What’s Wrong with Hiring a DJ from Craigslist or Thumbtack? Oh, Let’s See …

Anyone with an email address and a computer can create an account on Craigslist or Thumbtack, craft some compelling content, and call themselves a DJ.

And, with the cost of powerful audio equipment becoming more affordable, it’s not too difficult for an amateur to buy a cheap PA system and advertise their DJ services at incredibly low prices on sites like Craigslist.

While hiring these folks might not cost that much, there are pricey tradeoffs for hiring these amateurs. Namely, it takes more than good sound to be an entertaining and professional event DJ.

It takes training, hands-on experience, and a natural talent in order to keep a huge room of people entertained and at ease for several hours at a time.

Amateurs simply don’t have what it takes.

In fact, there’s an entire site (thumbtackfraud.com) dedicated to disgruntled Thumbtack users, including this one, who was burned when hiring a DJ:

“I hired a DJ through Thumbtack and I was extremely disappointed. He didn’t do any of the things we asked of him during our event. We even requested to meet with him the week before, gave him a written outline of the events, announcements etc., and he still did not do it. I would have been better off running the event myself with music from my iPhone.”

Others have complained that their hired DJ was actually interning and using their event as an on-the-job-training opportunity.

Sure, one day this DJ might be proficient, but would you want to hand over the fate of your event to an amateur?

As one of the most recognized names in event planning and entertainment throughout the Greater Washington DC area, we hear countless stories like these ones from our clients who just wanted to save a few dollars by using Craigslist or Thumbtack.

But finding a service – like a wedding or event DJ – is just part of the equation. You also have to:

     * Assess the quality of the service
     * Compare it to other competing services
     * Determine if this particular DJ is going to help you put on the type of event you’re looking for

One piece of advice we like to share with anyone looking to hire a DJ for their upcoming event is: there is a difference between paying the lowest price for a service, and receiving the greatest value.

Be just as careful with your family and friends

Whether you’re planning a wedding, corporate event or any other milestone moment, using your friends or family members as your DJ could also have disastrous results.

We hear horror stories of wedding receptions that were derailed because the couple chose to use a family friend with a good PA system or who calls himself a hobbyist DJ.

Simply put, there is no comparison between a nice PA system and the state-of-the-art system and training that comes with hiring a professional DJ. Beyond a PA system, a professional DJ brings with him a complex entertainment system, including computers, speakers, lighting and more.

If you’re organizing a house party for a few friends, sure, go with an amateur. You’ll probably be happy with the results.

But there’s simply no way why you should trust one of the most important moments of your life to anyone other than a skilled DJ with a proven track record for hosting events of all shapes and sizes.

Want to guarantee that your event is unforgettable? Contact us today to learn how we can help!

Mastering Lighting for Your Event – 4 Tips from the Pros

If you’ve never been on a movie set before, we have bad news for you: it’s not as glamorous as it seems. What moviegoers see on screen is the benefit of hours and hours of lighting setup by a massive crew all focused on trying to create a mood.

Just ask any actor who’s had to sit in their trailer for hours on end. While it might take just an hour to shoot a scene, lighting it is an all-day affair.

The same can be said for your event. No matter how long your event is scheduled for, lighting that event to properly create a mood is a full-time job of its own. In fact, the Huffington Post called lighting a “wedding splurge that’s worth the cost.”

Simply put, lighting can make or break your event experience:

   – If your lighting is too bright, your event will come across as stark and cold

   – If your lights are too dark, the event will lack energy (and your guests might miss something!)

Event lighting offers more than just a way to help folks see. Great lighting will help you accentuate and emphasize other elements of your event, including floral arrangements and décor.

You can even use lighting to direct your guests’ attention to specific happenings within your event.

But which types of lighting should you use for your event? Here are four of the most popular and effective setups we’re seeing in recent months.

Transform your venue with up-lighting

One of the easiest and quickest ways to set the mood of your event is with up-lighting. This is particularly true for fairly basic rooms, such as an empty ballroom or conference enter. These rooms are purposely designed to be bland, meaning you and your event planner are responsible for creating the character.

A wedding, for example, could benefit from the use of lace fabric, that’s highlighted with a touch of up-lighting.

Add depth with Gobos

A gobo is a beam of light with a metal stencil over it that creates a specific pattern. Gobos can project virtually any design you want, from abstract shapes to pictures, company logos or signatures and initials.

The versatility and intrigue of the gobo is what makes it such a powerful lighting tool for virtually any event. These patterns – which can be projected onto ceilings, floors, and walls – are a great way to add visual content. If you’re organizing a company event, gobos are a striking way to promote your brand.

Embrace the precision of pin-spot lighting

Most events have a lot of things going on in one space. A wedding, for example, has the table centerpieces, the gift table, guest book, wedding cake, and more.

Casting huge streams of light onto these areas would destroy any type of mood you’ve worked so hard to create. That’s why lighting experts rely on pin-spot lighting.

As its name suggests, pin-spot lighting lets you cast a narrowed focus on certain areas within your room without ruining the ambiance of the rest of the space.

Add texture to your event

One of the most popular lighting trends we’re seeing recently is texture lighting. This is particularly true for events that feature a dance floor.

Choose from hundreds of patterns that can be projected onto dance floors and tables. You can even add a touch of color to the patterns to complement your existing theme.

