Do the majority of weddings today reserve more bands or DJs?
Good morning all from Entertainment Exchange. My business partner Mike Ostrow and I are happy to speak with you today. We will both answer each of the questions that follow.
Pat: Yes. More weddings use DJs than bands for three reasons: 1) weddings are held everywhere (the park, your house, gardens, rooftops, etc.). DJs are comparatively smaller and therefore can fit in some places that bands cannot, 2) DJs have been traditionally less expensive, although less so these days; and 3) DJs can play some songs that bands can't play on the spot (e.g., club remixes, certain current selections).
The experience of a DJ is different than a band however. A live performance will always be somehow more exciting than dancing to a CD, assuming the band is comprised of professional musicians with lots of experience. Brides tend to want to steer away from typical "wedding band" groups.
Mike: I think if you consider all weddings then you certainly can say that the majority of brides and grooms opt for DJ's. However, in my experience, you can divide weddings up into different categories. Those categories can be based upon location of the wedding, number of guests, budget, etc. — really the sky is the limit. For certain weddings only a band will do. For example, I am the leader of a popular local band, Free Spirit, and we play more than 50 weddings each and every year since 1976. We have not noticed a dramatic drop in the number of weddings that we play simply because we tend to play at the high budget "hotel" weddings at four and five star venues. We don't usually see those types of weddings hiring DJs. In fact, at the weddings at which we perform, we sometimes work side by side with DJs so that the clients can get all the musical selections that they would like to hear while the band is on break and/or the DJ provides unique cultural selections. We recently played at a hotel for an Indonesian couple who had a DJ for the cocktail hour and on our breaks where he played great selections to accompany the traditional folk dances. It was a terrific success. If the budget allows and there's enough space, I think having a band in combination with some pre-recorded music is a dynamite combination. Certainly, a competent DJ/Emcee can put on a great show as well on his or her own.
Pat: DJs are definitely smaller in their production vales and can play anything. Bands are a live performance and can be a lot more exciting to watch, dance or just listen to. There are cons with both however. Bad or inexperienced DJs are cheesy in their selections and what they say on the microphone. And, bands that are not good simply don't sound sound anything like the records they are performing. Overall, while there are differences in both, bands and DJs typically play the same music most of the time. I think the experience of both is what distinguishes them the most.
Mike: While it is true that DJs cost less than bands in general the gap between the two is clearly closing. Many DJs have low introductory base packages but with add-ons the prices can approach what bands charge. I know of a local DJ who is quite busy at $3,000 per show while we have bands at our agency that start at $3,500. That being said, I think it's better to have a DJ if your musical requirements are such that a band cannot provide what you want to hear. For example if you need to hear what's playing on your favorite radio station today, then you should go with a DJ. Typically a band will not learn songs to add to their permanent repertoire unless the songs have been around long enough to become a certified hit on the music charts. Also, if you have a large number of special requests then you might consider a DJ. Because of the difficulty of learning songs, bands typically learn only about 2 or 3 new songs for each event (it's typical to learn a first dance, father/daughter dance and mother/son dance). Finally, a DJ is better for you if you are having an ethnic/culturally specific wedding that requires music to be played that a band cannot easily play for you. One solution that bands have employed to overcome some of the musical selection issues is to work closely with the clients to create custom CD's for breaks or even playing a bride's iPod playlist over the band PA while the band is on a break.
Pat: Brides often tell me that they don't want their receptions to be cheesy or cliche. I always ask that the bride set that evaluation aside and just try to pick a song that is meaningful to you, and not the rest of the world. So I always answer this question with a question. What songs do you remember as a little girl about your dad? What song did he use to sing to you? What song speaks to your relationship about your dad. Whatever song you come up with is perfect.
Songs range from very old to very new. The requests we receive are as different as the clothes that we wear. We are all different and that's what will be perfect about your wedding.
Mike: I like this question. I know that my brides are tired of always hearing "Daddy's Little Girl" or "Sunrise Sunset." I would recommend that you think about your relationship with your father and try to find something that's special to the two of you that will remind you of good times that you had together. Also, if there's a particular song that your dad sang to you, or a nickname that he used for you then that would be a great place to start. There are some new songs out that are just starting to get popular but are not yet over played. Take a listen to "My Little Girl", or "I Loved Her First." Both are country songs but have a really nice contemporary sound to them. Feel free to get in touch offline and I'd be happy to offer some more selections.
Pat: Bands and DJs can change and evolve the music and night progresses. They can also handle specific situations as they occur. If you handle you own music, you will likely be more concerned about it at your affair, rather than letting your professional DJ or band handle things for you.
Mike: Actually, I don't think this is a terrific idea unless you are not planning on having a lot of dancing at your reception. I think it's generally fine for ambient or atmosphere music. But in order to have dancing, you really need someone with a lot of experience "reading" a crowd and determining what song to play after the one that's already being performed. Each party is very different and how the music is transitioning from one genre to the next, the mix of fast versus slow, etc. is crucial to motivating the crowd. You just don't know in advance what songs will work in any predetermined order. Only someone with a lot of experience will know how to mix the music and announcements appropriately. I know it's an appealing thought to bring your iPod and be done with it — but I think that's risky.
Mike and I have played together for many years and have encountered just about every situation you can imagine. Although there is no time to go into any more detail here, when we talkk to you off-line, we'll be glad to share some interesting and funny stories.
Ah the first challenge in sharing your worlds together. What matters most is not who gets what songs, but in that you both value each other's wants. I know for myself, my wife is 7 years younger than me, so I learned early that making her happy was my highest concern. If he does not know that yet, he will soon enough.
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