Red Sapphire DJ Entertainment Blog. Get the latest information on what Red Sapphire is doing, our new DJ packages, and options.
|Posted on October 8, 2015 at 2:20 AM|
So, you are looking around for a DJ because you either want a DJ, or your friends and family are encouraging you to have a DJ. Dancing and listening to music at a wedding can be both fun for yourselves, and way of providing entertainment for people you care about.
The most important question to ask first is, “Do we like to dance?” That may seem an obvious question, but sometimes folks get so caught up in other factors that they forget to answer the one in front of them. Do you enjoy going out to clubs or bars to dance with your friends, or significant other? Have you always enjoyed going to school dances, or college formals? The goal of a DJ is often to get people up out of their seats to jam out to some fun music. Your guests want to share in the fun with you, so when they see you and your wedding party on the floor they can’t help but join in.
The next question is, “Do we want to hire a DJ?” There are tons of apps, and music services out there where someone can create a playlist, or a custom music station, and let that play for the evening. I completely understand this option simply because I definitely wouldn’t want a sub-par DJ performing at my event. To me, a sub-par DJ is one that goes and plays some music, and doesn’t take an interactive role in the event. In that scenario there’s really no difference between the Ipod and the live DJ.
Really good DJs have a style and involvement that is uniquely theirs. Upon hiring a DJ, you allow them to take the music you like, and form a smooth mix around that music. There’s always a form of control that the DJ takes on when allowing them to create a mix that can’t be duplicated by a machine playing random songs. Beat matching, bpm counting, scratching, song transitions, customized song arrangements, genre transitions, etc… are all factors that an app just can’t duplicate effectively in a live setting, and it often comes out sounding cheesy, tacky, or haphazard.
Another question to consider is, “Do I want my event to be well organized?” Over the years, I’ve learned to be a day-of event coordinator. I always put together a wedding outline with each client which contains major events such as the cake cutting, 1st dance, La Marcha, etc…. I take on the responsibility of making sure that the flow of events moves along very well.
I’m sometimes at odds with certain photographers, wedding planners, or even venue managers because I tend to make them look bad if they are not on top of their game. If the food is not served on time then I will question the facility about it. If the photographer steels the bride and groom for periods of 30 minutes or more then I question them about it. That’s what you want, a Bold DJ; someone who can take the reigns, and guide the event in an organized fashion. You don’t want the kiss-up DJ because they are often so afraid that they will lose the recommendation from a vendor or facility, that they will agree to them doing whatever they want at whatever time.
Another important questions is, “What type of gear will be provided?” The market for audio and lighting rental has gone up because there are so many terrible DJs out there that have turned people off from having a DJ at their wedding. Folks will rent the gear, and put on an mp3 player. My audio gear is either made in the USA or Italy, and is top notch. When you rent gear, it’s often a crapshoot because you never know who had it before. Sometimes the woofer or tweeter is blown out, but the renter is betting on you not recognizing that. Not everyone is an audio expert.
I liken it to owning your own ski gear, and having to rent ski gear. If you have to rent ski gear then you will mostly likely spend most of your day on your back. The big reason is that ski boots must fit a certain way. They must mold to your specific foot, and must be the correct size. Rental boots have had multiple feet in them, and are just too loose to hold your foot in place. Who knows who rented that audio gear last? It may even have a slightly blown woofer, which will give off a rank smell, yet still work fine.
Another question to consider is, “Whom am I inviting to the event?” A large factor in considering a DJ is the caliber of people you invite to the event. Let’s be perfectly honest, there are folks who are going to be considerably jealous that you hired a good DJ. These are often the folks that spent their entire wedding budget on other things, and ended up using a music service or mp3 player as their music entertainment. All their guests left right after dinner, and were generally bored during the event. There was no form of organization during the evening either.
When certain guests see everyone having a blast at your event they become jealous because they didn’t provide that type of fun at their event. I see these folks a mile away because they will often request some wacky song, and then tell the bride and groom that I didn’t play their request just to annoy them.
