Ken Prentice, C.Tech
Questions You Need to Ask Because Not Every Wedding DJ Mixes
A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a couple searching for a DJ and they had a lot of questions because of what they had seen at weddings over the summer. They had been to three weddings and they were not fans of the lack of, or sometimes even awkward, transitions between songs. Two of the DJs even had large gaps before the next song played. If you want a DJ that can mix at your wedding, you should do exactly what this couple was doing, and that’s some serious research. If you know the right questions and what to look for you'll realize that your options are more limited than you would think (even though most say they mix). The very first time I attended a meeting consisting of wedding DJs I remember walking in and quickly being approached by a small group of DJs that informed me, “Nobody cares that you can mix, especially brides.”
When the couple asked me if it was normal to have long or even short pauses between songs, I explained that mixing just isn’t the highest priority for many DJ companies in the wedding industry. Instead, aesthetics, marketing, advertising, etc. are considered far more important by many companies. There’s a few reasons for this with the biggest being the business costs. A good DJ that has higher level skills such as mixing will come with a higher cost. However, most of the large companies in KW are paying the DJ only a small percentage of the booking fee.
Low retention rates it make it hard for couples to find a DJ with a documented experience of 5 or more years in the industry, although company websites often make claims to the contrary, but it’s well known that the majority of DJs come and go within 1-2 years. It’s difficult for any DJ to develop anything beyond very basic mixing skills over that time. Some DJs then self-qualify simple transitions as being the best, which is evident on their websites and marketing. Like any new skill, generally it’s at least 5 years before you master them.
These 3 steps will help you find a DJ that can mix if you want to have a dance party that flows together without abrupt stoppages between songs.
1. Get the name of the DJ and read reviews that mention them by name
2. Ask to hear their mixes, every mixing DJ has a catalogue of them mixing
3. If you’re happy with everything, make sure you have that DJ specifically named in the contract
Bonus – Do not accept being “matched” with a DJ because it’s far more likely you’ll get a new DJ, and there’s only a very remote chance it’s an experienced mixing DJ.
The couple mentioned they had been given an explanation as to why the DJ didn't mix at one of the three weddings, that DJ told them, he didn’t transition between songs was because he wasn’t a DJ and only filling in for the original DJ . This is one of the reasons why you should have your DJ named in the contract with a discount clause if a substitution is made. Mixing is not the only attribute that matters for wedding DJs, however, more than 85-95% of the time we spend in front of you and your guests at the wedding involves playing music. On average 50% of that time or more is the dance party which involves mixing. There’s no single specialized skill that is potentially utilized more at weddings, especially during the party. When it comes to your wedding, a DJ that knows how to mix can be the difference between your guests celebrating with you on the dance floor, or going home early.