PRESS RELEASE: Italian String Lighting now available!

We're excited to announce that we now are offering Italian String Lighting for our clients' ultra-elegant events! For those who aren't familiar with it, let me share a photo from a recent event Houston Station in Nashville, TN.

I know, "Oh you mean Christmas lights?" No, there's a huge difference. These are commercial-grade stringers, complete with 15-watt (not 5 or 7-watters) globe bulbs and dimmer circuits. These are incandescent bulbs that give off a soft, romantic light. They give that ultra-chique to practically any event, not to mention the soft glow that will set a wonderful ambiance for your event.

To make things simple for our clients, we're packaging these at three different levels;

"Small" - 2, 54-foot stringers (25 lights), suggested for up to 100 guests

"Medium" - 4, 54-foot stringers (50 lights), suggested for up to 200 guests

"Large" - 6, 54-foot stringers (75 lights), suggested for up to 300 guests

Pricing may be found here. Given the logistics involved with this style of lighting, we require a site survey and venue permission, prior to booking. Please call us today to discuss how this great new product can benefit your very special day.

Photos

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com

Stuff to know: How to power a tent Wedding Reception

Outdoor weddings are wonderful........when planned properly. For some reason however I've had a lot more conversations lately with brides-to-be regarding outdoor events and, more specifically, some of the pitfalls of tent setups. I thought it deserved some attention so here goes. (WARNING: Boring techie stuff follows but stick with me, this stuff is important) We do a lot of tent events and I have to be honest, I usually pull onto the property, cringing because I don't know what I'm up against (power-wise). Let's cover some basic dos and don'ts for powering a tent-based Wedding Reception. For a visual, here's an event we did in Manchester, back in March, 2012.

Power Requirements A typical circuit is 15-20 amps or 2000 watts. An amp is roughly 100 watts. It's important that you always calculate what's needed, then make sure there's twice as much power available as required. Here's a breakdown of items that we often see on tent events:

DJ sound gear < 10 amps
Tent lights (par64, incandescent-style) 5 amps each (2-6 needed)
Perimeter lighting (LED, 20 fixtures) 2 amps
Dance lighting (LED) 2 amps
Dance lighting (non-LED) 10 amps
Leko lights (pattern gobos) 5 amps each (1-2 used)
Coffee makers 10 amps each
Food warmers 10 amps each

As you can see, it adds up quickly. The setup above is fairly modest and uses three full circuits. On the pictures included, our DJ setup included sound, dance-floor effects lighting, 20 perimeter uplights, and 2 Lekos (the gobo pattern at the top of the tent). And that doesn't even count catering or the Photobooth.

Here's a shot from an event we did in June, 2012. This included sound, dance lighting, 20 perimeter lights (hung from the roof-line of the tent), dance lighting and the tent company hung 6, Par64 incandescent cans. These units alone were 500 watts each, or 3000 watts (2 circuits). This entire setup ran off 3 circuits with a generator on-site as backup, in case of failure. By the way, side note here, if you're doing Uplighting (colored perimeter lights), be sure and have the Uplighting contractor coordinate with the tent company. In this case the tent company had too many lights and used yellow gels, which clashed and washed out the gorgeous red Uplighting the bride had requested.

There are two ways to get power to a tent setup; land power or generator. Let's cover generators first.

Generators

Generators come in two varieties; inverter and non-inverter. Here's a non-inverter style:

In short, DO NOT USE THIS TYPE! It's okay for incandescent lights, coffee makers, etc. but DJ gear (computers, audio, controllers) will go nuts. You do want your entire first dance song to play without stopping, right? Keep in mind also that these smaller generators only have about a 3-4 hour runtime. There's nothing worse than having a couple hundred of your closest friends standing in total darkness while dad is out trying to re-fuel and restart the generator. And that's not even to talk about the fact that this probably won't even be enough to power the entire setup either.

If you're going to use a generator, rent a multi-circuit, inverter-style, pull-behind generator. that has at least 8-10 hours of runtime between fueling. It should look something like this:

In the Nashville area Art's Pancake Rent-All is a good source. You'll want something that has a fuel tank large enough to power your entire event at full load for twice as long as you're planning for. These pull-behind units typically will have a break-out panel (multiple circuits) and a couple hundred feet of cabling with it. This lets you put the generator out of ear-shot of your guests and puts the power where it's needed (without a bunch of extension cords).

