DJ…Traffic Cop…same thing!

Most people will need the services of a DJ once, maybe twice in their lives.  If at all.  So it’s not surprising that most people think that all we do is just play music.  That’s probably because the only thing most people see is us standing behind our equipment and hear music coming out of the speakers.  Seems simple!  Anyone can do it…right?

Well, that idea is very popular.  The evidence is the large number of DJ services in any given area.  And not surprisingly, most are not in business very long, and even fewer are remembered ‘by name’ when DJ’s are discussed in general conversations.  Why is that?

Actually, we’re doing MUCH more than playing music.  I guess it could be considered a compliment that that’s the impression people have of us, as we know how difficult our job can really be.  Contrary to popular belief, what we do is not that easy.  I know, I know…I’m preaching to the choir.

Truth be known, we are the traffic cop for the event.  Like it or not, we direct the timeline for nearly every event.  And we fill many roles.  Some might argue otherwise, but I would have to say that experience has shown that this is 100% true.  We wear MANY hats!

To start, we spend hours preparing for the event.  Securing the requested music, going over the planned activities and outlining ‘what’ is happening, and ‘when’ it should happen, and synchronized with ‘this’ particular piece of music.  Hat #1: Producer/Director.

We arrive at the event (Hat #2: Driver) and, unless we have good friends, begin to unload all the equipment needed to successfully pull off the event by ourselves.  Many times, as unfortunate as this sounds, we are treated as second-class citizens and are required to enter through a narrow back door which is as far away from where we actually need to be as is possible.  We snake our way through kitchens dodging piles of dirty table linens, boxes of instant mashed potato mix, #10 cans of green beans, hot stoves, and irritated chefs, just to get to where we need to be.  Those DJ’s without the benefit of a hand cart or equipment with wheels, are forced to strain backs and knees while penguin-walking their cases and totes to the reception room.  (Hat #3: Roadie)

After working up several beads of sweat on the brow (a nice ‘look’ at a formal event), we basically struggle to get 10-pounds of equipment set up in a 5-pound space.  It’s when we get rooms where the DJ has his own space with lots of room, plenty of outlets, and a loading door 10 feet away that’s at ground level with the parking lot just outside, that we look skyward and while looking for that single ray of sunshine, mutter under our breath, “Thank you!”

In my setup, I don’t use or need a table.  But you would think I just said the sky was green when I tell the room staff that I don’t need the table they set up and skirted for me.  “You don’t need a table?!”  “Nope.”  “But, you’re the DJ!  You guys always need a table!”  “I don’t, but thank you anyways.”  They leave to summon the manager who begins asking me the same questions.  15 heated minutes later, they’re slowly tearing down the table expecting me to say something any minute like, “Kidding!  Fooled you!  I need the table!”  Hat# 4:  Story Teller (apparently).

Once we do a quick sound check, and test the lights full-on to locate ‘weak’ circuit breakers (Hat #5: Lighting Designer), we slip into the nearest restroom to change into our work clothes.  We put Clark Kent to shame by changing in a 2’x2’ space all while never touching the floor with our bare feet.  Our tuxedo is our uniform, and our mic is our badge.

We begin by announcing the key players of the event (Hat #6: Master of Ceremonies).  We coordinate the timeline with the wait staff, the banquet manager, the photographer, the videographer, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker (Hat #7: On-site Event Coordinator).  Even when someone else is wearing the Event Coordinator hat, we ultimately get handed that hat once the guest’s butts touch their chairs.

Throughout the event, we juggle playing the couple’s chosen songs vs. the adult guests requested songs vs. the children’s requested songs (usually 180 degrees opposite of the adult requests) vs. what we ‘know’ will work at any given moment that results in a full dance floor (Hat# 8: Music Programmer).