You must be strong-minded when hiring a DJ because the haters will definitely try to influence your perception. As an example, I once did an event where the clients had provided a playlist of specific songs for me to play. I played many of those songs during the cocktail hour, and while the bride and groom were away for pictures. Of all people, the bride’s own sister tried to tell the bride that I completely ignored the playlist; nothing was further from the truth. That type of jealousy can come from the strangest places, and having a strong mind allows you to standup to false statements, and understand that people will often say these things because they wish their event would have compared to yours. I came to find out later that the sister hired an overpriced DJ for her wedding that failed at pretty much all facets of the event, and she couldn’t handle the fact that her own sister had a more impressive event.
In the end, a good interactive DJ can bring organization, preparation, and quality service to your event. Also, a DJ can take requests; try coming up to an mp3 player and requesting some Gonzalo or The Beatles in real time. There are many tiers of DJs around the world, but it always comes down to your gut feeling When You Meet Them In Person! So, do you need a DJ? Like the answer to most questions, “It all depends.”
Thanks for reading.
|Posted on August 3, 2015 at 5:30 PM|
I worked with an attorney for approximately two years. When potential clients looked like they were deciding not to hire him he would always use the line, “you get what you pay for.” I always found it insincere when he would use this phrase because, as someone who saw things from behind the scenes, I always knew this was more of a scare tactic than a substantive statement. After the service contract was signed, 9 times out of 10 the attorney would ask a friend to appear for court on his behalf.
This attorney would charge upwards of $2500.00 for a first DWI case. And, folks would pay it because they were afraid that if they spent less with another attorney they would not get good representation. There were even instances where the attorney would not even show up for court.
The statement of, “you get what you pay for,” is often used in the DJ realm. And, it’s better to consider the statement at face value. If you pay for a particular package or option then you should expect to receive that certain product. Considering the statement for its underlying connotation of, you need to pay more with me because you will receive a better product, is a falsehood.
DJ companies that charge more than $1000.00 for their basic packages must do so because of their overhead, as well as, enormous ego. A large portion of their income from events goes toward advertising costs. So, let’s break those costs down.
Weddingwire Account: $200.00 per month
Perfect Wedding Guide: $200.00 per month
The Knot Account: $200.00 per month
Google Adwords: $300.00 - $500.00 per month
Chambers of Commerce: $100.00 per month
Site Webmaster and SEO: $300.00 – $600.00 per month
Franchise Fees: $200.00 per month
Direct Mailing to Vendors/Facilities: $100.00
One of the most significant of these ad costs is Google Adwords. Google Adwords is a pay-per-click service that allows a vendor to obtain a top position in Google search. The vendor must pay more money per click to maintain a higher position. For instance, every time a person clicks on a Google Ad under a search for, “Albuquerque DJs” the vendor is spending about 10-12 dollars per click. You can see how these costs add up very quickly.
Looking at other costs besides advertising, consider if they have a commercial office; this is a huge monthly expense. Does the company have numerous DJs, MCs or assistants? I’ve done tons of shows, so I often will see the more prissy type DJ company owners who have a team of four or more employees setting up their gear. Bottom line is that since they don’t have enough employees with enough skills to conduct an event they must hire more people. Such is the case when the DJ company has to send both an MC and a DJ out for a show. Neither one is capable of perform the job of the other, so both are needed. In order to justify their inefficiencies they use phrases like, “you get what you pay for."
My prices are in the median amount because I run an efficient service. At least half of the money from an event will be reinvested back into my equipment, so I always have the latest upgrades in the market. I own four audio systems, and each one is tailor made for any setting. To me, overboard advertising is a considerable waste of money; it’s more of a way to buy an event rather than obtaining the event through merit. I’ve been able to have an excellent career as a DJ because most of the events I obtain are from prior clients, their families, and friends.
To be fair, the concept of, “getting what you pay for,” definitely applies to goods such as electronic mixers or amplifiers for instance. I’m a hobby electronics repairperson, so I can tell the difference between well-made capacitors or transistors, and the other junky stuff. See, this is quantifiable because you can calculate this information through math.
Services are never quantifiable in the same manner. Each one of us can attest to having paid lots of money for a cruddy service, and then paying less money for an excellent service. The clients that come to me are folks who work for their own money. They have enough pride to pay for their own expenses especially with regard to more luxury items such as a DJ, limo service, or videographer for instance. They may receive some monetary help from others for cost of venue, photographer, or food, but don’t want parents or others to have to foot the bill for everything.