Land Power Wherever possible, we always recommend land power to be used as it's more reliable but you need to be aware of extension cords. Never run more than a couple hundred feet of extension cords and never use anything less than 10 or 12-gauge wires. If you pull 16 or 18-gauge cable (the common orange extension cords you use for the weed trimmer) that far, the voltage will drop and that's what burns up electrical gear of all kinds.  Bear in mind that you'll need multiple circuits and no, you can just put a multi-strip on the end to power everything in the tent. If you're doing it right, the extension cables should remain cool. If you're overloading them, they'll get hot and that usually means the circuit will fail at some point during the evening (remember that guest in the dark pic?).

One other little "gotcha". Getting proper voltage at the end of the line is important. After everything has been wired up, use a volt meter to make certain you have the right voltage. Good voltage is anywhere between 115 and 124 volts. If your tent power is dipping below that, you may be in for trouble. This is often caused by using too-light gauge or too-long extension cords.

Uplighting (another "gotcha") As a side note, I wanted to address something specific to Uplighting issues. There are two ways to do perimeter lighting on tents. Hang the fixtures at the tent roof-line and shoot the color onto the roof or use sidewalls on the tent and paint the walls from the ground up.

In the case where sidewalls are being used, be sure to stake the walls into the ground. First off, it keeps rain off the lighting fixtures (we lost a fixture due to rain on the purple job above) and it keeps the color hitting where it's suppose to.

Drainage Issues You need to be careful when selecting the location for your tent. Of course, you'll want a good, flat surface but something most people miss is drainage. Be sure and survey the area just after a heavy rainstorm. Is there water running through the area where you want to put the tent? Pick someplace else to put it. Water running through your tent not only makes for muddy shoes (and unhappy guests) but it can also be dangerous if you have electrical cables running across it as well. Better safe than sorry.

Summary If you've made it this far and are still awake, congratulations! You are in the minority that is doing diligence and that is the first rule of pulling off a successful outdoor event. If all this techie mumbo-jumbo is confusing, don't worry. It is for most people. That's what you hire the pros to help you with. If there are any questions we can ever answer for you, even if we're not doing your event, please call or email anytime. We're always here to help.

DISCLAIMER 615DJ is NOT a licensed electrician and makes no claims to such expertise. The article above is offered in the spirit of helpful advice, from the DJ's perspective. We recommend you seek the advice of a competent, licensed professional for your electrical wiring needs. 

Nashville Wedding DJ, Uplighting and Photobooth Service

www.RickRyan.com www.615DJ.com www.615Lighting.com www.615Photobooth.com

Press Release: New Online Song Request system

Rick Ryan Entertainment is proud to announce our latest tool to make your event a memorable experience. Our new Online Song Request system is now online and ready for our clients' use. A key part of making any event successful is pre-planning. From the DJ side of things, that means gathering the information needed to create a timeline, also known as the Schedule of Events. For any event that we perform, our clients start receiving reminder notices about 90 days out from their event date. In addition to the Online Planner link, these notices now will include Client-access and Guest-access links to our new Song Request system.

"Why include guests in the song list?"

The easiest way I can explain it is; "To build a buzz." As we often tell our clients, "Song requests are vital in making your guests feel a part of the celebration. It's the glue that keeps them at the event longer and letting them have input on music selection really makes them feel part of the action." If it works so well during the event, why not use it prior to the big day to help get your guests even more excited about your Wedding? The link that we provide can be forwarded to friends and family and is designed to let them "vote" on their favorites. Here's a screen shot (not an actual event):

Image

Guests (and clients) make their requests and can "Vote" on any song(s) to move them up the list (only 1 vote per request per guest is allowed). Your guests can come back as often as they like to see what position their request(s) are. The important thing is, it keeps them thinking about you and your up-coming wedding day.

Now in addition to the Guest-access option, we also provide a Client-access link. This one gets priority (hey, it's your wedding day after all) and any requests entered go straight to the top, although guests are still allowed to "Vote" for particular songs as well.

Another important part of any song requests that we get from our clients are "Do Not Play" (DNP) requests. These may be any song(s) that trigger painful memories or perhaps just are annoying to the Bride & Groom. As the entertainment provider, it's absolutely top priority that we protect our clients from anything that might possibly add spoil to their "Special Day". Additionally, we also segment the DNP list into two categories;

"Soft DNP" - These are songs that you'd really rather avoid but hey, if "Uncle Charlie" is just pestering you to play it, then go ahead.

