- Backup Plan
- DJ or Band - Which is better for our party?
- What is the difference between the DJ/musician hybrid and a live band?
- What does BOK-Music offer regarding the above?
- How do I send music selections to BOK-Music?
- Tent Parties
- Consultations- Who will help us plan our music and formalities?
- DJ Assistants - What do they do?
- Keyboards - Digital Pianos
- MP3s vs. Vinyl or CDs?
- Song searching
- Song count
- Sequencing the Songs. What is the magic to mixing?
- Questions to ask a DJ or Band
- Should we ask the venue to have their piano tuned?
- Are musicians comfortable playing outdoors?
- Rearrangements of Wedding Ceremonial Music
- Do you have demos of your DJ performance?
- Can we drop in on you at an event?
- Who will be the entertainer at my event?
- Vendors - Do you know any florists, photographers, videographers, etc. ?
- iPod - Can I just use an iPod for our party and not hire a DJ?
- Video Audio
You may ask, "What is your backup plan in case something breaks".
Not only do computers fail, so do amplifiers, cars, speakers, mixers, power supplies, wires and most importantly, people! (We have nightmares over this stuff).
Rest assured, we've got ourselves (and you) covered!
Amplifiers and Speakers: We use powered Mackie speakers, the most reliable in the industry. The amps are built into the speaker cabinet and never fail. We have at least two on each gig, just in case.
Computers: We use at least two HP, Dell or Acer laptops at each event. One is always ready as a backup.
Cars: We drive 2 vehicles in case one breaks down. Usually Toyotas.
Mixers: We have a backup mixer ready to go. The only part that fails is the fader and we keep a spare handy too.
DJs: We are shocked that some DJs do weddings alone. In fact we have been called in to replace DJs who have taken sick or had car accidents. Rest assured, two DJs are always booked for your event unless you have opted to eliminate the second. See below for more reasons why the DJ Assistant is a necessity.
Power Supplies: This is the responsibility of your venue. But, just in case we can run off our car battery with a power inverter. We use UPS backup in case of brown outs or interruptions.
Wires: We carry duplicate wires just in case.
Wireless Microphones: These must be professional quality to guarantee perfect sound without noise or interference and comply with the new FCC guidelines (non 700 MHZ band).
We get this question often and have mixed feelings since we started out in this business as band leaders and musicians.
At several events, we compared the differences when our DJ shared the stage with a very good band. The conclusion: More people danced to the DJ since he was able to segue from song to song smoothly. The band ended each song to a round of applause but emptied the dance floor each time they stopped. There are bands that can segue better than a DJ and DJs that can't beat mix, but we hear that is rarer these days.
Most people have told us they think a DJ can be more consistently reliable since they are not trying to imitate a song in a (sometimes) excruciating manner.
Here are some tips on looking for a band:
Make sure that the band members you get are the ones that you are being sold. Band members are very often substituted, hopefully with professionals. We know because we used to book bands until the reliability became risky. Go see the band and get the names of the members, especially the vocalists and band leader.
Will you get a chance to talk to the band leader about the details? Will you have the band leader's phone number or email address?
Make sure the band sound good doing everything from Sinatra to Snoop Dogg and can play all styles from Swing to Salsa.
Make sure they can play every song you request. Any song that they have to learn may be done by sight-reading with no rehearsal!
Make sure they can truly play classical music if they are performing for your ceremony and jazz if they are performing for your cocktail hour.
When comparing a band to our piano/DJ/MC combination, remember that we have a deep background in classical music and jazz as well as pop music. Our DJs began as musicians and play instruments including piano, guitar and bass. We can play live music for the prelude, ceremony, cocktail hour and even for background music during dinner. You can add a sax/flute player, bassist and/or violinist and get what very few bands can provide. When it comes to dance music, we play only the original recordings that people want to hear
Basically, people tend to dance more to original recordings than they do to "cover band" imitations. Bands take breaks, DJ's do but you can't tell because they do it during a long song or have an assistant to carry on.
You can have your cake and eat it too by combining musicians with a DJ. You have a choice of a pianist, a woodwind player (sax/flute), bassist, guitarist, violinist and/or drummer. Usually live music can be play for the cocktail hour and during meal courses and DJ music for dancing between courses. Additionally, our musicians can play light dance music including fox trots, swing, ballads. This can be entertaining for those enjoy live music. When it comes to dance music, people often are concerned that their band won't sound like the "real thing". That is where the DJ comes in, where authenticity is guaranteed. The switch between musicians and DJ also provides a constantly changing show. If you hire a band, they might also break down to smaller ensembles during the cocktail hour and during courses. If you are concerned about constant dancing, many bands take breaks between songs which can clear the dance floor.
