Thursday, March 26, 2015

Should I have a Band or a DJ?

Top Notch is currently gearing up for a wedding planned in the next few weeks where I will be working alongside  Justin Trawick & The Common Good Band to provide entertainment for the guests. Although, Top Notch has certainly paired with live musicians for various events in the past, it is refreshing to work with a full band and share the entertainment responsibility with another party. For the most part, the majority of events that I perform and plan either involve me deejaying or a live artists/band, rarely both, which led me to write todays blog post topic, ”When Planning for a Wedding the differences between a DJ or a Band”. Top Notch gets this inquiry consistently from newly engaged couples and although the selection of entertainment really can boil down to the mood, style and feel that you desire for your wedding, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering either hiring a live band or Disc Jockey. They are as follows.

-For Ceremony- If music is needed for your ceremony. Acoustic artists such as guitar, violin, cello etc. are intimate, personal and can provide a great appeal to your wedding. The music is live, may fit the theme of the event and does make for great pictures! However, rarely do these artists provide their own PA system and some do not have microphones nor amplifiers. Speakers and a PA System are usually always necessary for the officiant and bride and groom to be heard as the vows are exchanged during this critical point of the wedding. If considering a band for this part of the wedding, you would certainly need to make sure your venue has speakers, microphones, etc that may be accessible and can be ran from a venue staff member.

-Sheet Music- Artists/bands may use sheet music to follow as they perform. This could mean “pauses” between each song during the ceremony and/or reception as they must turn their sheet music. On the other hand, DJ's can fade every songs smoothly throughout an event without any unplanned breaks or pauses.

-Limitations- Bands typically have a certain type of music and set list that they specialize in and they have practiced to play, if guests desire for the band to alternate from these genre's it may be difficult for a band to do so meanwhile a Disc Jockey has a wide variety of music that can be played at anytime necessary. One should be aware if they want one specific genre during the reception, especially for dancing, or if they desire a broad mix of selections and which source of entertainment is a best option to provide this necessity.

Mobility- DJ's need less room and therefore can be more mobile if necessary. If a band is in fact amplified, one would need to keep in mind the “space” factor, as bands may consists of several members and their instruments which would take up much more space than a single individual DJ, as well as electricity concerns. A DJ usually needs 1 outlet for all of the equipment, while am amplified band may need several. DJ's can set a specific play list if necessary and walk away from the music in order to assist the bride, groom, wedding director etc for further plans during the reception, and help the flow of the event, meanwhile a band cannot. It is important that the schedule of events at a reception continue to move at a steady pace, by setting a play list a DJ can judge when to make Emcee duties, when to schedule the dances, assists the caterers in preparation for toasts etc, whereas a band will need consistent communication and will tend to rely on a wedding director or assigned designee to communicate with them when to lower music or make announcements, etc.

Budget- A great wedding band will usually run around $4,000 to $15,000. Top Notch's DJ's charges less than half of this lower price for the majority of all weddings, and most other Disc Jockeys usually charge the same. Lastly, for those concerned about a budget, if a disc jockey is scheduled to service a reception, the individual can usually perform all services for the ceremony including music before the ceremony, during the ceremony and after the ceremony for a small additional fee, whereas hiring an artists or band to provide this same service only, may charge a higher price.

-Volume Control- Keep in mind as well, that a Disc Jockey can adjust volumes for all microphones throughout the event as well as music, where as a live band (unless a sound technician is hired) will often “set it” and “forget it”, as they must be concerned with their performance, instruments and the music they're playing. Bands are usually much louder if amplified than a Disc Jockey. Unless a sound technician is brought in to adjust volumes accordingly, a band may have a saxophonists that is too loud, or a guitar player that's amp should be turned down. On the other hand, a Disc Jockey can set up before hand and does not need to be on stage, nor play an instrument for volume levels to be heard. A disc jockey can set the music via his laptop or CD's on auto play and simply walk around the venue's room to insure that the sound is balanced throughout the venue before the guests arrive.

Considering these few factors from above (space, electrical outlets, volume control) can all be applied here, a band can provide an awesome element to any wedding reception. They're fun, they're old fashioned (back in the day DJ's were seldom used for weddings), and they're lively. Bands can create an energy and allow guests to watch more than 1 individual performing. If they're a good band, then the songs are usually phenomenal that they'll include in their set. In contrast, a Disc Jockey can be fun, lively and energetic as well. Many disc jockeys may include special effects, games, great party lighting and as stated previously, a more broad collection of music to play smoothly to keep your guests on the dance floor. There can be many differences between the two types of entertainment, but both are excellent choices for a wedding or event. Depending on one's desires and plans for their wedding, a band may be the best fit. However, when deciding between either entertainment source, it is extremely important to do 2 things
  1. Interview them personally – make sure their personality, vocal tone ad character traits fits what you're looking for in a band or DJ
  2. See Live Clips- Any Disc Jockey or band can provide a “polished” or “staged” video of their act. This does not mean they'll always deliver that a performance to the same degree at your event. Requests live footage of either entertainment, or requests many references to make sure your band or disc jockey as experience, and will not disappoint.

I hope this posts did point out many of the factors one should consider before hiring either vendor for their event. Most importantly, you want a source of entertainment that will allow one's guests to have fun, be stress fee, and ultimately be a night that they will never forget! I know working with the Justin Trawick Band in the near future is going to be one of those nights for the bride and groom and hopefully all of the guests involved. I will make sure to write an “after wedding” posts with thoughts and the results in a few weeks as well. In the mean time, you can check out music (including originals) from the Justin Trawick band here Justin Trawick and The Common Good
Keep On Partying guys!

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