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FAQ About Event Planning

General Services (Professionalism, Insurance, Pricing, Booking)

How soon before my event should I book my entertainment?
You should book your entertainment as soon as possible, especially if it is someone you definitely want to have! In some cases you may be able to book a few months before, but for weddings or busy months, usually 6-12 months is sufficient lead time. Remember, booking a DJ is like booking a catering hall or photographer, the really good and popular ones are booked very early.
Why do prices vary so drastically between companies?

You will most likely find a large discrepancy in pricing between companies. It is important that you make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Make sure you fully understand the services included in your package. If you need more clarity, be sure to ask! We tend not to bite. Price is usually an accurate reflection of the services rendered, but you need to have a thorough understanding of what the services are in order to fluently translate the pricing. Chances are if a company is underselling their competitors, they are inexperienced, a part time company, may be uninsured, or they are not confident in the services they are about to provide. (At DJ Jolt, we fall in the middle. we undersell our competitors, but strive to maintain services of equal or greater value, guaranteed.)

On the other hand larger companies which typically have a higher rate, probably have additional expenses such as an office and staff, sales team, promotions, association fees, etc. This does not mean that their services are necessarily better than a middle of the road company, (like us!). Understand that price alone does not determine the quality of the entertainment. You should look into all aspects of a company before making your decision. Determine which characteristics are most important for your event. Often the best recommendation is a customer referral.

Its it important that my entertainment company have an insurance policy?
It is always recommended to confirm your company has a valid liability policy, however in many cases, the contract you might be signing with your entertainer may relieve them of liabilities at your event anyway. When planning an event, remember that this accountability and liability will almost always fall upon you or your organization. In addition, some catering facilities and event venues are now requiring proof of insurance prior to any entertainment company entering their premises. Make sure you look into this ahead of time as some policies require a few days to get a copy of the additionally insured certificate.
What should I look for when selecting my entertainment?
Three qualities that are important when researching a company are their experience, reliability and professionalism. An experienced entertainer will have the skill set necessary to keep your guests engaged in your affair as well as the ability to coordinate any formalities associated with your event. In our industry, most referrals are by word of mouth. Check if your company has  references. The right combination of experience and reliability will enable the company to provide professional service.