BOK-Music does not book dance bands per se. We provide live music for ceremonies, cocktail hours and dinner. You can choose from just piano or add other instruments including sax/flute, violin, bass or guitar. We do not feature vocalists. When your party is ready for dancing, we switch over to DJ music and play original recordings. Our clients find that this represents the best of both worlds: professional musicians playing legit classical and/or jazz music and recognizable versions of dance songs that will get the crowd dancing. We do this without lights, props and an overdose of MCing. It is a very tasteful presentation befitting the venues that recommend us like Crabtree's Kittle House and the National Arts Club.
See the note at the end of the Song List Page
What should we ask our tent installer to provide?
Be forewarned: Most people are unaware of the problems tents and outdoor parties can present. The problems arise as soon as you aren't ready to deal with them: while you are getting dressed for your party or handling other last minute details, or worse, in the middle of your party! We suggest you go over these important points with your tent provider, party rental vendor and possibly your electrician:
Power requirements: one grounded (3 prong) outlet conforming to local code. It should not share the same circuit as the coffee maker, light dimmers or anything drawing a lot of power. Grounding and polarity is important: many people think that a 3 prong outlet is grounded. We find that many are improperly wired. We suggest that you buy a $10 ground/polarity tester at your hardware store and check your entire house while you are at it. When we arrive, we will test the outlet provided. If it is improperly grounded we may have to run an extension cord through your house. Never defeat the 3rd prong of an extension cord!
Ask for a level platform or thick plywood for insulation if you anticipate moisture on the ground. You wouldn't want a short circuit going through your DJ!
The tent should have flaps to keep out wind driven rain. Know where water will drain if it rains. Once we did a party where torrents of rain drained into the tent. After the tent floor turned to mud, a trench had to be dug to drain water away from the tent.
Have a 6 foot table with linen and a chair in place adjacent to the dance floor. It should be in place before the DJ arrives. This way the catering staff will allow room for the DJ.
We would be happy to visit your premises in advance to help you with the setup. Our rate of $100 per hour including travel will be applied.
Brendan does most of the consulting. Having more than 25 years experience in the business, he wants to make sure all the details are right and all of your questions are answered fully. The BOK Doc, email and phone are the preferred methods of communication, in that order.
Your event is such an important moment in your life and we all want everything to go as smoothly as possible. Thus, an assistant DJ is recommended for most weddings and events requiring many introductions and formalities. An assistant is required for most events in Manhattan due to parking and loading restrictions. There is no charge for the assistant's tasks before or after your event, only from the beginning to the end of your event.
The Co-DJ will:
Continuously play music while the M.C. (master of ceremonies) makes announcements, rounds up participants for up-coming introductions and coordinates with vendors. Very often the M.C. must leave his post to locate the wedding couple, maitre d', photographer, videographer, best man, host and parents for toasts, special dances, bridal party entrances, etc. Someone has to keep the music going while this is all going on!
Help with the unexpected (flats, repairs, directions, illness, injury...).
Unload equipment from vehicles into the venue, unpack, set up, move furniture and pianos, plug in cables. And, of course, all this in reverse!
Watch our vehicle to prevent equipment theft, ticketing or towing while loading.
Assist sound checks and continuously monitor the volume throughout the venue.
Alert and signal the DJ or musicians for the start of ceremonies.
Take requests while the DJ is busy mixing the next song.
Lend a 2nd pair of ears to the song selection process.
Most important though highly unlikely: If illness or accident renders your DJ unfit to perform, the assistant can take over! You have a replacement ready to go and no need to scramble!
Since many venues have pianos, our rates are based on a pianist without a keyboard. Musicians are accustomed to a premium (cartage) that is paid whenever they haul large instruments and amplifiers. In fact, it is included in the Musicians Union pay scale.
We prefer MP3s and have had many years to prove it! So far, not a single problem or complaint. MP3s recorded at 160 kb/s sound just as good as CDs for practical purposes, especially considering the amount of room noise at an event. If you tried to hear any difference, you would have to be wearing headphones in your living room. No one has hired us to do that, yet.