We get approached by several people during the whole she-bang who ask things like, “Do you have that song?…you know…it’s about a girl…who was in love…it was really popular 10-20 years ago…I think.  It was in that movie with that actress with the long hair…anyway…do you have it?”  (insert blank stare here)

Hat# 9: The ‘Amazing Kreskin’

We chase after elusive wait staff to inquire where the room light switches are.  If we’re lucky, we get ‘pointed’ to where they are.  If not, we get shrugged shoulders, and they scurry away to the kitchen/hive, never to be seen by human eyes ever again.  Either way, we’re the ones who ultimately need to weave our way through guests in various positions of getting up from the table, pushing their chairs out at the last second, while they somehow don’t hear the first 8 “excuse me’s”, so that we can play Russian Roulette with the switches hoping to find the ones that dim the lights on the dance floor so that ‘our’ lights actually work as designed (Hat #10: Set Director).

“Where are the bathrooms?”  “Is dinner going to be served soon?”  “Can you get us an extra chair over here?”  “Someone dropped their Sloe-Gin Fizz on the dance floor…better get someone to clean it up!”  (Hat #11: Shell Answer Man) (An old TV commercial reference, I know. Work with me people.).

 Bride and groom needed to cut the cake.  Wait, the bride is in the bathroom.  Oh, here she is!  Now where did the groom go?!  There he is…out in the hall with his friends.  The bride offers to get him…disappearing out ‘this’ door, while the groom magically appears through ‘that’ door.  Now an APB is sent out on the bride (“Be on the lookout for a stressed/worried/tipsy woman, wearing white, goes by the name of “Where’s my wife?””).  She now pops in ‘that’ door while the groom now slips out ‘this’ door to look for her.  Introducing, Hat #12: Daycare Provider.

Knife for the cake?!  Is that really needed?  And you need a chair for the garter?  That makes no sense!  (Hat #13: Prop Master)

“Can you make an announcement that a set of dentures was found mixed in with the couple’s wedding gifts, please!”  Hat #14:  Loss Prevention Officer.

Happy and smiling bridal couple approaches at the end of the night and thanks DJ for a wonderful time.  Hat #15…A Successful DJ!



If you have any questions regarding music and/or entertainment for an upcoming event that you’ll be attending, organizing, etc., feel free to ask them here.  Regardless of whether I’m providing the music or not, I’ll answer to the best of my knowledge and ability.

Be sure to check out the FAQ section first.  Most of the popular questions I’m asked are outlined there.   🙂


FAQ’s! (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q – Are you insured?

A – Yes. $1,000,000 policy.


Q – Will you be the DJ that actually does our event?

A – Yes.


Q – What kind of music do you play?

A – The musical kind. Actually, I have all styles of music. Generally, everything that one would expect to hear at a typical wedding reception, banquet, company party, or school function. Everything from Country to Classical, Reggae to Rock & Roll. Yesterdays favorites to today’s top hits! My current song library stands at over 30,000 songs and counting. But a lot of DJ’s have thousands of songs. What matters most is if the DJ has the ‘right’ songs, at the ‘right’ moment. BIG TIME Music & Lights does!


Q – Do you play requests?

A – Of course! You’re the boss. I’d be crazy not to do what the boss told me to do. If it’s in my library, I’ll play it. Naturally though, I do have final say over if I actually play that ‘Death Metal’ song that the one guest keeps asking me to play. Let’s not get carried away now!


Q – There are some songs that I simply MUST hear. Will you play them?

A – Yes. As long as you let me know that you have some ‘special’ songs that MUST be played, I’ll play them. Many couples provide me with a list of songs to ‘pull’ from. Songs they want to hear at some point during the event if possible. Then there are a few songs that they simply can’t go without hearing. On my forms, there is a spot for “Songs I Gotta Hear”. List those selections there. I’ll do my best to secure those songs for your event. A general list of songs will be treated as such…a list to pull from as needed and if available in my library. Keep in mind though that the maximum amount of songs that can be played in an hour is between 15-17 songs. This is true for ANY DJ you decide to hire. So keep your ‘gotta hear’ list lean and be open to requests from your guests.


Q – Do you have a lot of records?

A – Records?…no. 8-Tracks…tons (literally!). Actually, 99.9% of the music is computerized. The remainder of the songs are on CD’s to be used as filler music, special songs, and as backup in case the 2 computer systems have a complete melt-down. This allows for a much smaller area needed to set up equipment in.