This indicates responsibility, and those who are responsible are respectable, and in turn, folks that I enjoy doing events for because they always want to have a blast. You work hard, you play hard. When the credit card bill comes around and you see a $2500.00 payment to a DJ that was pretty mediocre, you will know you were ripped off. So, ask yourself, “did I really get what I paid for, or did that money pay for vendor inefficiency?”
Thanks for reading,
|Posted on February 12, 2015 at 5:30 PM|
Today's marketplace has moved over to online advertising. Take a look at the difference between a phonebook from 2005, and today; the difference is significant. Part of that advertising comes in the form of online reviews. Even Google uses reviews as part of their algorithm in ranking sites for SEO. And, this often leads to businesses often asking former customers or clients to place reviews of their products or services online. The important part to remember is that not all reviews, nor review sites are considered equal.
The review system in today’s marketplace is extensively abused. In the grand scheme, Google has probably the most reliable review system available. Google requires reviewers to setup a Google Plus account before they can post reviews of a business. This system allows for Google to monitor that account to determine whether it was setup only to post a single review of business (ghost account), or is an account that is regularly used, and contains unique content and activity. Google also has a system of filters that allows them to detect if a review comes from an IP address that is too closely associated with the IP address of the business or business members. Even so, this algorithm does not always detect an unreliable review. In essence, Google is generally able to kick out reviews that don’t meet certain criteria for legitimacy. Always keep in mind that a friend, family member, coworker, or another vendor is always capable of posting a review, and it's nearly impossible for any review system to catch those occurences. This problem lies at the heart of this unreliable review system.
Yelp is another review-based system, and has a very strict review evaluation algorithm. In fact, more than 50% of reviews for any given business are filtered out as “Not Recommended.” These are reviews that may fail a single factor in the Yelp protocol. There is a multi-op DJ company here in Albuquerque that placed a review on Yelp under their own account, and you can actually see that the review is, “Not Recommended.” So, Yelp does catch most unreliable reviews, but it also filters those that are legitimate as well. Being too stringent in their review system makes the whole system unreliable. Did you know that there are folks who will actually sell reviews as a Yelp reviewer after they become a trusted Yelper?
Then you have a company like WeddingWire, which has gained most of its online presence around 2011, and into the present time. Most vendors signup with a free storefront on WeddingWire because it has an substantial backlink system, and a network of other Wedding and Event sites. WeddingWire gives out an award every year called the Couple’s Choice Award which was formally called Bride’s Choice Award. The site claims that the award is based on four criteria:
1. Overall Rating (Quality)
2. Total Number of Reviews (Quantity)
3. Review Performance over the year (Recent)
4. And Consistency of reviews from year to year (Consistency)
The winners are able to put some fancy language on their site about excellent quality and service, and then a misleading 5 star icon on their website. All this fancy stuff is created to make the vendor look special, but let’s go ahead and dissect what this award really is. Now, I could break down each factor in this criteria, and give you the problems associated with each one, but let’s just consider the one thing that the award is based on, WeddingWire reviews.
The WeddingWire system is much more inferior at filtering out fake reviews than say Google is. If you go onto WeddingWire and have a look at the reviews that get posted for vendors there are certain red flags that indicate a fake or biased review. Look to see if the string of reviews all sound the same. One of my competitors has a list of WeddingWire reviews containing maybe two to three sentences with almost all qualifying language such as (they are the best, he was awesome, he was remarkable, etc...). You hardly see any details about the event such as where it took place, any dates, how they mixed genres together, if they were recommended, the type of equipment they used, etc…. A client who actually hired the vendor will have a ton of detailed information to talk about, and a fake poster will have very little and less factual. Also look for a vendor response containing facts instead of qualifying language.
Another factor to look for is who made the posting. Does it sound like a typically used name? Is the review made anonymous? Is there any picture posted of the person? A real reviewer will often show they are proud to have made the decision to hire a particular vendor. They will post their full name, a picture, and the date of event. Also consider how many posts that person made; if only one, that screams out fake review.
Also consider whether there are lots of WeddingWire reviews (eg. 20 or more), and virtually none or just a couple of Google reviews. This is a huge discrepancy since it’s much easier to post a fake review on WeddingWire and much harder to post a fake review on Google or Yelp. Look to see if the same reviewer also posted the review on Google or Yelp.