Computers allow us to search and obtain songs immediately. For example, if a guest asked us for a Sinatra fox trot with the word "tonight" in it, our search would find "The Way You Look Tonight".
Mp3s don't skip like CDS or vinyl and don't wear out.
Mp3s allow us to set cue points where we can start a song exactly where it should begin for mixing purposes.
We can create a song list on our PC of your favorite songs and play from it, as though you gave us a pile of your favorite CDs or LPs.
Most important of all, our DJ program has not crashed yet! (knock on wood.) Since using Traktor we keep waiting for a crash.
What if we want a particular song played during the reception that is not currently part of your collection? Is it possible for us to provide you with that song? I know you have a very large collection and that it will likely expand.
This is discussed on our Song List Page at the bottom.
How many songs are usually played over the course of a 4 hour event? How many of those are up-tempo songs for dancing?
Don't worry about the amount of songs, but figure 20 songs per hour. A mix of 10%-25% slow songs is fine.
To determine when to play dance or background music, we take our cue from the maitre d'. He tells us when to start and stop the dance music. Usually he bases this on the timely service and clearing of food courses.
To fill the dance floor quickly, we usually start with a very popular slow song. A majority of guests, even those uncomfortable with dancing, will (hopefully) get up to a slow song when the dance floor is empty. A fast song would just intimidate most people. Who wants to be the first one to jump up and look dramatic? One of the most uncomfortable feelings is when the DJ puts on a great upbeat tune and the dance floor remains empty. Your guests will wonder: "Are we a boring bunch of people or what?" When we open up he dance floor, we encourage you, the hosts of the party to quit whatever you are doing, grab anyone and start dancing. Your guests will see this as a strong signal that they are there to party! Once the dance floor is full, it is easy to keep them dancing as we increase the tempo.
The sequencing continues based on several factors:
Source: 1. your song list. 2. guest requests. 3. our intuition and more than 8,000 songs.
Sequence: 1. progressively fast songs until we tire everyone out. Then back, full circle, to the slow starter song. 2. Progressively through the decades.
(BOK-Music answers YES to all the following questions!)
Do You Provide A Written Agreement?
It is very important to confirm your booking in writing. Terms should be clearly defined to avoid future problems.
Are You Insured?
Be confident that the DJ you hire will show up for your affair! Insurance will give security and protection to you and your guests, as well as the DJ and his expensive gear! Some venues require your DJ or band to have minimum $1,000,000 liability insurance. Please request this far in advance if your venue requires it.
Do You Have Backup Equipment and DJs?
Even professional audio equipment can fail on occasion, don't let this put an early end to your affair. Make sure there is backup equipment and be sure there is a backup DJ should an emergency or illness occur.
Is Your Equipment of Professional Quality?
There is a difference between home audio and professional road-worthy equipment. The equipment a DJ uses should be built to go on the road each and every day!
Will You Listen To My Music Suggestions?
Many DJs are of the opinion that they know what music is best for their audience and won't take requests. The DJ should listen to requests and play them whenever appropriate.
Will You Dress Appropriately At My Affair?
It is important that your entertainer look the part by dressing formal or semi-formal, according to your preference. Themed events and picnics require different attire. (We normally avoid tuxedos and prefer dark suits. Let us know if you want us to appear in tux.)
Will You Play The Music At An Appropriate Volume Level?
Many of you are concerned about the volume level of the music. A professional DJ knows to keep the music at a level appropriate for the guests, especially during cocktails and meal courses.
Do You Do More Than Play Music At The Event?
Most events require the DJ or musicians to do more than play music. It is important to have a DJ or musician who is capable of playing the music, handling all of the announcements and help coordinate the event with the caterer and other vendors.
Will you listen to our concerns and input?
A professional DJ can almost read you and your guests' minds. Your input and suggestions are not only be welcome, they should be properly listed in the work order for the day!
Most established venues tune their pianos on a regular basis. If you are concerned that the piano be in perfect tune for your event, we suggest you offer to pay for a tuning by their regular tuner. See our vendor page for recommended tuners.
Usually, if the weather is nice. Usually, if the weather is too cold, hot or wet for your guests, it is the same for the musicians. Most instruments are very sensitive to extreme weather, and performances and instruments can suffer from extreme weather.
Do you have any audio samples your arrangements of wedding ceremonial music for piano, guitar, flute or violin? Also, would you be open to playing something else not on your recommended list?
