Inspiring all DJs through Education, Networking and Support

Tips for Hiring DJ Entertainment

Beginning in January 2020, the Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association along with our international not-for-profit partners The National Association of Disc Jockeys (UK) and the DJ Alliance Australasia (Australia) began publishing a series of articles designed to help the general public utilize the industry our collective associations represent. We hope these articles are helpful and function to help everyone achieve greater event success with mobile DJ entertainment. These articles are published every two weeks and will continue publication throughout 2020.

  • March 02, 2020 10:43 PM | Dave Ternier (Administrator)

    You’ve reached the party planning stage where it is time to decide on entertainment. Do you go with a live band or a DJ?

    That is a big question with many pros and cons on either side. Both have their benefits, both can have their drawbacks.

    As lovers of music, DJs are often big fans and supporters of live music, but when trying to entertain a wide variety of age groups and demographics, is a band the right choice for your party?

    Some bands are fantastic for playing many genres of music, however their song knowledge will vary from band to band. How do they handle requests? Do they know the latest songs that came out online this past Tuesday? If the lead singer is sick, do they have another singer to fill in? Bands can also take up a considerable amount of space, especially in a smaller venue.

    There are definitely some cool things a band can provide because they are live. The right band can provide great interaction and very high energy with a crowd. Because the music isn’t prerecorded, they can also do fun things like change the words around and change names in the songs to personalize details for the wedding couple or company they are performing for. Some bands also have the ability to seamlessly play groups of hit songs together in non-stop medleys.

    When it comes to a DJ, they are generally quite versatile with many music genres and seldom take up a lot of space. DJs can be very interactive with the crowd and can play almost any request because a DJ usually carries over 10,000 popular songs (and sometimes upwards of 50,000+!) that could be played at the drop of a hat! If your DJ comes down sick, they generally have a solid backup plan in place where another DJ in their company can come to the rescue or they belong to an association where a network of other DJs can fill in last minute. If the music isn’t working right for the dance floor, a DJ can change the genre in a heartbeat. In addition to spinning your tunes, DJs can also be your MC for the evening, helping to keep the flow of your event running smooth.

    Some DJs have event been fortunate enough to play with bands at weddings and corporate events. The key to making that succeed is for the DJ to play close attention to the band during their sets and if someone requested a song the band didn’t know, there is the first song for the DJ start their next set with!

    It is up to you to decide how versatile your entertainment needs to be for your specific event. The energy of a live 8 or 10 piece band can be tough for a DJ to compete with, but the music selection and mixing ability of a DJ might more than make up for that.

    Ask yourself which of these two options will appeal to your guests in the best way possible. This will help to ensure your guests are happily remembering the celebration long after your event has gone.

    Happy planning!


    To find your next event DJ, search the Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association Find a DJ member database. Basic searches can be completed by region/city or advanced searches by event, music, performance and spoken language specialty can also be performed.

  • February 18, 2020 8:08 PM | Dave Ternier (Administrator)

    As some couples think about the entertainment for their wedding, they may consider using their own music on an iPod or iPhone. After all, we’ve all had friends over at the house and entertained them with an iTunes or Spotify playlist that we created, so how much harder could it be to rock a wedding?

    The answer: Much harder.

    There’s a huge difference between a few friends singing along at a dinner party or barbecue and trying to get multiple generations up on the dance floor to celebrate a wedding. That’s where a professional DJ comes in. He or she has the experience to curate a playlist (most often with the couple’s input) and then program the night to maximize the dancing time. An experienced DJ will have the music knowledge to know which songs match well with other songs and they’ll know when to change the direction of the music to satisfy as many of the guests as possible. This is where “reading the crowd” comes in.

    A DJ never goes into an event with songs laid out in the order that they’ll be played in. There are just too many factors involved to be that rigid. Rather, they have a general idea of what songs they’ll play throughout the night but they are always observing the crowd and responding to what they see. An experienced DJ can tell when a crowd is tiring, when they want to hear a different genre and when they’re about to erupt. They look for clues from the people on the dance floor as well as the people who are sitting. And they pivot and change course throughout the party based on the feedback (both spoken and unspoken) they receive. These are things that a pre-set playlist can’t do, and it’s the difference between technology and an actual human being controlling the music.

