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Hiring a Bar Mitzvah DJ: The Early Bird's Worm vs. The Mouse's Cheese

Aug 17, 2007
Guidance follows, not the law. The DJ you hire may take umbrage at being told how to conduct his performance. I would! But choosing the proper Disc Jockey is perhaps the most important decision you can make to ensure the success of your event. Everything else can be perfect, but if the music presentation isn't a bulls-eye, the party will fizzle.

Selecting a DJ can be tough. There are dozens in most communities, all promising a great job. So, how do you pick the right one? I'll ease the chore. Relax. You can't be rushed or hasty or jump at the first offer. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap!

The best way to find a DJ you'll like is obvious: hire one you've seen in action. If you attended a function where the DJ was noteworthy, find out who he was. If you didn't get his business card at the party, ask the host, caterer or hall manager. Maybe your friends have been to an affair you missed. Tell them you're looking. Request that they keep their eyes (and ears) open for you. After that, your job gets tougher.

I'm not going to list "Find-A-DJ" web sites here. Selecting by state, only a handful of DJ companies will show up, while hundreds are actually available. Besides, most specifically list Wedding DJs, not Bar or Bat Mitzvah DJs. Better bets:

1. Ask your caterer. Which DJs impress them? Which don't? They've seen 'em all!

2. Look for staged events such as a B'nai or Simcha Showcase. They're usually sponsored by Jewish publications, local Synagogues, hotels, the JCC or caterers, and held at their halls. Not only DJs, but vendors representing every aspect of your party needs will be represented...from your invitations to the last dance!

3. Call local radio stations. Many have excellent DJs who "moonlight."

4. Check out the display and classified ads in your newspaper or phone book. Look under the "Disc Jockey," "Music" or "Entertainment" headings. Note the ads in which the DJ actually mentions "Bar Mitzvahs." He'll obviously be comfortable with the format. But remember, well established and proficient DJs should be able to handle any occasion, so seek out one who has performed many times, hundreds of times, at every type of party or function. Experience breeds professionalism.

Mobile DJing is most often a part-time vocation. If you're not calling an agency, the vast majority of single-unit operators (other than radio jocks) will have different weekday employment. It should not prejudice your choice, but your DJ is likely a "weekend warrior." Expect an answering machine from 9 to 5. But a PROMPT response.

Do we throw this party of buy a new car? You won't be asking yourself that question if you allocate wisely. We all know that this will not be an inexpensive day. But expense is relative.

The worst way to choose a DJ is on the bottom line, as your SOLE consideration. It's tempting to seek the cheapest alternative, but consider the law of supply and demand. A higher priced DJ may be worth the extra expenditure since he's not going to be a rookie, he enjoys his reputation and he tends to work constantly. You'll find that DJs at the bottom end of the price scale are likely relatively new to the business, trying to get established with tempting fees. But be cautious before opening the Yellow Pages and calling the DJ who offers the "best" price. He may be worth a shot if your party is on the informal side, but you must acknowledge a risk regarding presentation and reliability.

So many responsibilities go along with being a crowd pleaser. Hire low end, receive low end. How can he afford equipment and music upkeep and still earn a living? While DJ shopping, have you given any thought to an inferior music library, shoddy people skills or, hold still...a no-show? I'd bet that wouldn't have even entered your mind! It should.

-- He often steps outside for a smoke
-- "Imbibes" because you (wrongly) offered
-- Has the gall to put a "Tip Jar" on his table (be sure your Bartender doesn't show one, either!)
-- Makes occasional inappropriate remarks
-- Has friends in attendance and doesn't concentrate on the event
-- Makes your guests shout, playing too loud during dinner
-- Plays what he enjoys rather than what motivates a crowd, and then blends that music improperly
-- Or he shows up but simply does not shut up!

When you speak to a prospective DJ, sense whether or not Bar/Bat Mitzvahs are his niche. Several DJs I know will book a Mitzvah because it's a job. But they dread the date. Obviously they'd never admit that to you, but they experience trepidation. I network and I run into guys like this. They're fine with weddings, but dealing with the games and the Candlelighting and the Motzi and the Hora and the KIDS puts them in a cold sweat.

A "bargain" DJ may turn out to be anything but.
About the Author
Joe Pachino has been a Radio & Mobile DJ in Baltimore since 1974 and authored "DJ's Secrets Revealed! How To Select (And Get The Most Out Of) Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah DJ" c 2001, 2007 EMI. It's loaded with constructive, organized and valuable tip$ for Parents. He's performed at well over 1000 Mitzvahs, so take advantage of his experience. (And experiences!) You'll find loads of info and goodies at http://djs-secrets.com/
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