Last but not least, make sure you uncover if the company receiving the award pays WeddingWire for advertising. WeddingWire charges between $700 and $2400 per year depending on the advertising package a vendor purchases with them. Take a step back and consider the process that takes place here. Do you really think that WeddingWire is going to give an award to a vendor that has not purchased a package with them? To me, this is the same process of bribing a judge for higher placement in a beauty contest. In the end, do you really want to depend on an award given out by a company that has not even seen the vendor in action? That’s like the Oscar judges giving out an award for best picture to “Gigili” based on what was posted on Twitter (if Twitter was around back then).
There are other wedding advertising companies out there that partake in the same sort of award process as WeddingWire; it’s just that WeddingWire tends be the most brash and unscrupulous in its approach.
So, now that you’ve seen how unreliable the review system can be, how does one make a reliable decision since reviews suffer from such untrustworthiness? MEET THE VENDOR IN PERSON!! Reviews and meaningless flashy awards cater to the lazy client. These clients have a major event such as a wedding, but are not willing to put in the footwork to meet vendors in person. They see a few reviews, and figure a decision based on that. I've worked with a certain photography company many times, and I like their philosophy that you should meet with at least 10 photographers before making a decision. The same goes for DJs.
A DJ can sound great on the phone, and often acts as the sales person of company who is only wishing to close the deal with you. And, when you do meet in person, make sure that you meet with the DJ who will be doing your event!! It does you no good to talk with the owner who meets with you in a flashy outfit, and an ego the size of the Sandia Mountains. Demand to meet with the one who is actually going to do your event because he or she is the person you will be dealing with before and on the day of the event. If the arrogant DJ/Salesperson doesn’t allow for that then come talk to me, and we will treat you the proper way.
Thanks for reading.
|Posted on November 26, 2014 at 7:00 PM|
Many DJs will place the quality of their DJ services on an ability to mix songs, and turntable scratching. These are easy skills to practice and learn, and anyone that calls him or herself a DJ should be able to mix with turntables. I’m always practicing with turntables, and other midi controllers in order to keep sharp. Most of the time you will find these types of DJs at nightclubs and bars; I was also a nightclub DJ as well. But, that ability doesn’t mean that a turntable DJ will be able to provide what you are looking for in the Mobile DJ production realm.
Say for instance your big wedding day has arrived, and all your vendors are set to arrive at a particular time. Everything looks nice, and people are in high spirits. Suddenly your venue manager informs you that the live music group you hired for your ceremony hasn’t arrived yet, and it’s only 30 minutes from the ceremony start time.
Or, what if the ceremony musician cancelled on you three days before the wedding date, which I’ve personally seen happen. You’ve called around, and no one is available to do music. And, because you went with a one-trick-pony DJ company, they don’t have a separate ceremony system that can be used to play ceremony music. Or, if they do, the DJ company owner sees that you are in a pinch, and wants to charge you an obscene amount for that option. Believe me, there are DJs who do stuff like this.
Because I have a standardized DJ brochure, you get to see the products and prices on everything I provide, so there’s no chance of price gouging. I bring doubles of everything, and always bring all my gear for any options that the client decides they want. This means that I can step-in to make sure everything runs according to plan.
Let’s say that you are a month out from your event, and you decide you want video projection because you want to pay tribute to your family. Or, that you now have your heart set on video recording your ceremony. These are options that we can provide at anytime. Versatility is a key attribute that your mobile DJ should have.
Before you hire a multi-op company with an owner who is going to stick you with someone they pulled off the street to do your event, first ask yourself if this DJ is versatile enough to provide what I need in case something changes, or what if an emergency occurs. It’s the smart thing to hire a DJ that has a number of skills and tools they can employ if needed. It may be as simple as a DJ who owns a nice wedding canopy that he can use for outdoor ceremonies or receptions for protection from rain or sunlight. In the end, the ability to mix with turntables is nice (and is something I do), but not as important as having the versatility to produce an event with many facets.
You have the best idea as to who will be attending your event, and also what your tastes are in music. At Red Sapphire, I always sit down with you or talk over the phone to discuss what your music flavors will be for your event. There are DJs that will tell a client, “Oh, we don’t play that type of music,” or, “I don’t grant requests because we are only allowed to play certain songs.” These are often excuses for the fact that they have prerecorded sets! Yes, you’d be surprised how many times a DJ company will send out an employee with a mp3 file of a mix that was previously mixed on the company computer system. Can anyone say Paris Hilton? It’s also an excuse used if the DJ has no idea what good songs come from that genre of music, and they eventually close their minds on the genre.