"Hard DNP" - These are songs that absolutely, under no circumstance, should they be played at this event. In all cases, we give preference to our clients' wishes and will avoid these.

Keep in mind, that the majority of our clients don't need or provide us with a DNP list. It's only there because we're thorough and careful in our business. In this line of work details matter and we always "Sweat the details". The new Song Request system is now online is going out now with all new Online Planner notifications.

Rick Ryan Entertainment Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and Photobooth

http://www.RickRyan.com - http://www.615DJ.com - http://www.615Lighting.com - http://www.615Photobooth.com

Hiring the cheapest DJ possible

I have a DJ friend who recently posted a phone call a friend, DJ Rick Roberts received recently. I believe it illustrates just how bad shopping on price-only can be. Don't let this happen to your wedding!


This Was a REAL phone call not a joke!!! Caller: Hello I need to talk to the DJ who Furnished music at my wedding! It was all F*%@ed up because of him playing music that was for a teenager’s birthday party and also not having any of the music that was requested at all!! The wedding was a complete shambles my Wife was not happy at all and not to mention to much rap and rock, it was a wedding!!!! What was the Idea of not even having a microphone no one could say anything we had to talk loud in order for everyone to hear I really want my money back and will not refer your service to anyone!! DJ: Ok sir for one when was your wedding? Caller: August 27th 2011 at the Herrington inn! DJ: MMMMM could I ask a few questions sir? Caller: Yes! DJ: one how much did you pay? Caller: $200.00!!!!! DJ: Could I ask your name so I may look this up on our records? Caller: Yes, It’s David C*&^%^^&s DJ: I do have you here calling me July 9 2011, and I quoted you $750.00 for a 5 hour wedding, but never heard from you again, so sir are you Randomly calling from a scratch pad with a bunch of numbers and don’t remember witch DJ it was??? Caller: OH, yes I am so sorry, my wife thought it was this DJ service that was there! DJ: I do understand your Pain Sir and I do tell people to Shop around Check backgrounds before hiring a DJ That is the Most important part of a wedding “Entertainment”! Caller: If I ever need a DJ I will call you, thank you for being understanding and hearing me out, that night was so frustrating and we have been so busy, I had no time till now to call, thank you again and Sorry! DJ: no problem sir you have a good night!!!


