Updated: May 13, 2020
I remember the first party I worked as a DJ and was paid. It was a sweet sixteen birthday party for a friend of a friend who heard that I played music at my high school. They asked me how much I would charge to play the party and I quoted them a whopping $100. I went to their house about a month before and answered their questions to their satisfaction and planned the big day. The date came, I showed up about an hour before start time and everyone showed up and everything went off without a hitch. I was paid, they thanked me and everything was a success...at least I thought so at the time.
Rewind a little before the party. My "experience" consisted of playing music at my high school lunch hour, over the loudspeaker and I basically played whatever I thought was cool. I got 4-5 people every day telling how great the music was and they requested songs for my next "show". I MUST BE GOOD! I found out about a year later through some of my friends that some people were complaining how they didn't like what I was playing.
Fast forward 37 years and I look back at how bad that sweet sixteen party really was. The setup was embarrassing (probably pretty similar to the picture here), the music was limited, my segue from one song to the next was terrible and the equipment would never pass any of today's standards of professionalism. So how did I get away with it? It was a combination of the client not knowing what a professional DJ was supposed to be and my overconfidence that it would be easy. After all I had a love for music and apparently the client thought I knew how to DJ.
Before you hire a DJ, ask how they were trained and you will hear a very similar story. Those DJs are probably very nice, have a knowledge for music, but may not have the skill to make your day what you expect. The biggest problem is that for the DJs that are not formally trained, it takes years if not decades before someone objectively critiques them. We have DJs that came on board that had years of experience, but still needed much more training before we let them work an event on their own. Think about it - if you have ever seen a DJ in action that you didn't like, did you tell that DJ what you didn't like? That DJ probably walks away thinking "nobody complained" so all is good. So many DJs over the years have told me they have been doing this for years and "practice makes perfect". I disagree - "PERFECT practice makes perfect".
Today, Black Tie Entertainment employs 24 DJs and all go through training and ongoing regular workshops and rehearsals. We are constantly critiquing our DJs and objectively giving them the tools they need to become better DJ/MCs in order to make your big day the party you expect.