I am proud to say that I have one of the most eclectic libraries of music in Albuquerque. I am constantly getting exposed to new music that I wouldn’t know about if I acted like a inflexible DJ that only played the conventional stuff. You want your event to have a unique sound that’s different from every other generic wedding that season. This gives your event a more tailored sound that people actually remember. I’ve played everything from northern NM music to Brazilian Samba, and everything in between.
I recently had a client meeting with a future bride who told me that another DJ they were interviewing told her straight out that he doesn’t play country music. What?? How can you call yourself a DJ in Albuquerque, and you don’t know any good country songs to play? Now that is a close-minded DJ.
The main point is to be careful with DJs that have enormous egos because they are the least flexible. They are easily spotted by their desire to tell you what you want, or they throw a list of fake reviews at you to inflate their self-worth, and seem like an authority figure. At a wedding, you are seeking to bring your guests into your world, and give them a distinctive experience. Music is a large part of that process. Flexibility is an important quality because it allows for a free discussion of ideas, and seeks to involve all parties in the process of achieving your vision. Don’t let an arrogant DJ control your event; it’s your vision, and it should remain so.
Thanks for reading.
|Posted on October 8, 2014 at 4:45 PM|
I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing clients on all levels. Over the many years that I’ve been a DJ, I’ve noticed a particular tendency, being that my clients come from astute backgrounds. Many are doctors, radiologists, dentists, optomitrists, business leaders, lawyers, accountants, military leaders, and major corporations. When I do events for younger folks they often are leaders in their own schools such as student organization presidents, or ROTC leaders.
This tendency leans toward a more mature group of clients. With maturity comes experience, and folks with experience have seen a number of things in their lives that have an effect on their decision making, and in particular their ability to prepare for the future. A number of my clients have hired DJs in the past, and have decided on a different strategy for planning their current event. Many have stories of DJs that charged them a boatload of money, and didn’t deliver proper entertainment. In some cases, the assigned DJ from the multi-dj company didn’t even show up, and they don’t want to experience the same thing again. Or, the DJ didn't follow the client's wishes, and played electro music all night instead of a balanced mix of genres.
Close to 85% of my clients come from friends and family of prior clients that I’ve worked with. Or, they come from people that have seen me DJing an event, and come up to ask for a card. I will often get a call or email a few days after that, and most of my new clients come from that transaction. The potential client sees what I do in person, and they decide they want their night to flow just like that.
Having established that my clients come from experienced and perceptive backgrounds, I don’t often get calls from the less perceptive clients. These clients don’t understand that throwing money at an issue doesn’t solve something they need to devote time to. They are often less experienced than the clients who consider all angles. They are not bad people by any means, but are more prone to make decisions in the heat of the moment based on slick and desperate sales tactics. This client will often end up overpaying for a DJ service because they think price if the only factor in making a decision. Meanwhile, the expensive DJ is not thinking about how smart the client is, but how easy it was to trick them into paying an inflated price for an inferior service.
Our prices are purposefully made for those clients who earn their own money, and are smart enough to know when they are getting swindled by slick sales talk. These clients are unselfish people who want to provide a wonderful time for their guests. They are responsible, and selective about what they want. When they sit down at a table with others they want to say they had an awesome DJ for their event, and not that hired the most expensive.
I’ve had many clients who are experienced and wise. They know what it feels like to be “tricked by business,” in the famous words of Macklemore. They can identify slick sales tactics such as a DJ waiving a stack of papers in front of them saying that these are clients that didn’t book in time, and we turned them down. That sales tactic, by the way, is called the “Takeaway Close.” If the DJ is so desperate to get you booked for a date, then what motivations does he have? Probably so he can pay his inflated business expenses, or to fill a spot for one of his subordintate DJs. None of this translates to you having a quality DJ, only an expensive one.
Take your time, and don’t feel pressured to sign with a smooth talking salesperson who isn't even DJing your event. If the person you are talking with is pressuring you to sign a contract rather than developing a sense of trust with you, then remember that it is now a buyer’s market; there are probably 70 DJs in Albuquerque that can perform at your event. Look around and find a DJ that suits your approach because it will benefit both you, as well as, the DJ. Be the intelligent consumer; don’t get tricked into paying $100.00 for a McDonald’s cheeseburger, so to speak.
