You’re organising an event or party, like a wedding, Christmas dinner, New Year party, charity ball, milestone birthday party, fashion show, product launch and you want to have music to get it moving – so do you need a mobile DJ, or do you think a venue’s resident/recommended DJ is good enough?
In this blog, I’m going to share my experience of more than 30 years in mobile and resident DJing for all kinds of events and parties in Hong Kong, UK, and around Asia, to all age groups and cultures, with the hope that it can guide you to make the best choice to fully satisfy your needs.
For the vast majority of people in Hong Kong holding a private event or party of some kind, the only real options for venues are hotel ballrooms, restaurants, bars and members sports/social clubs.
Making the choice can be an easy one if you’re a member of a club, or have a solid recommendation or a favourite restaurant, bar and so on, and if satisfaction with the venue location, look, food/drinks quality and value are your only concerns, well, it will be a no brainer towards making the event a success.
But if music plays any part at your event or party, whether it is just guest appropriate music for pre-dinner cocktails; mood and background music at a shop opening, product launch, or networking event; or dancing is wanted during the party at some point of the night… Then choosing the right music provider is often a tricky choice to make, as so few people actually know a DJ and all too often it is left to an inexperienced or badly-informed person to make a recommendation!
In many cases, a venue will often recommend and may try to insist on, you using their resident DJ, or a DJ they have worked with before.
Now, there is nothing generally wrong with that as a venue also wants to work with trusted service providers, but sometimes and often in my experience, the venue manager or F&B department doesn’t really know much about their recommended DJ or whether – and this is most important – he will be a good fit for what the client wants.
After all, their main concern is not your full satisfaction with the music provider as that is usually secondary to their own prime service delivery: food and drinks. So you could easily end up with a DJ with inappropriate knowledge and skills for your event. Too late to find that out when he turns up in jeans and a snap-back, and starts playing hard-core club music for your Latin themed dinner party and ball…
To make sure that every aspect of your event satisfies your needs, and takes it from being just another event to the most talked about party after everybody has gone home, you need to pay close attention to every aspect of choice of service providers, and not leave perhaps one the most noticeable and memorable aspects to somebody else’s judgment.
I’m certainly not saying that every venue resident or recommended DJ is going to do a bad job. No, I expect that in most cases they will do as good a job as they can be expected to do with their experience and in the circumstances, where they have had limited access to the client and the client’s plans and demands, maybe at best passed on third-hand to them.
If the venue recommends a DJ for you, then make sure you get the chance to talk to the DJ directly and assess his knowledge, skills and, most importantly, his willingness to meet your needs rather than just play what he normally plays for the venue on any day of the year. If the venue doesn’t want to put you in touch with the DJ or, worse still, the DJ isn’t interested to talk to you, then I’d recommend looking elsewhere for the music, maybe even venue, option.
Even if you can talk to their recommendation, it makes sense to Google around to find out what Hong Kong has to offer by way of mobile discos and DJs – surprisingly quite a few – and are able to provide a comprehensive music and DJing service, for a decent comparison to the venue recommended DJ.
When you get in touch with them, the important questions to ask are more than “are you available?” and “how much?” but first of all “could you meet me to discuss?” or, at the very least, ask them about the style of music they play and the depth of their knowledge – especially on genres and decades, as guest lists are often multicultural and wide ranging in age and tastes in Hong Kong. You may need to satisfy your septuagenarian Chairman’s Asian wife as much as your teenage international school nieces and nephews!
Another important aspect to ask them about is how they handle your needs, perhaps for theme, music lists, for requests on the night, running order, how much ‘personality’ they inject into the night, and MCing maybe… And don’t forget one of the most important aspects – how does their setup, or how will they make their set up, fit in with the look and theme of your event?
And take note that a conscientious mobile disco DJ, even if he already knows your chosen venue, will also ask to meet with and sort out logistical arrangements with them well in advance of your event, as much to ensure that everything you require him to do is possible and is delivered to your satisfaction, but also to assure the venue that he can be a trusted business partner that they can rely on too.
A DJ should be like any other quality service provider. He/she is not just somebody who plays a few tunes for the night; it should be an integral part of their service that they are conscious of and sensitive to the demands of the client.
Rather than telling you “trust me, I’m a professional” he/she should be able to tell you how they will provide their service, what level of quality they will provide, how they will meet your needs, and how they will satisfy your guests on the night.
If he/she can do that, then they don’t need to profess to be a ‘professional’, they clearly are.
Good luck and happy great partying!