Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hey DJ do you know Your Venue?

 Castle McCulloch
Pictured: a photograph of Castle McCulloch taken by

     Music, a play list and mixes prepared for the event? CHECK! All equipment packed up and ready to go? CHECK! Knowing your venue and you’re destination? CHECK! You’re all set right? WAIT! Let’s revisit that last question again as this is not only a question that many musicians, DJ’s and even event planners fail to grasp, but it can also lead to your largest challenge in preparing for an event. So do you know the venue? The question posed is not simply referring to the name of the location “The Boondocks on 4th Street” for example, nor is it inquiring that you’re familiar with the address location. In order to be 100% prepared before an event it helps tremendously if you know and understand the layout, the structure, the ins and outs, the sets ups required and even the challenges that may await before you even arrive at a venue. Although I myself am very guilty of not thoroughly researching all venues before an event, below are the top 5 reasons Top Notch strives to research and recommends that all entertainers know their venue before performing.

1. Equipment-  Knowing the venue prior to arrival can provide great insight as to what equipment to use for the event. Does the size of the venue require 2 speakers or 4-6? Additionally, the height of the ceiling may determine which lights as well as even which light stand could work. Tall scanners that must be placed on a stand and are heightened to shine on a dance floor will obviously not be effective nor very useful at a venue with low vaulted ceilings. Furthermore, while on the topic of lighting, if uplighting is required, it’s always a good idea to know the size of the room so that the number of lights needed to appropriately illuminate the space can be determined.  Lastly, alongside speakers and lighting, becoming familiar with the venue prior to the event start time may assist you in understanding if there are any additional items that may be required or supplied for the event such as a table, linen, extension chords, etc. Radio personality and Mobile DJ, Frank Carbone of CWDJ’s states “I visit each (local) venue and for those that are not local “I call to gather information about the venue and hopefully gather pictures of the event space so I can plan accordingly” to insure that he is never in a bind due to a venue. (visit Frank Carbone's DJ site at

2. TimingAn article was written here in the Top Notch blog about timing back in January. Timing is a huge, critical factor for Dj’s and in regards to a venue, the same concept applies. I hear stories and have actually witnessed fellow DJ’s running late for events, not because they neglected to allow the proper time for the set up of their equipment, but they neglected to anticipate the challenges that the venue contained which ultimately slowed them down and made them tardy. A venue can offer a number of challenges that could deter an entertainer from setting up on time including traffic, parking (traffic and parking are always large issues that can swallow up unexpected time in downtown Raleigh), the floor of the building that your event may be held on, and if there is an elevator that is not only available, but also functioning, Becoming familiar with the venue may help you anticipate these challenges and therefore     allow prompt time for your set up.

3.  “The Surprise Factor”- The “Surprise Factor” also known as the “oh SH!T factor” is all too familiar with DJ’s. The concept applies usually prior to an event when a complication or obstacle is present that could have been foreseen. Recent examples for Top Notch involving the “Surprise Factor” include 1. A wedding coordinator contacting Top Notch for Ceremony music assistance at a wedding only to learn that no power outlets were present on site at the venue, 2. A wedding venue designated guests to dine for dinner at a specific space on their facility where they provided their own speakers and sound equipment only to learn that it was malfunctioning so there was no music nor speakers for dinner and toasts at this wedding and 3.  Even being stuck in an elevator at a popular downtown wedding facility only to learn later that a select portion of elevators will open and close but are not functional on the weekends (thank goodness someone found me!). All circumstances could have easily been avoided with further research, communication and learning of the updates and layouts of the venues before 
the events.

4. Security and Trust- Going out of your way and taking the extra effort and time to research and even visit a venue builds an extra sense of trust for the event planners, coordinators and even the bride and groom of an event. It shows you care enough about their event to learn the ins and outs of their chosen venue and allows you to potentially meet the venue owners, event planners, etc that could be on site. Furthermore, as their entertainer or DJ, you may think of questions or recommendations that you could provide to the owner of the facility or even the event planner for your event such as where the dance floor could be placed, the best spot for the DJ and speakers, etc. "I definitely research a venue and love to get a floorpan if one is available state's local friend, fellow DJ and Curtis Media Operations Manager, Joel Gillie, "it take's the stress off of me if I know the layout and I know where I will be, and when the bride mentions specifics about the venue it's good if I know what's she's talking about" he goes on to say. (check out Joel at 

        5.  Confidence- Lastly, and incontestably, by performing the necessary research and understanding of a venue it will ultimately provide you as the performer with more confidence, less stress and a more optimistic outlook on the event.  Knowing that you have done your homework, prepared and should not have to fret over equipment setting up, timing or surprise factor issues will create an ease to your persona through the evening. Any entertainer will affirm that having that this additional peace prior to an event makes a world of difference.

     Of course it is impossible to predict all issues and dilemmas that could occur at an event, however, being as prepared as possible is essential as a professional entertainer. This preparation does include understanding more than just the name and location of a venue. As an entertainer, we have plenty to worry about like equipment, intoxicated patrons, timelines, and of course, entertaining just to name a few. Don’t let the dilemmas that may meet you at your next venue delay you in setting up or working to your full potential. Out there lies small, low vaulted ceiling spaces, broken elevators, and a number of venue conundrums that we will undoubtedly confront. The more research and prepared you are for these circumstance’s, the less of a predicament the problems will seem and you therefore will come off as a professional!


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