With multi-op companies that send out multiple DJs on a particular night, there are often many problems that arise. A client will call the owner of the company, and the owner will respond with something like, “I will talk with your DJ about the problem, and that will never happen again.” It’s a way of passing the blame off to a subordinate, and often times it never actually gets discussed or fixed. My clients hire me because they understand that through my experience as a DJ over 20 + years, I’ve honed my craft to the point where I’ve seen nearly every situation, and can react properly. They would rather have the owner perform at their event than a subordinate because it cuts out the need to consult with someone else, and the owner actually cares about the event. My clients understand that I can make decisions in real time, and in that regard they receive a more efficient and stable service.
Cheers to the intelligent client.
|Posted on August 12, 2014 at 2:05 AM|
Although an audio system can be made up of dozens of pieces of equipment from elaborate digital mixers to 250 lbs dual 21 inch subwoofers, one of the most important items in an audio chain, besides microphones, are audio speakers. The reason why speakers and microphones are so important is that they convert physical energy into electrical energy and vice versa.
It’s misleading for a DJ to say that they have the best audio system in Albuquerque, and then follow it up by saying it boasts 6000 watts of power. This is a very tricky statement because most folks think that higher wattage is a sign of better quality sound. Higher wattage can indicate that the system, depending on the configuration, has headroom which is good for making sure that the Continuous Power Handling of the speaker itself can be met and exceeded. This cuts down on amplifier clipping, distortion, and power inefficiency.
But, why is it that audio systems using only 1000 watts can sound so much clearer, and punchier than one that is using 3000 watts? The trick is to not be fooled with large wattage readings; you must determine where that amplified signal is going.
Internally amplified top cabs have become the most effective way of incorporating improved sound into an audio system. In powered speakers such as these, the signal from the mixer or sound processing equipment is sent directly to the speaker’s input. In my particular speakers, the signal is then divided up by an active crossover which sends the high and upper-mid tones to the amplifier driving the tweeter, and the lower midrange and bass tones to the amplifier driving the woofer. This configuration can vary depending on the brand of manufacturer of the powered speaker. However, the above-mentioned configuration is the proper and most effective method of developing sound.
It used to be that to achieve the same or similar audio configuration, one would need to bi-amplify the speakers using separate audio amplifiers. This process is still used in professional audio systems such as those found at large concerts and festivals. However, most sound companies have converted over to powered line array systems based on essentially the same concept as powered speakers except in slightly different configurations designed to produce sound over a wider dispersion.
Subwoofers are a whole other ballgame. Subwoofers are meant to produce sub bass energy that rounds out the bottom end of the sound spectrum. They are specifically designed to take most of the pressure off the speakers producing the higher tones, so that those speakers don’t sound distorted or become overworked.
The subwoofers that I use are made for live concert sound. The design is such that I can be located 10 or 15 feet from the edge of the dance floor, and people are still able to hear and feel the bass. I always have to laugh when I hear a DJ say that they must be right next to the floor for it to sound good. We understand that due to the room configuration, close proximity may not be possible, so we’ve designed our system accordingly.
What does this mean to you, the client? Make sure at the very least that you find a DJ that has active top cabs, and at least one subwoofer. Also, try to have a DJ provide an audio equipment list to you at time of hiring espcially if you are using a company with multiple DJs. A DJ with a good system should be proud of it. You don’t want a DJ to show up at the event with the family’s home theater speakers.
At Red Sapphire DJ Entertainment we take our sound to the next level using specialized equipment that tailors the sound to a particular venue, so it doesn’t matter if the event is outdoors, at a theater, a banquet room, or bar. You will hear sound that is clear and pleasing to the ear, and doesn’t give off that raspy, crackly, and wonky sound. Just to put things into perspective. Mediocre audio systems can be purchased for around 1500 dollars; the audio system featured in our packages costs around 9000 dollars. But, our clients, venue managers, and audioheads understand the difference, capability, and versatility of quality components.
Contact me if you have any questions about our audio system. I’d be happy to meet up, and explain more about the differences involving audio systems.
Thanks for reading.