Quick Tip # 4
Lighting - While most DJ's bring 'mood' lighting to an event, security/safety lighting is usually not provided. This is often a concern during school or youth events. So if there are dark spots (usually the corners), then extra attention will need to be paid to those areas by the chaperones.
If there are dark pathways, or other dark areas at your event, you'll need to plan for security/safety lighting for those areas as well.
Questions & Answers
Q - Are you insured?
A - Yes. A $1,000,000 policy. This is the standard liability policy mandated by many event venues. A copy of my policy showing the effective dates of enforcement is available upon request. In most cases, a copy will be provided to the event venue upon my arrival for their benefit as well.
Q - Do you belong to any professional trade organizations?
A - Yes. I'm a member of the ADJA (American DJ Association), a nationwide, recognized trade organization for the DJ industry. www.adja.org
Q - Will you be the DJ that actually does our event?
A - Yes.
Q - Do you offer free consultations?
A - Yes. And to further explain my answer, I'll say that I find it concerning that other DJ services who offer 'FREE consultations' are, in essence, saying that, "If it weren't for my generosity, I'd definitely be charging you to listen to my sales pitch and answer your questions." Wait...what?
Q - What kind of music do you play?
A - The musical kind. Actually, I have all styles of music. Everything from Country to Classical, Reggae to Rock & Roll. Yesterdays favorites to today's top hits! My current song library stands at over 50,000 songs and counting. But a lot of DJ's have thousands of songs. What matters most is if the DJ has the 'right' songs, at the 'right' moment. BIG TIME Music & Lights
Q - Do you play requests?
A - Of course! You're the boss. I'd be crazy not to do what the boss told me to do. If it's in my library, I'll play it. Naturally though, I do have final say over if I actually play that 'Death Metal' song that the one guest keeps asking me to play. Let's not get carried away now!
Q - There are some songs that I simply MUST hear. Will you play them?
A - Yes. As long as you let me know prior to your event that you have some 'special' songs that MUST be played, I'll play them. Many couples provide me with a list of songs to 'pull' from. Songs they want to hear at some point during the event if possible. Then there are a few songs that they simply can't go without hearing. On my forms, there is a spot for "Songs I Gotta Hear". List those selections there. I'll do my best to secure those songs for your event.
A general list of songs will be treated as such...a list to pull from as needed and if available in my library. Keep in mind though that the maximum amount of songs that can be played in an hour is between 15-17 songs. This is true for ANY DJ you decide to hire. So keep your 'gotta hear' list lean and mean and be open to requests from your guests.
Q - Do you have a lot of records?
A - Records?...no. 8-Tracks...tons (literally!). Actually, 99.9% of the music is computerized. The remainder of the songs are on CD's to be used as filler music, special songs, and as backup in case the 2 computer systems have a complete melt-down. This allows for a much smaller area needed to set up equipment in.
Q - Speaking of space, do you need a lot of room for setting up?
A - Not really. Usually, an area as small as 6' x 10' will be fine. Maybe even less if it's a very small room and not as many lights will be needed. And I don't need a table either. The effect will be no less exciting though. Just point me to the nearest electrical outlet and I'm a happy camper.
Q - Do you have lights?
A - Yes. Gone are the simple colored floodlights. In their place, specialty lighting that turns a hum-drum reception hall into the latest nightclub. A fog and bubble machine are also available by request. In most cases, with nearly all DJ's, these devices are subject to use according to the rules in place for the venue. So please check with your location manager first before inquiring.
Typically, this also won't work well for outdoor tent events as they usually have minimal electrical connections available.
A selection of 'club-style' lighting is included in every package and brought to each event. There is an 'upgrade' to this standard lighting which is extra, but includes nearly every lighting device I have in my arsenal. The only limitation is the electrical capacity of the event venue!
Q - Do you have an 'act'?
A - No. My thinking is that if you wanted a performer, you'd be looking for a trained monkey act. You're looking for a DJ/MC...someone who will play good music to get you dancing, help orchestrate your activities properly, and remain effectively in the background. Your event is not about 'me'...it's about YOU and your guests.
