The Best Choice For You
In my 20+ years in the entertainment industry, I would say this topic comes up time and time again. And for good reason! Choosing an entertainment format that doesn’t fit the mood or atmosphere you’re hoping for can lead to very undesirable situations. This article aims to make point out 6 key factors to help make your decision easier.
This article assume that you’re choosing between a professional level Band and a professional level DJ
“A terrible DJ will just play terrible songs too loudly and kill the vibe. A terrible band will play terrible songs and sing them off-key, at a volume that hurts your ears and scares people out of the room” – David Fraser
A great band is even harder – especially if you don’t start looking well enough in advance.
The reason for this is bands and musicians that play at a pro level spend a lot of time practicing. Most full time musicians and band members don’t typically have “day jobs” and they spend a majority of their time either out performing, recording, or further honing their craft.
You may have an easier time finding a band that plays on a part time basis because there are more of them. However, it’s my experience that such bands are not as well practiced and usually lack lustre as compared to that of band at a pro (Full Time) level.
Most bands are usually booked through a booking/talent agency. You’ll need to spend some time searching for a talent booking agency in your area and see what they have to offer.
Generally speaking, DJs are not as difficult to book. This is because DJs are solo performers generally, since they don’t need to practice conjointly. To be frank, another reason is it’s much easier to gain the basic skills of a DJ than it is to master any particular instrument. Thus the bar for entry is much easier to attain, so there are simply more to choose from.
That being said, I would argue that finding a talented, well seasoned, and experienced DJ could be just as difficult as booking a well sought after band. I myself am usually booked anywhere from 6 months to a year in advance. I then find myself having to turn down many inquiries as I’ve already been booked.
In both scenarios It’s good practice to look at the reviews of the talent you’re interested in and try to find a sample of them in action, just to make sure they indeed have the vibe you’re looking for.
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay
What kind of space can you provide, and where??
Bands generally consist of 4-5 members – Bassist, Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, drummer. The lead guitarist or rhythm guitarist will also take on the roll of lead singer, while having the other band members sing backup vocals. Bigger bands may have a keyboard/piano section, and a brass section.
A band will also need to be front and centre on a riser of some description as they will be the focal point of the evening. Generally speaking, anywhere from 12″ to 36″ is a good hight.
Some bands could require a separate sound technician as well. The job of the sound technician is to make sure all sounds coming from the musicians are at the appropriate levels. This is because it’s very difficult to perform and adjust sound levels simultaneously.
The sound technician could need to be stationed either on the dance floor or elsewhere with the sound mixing board and other sound EFX units (This is typically known as the “Front Of House” or F.O.H. for short). Some bands take care of the sound levels themselves, or their sound technician may only need an iPad to control the audio levels. Either way it’s good to get a heads-up on what space they will require.
Additionally, some bands may require a dressing room (Commonly known as a “Green Room” in the entertainment industry)
The footprint taken up from a DJ is MUCH smaller, as they only require a banquet table. Since the DJ has a smaller footprint, this allows you to have more flexibility in terms of your room layout. Although I feel it’s best the have your DJ fairly close to the dance floor, I’ve been set up off to the corner of the room or closer to the head table many times.
Having said that, your DJ may have a large facade and choose to set up their speakers very close to the DJ table – which may give the DJ a more grand presence in some cases. However the DJ’s placement of speakers, lights, and so forth does not have to be centralized to one location. Many times the DJ will be playing your tunes from one section of the room, yet have the speakers set up closer to the dance floor, and the lights could set up elsewhere.
A professional open format DJ will be able to go from song to song, and genre to genre very easily, swiftly and seamlessly. Especially one that has been honing their craft for some time. To add to this point, a DJ will have thousands upon thousands of songs to choose from at a moments notice. This means playing your guests’ requests and changing the mood of your evening can be done at a whim.
On the other hand, bands only have so much time to practice and learn new music. With this in mind, a band’s catalog and selection is very limited when you’re comparing it to that of a DJ.
So there you have it! These are the 6 key factors that come into play when deciding whether to go with a DJ or hire a band. I hope I’ve shed some light on this topic.