Entertainers, Music & Location

What is the difference between a Disc Jockey (DJ) and Master of Ceremonies (MC)?
These two terms are usually used in the entertainment industry and it is important that you understand the difference between them. A Disc Jockey is the individual(s) selecting your music and operating the sound and sometimes lighting equipment. The Master of Ceremonies is the individual who interacts with your guests and makes all formal announcements. In some cases there may be one entertainer who handles both of these responsibilities. If you are looking for a party in which there is a large amount of interaction with your guests, it is usually recommended to contract a two-man team (DJ & Emcee, or a tag-team of DJs) because it allows for greater flexibility. If you are looking for a more cost effective solution, consider having one entertainer provide both services.
What kinds of music are appropriate for my event, and who picks it?
We both do, the DJ and you. You can request certain songs/genres, and put a kill on others. Understand that the ability of an entertainer to “read” a crowd comes with experience. Your entertainer should base his/her musical decisions on the guests’ responses, but should still respect your musical wishes. Some clients have actually made complete play lists and requested their DJ to play directly from them. In some cases this works (especially if your guests have a very unique taste in music), but in most cases it prohibits the success of a party. We always suggest taking guests’ requests, as they are the ones we are hired to entertain. Many entertainers have specialties in the music they produce mixes with, but make sure your company does not have pre-arranged set lists which they will not break from. If your entertainer is not going to fluctuate with your needs or your guests’ requests, then you would be better off playing your iPod.
What does it mean when they say my DJ can scratch or beat mix?
Mixing is a term used for the transition of music. When a DJ can beat mix, it means they are capable of switching between two songs seamlessly, unlike a radio station where one song fades out and the next starts. You may ask what’s the benefit? Well usually this can keep guests on the dance floor longer and make the transitions less obvious and disturbing. It can help make a party more successful, but is not a necessity. Scratching is that effect you usually hear, although it is used sparingly nowadays as it’s just too cliche and often even disruptive to today’s crowds. Some really good DJs are capable of producing beats (beat production). This is a mark of professionalism, as this kind of experience produces live music that doesn’t come from a recording, it comes from the DJ’s ability to produce beats and rhythms, with percussion, effects and light scratching using only his own equipment, produced in real time. This is a staple of many nightclubs nowadays, but is hard to come by with most party DJs, as it is a practice that typically comes at a premium. (We toss it in for free, upon request.)
How do I know if my entertainer is providing professional equipment?
In many cases you can’t get the answer to this question. Especially if you don’t know what is considered professional in this business. However, you can ask if they have back-up equipment available or how they would handle an emergency. You can also look through their literature and/or website at pictures, to observe the condition of their equipment. Ask yourself if it has a professional appearance. Does their look fit for the atmosphere you’re trying to create? If they talk about having versatile or multiple systems, yet all of their pictures are of the same setup or event, you may question the validity of their claim. If the company owns their own equipment, they should have no problem producing pictures of that setup. If they don’t appear to have a lot of support material, they are probably subbing these services out to another company. There is nothing wrong with this practice and it is commonly utilized in this industry. Just understand that companies who are subbing their services out are probably making money off of the top, thus adding on to your package price. Try to locate companies that have the equipment in house to keep your costs down. Also understand that owning the equipment and skillfully mastering it are different things. Check to make sure that they advertise years of experience in sound, lighting, or entertainment in general. Knowing that they have that under their belt is definitely recommended. If they have experience in event planning and hospitality, even better! Verify their experience by asking for some details on their past projects.
How should my entertainer(s) dress?
We always suggest telling your entertainment company the type of atmosphere you are looking to create. This will help the entertainer dress appropriately for your event. For weddings, it is an industry standard for your entertainers to wear tuxedos. For most other formal affairs, entertainers typically where a black suit or black attire. Their look can still be tailored to your visions, of course.
Where should the entertainers set up their equipment?
The best place for your entertainment is near the dance floor. Try to avoid having tables between the entertainment and the dance area as it will most likely disturb those guests and make for an unenjoyable evening. In addition, it is always a good idea to sit younger guests near the entertainment and older guests further away. This will enable the older guests to exchange in conversation without the music hindering them. Most likely your younger guests won’t mind or be sitting at their table.
Are we responsible for providing our entertainer(s) with a meal?
Every company has their own policy when it comes to meals. Most companies do not require feeding their employees, but it is always appreciated (especially for longer and more formal events). However, we would recommend feeding photographers and videographers as they usually work all day and may not have the opportunity to break (especially at weddings). If you do not provide a meal for them, their contract may allow them to leave to obtain food, if it is not provided for them. Make sure you read their contract prior to your event. If you do not mind your entertainers eating, please let them know as they usually will not eat unless told to do so. Also, if you have paid for meals for your entertainers, at some point you might want to check if they received what you paid for. Some of the larger hotel chains are notorious for charging their clients for a full meal, but the venue may provide the entertainers with club sandwiches in another room where you can’t see.
Should we tip our entertainer?
As in any service industry, tips are always appreciated and a nice way of showing your satisfaction with the services rendered. If you choose to tip, the average is 15-20%.

Lighting Services (Differences, Quality, Necessity)

What is intelligent lighting?

Intelligent lighting is computer controlled and offers more versatility than standard systems which run the same continuous pattern. As in everything there are different levels of intelligent lighting from low output lights to complex rotating lights, even robotic lights. This technology enables the lighting designer to adjust the colors, speed, patterns and programs to complement the style of music being played. These systems offer more versatility as they do not keep repeating the same pattern as in non-intelligent lighting, which is typically turned on and off by a switch.

Why do I need a lighting package?

Lighting can be a great asset to a party as it can suggest a mood of sheer elegance to a chic club. It can also help define the dancing area. By dimming the remaining room lights you can create an atmosphere in which your guests feel more comfortable to dance. (Hint – Many guests, especially males, do not like to be seen dancing.) When selecting your options, be sure to convey the atmosphere you are looking for. An experienced company should be able to explain the differences and benefits of the different types of lighting. Keep in mind some venues have a limited power source and certain packages may exceed their capabilities. You should also consider room size, number of guests, style of engagement and the amount of heat generated.

Why does pricing vary so much for intelligent lighting?

As in many aspects of this business, the technology ranges from basic to complex. An entry level fixture may cost as little as $500 versus a high-end light which may start around $1500 and up to $5000+. In addition, some companies do not use intelligent lighting to its full potential; they’ll use the internal programs that come with the light, like the in-store-demo mode. In this case they are charging you for computer controlled lighting and they are just running preset programs similar to conventional lighting. When these lights are managed via a computer or controller and programmed by an experienced designer, they can truly complement your affair and give the operator the ability to enhance aspects of your venue, a first dance, etc. We pride ourselves on using the best and most versatile intelligent lighting systems available, and our ability to customize the programming according to your event and complement your needs is one of our hallmarks.