Q - What about Karaoke?
A - That option is available for an additional fee. Normally, the extra equipment is not brought to every event, so it needs to be asked for and reserved in advance. With hundreds of karaoke song selections, you can be sure to find a song you like...then let 'er rip! Watch out American Idol!
Q - So tell me about this 'slide show' thingy?
A - They're gaining in popularity. You've probably already seen something like it. It's a computerized presentation of pictures of you, your fiance, your families and friends...just about anyone special to you. Set to your most meaningful favorite songs, it can last from 5-15 minutes or longer. Professional editing software is used to add smooth transitions from picture to picture, making a shoe box of old photos come alive on screen. Think Microsoft Power Point on steroids. The presentation is projected onto a screen or open wall space for everyone to see. A DVD is created which you get a copy of.
You can take advantage of this service regardless of whether you choose me, or another form of entertainment, as it's a service that can be purchased separately. Check out the Prices page for more information.
Q - Are there any 'hidden' fees?
A - Like what? The so-called 'set up' fee? I have come across a competitor or two that have listed that as a charegable item. Are they kidding? Many services out there today mention "Free set up!" (Ooooooo!) That's a hold-over from days gone by, when DJ services were few and far between, and could charge fees like they were plumbers or TV repairmen. My rates are based on the overall event duration. Set up and tear down is on 'my' time, not yours.
Let's be honest, there are a LOT of DJ services out there. Most are very good, some are not so good, a few are downright awful. But the price you see posted here on this site and in any paper documentation you receive from me are the ONLY fees you will need to worry about. Please note though that if you wish to hire me for an event that is many miles outside of my normal coverage area, an additional mileage fee will apply. As we all know, gas is expensive. (see 'Prices' section for complete details)
Q - Does the Best Man or Maid of Honor come over to you to make their toasts?
A - Not if they don't want to. I have a wireless microphone to insure no one has to travel far just to say some kind words. Before the start of the event, the wireless mic is placed at the head table. So when it comes time for that 'roasting' by your good friends, the mic is close by.
Q - How will you know what to do, and when to do it?
A - There is an event schedule that you fill out indicating the activity you'd like to do, and the order in which you'd like them done. Leave the rest to me. At the appropriate time, I'll make the proper announcements and you just follow my lead. Naturally, if you feel the urge to do something right then and there, or if things have changed since I received the schedule initially, I'll be more than happy to handle the change in plans. I'll also keep the Photographer and/or Videographer in the loop as well, so they're in the right place, at the right time. This is 'crucial' to insuring that your memories are well documented.
These forms can be downloaded from my 'Packages' page, in the upper left corner.
Q - Can I come see you in action at your next party or reception?
A - Usually, no. The majority of my events are private parties and are not open to the public. If I have an event at a public location (outdoor park, bridal show, business event, festival or fair, etc.), then I'll be happy to provide you with the details. Most reputable DJ's will not use other people's wedding receptions or parties as a 'live' sales commercial for future bookings. While it's convenient for the potential client, it's disruptive to the current client.
Q - Do you carry a complete backup system to each event?
A - Well, not exactly. There's no need to duplicate every single piece of equipment and carry all of that 'just in case'. When it comes to something going wrong, I guess anything is 'possible', but most issues are not 'probable'. The critical pieces of any DJ setup (mine in particular) are the music library, the amplifier(s), and the main mixer. Most of my equipment can serve multiple purposes if needed. I carry a backup amplifier in case the main amplifier fails, and a 3rd amplifier in case the backup fails. I have 2 computers with the music library mirrored on both, with a selection of CD's as triple insurance. There are enough lights to put on a fantastic show that if one fails, you'll barely notice. A cordless mic and a 'corded' mic are more than enough to take care of any announcing duties. Toss in a generous amount of cords & cables and nearly every situation is covered. Although, admittedly, I don't have a backup plan for a falling asteroid or biblical flood (other than screaming like a little girl)....but I'm working on it!