Rick Ryan - Nashville wedding DJ, Uplighting and Photobooth

http://www.615DJ.com

http://www.615Lighting.com

http://www.615Photobooth.com

13 Tips on how to find the right DJ for your wedding day

13 Tips on how to find the right DJ for your wedding day by Rick Ryan (www.RickRyan.com)Congratulations, you're getting married! Now the real fun begins; planning your wedding day. The food, the venue, the cake, the dress. There's so much to do and so little time to do it. And then there's all the pressure to "do it right" after all, you've got one shot. Feeling overwhelmed? It's okay. While I can't answer all your wedding preparation questions I will try to help with one thing; choosing the right DJ for you. Your choice of Wedding Entertainment will probably be the single most important (yet often over-looked) decision you'll make. Here's how to separate the "real deal" from the "posers":
"Great DJ" "Avoid"
Client Reviews Will have lots of great reviews from past clients. Even better if the reviews are hosted on an independent website where they are actually verified as legitimate. Has no reviews posted or perhaps just a handful. Keep in mind that if you see a handful or notice that all the reviews have the same style of writing, they've probably been faked by the DJ.
Website Very informative. Lots of info that educates, not just sells. There should be tons of photos from past events. Actual playlists from past events available for you to review are even better. Not much info. Poorly arranged. Has a handful of pictures (few pictures screams "fake"). Their main selling point is "Cheap".
Event Planning Is willing to hold your hand to walk you through the process of planning the perfect event. Will have an Online Planner available and often willing to supplement with phone calls, emails or face-to-face meetings. "We'll take care of everything." "Meetings aren't necessary."
Guest Requests Knows that guest requests are vital. It's what "hooks" your guests into staying and makes them a part of your big day. "We don't take requests cause we're the experts."
Preparation and equipment setup Has a neat, clean setup. All cords are neatly taped to stands and the floor. Uses mats to cover cabling. All tables and stands are fully draped in either black or a neutral color. If you spent all that time in preparing your decorations, do you really want some DJ to walk in and wreck it all with his junky setup? Doesn't bother with "all that silly stuff". "You want cheap, right?"
Arrival Arrives early at the venue for setup and with plenty of time to spare. For DJ-only, 1 hour (at minimum). If Uplighting, Photobooth or a Projector is involved, it's more like 2-4 hours in advance of the first guest. "We can be setup and ready in just a few minutes."
Equipment Uses pro-quality gear and carries spares of everything; speakers, amps, laptops, cables, etc. Subwoofers are highly recommend for dance events (in addition to the speakers you see mounted on poles). "Thump" is what motivates people to dance and helps keep the system from sounding tinny and harsh. Uses the bare minimum they can get away with. Often that will be just a pair of speakers on stands. Does not carry backup equipment because "it's never failed me before." (a recipe for disaster).
Uplighting, Photobooth and additional services A great DJ understands that today's wedding guests expect more than "just music". From the moment your guests walk in, they'll look at the presentation your DJ makes to know whether "This is going to be a great party" or whether "We're gonna split right after the cake is cut." A great presentation raises the expectation level of your guests and makes the rest of the event flow smoothly. "We specialize in music only." or "You want cheap, right?"
"Uncle Bob keeps making rotten requests." A great DJ knows how to handle bad guest requests politely and avoids having "Uncle Bob" come whine to you because he can't hear his personal favorite song (even though it's completely inappropriate for the occasion). Gets into an argument with your guest or perhaps just tells Uncle Bob that "The Bride & Groom don't want your song played." When Uncle Bob (insert your friend/relative's name here) has had a few drinks and can't talk the DJ into playing "Green Grass and High Tides Forever" you can bet he's going to make a beeline in your direction.
Demeanor - mic chatter Makes all announcements clean, clear and concise and keeps mic-chatter to a minimum. Avoids typical "cheese-ball" antics like jumping on the dance floor and knows that his job is to keep the attention focused on the Bride & Groom. Talks constantly in between (and on top of) songs that your guests actually wanted to hear. Keeps drawing attention to himself. Seems more eager to stroke his own ego than to insure a smooth, successful event.
Multiple DJ or Single? A great DJ service that has multiple DJs working insures that you won't have a "no show" at your event. A great company has clearly established standards and trains their employees to deliver a clean, consistent, professional presentation. Often is the only DJ they book. You'll often hear the "you know what you're getting with me" line but, do you? Aren't you really just taking their word for it, often without any real proof of their delivery? You may also hear the "I've never missed a gig" line but we all know that things do happen. It's not wise to put all your eggs in one basket.
Is their pricing easy to understand or complicated? A great DJ knows that you already have enough confusion in this process and will design packages with simple pricing to help make it easy for you to decide. "Well, it's $X for the first three hours, then $X for every hour after that. Oh, and if you want dance lights it's $X and of course a monogram is $X and then there's the......" This is what we call the "nickel and dime game". They'll shoot you a cheap price initially but after you've finished adding on all the little extras, it really adds up.
Are they the cheapest? In the DJ world there's nothing more true than "You get what you pay for." A great DJ delivers value and that doesn't necessarily mean the absolute cheapest price. Look for someone in the middle, price-wise, or slightly towards the top-end. Buying the most expensive DJ in town also does not assure you of great service. A cheap, low-ball DJ is, very often, worse than no DJ and will be the first one to bail out on your event if someone else offers them $50 more, leaving you holding the bag. There's nothing worse than the calls we get from a panic-stricken Bride whose DJ bailed out at the last minute.

About the author: Rick Ryan runs one of the most successful and well-respected DJ services in Middle Tennessee and is a regular at some of the most top-end venues in the Nashville area. For more information, please visit http://www.RickRyan.com.

Nashville Wedding DJ, Uplighting and Photobooth

http://www.RickRyan.com

http://www.615DJ.com

10 Tips For Better Uplighting

It is amazing at how quickly Uplighting is becoming a "must have" item at Weddings. No, it doesn't surprise me that discerning brides are wanting this after all, when done correctly, it adds more "pizazz" than perhaps any other single decoration you can do. That said, as a wedding vendor who does this on a regular basis, I'd like to share a few bits of wisdom that will help you with your own Uplighting. (The Hermitage Hotel - downtown Nashville)

1) "Color selection" - I have to be honest, I generally cringe when a client says "We want a very subtle color." The whole point in going to the time and expense of Uplighting is to enhance the facility. Vibrant colors are what make your pictures jump off the page. They also, quite noticeably change the mood of your guests. It's been proven in Scientific studies that colors have a dramatic impact on mood and energy. If you're really after a subdued vibe for your event, white or amber are excellent choices. However, aren't most brides always the ones telling me they "just want our guests to have a great time"? Use color to your advantage! Magenta, Purple, Blue, or Red (or shades thereof) are some excellent choices.