    What are some of the clues a crowd gives off? Starting from the beginning of the event, it can be things like singing along to cocktail hour music or bopping in their seats during dinner. If and when the guests move rooms, how do they walk? Are they sauntering in with their heads down looking at their phones or are they sashaying in to the music? When they’re dancing, are they barely moving or are they amped up? Has the energy on the dance floor plateaued or is it still rising? If the guests are sitting down, are they singing along or are they oblivious to the music? These (and many other things) are signs that an experienced DJ is looking for and reacting to. Maybe it means it’s time to slow things down and give the crowd a break. Maybe it means it’s time to change genres and try a different style of music. Maybe it means the crowd is ready for some hardcore bangers to take the party to an eleven. Whatever it means, a great DJ is there to respond and keep things flowing throughout the party.

    Special thanks to DJ and MC, Michael Walter of Elite Entertainment for contributing this article.


    To find your next event DJ, search the Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association Find a DJ member database. Basic searches can be completed by region/city or advanced searches by event, music, performance and spoken language specialty can also be performed.

  • February 04, 2020 3:13 PM | Dave Ternier (Administrator)

    All of your suppliers, including the DJ and/or MC should at the very least, hold public liability insurance. A significant number of wedding reception establishments will require that any contractor/vendor who enters their premises provide evidence of current public liability insurance. If it cannot be provided, that particular supplier will most likely be refused access due to the potential risk it represents to the venue. If your venue has this requirement and you have hired a DJ that does not have public liability insurance, you are often left with one of the two following options;

    1) Source another DJ who has current liability insurance, or

    2) Personally arrange public liability insurance coverage for your selected DJ.

    Unfortunately, both of these options are far from ideal.

    In the first option, you probably selected a particular DJ because there was a connection; they can deliver exactly what you are after and/or are within your budget. Because the DJ does not have insurance, you are now placed into a situation where you have to repeat the search process to source a suitable replacement DJ – one that has current public liability insurance.

    Depending on when the venue informs you of this requirement (often the week of the event) there may not be sufficient time to secure an acceptable replacement; you may be left with little or no choice and this is an unneeded and unnecessary stress in the final days leading up to your wedding or event.

    Personally arranging public liability insurance coverage in order to avoid the situation outlined in the previous point will mean you will be at the mercy of the insurance companies and as a once off customer, requiring insurance for one night only, do you think the insurance company is going to give you a great deal? Probably not. You will likely be charged a hefty premium and the closer to the event, the larger this premium might become.

    How do you avoid this situation?

    Determine if your venue requires that any contractor/vendor who enters their premises needs current public liability insurance. Make this determination PRIOR to booking any service providers (including your DJ) that will be required to be on the premises before, on or after the day of your celebration.

    Prior to booking your entertainment (or other supplier), ensure that they have appropriate insurance. You might pay a little more for a supplier that does, but this is an indication that the supplier is a professional and takes their role seriously – no true professional would be without liability insurance, it is just not worth the risk.

    Further, you may find that the more expensive supplier could ultimately be a less costly option than if you engaged a cheaper supplier and had to personally cover them for public liability insurance yourself.

    It isn't a glamorous topic, but save yourself the insurance headache wherever possible and hire properly insured event professionals.

    Note: Public Liability Insurance is the minimum requirement you should be checking for as it protects the client, the venue and the supplier. However many professional DJs also hold other insurances such as Professional Indemnity, Personal Accident or Equipment Insurance. These are also indicators of someone who treats their profession and the events they’re hired for, most seriously.


    To find your next event DJ, search the Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association Find a DJ member database. Basic searches can be completed by region/city or advanced searches by event, music, performance and spoken language specialty can also be performed.

  • January 21, 2020 10:03 AM | Dave Ternier (Administrator)

    Forget Spotify: Why you need a wedding DJ

    Let’s face it: planning a wedding can be costly. And to keep budgets down, it’s understandable that for many of us, something’s got to give – whether that’s the date, the dress or the entertainment. Before you cross wedding DJ off your priority list and create a free playlist instead, let’s explore why it can be so important to have a wedding DJ.

    Your DJ can ‘feel’ the room

    While putting together your own playlist might be filled with floor-filling favourites, by working with a wedding DJ, they can sense what’s appropriate to play and what the crowd actually wants to hear in the moment, minute by minute throughout the entire party.

    Working with wedding couples months before their big day, a DJ develops an understanding for how important music is to them – what they like and what they really don’t like. This helps a DJ tailor the music to their day without it being prescriptive.