Q – Speaking of space, do you need a lot of room for setting up?

A – Not really. Usually, an area as small as 6′ x 10′ will be fine. Maybe even less if it’s a very small room and not as many lights will be needed. And I don’t need a table either. The effect will be no less exciting though. Just point me to the nearest electrical outlet and I’m a happy camper.


Q – Do you have lights?

A – Yes. Gone are the simple colored spotlights. In their place, specialty lighting that turns a hum-drum reception hall into the latest nightclub.  2 fog machines and a bubble machine are also available by request. In most cases, with nearly all DJ’s, these devices are subject to use according to the rules in place for the venue. So please check with your location manager first before inquiring.


Q – Do you have an ‘act’?

A – No. My thinking is that if you wanted a performer, you’d be looking for a trained monkey act. You’re looking for a DJ/MC…someone who will play good music to get you dancing, help orchestrate your activities properly, and remain effectively in the background. Your event is not about ‘me’…it’s about YOU and your guests.


Q – What about Karaoke?

A – That option is available for an additional fee. Normally, it’s not brought to every event, so it needs to be asked for and reserved in advance. With hundreds of karaoke song selections, you can be sure to find a song you like…then let ‘er rip! Watch out American Idol!


Q – So tell me about this ‘slide show’ thingy?

A – They’re gaining in popularity. You’ve probably already seen something like it. It’s a computerized presentation of pictures of you, your fiance, your families and friends…just about anyone special to you. Set to your most meaningful favorite songs, it can last from 5-15 minutes or longer. Professional editing software is used to add smooth transitions from picture to picture, making a shoe box of old photos come alive on screen. Think Microsoft Power Point on steroids. The presentation is projected onto a screen or open wall space for everyone to see. A DVD is created which you get a copy of.

You can take advantage of this service regardless of whether you choose me, or another form of entertainment, as it’s a service that can be delivered separately. Check out the Prices page for more information.


Q – Are there any ‘hidden’ fees?

A – Like what? The so-called ‘set up’ fee? I have yet to find a single DJ service that charges a client to set up the equipment, THEN have the nerve to charge them more to actually use it later. Many services out there today mention “Free set up!” (Ooooooo!) That’s a hold-over from days gone by, when DJ services were few and far between, and could charge fees like they were plumbers or TV repairmen. My rates are based on the overall event duration. However long it takes me to set up and tear down is on ‘my’ time, not yours.

Let’s be honest, there are a LOT of DJ services out there. Most are very good, some are not so good, a few are downright awful. But the price you see posted here on this site and in any paper documentation you receive from me are the ONLY fees you will need to worry about. Please note though that if you wish to hire me for an event that is many miles outside of my normal coverage area, an additional mileage fee will apply. As we all know, gas is expensive. (see ‘Prices’ section for complete details)


Q – Does the Best Man or Maid of Honor come over to you to make their toasts?

A – Not if they don’t want to. I have 4, yes four wireless microphones to insure no one has to travel far just to say some kind words. Before the start of the event, a wireless mic is placed at the head table. So when it comes time for that ‘roasting’ by your good friends, the mic is close by.


Q – How will you know what to do, and when to do it?

A – I send out an event schedule that you fill out indicating the activity you’d like to do, and the order in which you’d like them done. Leave the rest to me. At the appropriate time, I’ll make the proper announcements and you just follow my lead. Naturally, if you feel the urge to do something right then and there, or if things have changed since I received the schedule initially, I’ll be more than happy to handle the change in plans. I’ll also keep the Photographer and/or Videographer in the loop as well, so they’re in the right place, at the right time. That is ‘crucial’ to insuring that your memories are well documented.


Q – Can I come see you in action at your next party?