(a recent event at The Nashville City Club) A wedding at The Nashville City Club

2) LED or Incandescent? - Incandescent cans/fixtures still are used fairly regularly by some lighting contractors. I believe it's primarily because these fixtures are cheaper or perhaps it happens to be what the lighting vendor has in their stock. While we do also have some incandescent fixtures, we don't typically recommend them for Uplighting for several reasons; 1) They get hot and little ones are drawn to them like a moth to a flame. It's a sure-fire recipe for little hands that get burned and that translates into wailing kids at YOUR event. 2) It takes a lot more power to run them and that means more and bigger extension cords to power them. 3) Limited color choice. These fixtures use gel paper to shade the bulb for whatever color you're after and that means, no changes at the event. If your chosen gel paper color doesn't mix well with the paint on the walls, tough luck as there's no way to tweak the color shades on the spot.

LED fixtures are cool to the touch, use very little electricity and the colors can be changed quickly, at the venue. If the color you picked at your meeting gets changed by the color on the wall, your technician can often adjust the shading on-the-fly, prior to your guests' arrival.

3) Table/Chair Placement - Uplighting is usually done by placing fixtures on the floor, next to the wall. We recommend a 3 foot buffer zone for all tables/chairs. This keeps guests from bumping, moving or even damaging the lighting fixtures. It also gives the lighting technician the ability to do a more even spacing between each fixture, improving the overall look of the presentation.

4) How much is enough? - One thing I tell all my clients is "Don't skimp on the number of fixtures." When you run short on a color presentation, it's very apparent to everyone in attendance. It's better to slightly over-do it than to come up short. The biggest question I hear is "How many cans do I need?" As you would expect, it obviously depends on the size of the room(s), the number of guests, and what wall-space is available for lighting. What I can tell you is, for most of our jobs (125-200 guests), the magic number always seems to come up to 20. This is roughly a 1500-2500 sq ft room and is what comes standard with our "Diamond Package". For rooms of 2500-4000 sq ft, I generally recommend 30 cans, sometimes more.

(The Doubletree Hotel - downtown Nashville)

5) DMX vs Stand-alone (LEDs only) - LED lighting fixtures have two modes they can be operated in; stand-alone or DMX. I won't bore you with the techy details but basically DMX means the lighting fixtures can be controlled remotely (either wireless or wired). Of the jobs we've done, almost all have been non-DMX. Without going into specifics, basically DMX will add $200-$400 in labor costs, not to mention the fact that it will add tons of cable and tape to your setup. For the little bit of extra flexibility it gives, our customers have stated that it's simply not worth it. Yes, we'll be happy to make your entire venue "beat to the music" or "make the colors change between songs" but in our experience, it's not something we hear on a regular basis.

6) Static or Color-Change - Most LED fixtures can be programmed to roll gently from one color to the other. This is known as "color change mode". We do have a fair portion of our wedding clients that opt for this setup, but I'd place it as the minority. Practically all of our school dances or proms use color change but weddings typically will either go with a single (static) color or perhaps may use alternating patterns of color ("red - white - red - white"). Only you can decide what works best for your color scheme and venue. One thing I will add is that it also can be dictated by the wall space available. We've done a number of venues where they may have a patio area with temporary sidewalls installed. These types of setups will have minimal wall space to be colored and may work better with multiple colors, rolling constantly. A hotel ballroom typically will have a lot of open wall space and will get too busy with so many colors going on. Better to choose a static color, or pattern of statics and stick with that.

7) Chair Rails, how to handle them - When we do an install, one of the things we're always trying to do is to keep fixtures out of the way and close to the wall. First, we don't want guests tripping over our fixtures but also (to be transparent) we really don't want guests stepping on (and potentially breaking) our expensive fixtures. One of the problems we regularly run into are chair rails. While these do a great job at preserving paint from chairs and tables, they also block off light as it travels up the wall area. The only way to overcome this is to set fixtures further away from the wall, usually about a half-foot. However, keep in mind table and chair placement (#3 above).

