Picking a DJ…  Are you booking a Product or Service?

In this article, I’ll show why you can’t treat a SERVICE as a PRODUCT.

There is a big difference and comparing DJ A vs DJ B is a bit more complicated and involved than looking at their Website and Price or even asking other couples on Facebook.

We all like to be treated special and feel unique.

A stranger who makes us feel special is remembered and favoured over someone just going through the motions.

Service with a smile or a shrink-wrapped generic cardboard box?


What do you think?

I’m in many Facebook groups for Weddings (and act as Admin on a few) and see couples asking very similar questions and expecting to compare suppliers (who are providing a service) in the same manner as a product.

Question: How much are you paying for your DJ/Band/Photographer?

Then 150-odd replies with fairly random numbers being offered.  Some may provide a few more details “all day” or “2000 photos on USB”.  Others just quote the price they paid.

The suppliers offering the service are demoted to being a product for comparison.

The question could easily be replaced by:
Question: How much are you paying for your 330ml can of Coke?

Suppliers are providing a Service and this is where many couples misunderstand why prices vary considerably, but also the service they may receive.

I’m not going to discuss prices here.  Generally speaking, you do get what you pay for, but it depends on what you expect.

You simply won’t get 5-star service for 1-star prices.

What is a Service?

the action of helping or doing work for someone.

We all use services!   I’ll stick to small local suppliers, we’ll hire a Taxi, or eat out in a restaurant, perhaps hire a tradesman to work on the house or fix the car.

We’ve all had varied experiences.  I’m certain we’ve ALL had times where the service fell short of what was offered.  “We’re the best” becomes “no you’re terrible!”.

By their very nature, services will be inconsistent.  The service suppliers may have procedures, but life doesn’t always work to these procedures.
Being able to swiftly accommodate a change to the delight of the customer is a sign of a supplier that is nailing it!

Prices will vary.  Looking at local suppliers, they’ll have different approaches to the service they provide and the value they place on their clients.

A newbie with low overheads can easily afford to provide a far cheaper service than a premium service supplier but may be less willing to rectify an error on their part if they’re operating on a low-profit-margin.
The premium service supplier will have better profit margins and will generally be less prone to errors, but will be keen to address them at their cost to retain goodwill.

A good analogy is eating out where service can make or break the experience.
A bad experience for lunch may be tolerated (we just don’t visit again), but for a special treat would not be.  We all want a nice treat for our Birthday (and I want an awesome dessert!).

Larger companies can do great service, but it’s always down to training and the people you deal with.  When they get it right, they do retain a loyal customer base.

What is a Product?

We also all buy products.  I own an iPad and a nice TV.  All are mass produced, well packaged and supported.  I can get them from many suppliers.  Tesco, PC World, Amazon, eBay, John Lewis are all options when it came to purchasing them.

Most products we buy are available from many outlets and we’ll get exactly the same item if we purchase from Tesco or John Lewis.
I picked my supplier based on Convenience and then Price. I wanted to see the TV and collect that night.  It was only marginally cheaper elsewhere and the Warranty was the same, so for me, it was an easy choice.

The store provided pretty poor service (and I left a bad review for them, rare for me as I usually leave good reviews), but ultimately we were there to buy it and just got out of the store as soon as possible.  If I had more time, I would have left and used another store with better service.

So, to summarise the above:

You can’t ask Apple to engrave your name onto your iPad Product.  You need a supplier to provide this as a Service.

If you make a mistake on the supplier, you may risk having a bad service (badly-spelt/damaged/late) iPad.  If you have a £1000 iPad, most of us would pick the engraver carefully!

So, how does this fit in with my DJ selection?

A DJ will be providing you with a service, usually comprising of the following basics (and I’ve cut down what is possible):

  • Equipment hire.  They’ll bring and install some sound and lighting.
  • Music library.  They’ll bring and provide music from their music library.
  • A DJ.  Someone to play the music and run the night.
  • Microphones and usually some announcements.
  • How the booking is handled (meetings? booking confirmation, payment, music preferences etc)

These are pretty much the basics that are required by any party.
Straight away you can see there will be variances.  It’s not a pre-packaged product but a custom designed service.
I could package the service as a product, but that won’t fit with most of my clients who rightly expect me to work around their needs.

the action of helping or doing work for someone.

If you flick through my photo gallery, you’ll see a range of different parties.  I have provided my service to many other types and not all are listed;

  • Wakes/Memorial Events
  • School Discos
  • Kids Parties
  • Many varied Weddings (Indian, Jewish Weddings, Iranian Wedding, Gay/Same-Sex Weddings) and many more!
  • Club nights (Club Classics, Soul, “Clubland”)
  • Pubs
  • Birthdays
  • Christmas Parties
  • Corporate Parties
  • Restaurants
  • Celebrities (I don’t name them – no name dropping here!)

Each required a clean approach with regards to my list of “basics” above.  What equipment do I need, what music will I play, how will I play it (Club tunes would be mixed, Soul tunes, often not)
The announcements vary, kids parties are different to Weddings, yet I still use the Microphone on both.  I have access to 3 sound systems so can select the most suitable (and have access to large systems if needed).
Turning up to a small restaurant with my large PA would be foolish and limit space for diners.

I try to handle every booking consistently, so an All Day Wedding and a 2hr Kids party will both have terms, contract and a deposit.  I think this is the only common factor in every booking.

So, the DJ needs to use some common sense, engage with the client and ensure they provide the best service.

What will influence your Party?

The DJ is the main aspect here, as most Mobile DJs will have a limited range of equipment and the rest is really their personal approach to how they work.

Even if you provide a playlist, how these tracks are played can vary a lot.  Knowing when to play a set comes down to experience and getting it wrong can be a big disappointment. The client who expected a full dance-floor to her University tracks and the DJ played it at 7:30 before all her Guests had arrived.

  • The better DJ will have researched the music she wanted, worked out a rough plan of complimentary tracks and asked if there is any meaning behind any of them.  They would then use this knowledge to kick-start the party at the best time for best effect.
  • Lesser DJs will have followed the list and blindly played them at a random time.  Perhaps the Bridal party is all at the Bar and missed some key tracks..

2 (or more) different routes to play the same songs with very different outcomes.

So, back to comparing DJs.

You really do need more information to get to an informed decision.

From my list of “basics” the equipment used is only a small part of the service.  It’s reasonable to expect equipment that is suitable for the event that is well presented and reliable.  You may also have other requirements (Dance-floor/Confetti Canons etc).

But, moving on from that, the rest is really down to the DJ themselves.  Yes, as a person.

  • Will they be interested in your event or is it just one of many?
  • Are they a good fit for your party?
  • And much more…. in fact there are many things to consider.  I have an article from 2017 that discusses why you should meet..


You can’t compare this to;

“We paid £150, hun”.