If a DJ service says it has a 'complete' backup system available, then I'd question the overall quality of the systems as this stuff ain't cheap! And to afford 2 complete systems, quality is probably lacking on both, which makes the need for a backup system crucial. Proper planning and a knowledgeable person at the controls insures a smooth event regardless of what's thrown into the mix!
Q - So how do you dress? How do you normally conduct yourself while at the event?
A - If it's a wedding reception, I come in a tuxedo dress shirt, vest, & pants. No tuxedo t-shirts or sneakers here! If that's too formal, then a simple dress shirt & tie/dress pants combo is in order. If that's still too formal, then whatever is appropriate for the event is worn. But whatever the event, I'll be dressed accordingly.
I don't smoke so that's a non-issue...and I do not drink ANY alcohol at ANY event whatsoever! In the hotter summer months though, I have been known to drink 12oz. glasses of water like they were 'shots'....but I digress.
Q - Do we 'tip' you?
A - It can be debated on whether or not to tip the service providers that are involved with an event or wedding. I do not have a 'tip jar' (as I've seen used by DJ's at other events). I do not mention or add a tip charge anywhere in my contract. I do my best each and every time and do not expect a tip. Like most people though, if you feel the quality of my work warrants a tip, I will graciously accept and offer my sincere thanks.
Q - I noticed that if I took the 4hr package, and wanted you to stay an extra hour, overall, I'd be paying the same amount as if I hired you for the 5hr package to start with. That doesn't seem fair! Shouldn't it be cheaper for the 'extra' time. Most other DJ's charge a lower rate for any overtime requests.
A - Charging an amount for overtime that's equal to the typical incremental rate for a typical package is the best method. If you plan on a 4-hr event, and find yourself having so much fun that you feel another hour is desired, then it's the same thing as if you decided on having a 5-hr event.
Think about it this way. Many other DJ's charge you a high flat rate for events "up to 6 hours long". So what if your event is only 5hrs, or 4hrs, or less? Will you get a refund for the time not used? I doubt it!
The overtime fee is for the convenience of the client as I bill in 30 minute increments rather than full hours. If you're having fun dancing at the end of the event, and still want to keep going, but think your guests will lose their steam in about 20-25min., then you have the ability to just pay for an extra 30 minutes, rather than a full hour. No need to spend money needlessly.
Q - How come you charge a 'travel fee' for long distances? A few other services I looked into don't charge a fee for that.
A - And I'll bet their 'pay-one-price' fee is quite a bit higher than my package prices are even with my travel fee included. Any business that promotes the 'pay-one-price' feature has probably raised all their prices to cover the most costly example. That's just a part of business. This way, they can appear to go above and beyond for the extreme situations, while knowing that the majority of their clients who are much closer (meaning, more profitable) are still paying that extra high 'pay-one-price' price.
Remember when self-serve gas was cheaper if you paid cash instead of charging it? Then one day, it became 'pay-one-price' and most people thought it was the best thing since sliced bread? Well, all they did was raise the cash price UP to the credit card price! But hey...ain't it great to 'pay-one-price'?!
With my service, you pay for the features you want, and for my expenses involved in playing at your event. Basic economics are that it costs more for me to travel great distances than it does to stay close to home. There's no secret in that.
Q - We're planning a blow-out of a wedding reception! Lots of fun, food, music, and PLENTY OF BOOZE! Can you help with that.
A - Yes...and no.
If part of your plans include you, your bridal party, and/or many of your guests getting totally intoxicated, then you may want to find another DJ. Too many times, parties and receptions become an excuse to get drunk. And not just tipsy either. A wedding reception is the celebratory portion of your very special day. The beginning of your new life together as husband and wife. And all the responsibilities that go along with it. You've given careful consideration to determining who you'd like there to help you celebrate the occasion. You've spent oodles of $$$ on costly aspects of the day. You've put on an expensive and elegant wedding gown and/or tuxedo. Don't ruin everything by stumbling around in a 'fog' after drinking too much. Save the beer-blast for another time.