8 ) Uplighting sets the tone - One of the things that I regularly preach to my clients (most of our engagements include DJ service as well) is that we create great events by setting the tone from the very start. The moment a guest walks in we want them to do "the tilt-back" (as I like to call it). That's where they walk in the entrance, then pause as their eyes widen and they take in all the sights and sounds we're presenting. If we've done our job correctly, this raises the expectation of your guests. Once that expectation is raised, it's much easier to push it on into "off the hook" territory. Uplighting is a tremendous tool for setting the tone of an event. When a guest walks into a room with bright, vivid colors all around, they can't help but to expect a fantastic evening and expectation creates energy.

9) Do it yourself or Pro? - I know that everyone is looking for ways to save a buck, especially in today's economy. While it's true that fixtures can be rented, most people don't realize what it takes to get power to all your fixtures. By the time you rent the fixtures, then buy all the extension cords needed, it often is the same price (or more) than just paying a professional outfit to do the install, not to mention the job of tearing it all back down and returning the fixtures. But even beyond the "hassle factor" involved, having a bunch of extension cords often creates a huge mess and that's not something you want on your special day. We use special zip cord with add-a-tap outlets for our installs. These are long strands of cable (25ft & 50ft) that have an outlet every 5 feet. It puts a much cleaner line against the wallboard but, more importantly, it helps to keep spacing even between fixtures. There's nothing that will ruin a lighting presentation faster than to have a 5ft gap, then 7ft, then 4ft, etc.

10) Children - I debated strongly whether to mention this or not and let me say it first, I LOVE kids. I have two of my own and kids hold a near and dear place in my heart. That said, for some unknown reason, a lot of parents have a tendency to not keep watch over their kids at weddings. Add Uplighting into that picture and you have an almost guarantee that the kids will be messing with fixtures, expensive lighting fixtures. There's nothing worse from a vendor's perspective than to look up, as I did a couple of months back, and see some three year old walking along the wall, kicking your fixtures like a kickball. It's a delicate subject but, if you're going to do Uplighting, please make your guests (with children) aware of the situation and ask their assistance to keep things in control. When things get broken, it's the client who ends up paying.

I hope the above gives you some ideas in planning lighting for your own event. If there's anything I may do to assist, please don't hesitate to contact me anytime. Now, light it up!

(about the author: Rick Ryan owns and operates a DJ, Lighting and Photobooth service company in the Nashville area. His company has become one of the fastest-growing and in demand wedding vendors in Middle Tennessee. For more info, please contact Rick below.)

Rick Ryan www.RickRyan.com Nashville Wedding DJ, Uplighting and Photobooth

How much should you spend on a wedding DJ?

NOTE: This is re-posted (by permission) from a fellow-DJs website. Arnoldo Offermann is a well-known and respected DJ in the Orlando, Florida area. His production standards are something we all strive for and I thought he did a particularly great job at voicing a major concern in this industry. The really sad part is that so many brides/grooms don't realize the mistake they're making, on the most important day of their lives, until it's too late. Save a few hundred, maybe, but they have to live with remembering it for the rest of their lives. Rick Ryan Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting & Video Services www.RickRyan.com ================================================================ How much should you spend on a wedding DJ? I’ve got the mathematical answer! Author: Arnoldo Offermann // Category: Thoughts, Wedding Tips Original Article

There are so many articles about how much to spend on a DJ. I’m going on the record to tell you that every single one of them is WRONG. I’ve seen article say that you can DJ the wedding yourself. You certainly can! You can also go to Wal-Mart and buy a dental kit to do your own fillings.

Our market here is very diverse. I see DJs are high as $2,000 but mostly as low as $350. That figure scares me… not just as a DJ, business-man, someone that went through wedding planning for his own wedding… but mostly as a family man. How can someone charge $350 and make a living?

For those of you who are expecting me to tell you about how important we are to your wedding will not be happy with me. I’m not writing that at all! You already know this, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading anything I am writing. I’m going to tell you WHY we charge what we charge.

Here’s a cost breakdown for a small DJ package that can handle around 200 guests. • Two speakers = $600/each (there are cheaper, but you get what you pay for. $600 is a very conservative number for a system that can handle 200 people. • 1 year music subscription (multipled by the last 5 years) = $1,200 • Cheap Mixer = $300 • Cheap CD Players = $300 • WIRED (not wireless) Microphone = $100 • Tripods for speakers = $100 • Console (case to hold everything together) = $200 • Simple LED-based light show $400

Keep in mind, I didn’t add in gas, $2 million insurance policy and other business expenses, a computer (most DJs spin MP3s with a digital controller that works just like a CD player/turntables). That’s $3800 All rental companies charge at least 10% of cost. This means that to rent out this system at 10% it would be $380. In the last three years this number has averaged to about 20%. We’ll stick with a low 10%.