Most of the pieces on our website sound great in any combination of piano, guitar, bass, cello, violin and/or flute. We play them all the time but have not recorded the various permutations. There are so many great pieces, we wouldn't know where to start! See the ceremonial music page for suggestions and samples. You can pick the ceremonial pieces yourself or leave it to us. Most people leave the prelude music to us, though we welcome your requests too. If sheet music needs to be ordered, we may require you to share in the expense.
To protect our clients' privacy, we provide a huge list of testimonials. Most people have been recommended to us by a friend, caterer or vendor who knows our work well enough to refer us confidently.
WE are not the show. YOU and your guests are. So, we have limited videos. You will see a crowd of guests dancing and having a great time. The typical BOK-Music client likes us because we have a very low-key visual presence and work hard to get people dancing with our selection and timing of songs. Click here for live party videos with or without lights. See links at the bottom .
Since most of the events we entertain are private, we are very respective of our clients and don't encourage live auditions. We book approximately 90% of our inquires and feel that we don't have to use this type of sales technique. We invite you to arrange a meeting at our relaxed studio in Scarsdale where we can demonstrate our techniques and get a chance to meet each other.
I noticed that nowhere on the contract does it mention a name. Does that mean that we could have some other entertainer than promised?
We are in the business of contracting professional DJs and musicians for events like yours and we do it VERY CAREFULLY! If a specific entertainer is requested, and we acknowledge his or her availability, we make every effort to hold that person for your event as you prepare to return the agreement with deposit. You can put a name on the agreement as a request when you return it. If the requested entertainer is no longer free for the date when we receive your agreement with deposit, we will tell you. If the entertainer is free when you return the agreement, we will make every attempt to hold him or her for your event. If the entertainer decides for personal or professional reasons (moves, makes a career change or takes a gig with Sting) we will notify you of a suitable replacement and give you the option of cancelling the agreement for a full refund of your deposit. Rest assured, in more than 25 years we have had no incidents of a double booking or a substitute! Naturally, there is no control over illness or accidents.
Of course! And we often see them in action! See our Related Services Page.
We never feel comfortable about this topic (hence the small print), but here goes anyway: It is normal to tip anyone that goes out of their way to make sure you are happy with their service. This can include anyone from your event planner to your limo driver. Many caterers and restaurants automatically include gratuities for their wait staff in their final bill. We don't. Since many of our customers do tip us after an event, we feel we should let others know that tipping is okay with us. Humbly, we don't refuse. It is a measured response to how well we are doing our job. Understandably, not everyone feels comfortable tipping. Sometimes people aren't sure why they are tipping: To boost a very low salary? (Not in our case.) To expect better service the next time? (We always aim to please.) To say thanks for doing a great job, beyond their expectations? (Getting warmer.) To say thanks for all the hand-holding, advice and music preparation that we provide months before their event at no extra charge? (Bingo!) Here is the confusion: If someone other than our contact is paying the final bill, they may have no idea about all the preparation. That is why we include an option in our agreement to include a 10% gratuity for billing convenience. We feel better leaving it up to you.
We've gotten feedback from people who have been to parties where the DJ was a friend with an iPod. In most cases the dancing was very sporadic and sometimes turned into free-for-alls. You will always be safer by having us integrate your iPod into our professional system. Ask yourself these questions about the person who will be handling the music and his equipment:
- Does has/her audio system have adequate amplification for the number of people attending?
- Are the speakers large enough and matched to the amplification?
- Will there be a wireless microphone for speeches (non 700 MHZ band, approved by the FCC)?
- Will there be all the songs needed for a wide range of decades and dance styles including the familiar requests.
- Is there backup or redundancy for every component listed above including the operator if he gets sick, injured or distracted?
- Will your DJ/operator be able to take requests and listen to a song while the dancers are dancing to another song?
- Will he be able to mix from one song to the next with dropping a beat and clearing the dance floor?
- Can he pick songs based on what is happening on the dance floor?
- Audio Video
We have had negative experiences in the past with video equipment plugged into our mixers or speakers for their audio needs including short circuits, surges, large drops in amplitude, etc. We don't want our equipment to breakdown in the middle of your wedding and we have no way of guaranteeing the condition of other vendor's equipment. So, we suggest they use their own microphone to pickup any audio from our speaker. Or, wireless lapel mics. These are the safest options.