It's an unfortunate reality that consuming too much alcohol often brings out the worst in many people. People normally reserved and polite often become belligerent and abusive after several drinks. And there is no worse 'trigger' to this bad behavior than music.
As an event professional, I have seen and experienced this type of behavior all too often. Intoxicated guests can become downright abusive if they feel 'their' song request is not being honored, or not honored in a manner that they feel it should be. No one should be required to deal with that type of abuse. While it is an inherent reality involving social situations and alcohol, it needs to be addressed just the same. My contract specifically addresses this issue. While you can't control everyone at your event, you can control how the event is perceived by your guests. An elegant and mature atmosphere will hopefully keep everyone on their best behavior.
So by all means, enjoy the day...but keep things under control so you can have a successful event that you and your guests will actually be able to 'remember' the day after.
Q - We plan on having an hour break between the cocktail hour and the main reception. But we'd like you to play for the cocktail portion as well. Do we need to pay you for the time in-between when nothing is going on?
A - Unfortunately, yes. I'll need to be there for the entire time, even though you may not need me during the break. For example, if you're having a cocktail hour, followed by an hour break, and then a 4hr reception, then you'll need to purchase the 6hr package.
This scenario usually comes into play when you may be having a string ensemble, harpist, or some other activity somewhere in the mix.
This might also need to be considered when your guests will be in the main room during the time prior to your official reception when I would normally be setting up. It's extremely difficult to set up with a room full of guests milling about, not to mention disruptive to their day as well. So say you needed me for a 4hr reception only, and you were having a cocktail hour immediately before the start but didn't need me for that portion. In this example, you'd need to purchase the 5hr package so that I would be setup and ready to go before your guests arrived for the cocktail hour.
Q - Our event is complex and I've got lots of notes which I have on a legal pad. Can't I just make a copy of that and mail it to you?
A - Well, you could. But you know your notes better than I do. The abbreviations, the redirected arrows, and sideways-written scratchings along the edge make perfect sense to you, but probably not to me.
The best thing to do is to utilize the forms that are available for download from my site to give me your information. Yes, it may seem like extra work with all you already have to do. But if I interpret your info differently, it'll become very apparent during the event. And by then it'll usually be too late to do anything about it.
By using my forms, we will both know what to expect when the time comes to pronounce someone's name correctly, announce a planned activity at the right time, and understand what songs 'can' be played versus what ones 'cannot'.
Plus it gives you an opportunity to look at your information in a different format which might highlight something you may have overlooked.
Q - Do you provide your services for same-sex weddings or civil unions?
A - Absolutely! BIG TIME Music & Lights does not discriminate individuals based on age, race, color, religion, national origin, gender, physical conditions or limitations, or sexual orientation. You love each other?...that's good enough for me.
Q - Do you provide unlimited email support?
A - I have to admit, I chuckle a bit when I read this on other DJ sites. It's along the same lines as 'FREE setup!' Should you assume that you'll be charged to get a reply to your email questions sent to other DJ's? Basically, if you have a question, feel free to contact me. Phone, text, email, smoke-signals...whatever you feel comfortable with. I'll get back to you as soon as I can and I can promise you I WON'T be adding any extra charges to the price for my replies.
Q - What do I do for events where there's no power?
A - I have a generator that's available for a reasonable fee. Lakeside cabin, cornfield, barn on the far side of your property...no problem! My generator will provide power for my equipment for the duration of your event. This is also handy if the predicted weather calls for heavy rain or wind. If you reserve it ahead of time, I'll have it with me. If it's not used, it only costs you $25 for me to bring it.
Q - I want to invite friends and family that have small children, but I don't want them to be running around the entire time. How can I do this without having to deal with the disruption?
A - Keeping the kids in check is tough on a good day...not to mention a wedding reception where the only thing they seem to want to do is 'run'. My 'Kiddie Fun Zone' add-on will go a long way in keeping the natives from getting restless. It includes giant jigsaw puzzles, coloring books, crayons, toys, and more to keep the little ones focused and stationary...for a while at least. It's perfect when placed in an unused corner of the room. For the older kids, I have an 'Xbox Gaming' package that includes a TV and Xbox console with 4 controllers and age-appropriate games. Great for the 'tweens' who are too big to run around, but too small to sit still without being bored. Both add-on's are available as extras to any package. See my website for details.