A simple equation to calculate price is equipment + talent = service price. Makes sense, right? Your DJ has business expenses (though he paid for the equipment, it doesn’t last forever), and he has many hours that he’ll add his talent to. What does this conclude of our $355 DJ?

$350 (price of said DJ) take away the $380 is NEGATIVE $80.. This means the DJ either 1) values his skills at NEGATIVE $80 (or he’s paying YOU to work at your wedding) or 2) He’s bringing out low-grade equipment that won’t serve justice to the most important day of your lives. Oh, I didn’t mention.. but there’s TONS of business expenses: taxes, advertising, office capital, and non-event gas (for meetings). Even if they were booked 52 days of the year, that’s $18,200…. Barely double of what it costs to purchase the equipment, not including the costs of running a business itself.

How can someone charge $350 and make a living? If you guesstimate the gross income after business expenses, you’d actually read “How can someone charge -$80 and make a living?”

Some DJs may tell you that they’re “part-time and only do this as a hobby/don’t require this to be a full-time job.” Very true! Now this means they’re paying out of pocket to play at your event. Sweet– not bad for you… right? If they said they’re “part-time and DJ as a hobby” it means they don’t take their job seriously and most likely will RUIN your wedding day…. or their full-time job will keep them too busy for your event. No matter how you slice it, you hire a full-time professional. Why? YOUR happiness is required for them to put food on their table. They have no other source of income to rely on. They will work harder at your event!

I’m not saying ALL part-time DJs are going to be bad, however a full-time entertainer is obviously good enough to make it on his own!

Back to “tree-fiddy,” here’s something to think about: the numbers I gave you are for lower/middle-end equipment. We didn’t even touch on high-end brands such as EV, BOSE, or EAW that easily triple costs. Many entertainers have high-end lighting, video, or other special effects. Many of our weddings see over $20-30K worth of equipment! Many entertainers go to one or two yearly conventions to further their craft. Like any industry event, these conventions are NOT cheap.

So where do you start? Research DJs, or many will attempt to call or email you. The first question you ask should be: Are you a dedicated DJ company that specialized in weddings? What do you do to further your craft? Are you respected amongst your peers in the industry?

So how much should a DJ charge? Well, as you can tell… it all comes down to value of equipment plus value of talent. Equipment has a fixed cost, TALENT DOESN’T. Every DJ knows what he or she is worth. Once a DJ gives you a price, ask them why they charged you that. Was it low? Was it high? Was in between? A high price doesn’t mean a good DJ either… ask them for videos (recent, not some canned production in their office), client reviews, and even vendor reviews! =====================================

Rick Ryan Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting & Video Services www.RickRyan.com

Uplighting - What is it?

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting & Photobooth Uplighting - What is it? The best events are always well-lighted events. Uplighting provides an elegant effect for any event and is used to enhance your reception hall, lawn or event center. It makes a big difference, completely changing the ambiance or feel of an event. You may not think it makes a difference but it does. We've been offering lighting services, along with our DJ package for several months now. I'm realizing however, that a lot of people in our area aren't familiar with the terms and how it can benefit their event so I thought I'd blog about it to offer a bit of education on the subject. There are many different aspects to lighting jobs, and there's no way I could cover it all and still have you awake, so I'll just cover the highlights.

Uplighting Dictionary.com defines "uplighting" as follows: "a lamp, often a light bulb set in a cylinder or other container, placed on the floor so that a beam of light is directed upward." The most common method is to place a lighting fixture on the floor, along the walls, and shining light against the walls. In the past, uplighting has been done with incandescent par cans with colored gel filters (paper) installed, to get the desired color(s). There still are plenty of venues that use this method but there are two main problems with it; 1) the lights get hot, and children are drawn to them (a good recipe for disaster) 2) you only get a single color that cannot be changed during the evening. These days, more modern lighting contractors are turning to LED fixtures. That's what we use, exclusively. LED fixtures (at least the ones we're using) are programmable and can create a multitude of colors and shades and can even be programmed to roll from color to color (color change) or they can either flash or change colors to the beat of the music (audio activated).

Here are some pictures from recent events where we supplied uplighting:

The end result is a feast for the eyes. Add great music to it and you have a winning combination for creating the right ambiance and atmosphere for any event.