A – Usually, no. The majority of my events are private parties and are not open to the public. If I have an event at a public location (outdoor park, bridal show, business event, festival or fair, etc.), then I’ll be happy to provide you with the details. Most reputable DJ’s will not use other people’s wedding receptions or parties as a ‘live’ sales commercial for future bookings. While it’s convenient for the potential client, it’s disruptive to the existing client. I do have a promotional DVD that shows scenes from some of my many past events. It will give you an idea on what to expect when you hire BIG TIME Music & Lights. Contact me to request a free copy!


Q – Do you carry a complete backup system to each event?

A – Well, not exactly. There’s no need to duplicate every single piece of equipment and carry all of that ‘just in case’. When it comes to something going wrong, I guess anything is ‘possible’, but most issues are not ‘probable’. The critical pieces of any DJ setup are the music library, the amplifier(s), and the main mixer. In my setup, I have a professional dual CD player, with the CD player on the computer and on the Karaoke drive as backups. I carry a backup amplifier in case the main amplifier fails, and a 3rd amplifier in case the backup fails. I have 2 computers with the music library mirrored on both, with a selection of CD’s as triple insurance. There are enough lights to put on a fantastic show that if one fails, you’ll barely notice. 4 cordless mic’s are more than enough to take care of any announcing duties, with a corded mic as a last resort. The computerized song mixing system is copied on both computers which are backed up by the standard hardware mixer version. Toss in a generous amount of cords & cables and nearly every situation is covered. Although, admittedly, I don’t have a backup plan for a falling asteroid or biblical flood (other than screaming like a little girl)….but I’m working on it!

If a DJ service says it has a ‘complete’ backup system available, then I’d question the overall quality of the systems as this stuff ain’t cheap! And to afford 2 systems, quality is probably lacking on both, which makes the need for a backup system crucial. Besides, if I had to buy 2 sets of everything, my price would have to reflect those purchases, which would put my price out of reach for nearly everyone. Proper planning and a knowledgeable person at the controls insures a smooth event regardless of what’s thrown into the mix!


Q – So how do you dress? How do you normally conduct yourself while at the event?

A – If it’s a wedding reception, I come in a tuxedo shirt, vest, & pants. No tuxedo t-shirts & sneakers here! If that’s too formal, then a dress shirt & tie/dress pants combo is in order. If that’s still too formal, then whatever is appropriate for the event is worn. But whatever the event, I’ll be dressed accordingly.

I don’t expect to be served dinner while working, as most couples are paying ‘per plate’ and don’t need to incur an additional expense. Some venues charge a flat fee for a buffet based on a range of the number of people attending. If that’s the case, and I’m asked, I ‘may’ indulge. But normally, I’ve either already eaten before arriving, or will eat on the way home.

I don’t smoke so that’s a non-issue…and there is no drinking of ANY alcohol at ANY event whatsoever! In the hotter summer months though, I have been known to drink 12oz. glasses of water like they were ‘shots’….but I digress.


Q – Do we ‘tip’ you?

A – It can be debated on whether or not to tip the service providers that are involved with an event or wedding. I do not have a ‘tip jar’ (as I’ve seen used by DJ’s at other events). I do not mention or add a tip charge anywhere in my contract. Like most people, if you feel the quality of my work warrants a tip, I will graciously accept and offer my sincere thanks. But I do my best each and every time and do not expect a tip. So free your mind of that worry.


Q – I noticed that if I took the 4hr package, and wanted you to stay an extra hour that night, overall, I’d be paying the same amount as if I hired you for the 5hr package to start with. That doesn’t seem fair! Shouldn’t it be cheaper for the ‘extra’ time. Most other DJ’s charge a lower rate for any overtime requests.

A – It actually makes perfect sense to do it this way. If I charged a lower hourly ‘overtime’ rate, then what’s to stop everyone from just requesting the cheapest package I offer, then ask me to stay the extra 2hrs, knowing all along that they actually wanted me for the full 6hrs the whole time and just wanted to get the ‘overall’ package cheaper. Now is ‘that’ fair? There is a reason for every policy. Let’s be real. You’ll need to pay for the time it takes a DJ to perform their duties for the overall duration of your event.

