Things to consider when selecting a DJ from Facebook, Kijiji or Craigslist
By Robert Hawkins
Vice President of BobHawkins.com Professional Disc Jockey Service
Things to consider when selecting a DJ from Facebook, Kijiji or Craigslist
As a professional in the Wedding Industry for many years, I have frequently heard horror stories from couples who hired a DJ that they found on a classified website like Facebook, Craigslist or Kijiji. These poor people told me that they received substandard service, could not contact the DJ, or worst of all had a no-show from a DJ that took their money!
Please don’t get me wrong; there are many reputable DJ services advertising on these websites, including my own, but there are some things you should know. First, advertising in most cases is free and unvetted on these websites. In other words, anyone can advertise on them. (There are now some Facebook Groups that are taking the time to vet vendors and have certain criteria to be a member.) Established and reputable DJ services, however, are willing to pay for expensive bridal advertising elsewhere and usually sign a minimum of a one-year contract for it. Second, there is no real scrutiny of the businesses that advertise on Facebook, Craigslist or Kijiji. Third, a DJ who advertises on these websites can be here today and gone tomorrow. Worse than that, I have seen many ads over time that seem to originate from the same person. One day, he or she is operating under one name, and later under a different one. Such a pattern hardly suggests an established and reputable DJ.
With my expertise in the DJ business, let me suggest the criteria you need to consider when using Facebook, Craigslist or Kijiji to hire a DJ.
• What does the ad look like?
You can frequently judge the quality of the service, the reputation, or the length of time in the business by the way the advertisement looks to you. Are there obvious spelling and grammatical mistakes in the ad? Does the ad appear to be hastily put together? Does the ad list an email address that includes the registered domain name of the advertiser? These are indications of the kind of DJ posting the advertisement.
• What does the DJ’s website look like overall?
Very simply, does the vendor have there own a dedicated website and what does that website look as though it was cheaply built in a short period of time, or does it look as though money and time were invested in it? A website that looks professional probably reflects a reputable DJ.
• Is the DJ available by phone?
When you call the DJ, do you get an immediate answer, and are you treated courteously and professionally? A professional DJ will have a dedicated business telephone number and will have trained staff to answer the calls.
• Does the DJ prominently post a business address on the website?
This question may seem trivial, but the more contact information provided, the more likely it is that the DJ has established roots and a good reputation. A physical address is best. With a business address, you can visit the office and get a sense of the kind of business that is being operated.
• Does the DJ have liability insurance?
Do you know that if a guest trips on the DJ’s cable and is injured, you may be held responsible as well? A professional DJ should carry a minimum of $2 million in liability insurance, but $5 million is recommended not just to cover them in case of an accident, but to cover you also. For proof, ask for the DJ’s insurance certificate.
• Does the DJ belong to a recognized professional association?
Membership does not guarantee a DJ’s level of service, but it does show that the DJ is not a fly-by-night outfit. In Canada, there are two national disc jockey associations: The Canadian Disc Jockey Association (CDJA), and The Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association (CPDJA). Both associations allow membership only when a DJ satisfies the membership criteria. Also, each association maintains a publicly accessible membership list that one can access on their respective websites. Does the logo of these associations appear in the ad or in the website?
• Does the DJ use a contract for service?
A reputable DJ will give potential clients a chance to review the service contract prior to the payment of any money. A completed (ie, signed, witnessed and dated) contract should spell out in detail what services the DJ agrees to provide, the location, date, the starting and ending times of your event, and what you as a client are required to provide. The contract should also contain a performance guarantee.
• Is the DJ licensed by the Connect / AVLA?
99% of Canadian DJ’s are required by law to have a license from the Connect Licensing Agency formerly the Audio-Video Licensing Agency (AVLA), and be able to provide proof of licensing upon request to clients and law enforcement officials. The 1% that do not require to carry a Connect License are those DJ’s that are using store-bought CDs or subscription services then the license is not required because there has been no "copying" of the music.
• Where does the DJ get the music?
A question every couple should ask! The wrong answer is “I downloaded it from YouTube or iTunes (unless they are Connect Licensed in the case of iTunes.)” The music should have been purchased from a physical store, or from a limited number of AVLA licensed sources. In Canada, the main licensed sources are Promo Only, Multi Music, Zip DJ, Xtendamix and iTunes. Again iTunes is only legal if the DJ carries a Connect License if they do not it is an illegal source of music.
• Does the DJ focus on the equipment?
A DJ’s equipment is just like a hammer to a carpenter. Good carpenters have good hammers! A good DJ, therefore, has professional sound equipment, and just like a good carpenter, a good DJ knows how to use his or her equipment so that you get the highest level of satisfaction. If the DJ’s chief selling point is his or her equipment, then you may end up short on the day of delivery.
• What happens to your event if your DJ phones in sick, or has a family emergency?
A number of DJ’s posting ads on Facebook, Craigslist and Kijiji are single operators. What would you do, if the DJ phoned two hours ahead of the engagement and told you he was too sick to make it? Find out what his back-up plan would be before you sign on the dotted line! Better yet, put your trust in a DJ that operates as a full-time business.
• Does the DJ perform for “cash”?
Most medium and large professional DJ services are required by law to collect HST from their clients. If one of them offers you a “cash” deal as a means of avoiding the HST, there will almost certainly not be a written contract, a receipt for payment, or insurance coverage to protect your interests. In short, you will have no legal remedies, if something goes wrong at or prior to your event.
When it comes to smaller DJ Services that do not generate $30,000 or more in revenue and therefore are not required to register for HST you need to ensure you protect yourself and ensure that you receive a written contract, a receipt for payments made and have liability insurance which will make it less likely they are a fly by night company.
• Are the prices too good to be true?
Most ads for DJs on Facebook, Craigslist and Kijiji have statements like “fraction of the price” or “why pay so much for a DJ?” or “one set price for any type of event.” When reading such statements, remember these points: If the listed price is substantially less than the other quotes you have received, ask why that is so. Also, a DJ has much more work to do for a wedding than for a birthday party, or a Jack & Jill party. How can they all be the same price? I always recommend that you contact a number of DJ’s before making your selection.
Remember too, that there is a difference between price and value, and that you will get what you pay for
• What type of experience does the DJ have?
You do not want someone just learning the business to be the one holding the success of your special day in his or her hands. Look for a DJ that has had several years of experience. Also, ask for some service evaluations from clients who have had that DJ for your kind of event.
If you have questions about any of the information provided here, or would like more information about the topic covered in this article, please contact me directly at any time either by email or by phone at 416-580-3649, 905-853-8705, 705-790-0129 or 1-800-361-2855. Our website is www.BobHawkins.com.
In closing, may all your dreams be fulfilled on your wedding day. Best wishes to you and your fiancé for years to come!
AVLA (Connect) Licensed
A Lifetime Member of the CDJA
A Member of the CPDJA
The First & One of Only Two CPDJA Silver Customer Service Excellence Award Recipient in Canada
A CPDJA Customer Service Excellence Award Recipient
A CPDJA Community Service Award Recipient
Carries over $5,000,000 Liability Insurance
Has been in business for over 44 years
Our Facebook page is: BobHawkins.com Professional Disc Jockey Service