Rick Ryan Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting & Video Services www.RickRyan.com 615-390-2784

New Blisslights added!

New gear is always exciting to me. Yea, I know it's about as interesting as watching paint dry to most brides but this one will be turning quite a few heads in the coming months. What am I talking about? Blisslights!! Here's a good example: Blisslights in action

I saw one of these at an ADJA meeting, months ago, and have been dying to get my hands on it. Finally got a screamer of a deal so I've ordered two (2) of them that should be here by the middle of February, 2010. They're laser units, but far different from our other units. These things paint a slow-moving star system on the ceiling and have an adjustable blue nebula. The effect is jaw-dropping (at least it dropped my jaw the first time I saw it). Even in a roomful of road-hardened DJs the only words uttered were "Wow!" I've spoken with other DJs that have these and they pretty much give the same description. Guests walk into the event and the first thing they do is look up at the ceiling and open their mouths in amazement.

As of this writing, I plan to include the Blisslights, free, with any Uplighting package. Color-changing LED par cans against the walls/columns, two gobo projectors (your monogram in lights), spotlight and the new Blisslights. Now the hard part, waiting another 2 weeks for delivery.

www.RickRyan.com

Would you hire yourself?

I saw this question posed recently on a discussion forum and it really gave me a chance to reflect on what I do (the DJ/Entertainer life). When this question is turned inward I find it puts me in the unique position that I have to consider my weaknesses. ALL of them. There's no longer a "game face" or "salesman's suit" that I can hide behind because everything's on the table. In the DJ/Entertainer game, there's war between the "Real pros" and "Cheap DJs". Given the current economic climate, I can see how potential clients are tempted by "cheap" so it makes me ask myself "Am I really worth what I'm charging?" Let's see, I provide a sound system that's definitely in the "Cadillac" category (Bose), and I know how to use it (thanks Opry sound guys) in practically any situation. No junky gear, no last-minute patching things together at the gig (i.e. cheap guys). I'm a pro and my rig reflects that. Okay, I'll give myself a "thumbs up" on that point.

On lighting, I've spent a ton of money (just ask my wife) and bring a really nice truss system that's loaded down with all the latest lighting gizmos available with all LED fixtures that use the latest technology. Even when the cheap guys bring lights, there's usually a cobbled-looking mess of cables and they seem to pop circuit breakers a lot. At high-end events, such as weddings or conventions, power outages are a serious damper on the evening and it only takes one or two times before guests start heading for the door. Okay, I'll give myself another "thumbs up" for this one.

Regarding style or approach to handling an event, there are mostly two ways DJs approach it. The first is a "jump around, play what I want, constant mic chatter" approach and then there's the "minimal chatter, keep the music pumping" kind of approach. While chatter might work okay in nightclubs, it seems a majority of people view it as tacky at a high-end, elegant event. Okay, another "thumbs up" for me.

Then there's the issue of work ethic. I know a lot of guys take breaks and I never cease to be amazed at brides who can't understand why I don't sit down to dinner with them. While I admit, I dearly love visiting with clients and enjoying a fine meal, the way I see it is I'm there to work. I am support staff, who is there to insure things run smoothly. My job is to make sure everyone else is comfortable and entertained and I take this part very seriously, folks. Part of this work ethic also dictates that I don't isolate myself from the guests (some do). It's hugely important to discreetly mingle (can't over-do this part) and to ask for guests' music requests. First, the obvious reason, to find out what they want to hear, but secondly it helps them to genuinely feel connected and to become part of what's happening. My view, that's a big "must have" on the list. Okay, another "thumbs up" on this one. Hmm, didn't I already run out of thumbs? Let's continue.

Finally, in regards to "What does he offer that's unique?" I offer live music, "One Man Band" (OMB) style, along with large-screen video that works with in sync with the live action. The OMB thing is unique, to the point that some of my clients have to be educated to really get a picture of it. But let me just tell you that IT WORKS. Whenever I strap on that guitar and pull one off live (I usually throw a live one in every 5-6 songs, depending on the crowd) it never fails to get those "Wow, I've never seen that before. That's cool." comments. Add in the synced video that goes with the live pieces and it's a really cool, really unique little package that works better than probably anything I've ever done before. If the major-headline artists are using it on their tours, then why shouldn't I? Okay, a "two thumbs up" on that one.

Okay, so in consideration of everything (even with how self-serving this blog is anyways) I'd say "Yea, I'd hire me."

Have a great day today.