    Ready-made playlists can work, but unless they’re carefully thought out from an entertainment perspective, they can lack flow and feel a little stop/start for guests wanting to party. For example: one minute you’re all dancing to an indie classic you loved from a festival and next, the energy screeches to a halt when a romantic, slow tune comes on, leaving just a few couples on the dance floor. DJs love reading the room, working with the vibe and playing what’s going to keep people partying!

    They have expertise.

    When you hire a wedding DJ, you’re not just paying for them to "turn up and play a few tunes,” but for their years of experience within the entertainment industry. Over the years, DJs often work with hundreds of wedding couples to help create their dream days with meaningful music and special moments.

    Like a great movie soundtrack, music at a wedding creates emotion. Music sets the scene. It can rock the party, creating energy and a crazy full dance floor that you just HAVE to be part of or, it can tug at the heartstrings as the newlyweds are lost in each other’s eyes during that perfect first dance or as a bride and her dad take to the floor for that dance with the first man she ever loved.

    Many times, a DJ will help from music choices to planning the timing of the event. DJs help their wedding couples, giving them the advice they need and helping them design a day as unique as they are. You can be forgiven for thinking that a wedding DJ focuses solely on the music.

    DJs are also frequently called upon to be the master of ceremonies, taking the pressure off their wedding couples by looking after timing and pacing of the day. They communicate with the other wedding suppliers (such as the photographer, videographer and reception venue coordinator) to make sure they are prepared for the next event moment – be that the speeches, cutting the cake and the all-important first dance.

    After all of the time spent planning your big day, you deserve to be right there, living and loving every moment, without worrying about what comes next. A Spotify playlist can’t do that, but your wedding DJ will.

    Special thanks to multi-award winning DJ and MC, Alan Marshall of Alan Marshall Celebrations for contributing this article. Alan is also a current member and former Chairman of the National Association of Disc Jockeys (NADJ).


    To find your next event DJ, search the Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association Find a DJ member database. Basic searches can be completed by region/city or advanced searches by event, music, performance and spoken language specialty can also be performed.

  • January 06, 2020 2:32 PM | Dave Ternier (Administrator)

    Have you ever heard of a bride or groom having their DJ cancel on them? And sometimes with only weeks to go before the big day?

    As you can probably imagine, the stress this causes ahead of the largest party someone has (probably) ever planned in their life is terrible. This happens more often than it should and for a variety of reasons. The primary reason though, is one you can protect yourself from:

    Have a signed agreement or contract with the DJ company you hire.

    In most cases where a DJ has reportedly cancelled on an event, it happens where there was never a signed agreement, thus making it very easy for a DJ to back out of their commitment. Often times it was a family friend or a friend-of-a-friend who said “Sure, I can DJ your party!” only to have them back out when the pressure of the event began to draw near or another fun weekend opportunity presented itself. It isn’t always friends-of-friends though, in some cases, DJ companies don’t use agreements. That needs to change and you can do something about it.

    Anyone hiring a DJ should always request an agreement that both parties (you and the DJ company) agree to. By ensuring you work only with a DJ that uses an agreement, you will be saving yourself from a lot of potential headache.

    A proper and fair agreement is designed to protect both parties. The agreement should protect the interests of the DJ AND your interests as the client. It should have balance to it and safeguards for both, the person hiring the DJ, and the DJ themselves.

    At a minimum, quality agreements should always include your full name and the DJ company name along with some sort of identification information for each (often through an address, phone number or email address). It should also include the precise date and location of the event. This ensures your DJ will show up on the appropriate date and at the proper location of your party.

    Detailed cancelation information should also be listed. For example, what happens if you have to cancel on the DJ or what happens if the DJ can, for some reason, no longer fulfil the agreement? The agreement should detail out appropriate protections for both you and the DJ around this topic. Many agreements also include the name of your DJ written on the agreement so that you can be sure you’re getting your favourite entertainer.

    Lastly, the agreement you sign with your DJ should state the services being hired and the total fee for those services. All payment terms should also be clearly stated so as to avoid any unpleasant surprise bills.

    There are many other topics that can and will be listed in a quality agreement, but simply having one is a start. A DJ has the ability to impact a party in such a massive way, do not hire one without a written and signed agreement.

    You don’t want to be that person, weeks away from one of the most important events of your life, struggling to find an entertainment replacement, do you?

    Sign an agreement with your entertainer. This is a huge step toward ensuring you throw the celebration of your dreams!


    To find your next event DJ, search the Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association Find a DJ member database. Basic searches can be completed by region/city or advanced searches by event, music, performance and spoken language specialty can also be performed.

Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association

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