Q - What is this 'Hollywood Banner' thingy you advertise?
A - Have your pictures taken on the red carpet! A 'Hollywood-style' backdrop emblazened with your
event name & logo (or the names of the new couple) tiled across a large banner complete with a red
carpet. Get the photographer to snap off a few like the paparazzi do. Or have your friends take
the pictures and immediately post them to your social media account!
At 10ft wide, it's perfect for a family or group photo. An optional more intimate 4ft x 8ft banner
is great for couples photos. Each offered separately.
Q - The room we're using for the reception is pretty bland and dull. Any suggestions on how to dress it up?
A - Yes, Uplighting! Uplighting can turn a plain, drab, colorless room with no character and transform it into something completely different. LED light fixtures sitting on the floor and pointed up along the walls create virtual pillars of light. Reds give the room a warmth and closeness. Blues work great for a winter-themed event. Combinations of colors give the room a festive feel. And because they don't get HOT like the other lights do, little fingers won't get burned and drapes or tablecloths aren't in any danger. Monogram lights also add that personal touch to any event. Check out the 'Extras' page on my website for complete details and pricing options.
Q - Do you stick with a certain style of music?
A - Not at all. I generally start out with songs that are popular and danceable and go in whatever direction you and your guests prefer. As I get more requests, I adjust the song selections to follow that line of thinking. If you're partial to a certain genre of music (Country, Dance, Rock, etc.) then I can certainly stick with that. Now if you prefer to orchestrate the entire playlist for the event, that's ok too. Simply provide me with a list of songs to pull from, and I'll follow that list exclusively.
Just remember that the most selections that can be played in an hour is 15-17 songs.
Q - Can you help us out at the reception if we need help with serving or things like that?
A - Unfortunately, no. I will certainly jump in if the unexpected happens and an extra set of hands are needed at a critical point in the event. But my main duties are to provide the music and help keep the flow of the event moving. The other vendors or staff should have all the other bases covered for their respective parts of the event. I would be unable to devote the time required of my services if I'm doing double & triple duty in other areas. Not to mention that when it comes to alcohol, it's against the law to serve it unless I'm employed by someone with a valid NYS Liquor License (that includes wine and/or champagne).
Q - Where do I put you when it comes to setting up the room?
A - The ideal place for me is to be next to the dance floor or dance area with my back to a wall or non-traffic area. Due to the nature of the equipment used, it's best to not be in a location where people will be walking by directly behind me. There will be wires that could be tripped over, and I could possibly bump into someone if I'm moving about near the equipment. This will be especially hazardous for the little ones that may be in attendance.
Q - I have guests coming that have certain medical issues that may be affected by the music and/or lights. What are my options?
A - Due to the nature of the event, there are limitations to what is possible to accomodate for their needs. People who are susceptible to seziures that are triggered by flashing lights should avoid the dance floor later in the event when dancing is the main activity. You can request no lights at all prior to the event if desired.
Also, people with pacemakers should not be seated near the speakers. The extra bass from the low notes of today's music has been known to affect the rhythm of the pacemaker in some people. It's possible to cut back on the amount of bass effect coming from the sound system but that will diminish the overall sound and volume that's heard.
Please notify me well before the event if a condition will exist where someone could be affected by the sound or lights in use.
A collection of facts and fallacies I've seen or heard about regarding other DJ services.
"A good DJ company will have a landline phone, NOT just a cell phone!"
"Always pay by check, and NEVER make it out to a person,...ONLY a company!"
"If they burn songs off of the Internet, then find another DJ as they are not 'legal'!"
"Any GOOD DJ company will INCLUDE lights as part of the show."
"Tips are appreciated, but NOT Required. Tips run $40.00 to 75.00."
"If the DJ does not have the proper insurance, then find another DJ!"
BIG TIME Music & Lights © 2008