Ask The Insider, Music Advice Column, Music Blog

MATRIX Center for Music, Youth & Community Events,

Melody4Charity & Craig LiaBraaten Present:

How do I go about hiring quality entertainment? How can I be assured that a DJ, musical entertainer, or band is professional and won't somehow unexpectedly ruin our special event? Are there any agencies that police entertainment businesses to insure they do what they say they will do? How can I be sure we won't get screwed? Sincerely, Need to Know in Bloomington

Your questions get to the real heart of the matter, don't they? How can one be sure one is hiring truly professional entertainment? What are the important questions to ask a prospective musician or DJ business to find out who is reliable and who is not? I have prepared a list of questions which follows. This list is NOT exhaustive, but any truly professional entertainer or entertainment business will be able to answer these questions in a positive and forthright manner without hedging. Listen for EXCUSES. EXCUSES are reasons to look elsewhere. True professionals will not shy away from these important questions. Here's what the "DJ POLICE" from our legitimate team of Minnesota Disc Jockeys and Wisconsin Disc Jockeys would ask:

  1. DO YOU HAVE A NUMBER OF PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES I CAN CONTACT? A bonafide professional entertainer or entertainment business should have MANY positive PROFESSIONAL references on hand for you to contact. Note the key words MANY and PROFESSIONAL. Please remember that two or three references is NOT enough. We recommend at least ten recommendations from previously satisfied clients to assure a HISTORY of professionalism. And remember that the word PROFESSIONAL denotes CLIENTS, NOT FAMILY members or friends. Plus, be sure to contact the references. Follow-up, and let the proof be in the pudding.
  2. DO YOU HAVE LIABILITY INSURANCE IN CASE OF UNFORSEEN LIABILITY ISSUES DURING THE EVENT? This is VERY important. You would not believe how many businesses DO NOT CARRY any sort of liability insurance. This is a big indicator whether or not you are dealing with a professional business or not. "Fly-by-night" entertainers do not carry insurance, largely because they don't work enough to be able to afford it. But just like hiring a roofer or other contractor, MAKE SURE the entertainer or DJ carries A MINIMUM OF ONE MILLION DOLLARS LIABILITY INSURANCE. What if something happens at your special event, like a guest trips and breaks a leg, or perhaps even worse. YOU CAN BE HELD LIABLE if your entertainer is not covered. This if a no-brainer. There is too much to risk here, too much potential for getting into a world of hurt. DON'T SETTLE FOR A CHEAPER ENTERTAINER WHO WILL LEAVE YOU VULNERABLE TO LEGAL ACTION. A true professional will have a minimum of one million dollars liability insurance. Don't take a chance on this one.
  3. DO YOU WORK IN THE MUSIC FULL-TIME, OR ARE YOU JUST A PART-TIME WEEKENDER? In the music entertainment business, the REAL professionals are employed in the music business FULL-TIME. They are totally immersed in the music field (as opposed to just tinkering in it) and are the best qualified to assist you because they are in touch with music and musicians ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. Since his/her ENTIRE LIVELIHOOD depends on it, he/she is compelled to saturate themselves in the field of music, to continue to learn and grow to meet the demands of the listening public. Part-time "week-enders" are usually employed full-time in another field and only supplement their income with occasional gigs here and there. Part-timers are, therefore, often "rusty" and "out of touch". Incidently, the author of this column has been working full-time in the music business for over twenty-six years.
  4. HOW MANY CONTINUOUS YEARS OF PROFESSIONAL MUSIC EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE? Many musicians and DJs, unfortunately, have only worked intermittently or occasionally. That means "on and off", "hot and cold" for their entire career, working very few nights a month or even a year. Remember that "A FEW WEEKENDS A YEAR" does NOT equal "A YEAR OR EXPERIENCE". Look for a no nonsense answer here. TEN YEARS of continuous full-time experience is a good rule of thumb to start with. Too little experience means they have not encountered a wide enough variety of audiences to have the tools necessary to do the job effectively. The author is still learning, even after twenty-five years in the music industry full-time.
  5. WHAT IS YOUR SPECIALTY? A typical radio DJ or school dance DJ, for example, is simply not qualified to do weddings. Weddings take an experienced DJ who knows how to play to the WHOLE CROWD, not just one or two segments of it. They know how to MOTIVATE your guests to GET INVOLVED in the party by being INTERACTIVE with them. Having done HUNDREDS of dances, they have MANY TRICKS UP THEIR SLEEVE, and they can find out what the crowd wants and serve it to them on a silver platter. They know WHAT to play and WHEN to play it. Be sure the entertainer has done hundreds of successful shows that fit the type and style of dance you envision for your event. Don't make the mistake of trying to fit the proverbial square peg in a round hole. A radio station that plays all pop and top 40 won't have a clue about country, swing, or 50s & 60s, for example, just like you won't find Classic Rock on MTV. Find out what the entertainers' STRENGTHS are, what their SPECIALTY is. And whatever you do, don't try to take those spots off that leopard.
  6. WHAT BRAND NAMES OF SOUND & LIGHTING GEAR WILL YOU HAVE AT OUR EVENT? True professionals invest what it takes to own the very best professional audio and lighting gear available. Be aware of name brands you see advertized at Best Buy and other department stores. These brands are fine for home stereo systems but are not designed to take the night-after-night peak performance of a professional road show. I have heard horror stories of well-meaning folks hiring a relative or a "friend of a friend" who just happens to have a "cool stereo" and a nice home CD collection. Usually these parties are an embarrassment to both the host or hostess and the "wannabe" entertainer, if not a total disaster caused by blown speakers or amps that are cranked up way too high for too long. A true professional should be able to rattle off a detailed list of equipment, including BACK-UP EQUIPMENT in case the first system fails. A true professional is prepared for the worst case scenario and has a plan of action in case Murphy's Law rears its ugly head.
  7. ARE YOU ACKNOWLEDGED BY FEDERAL AND STATE AUTHORITIES THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU ? All legitimate businesses are on record within the state they claim to do business in. Does your music vendor have a Federal and State ID number? And all legitimate businesses pay federal and state tax. Beware of illegitimate businesses that "work for cash" and sidestep state regulations and guidelines for legitimate business operation. These should all be red flags.The BBB has been around since 1912, and they are an excellent source to inquire whether an entertainment business is legitimate and professional. You can be confident that a business verified by the BBB has been checked out and has legitimate, quality references to prove the reliability of their work.

I could go on and on, but these seven important questions will give you a very good idea who is professional and who is not. These questions will be a big help in weeding out 95% of the "wannabees". Please do everyone (especially your guests) a favor and avoid the hassle and embarrassment of hiring non-professionals who can't answer these questions without making excuses. You owe it to yourself to avoid that whole mess, and these questions will help point you in the right direction. When you hire a TRUE PROFESSIONAL, you can truly relax and enjoy your party!

All of the Minnesota Disc Jockeys and Wisconsin Disc Jockeys listed on this website have been screened for legitimate, quality, professional entertainment services. Book any of these affiliated Minnesota Disc Jockeys and Wisconsin Disc Jockeys with confidence!

The Insider

groups / musicians we have worked with

CALL (800) 248-7225 NATIONWIDE TO RESERVE YOUR NEXT MELODY4CHARITY MUSIC FUNDRAISER
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CLICK HERE


© 1998-2008 Craig LiaBraaten All Rights Reserved.