But in case I haven’t convinced you on this concept, think about it this way. Many other DJ’s charge you a high flat rate for events “up to 6 hours long”. So what if your event is only 5hrs, or 4hrs, or less? Will you get a refund for the time not used? I doubt it!

The overtime fee is for the convenience of the client as I bill in 30 minute increments rather than full hours. If you’re still having fun dancing at the end of the night, and still want to keep going, but think your guests will lose their steam in about 20-25min., then you have the ability to just pay for an extra 30 minutes, rather than a full hour. No need to spend money needlessly. Especially when you two are just starting out your lives together.


Q – How come you charge a ‘travel fee’ for long distances? A few other services I looked into don’t charge a fee for that.

A – And I’ll bet their ‘pay-one-price’ fee is quite a bit higher than mine even with the travel fee included. Any business that promotes the ‘pay-one-price’ feature has raised their prices to cover the most costly example. That’s just a part of business. This way, they can appear to go above and beyond for the extreme situations, while knowing that the majority of their clients who are much closer (meaning, more profitable) are still paying that extra high ‘pay-one-price’ price.

Remember when self-serve gas was cheaper if you paid cash instead of charging it? Then one day, it became ‘pay-one-price’ and most people thought it was the best thing since sliced bread? Well, all they did was raise the cash price UP to the credit card price! But hey…ain’t it great to ‘pay-one-price’?!

With my service, you pay for the features you want, and for my expenses involved in playing at your event. Basic economics are that it costs more for me to travel great distances than it does to stay close to home. There’s no secret in that.


Q – We’re planning a blow-out of a wedding reception! Lots of fun, food, music, and BOOZE! Can you help with that.

A – Yes…and no. If part of your plans include you, your bridal party, and/or many of your guests getting totally intoxicated, then you may want to find another DJ. Too many times, parties and receptions become an excuse to get drunk. And not just tipsy either. A wedding reception is the celebratory portion of your very special day. You’ve given careful consideration to determining who you’d like there to help you celebrate the occasion. You’ve spent oodles of $$$ on costly aspects of the day. You’ve put on an expensive and elegant wedding gown or tuxedo. Don’t ruin everything by stumbling around in a ‘fog’ by drinking too much. Save the beer-blast for another time.

It’s an unfortunate reality that alcohol often brings out the worst in many people. People normally reserved and polite often become belligerent and abusive after several drinks. And there is no worse ‘trigger’ to this behavior than music.

As an event professional, I have seen and experienced this type of behavior all too often. Intoxicated guests can become downright abusive if they feel ‘their’ song request is not being honored, or honored in a manner that they feel it should be. No one should be required to deal with that type of abuse. While it is an inherent reality involving social situations and alcohol, it needs to be addressed just the same. My contract specifically states that I reserve the right to cease all DJ activities if I feel a danger to myself or my equipment exists due to a guest or guests who are “enjoying themselves too much.” While you can’t control everyone at your event, you can control how the event is percieved by your guests. An elegant and mature atmosphere will hopefully keep everyone on their best behavior.

By all means, enjoy the day…but keep it under control so you can have a successful event that you and your guests will actually be able to ‘remember’ the day after.


Q – We plan on having an hour break between the cocktail hour and the main reception. But we’d like you to play for the cocktail portion as well. Do we need to pay you for the time in-between when nothing is going on?

A – Unfortunately, yes. I’ll need to be there for the entire time, even though you may not need me during the break. For example, if you’re having a cocktail hour, followed by an hour break, and then a 4hr reception, then you’ll need to purchase the 6hr package.

This scenario usually comes into play when you may be having a string ensemble, harpist, or some other activity somewhere in the mix.

This might also need to be considered when your guests will be in the main room during the time prior to your official reception when I would normally be setting up. It’s extremely difficult to set up with a room full of guests milling about, not to mention disruptive. So say you needed me for a 4hr reception only, and you were having a cocktail hour before the start but didn’t need me for that portion. In this example, you’d need to purchase the 5hr package so that I would be setup and ready to go before your guests arrived for the cocktail hour.

December 2018
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