corporate job, your HR department would likely hire 5 different people for each! And item #3 alone ranks as being more fear-inducing than death!
Then add in many 16-20 hour workdays (I start at 9am and work until 4am regularly on weekends), and 25-40 hours in the office every week; Being a career DJ requires the stamina of a marathon runner!
If you pay your DJ $500, he/she will hardly cover their own labor costs! Then there is $10,000-50,000+ of equipment they will bring to the event, hundreds to thousands a month of overhead costs.
After being a DJ for 7 years, and earning a full-time income since 2012 from it – I can say with confidence that not everyone is cut out for this career path. Here are 10 tips to help you select a DJ that will ensure a great time for your Corporate Event.
Corporate DJ Hiring Tips
Hire a Professional. Preferably with multiple-talents!
Would you like to see what $300 and a favor buys you? Or an iPod and everyone fighting over the next song? It’s not a pretty sight. And I some very ugly real-life video footage to prove it. Hiring talented staff for your business costs good money. The same goes for a DJ. Skip the $700 ice sculpture, and put that money towards better entertainment that will keep your guests at the party. Don’t let $10,000-25,0000 melt quickly when your staff and clients head home early because of a bad DJ.
Hire based upon personality fit and character.
DJs are not all the same. Hire someone who is passionate about their craft and ideally pays all their bills from being a DJ. DJs like me literally can’t afford a bad review! We are going to work very hard to keep you happy!
And to risk being insensitive, club DJs with their Avicci and Skrillex electronic music are RARELY cut out for your office’s love of AC/DC and other Top 40 music.
Get it in writing. Make sure they’re licensed and insured. Read the contract
Our friend Chris Zard of Grindstone Productions in Edmonton puts it very eloquently. “Professionals stick to their promises and put them in writing. If your DJ can’t supply you a detailed contract, chances are good he/she isn’t a professional.” All Canadian DJs should generally have an AVLA/Connect Music License. $2 million in liability coverage is also strongly recommended. Also don’t forget to read the contract in full!
Make it contractually enforceable. Pay a deposit or initial payment.
C.R.E.A.M – “Cash Rules Everything Around Me”. You could sign all the paper in the world. But without money, your contract is better off in the shredder. A Canadian judge can’t enforce a contract without the exchange of “consideration” (aka Money) between both parties.
Build trust. Show your commitment to your DJ with an initial payment, so they can commit to you. If you can’t trust your DJ with a partial pre-payment, you should look at other options.
Do an “Audition Meeting” before you hire your DJ.
More trust building here 🙂 Professional entertainers audition for roles all the time. Why should your corporate DJ be different? As best you can, meet with them face-to-face before hiring them. At the very least 3 months before your event. If they aren’t a fit, 3 months will give you enough time to look for alternatives. It also gives your DJ enough time to fill their calendar with another customer.
If a DJ won’t take a few minutes to help you understand your event goals – Find someone else.
Ask “What can you do that is unique?”
Playing “Closing Time” for the last song and including a free wireless microphone rental for the president’s address doesn’t count.
What applicable training and credentials do they have?
Being trained by the “DJ Company’s owner” doesn’t count. Have they attended DJ conferences? Workshops? Taken music lessons? Job shadowed at Disney World…?
Ask if your DJ is also a musician, juggler, DJ, or possesses a second talent. This could be that “something unique and different” you’ve been looking for.
Hire a DJ. Not a “DJ Service”.
While you may be paying the DJ Company owner $500, 800, $1200 or more dollars to provide a DJ – what you don’t know is the actual DJ is often getting paid substantially less. $300 or less seems to be common. Meaning, the actual DJ has ZERO financial incentive to show up. When the DJ can work a few hours of overtime at their day job as an electrician, why would they bother with your event for $200 (true story)? When possible hire a DJ directly.
However, there are some excellent and ethical “multi-op” DJ Companies. Grindstone Productions in Edmonton, is a great example that pay their DJs a substantial wage based on their skill and experience. They will also make sure you speak directly with your assigned DJ aprox 1 month in advance.
Require a “Personal Guarantee of Service” in the contract.
Avoid the “bait and switch” and the “I broke my leg and can’t make it” excuses. These are 90% of the time just excuses to keep your deposit after double-booking. Get it in writing in the contract, that the DJ you hire, is the DJ that shows up. And if they don’t show up there are contractual repercussions against the DJ.
Have two signatures on the contract. Make it “jointly and severally liable”.
People change jobs. Sometime that might even be the person hiring the DJ. Have 2 people sign the contract with the DJ. That way if one of them leave their job, another still will have expressed equal contractual authority. There is a serious real-life story behind this tip.
That sums up the most important points. For additional tips check out our friend Chris Zard’s FAQ page.
While I would love every company and person looking for a Calgary DJ to hire me, that is not the way things work. There are a plethora of options when it comes to DJs. This is a good thing! I want both you and the DJ you select to come out winners! I wish you an incredible party and don’t to forget to SPARK some new memories!
SPARK MUSIC. SPARK LIFE.
Looking for tips for hiring a Wedding DJ? This article is based upon a similar post found on my wedding website. Read more here