Your entire event hinges on the success of your lighting – don’t go it alone!

No matter what type of event you’re organizing, your job is to create a room filled with character in a space that, more than likely, is bland and empty.

Décor and linens will help fill that space. However, if you want to create a specific ambiance – be it elegant, modern, classic, etc. – it all comes down to lighting.

Not sure what type of lighting (or mood) you need for your event? Let our specialists help. We’ve helped plan and light some of the biggest events throughout the Metro DC region. From weddings to corporate events, celebrations and more, we’ve been tasked with lighting events up and down the East Coast.

We’d love to show you our work and how we can help you create the event you and your guests deserve.

Contact us today to set up your consultation.

Mastering Sound for Your Event – Tips from the Pros

These days, big sounds can come from the smallest of packages. You could go, for example, to your local Walmart and pick up a “home studio” dock for your iPhone, and use it to entertain backyard guests.

We admit we’re excited about the way technology helps improve sound quality for folks looking to bring the noise at home or in their car.

But no matter how good technology is, don’t expect your run-of-the-mill sound equipment to handle big jobs like:

– Weddings
– Corporate Events
– Formal Celebrations

In fact, even if you rent top-notch sound equipment for your formal gathering, we’re willing to bet you (and your guests) will be let down by the sound produced.

That’s because unless you have a master puppeteer pulling the strings, so to speak, you’ll be left with nothing more than a pile of junk.

But we here at Planet DJ Productions want to help you breathe life into your event, which is why we’re offering up a few pro tips to make sure you and your guests aren’t left out in the dark when it comes to your sound quality.

Pro Tip: Sound equipment isn’t even the first thing you need to consider for your event

When we talk with clients who’ve attempted a do-it-yourself approach to their sound in the past, we typically learn that the first step these folks took was to check out all the possible sound equipment they’ll need.

But what if I asked you to go find equipment to prepare yourself for a camping trip? Would you know where to start?

Sure, you need a tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear and more. But unless you know:

– How long you’ll be camping
– The potential temperatures and terrain of your camping site
– Who else you’ll be camping with
– And more

How could you possibly prepare yourself adequately?

The same goes for mastering the sound for your event. Sure, you know you need speakers, likely a computer, possibly a mixer, and more.

But unless you know a few other particulars of your event, you’ll either:

– Not get the right equipment
– Not get enough equipment
– Will get way more equipment than you’ll need

The thing is, your event isn’t likely to change. You know where it’ll be held. You know (roughly) how many people will attend. You know your budget.

While these elements are essentially set in stone, the equipment you’ll need to accommodate the event is adaptable.

Here are a few specifics about your event that could – and will – impact the type of equipment and setup you’ll need for your sound:

– The size of the event hall
– Does the space have good acoustics, or does loud sound bounce around and echo?
– What type of carpeting and concrete are found in the space?
– Do you have high or low ceilings?
– Will everyone in attendance be centralized in one location or will they be spread out?
– The number of attendees (a big room and a few people make for some challenges for your sound!)

These are just a few of the elements you must consider before investing in – and setting up – your sound equipment.

A case study: The conference that went awry

Here’s a dramatization of what could happen at your next event

Jeremy is in charge of his company’s yearly conference, where colleagues and clients from across the country meet to discuss the climate of business and to look ahead at what’s in store for the company.

The hall in which Jeremy’s conference will be held is in a large, open space with uncarpeted floors, high ceilings, and concrete walls.

The 200 people in attendance will be scattered throughout the room, but the speakers for the conference will be settled in at the front of the room where a small stage has been setup.

Knowing he wants to make sure folks in the way back can hear each presentation, Jeremy decides to rent two powerful speakers and poles, which he’ll set up beside the stage area, and point out to the open room.

How’d Jeremy do? Will his event go off without a hitch?

Well, sure, his event will be perfectly fine, so long as 10% of those in attendance don’t mind being shouted at and the remaining 90% have no issue with listening to presenters who sound a whole lot like the mumbling gibberish of the parents in a Peanuts Charlie Brown comic.

You see, where Jeremy wasn’t wrong is in thinking that bigger is better.

When it comes to mastering your sound for a wedding, corporate event or other gathering, this isn’t always the case. Particularly when the parameters of Jeremy’s conference space make it clear that reverb and echo will be a huge issue.

If he had hired a professional to handle his sound, Jeremy would’ve realized that he could, for example, set up small satellite speakers throughout the room. That way, each listener could clearly hear the presenters, without Jeremy having to blow out the front speakers.

Mastering sound is a skill –which is why folks go to school for it!

Because buying decent sound equipment is fairly straightforward, most folks think it takes little effort to turn an empty space into the perfect conference, event, or wedding.

Don’t be fooled!

Sound professionals go to school specifically to understand the complexities involved in using the right type of equipment to fill in spaces that range from tiny offices to huge stadiums.

It’s not as easy as it seems!

Remember back in school – long ago – when the teacher would put a movie on the TV at the front of the room? The kids in the back of the class would complain that they couldn’t hear the sound.

So, the teacher would crank up the volume as a solution. The only problem was, that made the sound bounce off the concrete walls of the room! Now no one could hear the movie.

It was funny as a student in school, but it sure isn’t funny when it’s a huge event in your life.

When it comes to mastering the sound for your event, let the pros handle it.

Contact us now to learn more.