The Age-Old Debate: Should I Hire a Band or a DJ?

Recently, someone asked me what makes a good DJ?  Why shouldn't I hire a band instead?

Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter:

What are the main considerations that couples should take into account when deciding between hiring a band or a DJ for their wedding reception?

  • Bands are often more expensive because they have more members to pay, more equipment to buy as well as maintain and they have to learn and practice all the songs they perform.
  • Bands typically have more equipment to set up and tear down which can take more time at the venue and cost the bride and groom more as result.
  • Bands have to learn a lot of songs especially brand new songs that just came out.
  • Bands are often limited in taking guest song requests
  • Bands don’t always have a qualified professional Emcee to provide announcements, introductions, day-of-coordination to ensure an event runs smoothly
  • Bands often need to take breaks which means no one would be dancing during that time.
  • If the crowd doesn’t like the song, the band can’t just stop playing it.  This would be too abrupt.  Good DJs can seamlessly change the song if the crowd is not responding.
  • DJ’s song library will be larger and instantaneous  - the DJ doesn’t have to know a song to play it.  No practice of the song playing is needed.  If someone requests a brand new song and the DJ doesn’t already have it, he can download it and play it instantly.

While every event is different, are there general budgetary divides between bands and DJs that should figure into the equation?

  • More people in a band typically means a higher cost to the client, plus the band needs to account for practice time to learn a lot of songs and be compensated accordingly.
  • A DJ service is typically comprised of one or two people, who have a quicker set up / tear down time and less equipment which can save the client money.

What do you feel a good DJ brings to the party that maybe a band doesn’t? Are there any areas or situations where you feel a band might actually be the better option?

  • A good DJ would be able to know and understand his crowd and make adjustments to the energy accordingly.
  • A great DJ knows when to play the right song at the right time to get the right response out of the crowd.  Band’s typically have a set list they practice so they can’t always change it up based on how the crowd is responding or not responding.
  • A band would only be a better option if the client prefers the live sound that only a band can bring.

Once the decision is made to go with a DJ, what are some of the distinguishing characteristics that couples should be looking for in their entertainment provider? How, for instance, does Amplified stand out from the competition?  

  • When a decision is made to go with a DJ here are some of the most important questions that couples should be asking their entertainment provider
      • Is this person or company trustworthy?
      • Do they have a proven track record including positive reviews from delivering successful events?
      • Do they offer a written contract?
      • Will the person they are meeting with be the DJ for their wedding?
      • Has the DJ performed at their venue before?  
      • Has the DJ worked with their vendors before?
      • Can you meet the DJ before signing the contract?
      • Does the DJ have back up equipment and people available?

Amplified Events stands out from the competition by delivering a personalized approach to your wedding with the care and commitment you would expect from your best friend.  Couples who book with us will experience a DJ who is responsive, trustworthy and just as excited for their wedding as they are.  We strive to create an atmosphere full of energy & excitement that their guests will remember for years to come.  From their first inquiry to their last dance they can rest easy knowing we have their best interests at heart.

What are some of the biggest complaints that you hear from parties about their DJ services, and how can couples avoid these situations?  

  • The biggest complaints I have heard from couples about their DJ services or negative past experiences they have had with other companies are:
      • The DJ was non-responsive when answering the couples questions leading up to the wedding day.
      • The DJ was cheesy, loud, offensive, and obnoxious on the microphone.
      • The DJ made the wedding day about the himself instead of keeping the focus on the bride and groom.
      • The DJ played music that was out dated, offensive, and difficult to dance to.
      • The DJ ignored guest requests.
      • The DJ ignored specific requests from the bride and groom.
      • The DJ got drunk at the wedding and / or took frequent smoke breaks.
      • The music was too loud or too quiet and the DJ did not respond well when asked to adjust the up or down.
  • Couples can avoid these situations by asking the questions I listed above, by doing some research on what other industry professional and past clients have said about the DJ, and by meeting with the DJ and trusting their instincts.  Most people can tell right away if they can trust someone with their wedding or not.  That is why it is so important to interview your DJ in person before deciding to book with them.

Written By: Mike Kane