Since jumping head first into the wedding industry, I’ve often wondered if an iPod could prove to be a worthy match of a flesh-and-blood DJ, and if the party could still rock as hard. So last month I asked Austin DJ Jeff Hudson of Spacecraft Entertainment to give me some insight into this inquiry. Read this! You may learn some new things!
iPod vs DJ
- An iPod can’t make announcements. The DJ functions as the MC of the event – the “point person” for all things timeline from the guests’ perspectives. For example, “In about 5 minutes we’ll be cutting the cake, folks!” or “table 5 can line up for the buffet!” They warn the photographer when something important is about to happen to ensure everyone’s ready! If all you have is an iPod, then you’re risking no one knowing what’s going on. Important people could be absent from the toasts, the first dance, the cake cutting, etc., OR you might have to ask a friend to work for you doing something they’re unlikely to be good at.
- An iPod is unable to account for an equipment failure. Unless you have another iPod loaded with the same playlist and some extra speakers and mics, you could be out of luck if something isn’t working how it’s supposed to. A good DJ will always have redundant equipment, just like a photographer, and knows exactly when and how to quickly get it into action so the entire party doesn’t suffer.
- A DJ will make your first dance wonderful. Not only will the volume levels be just right, but the DJ will fade out the song(s) after 1-2 minutes (or whatever time interval you specified), even if it’s a 6-minute song. Can you imagine dancing with everyone watching you for 6 whole minutes because your iPod can’t fade itself out, or your friend forgot to do it for you?
- A DJ can read the crowd like nobody’s business. If a certain style isn’t pumping everyone up, a good DJ will quickly crossfade into something that will. The average person may be ok at reading a crowd, but probably isn’t skilled at knowing what to do about it. And again, the whole friends/bride/groom working-at-their-own-wedding thing – not so fantastic.
- An iPod doesn’t have all popular music. If someone has a request, rest assured the DJ has that song. If you forgot to put a song you love on your iPod, then you’d need wifi to download it right then and there, which isn’t always an option at a wedding venue.
- An iPod doesn’t come with dance floor lights. If there’s no professional dance floor lighting, you may feel like you’re dancing at a prom or just plain dancing in the dark.
- A DJ has acoustic knowledge. What that means is they understand how the balance of bass and treble affects the crowd. They know what the decibel limit is for that area and venue so they don’t break any laws (and you don’t violate your contract with the venue). They understand how the angle of the speakers affects the sound, and in turn, the crowd (and they’re constantly making these adjustments to ensure the best possible experience). They understand how to create a seamless transition both in terms of tempo and key (this is called beat mixing and harmonic matching). All these things make an awesome party without you even noticing!
- Both an iPod and a DJ allow you to build your own playlist. A good DJ, like Jeff, will essentially let you build your own playlist, and then they’ll figure out how best to order the songs and what other things to play if the crowd is wanting and needing something different. In other words, if you’re going for an iPod solely for the control, no worries – a good DJ will let you do all that work if that’s important to you.
Now, we all know someone that’s had a bad experience with a DJ, which is unfortunate. But there are a lot of really fantastic DJs out there! There are ways to minimize the risk of ending up with a bad DJ. I would not only meet them in person beforehand, but ask for references from real clients. You’ll also want to find out what their policies are and how you make your requests. For example, Jeff has an online system that allows you to pick all your songs and mark the ones for your “do not play EVER” list, as well as your favorite genres. He pays attention to your needs and doesn’t impose his own agenda or stylistic preferences on your party. He’s open to suggestions and is ready to listen. AND, he’s very skilled! That’s the kind of DJ you want, and it can totally transform your party into one your guests will never forget!
Music, particularly the trombone and classical jazz, has been a part of Jeff’s life for a very long time. After college, he landed a gig on a cruise ship! How crazy awesome is that? After moving to TX, he played bass with the Spazmatics for 8 years, and still fills in some times. In fact, he’s still on their home page (on the far left!). But 3 years ago, he invested in turntables and started DJing on the side. Now, he’s a full-time DJ and I can personally vouch for his awesomeness. Thanks, Jeff, for taking the time to educate me and hopefully a lot of other people, too!