A DJ can be a beginner, intermediate, expert or ‘other.’ ‘Other’ is a DJ who has no intention of making a career in the industry. These hobbyists are the used car salesmen of the DJ industry.
A professional DJ has at least five years experience that have given him the opportunity to deal with problems with equipment, set up, crowd control and more, including where and when to play specific songs. Dinner music should not be confused with dancing music, and dancing music should not include dinner music.
DJs have professional organizations which, while not mandatory to join, provide the framework needed to help DJs adhere to professional standards.
Two of the most popular are the Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association (CPDJA.ca), and the Canadian Disc Jockey Association (CDJA.ca). These give the DJ access to information on new certification courses and technology and include regulations and reprimands.
DJs also should be licensed. Anyone who duplicates sound recordings or music videos or exhibits music videos must have a license or authorization from the owner or controller of the copyright. An infringement of copyright may be subject to civil or criminal prosecution.
Anyone who downloads music, uses a laptop or copies music from a CD or DJ for pubic entertainment must have a license.
Reading the crowd
A professional DJ can tell when to switch music genres and move on to another. This will keep a dance floor full, ensuring everyone is having a blast.
You may study the theory of how to mix, how to “read the crowd” or how to set up equipment, but you won’t know what you’re doing until you’ve done it over and over again.
An experienced DJ knows how to set up properly, where to put the speakers to ensure the best sound, how to control music and microphone volume, and how to interact with your wedding planner, coordinator or the hall to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Many inexperienced DJs rent equipment. The problem is that a renter may not receive the same equipment every time, which can invite problems. I have seen them calling the store for assistance. The trouble is that the rental store closed at 6 p.m.!
All professional DJs have insurance to ensure both you and they are protected. Suppose a DJ, while setting up, breaks a glass door. Here’s where having insurance comes into play. With insurance, there are no lawsuits. It’s covered.
Other hints at professionalism
- A professional DJ should arrive no later than one hour before an event to set up, sound check, clean up, fix wires, and get any additional equipment they may need.
- Professionals own their own vehicle.
- Professionals dress appropriately. A male DJ should arrive in a suit and tie or, at the very least, a dress shirt with a tie and slacks. Having personalized shirts, hats, and jackets are not mandatory.
By Wayde Salmon, owner of D & W Entertainment Group in Toronto