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Hiring a Bar Mitzvah DJ: Taking The Shine Off Of Those Glossy Brochures

Aug 17, 2007
Regarding a Disc Jockey's full color mail-out brochure, does High Gloss = High Cost? Not necessarily. And very often, the opposite is true.

It's not a certainty about the one you may receive, but national printers sell professionally designed, glossy brochures to DJs by exclusive territory and classification (Wedding, Corporate, etc.) and simply plug in each local DJ's logo and phone number. The descriptions and photographs are usually generic! Those same partygoers sure get around.

You can tell by noting if specific DJ information is found on the front and back covers ONLY. Is it sneaky? Is it credible? Does it matter? Should you care? You decide. It's not the end of the world, it's just another DJ sales technique, or it may indicate an agency.

If you choose to speak with an agency and bypass discussion with the DJ who will perform at your party, you're walking on eggshells. So watch your step!

Agencies subcontract a crew of DJs (keeping a liberal amount of the fee for booking them). A benefit agencies promote is that they're able to provide a replacement in the event of an emergency. OK, so? Although they stress the fear factor to favor themselves over an individual, an emergency isn't probable. You're not booking an insurance policy. Besides, all decent single operators network too, and can offer the same assurance.

So is it money well spent? Remember the old Wendy's commercials: "Where's The Beef?"

What else do they offer? If you're hiring a "name" who works exclusively for the agent, that's fine. But if you're getting a guy from their stable, find out who's been assigned to your party. Does he favor a tuxedo or a backwards baseball cap? Even if the agency has been around for years, he may be newly trained or hired last week. You're spending big $$$...buy experience!

If the agency won't allow you and your assigned Disc Jockey to speak together without the agency as an intermediary, assume the worst and walk away. Quickly. The DJ will be more frank and/or you'll be able to judge his experience (or lack of experience) without Big Brother watching (or listening).

At a large catering hall which divides into four separate banquet rooms, I recently ran into a local booking agency's DJ as we were both unloading our equipment for different affairs. He came in to check out my set-up and did everything but drool. I walked into the adjoining room and saw his "gear." It looked like a DJ starter kit from Circuit City. Actually that's unfair to Circuit City. Make that Toys-R-Us. (You know something? It's almost unfair to Toys-R-Us, too!)

He volunteered to me that the agency was paying him a $35 per hour fee. Here's a fellow who was content to go home with $140 in his wallet that night (before taxes). Is it any wonder that he couldn't afford a professional system?

Anyone who's been around for a while wouldn't pack up his vehicle for $140. The key is that the agency booked the job for $400 ("Return Your Contract Within Ten Days And Receive A Special Discount From Our Regular $500 Fee"). Of course, what the customer ultimately received was an $140 Disc Jockey, not a $400 (or $500) DJ. Please note: This one example may not be typical and it's certainly not meant to impugn respectable and reputable agencies, of which there are plenty. But, it is not extreme.

What do you think would have happened if this DJ received a last minute phone call from Agency "B" for a job that would pay him $250 cash that evening? It's obvious. He's a mercenary and a likely no-show nightmare for you. Re-read that last sentence.

And if Agency "A" subsequently fired him, so what? What's Agency "A" going to do? Take him to court for $140? He's a subcontractor out for himself with no vested interest in the agency. Nor is he indebted to you. He's never even spoken to you! He doesn't have a conscience. What he would have is an extra $110 in his pocket for the same amount of work. But where would that leave YOU?

Be aware, not wary hiring through a booker. Do they have office space or handle everything over the phone? Can they offer advice regarding invitations, photographers, light shows, dancers, sign-in boards, prizes and party favors? They're a bargain and worth the extra expenditure if they assume the full burden. I want to be clear: many agencies are conscientious and exemplary. If you've gotten personal referrals--perfect! Dump it all in their lap. If not, PLEASE request professional references. Not glossy brochures.
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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