Big, medium, small, we’ve seen them all. Event venues are big business and they’re all finding new ways to add value to the standard function space/catering package deals offered in the past. But, should you buy into it?

Recently, many venues have been installing their own sound and lighting equipment, as well as hiring in-house DJs and technicians to operate it. Sounds like a great idea, right? In some cases absolutely, but when sound and lighting equipment quality is overlooked in favour of cutting costs, the results can be uninspiring. Add to this that many of these venues insist you use their in-house systems and talent and the importance taking the time and effort to understand the event entertainment infrastructure becomes even more important.

So, before you make the investment, ask the right questions! The CPDJA (Canadian Professional DJ Association) suggests that you have the following inquiries on-hand:

  1. Does your venue offer an in-house DJ and on-site sound and lighting system? First things first, determine whether the venue offers an onsite equipment and talent! If so, the next step is determining whether using an external DJ and event entertainment equipment is possible, or if the contract requires the on-site systems be used. Also, you should find out if you will be charged extra for use of the on-site equipment and how much that would be.
  2. Is there an option to book the venue only, and bring in an external DJ/event entertainment provider? If it is possible to use an external event entertainment provider it is ideal for you to bring this vendor on-site to scope out the venue. When your vendor is on-site make sure it is determined whether they can use their own sound and lighting equipment, or if they must use the on-site equipment. If the on-site sound and lighting equipment must be used, can the vendor plug it their own mixing system?
  3. Is there an opportunity to test the sound and lighting system for quality during all aspects of my event? Events are often made up of a number of different components: cocktails, dinner, speeches, ceremonies and dancing. As such, it is important to test the suitability of the in-house sound and lighting systems to perform for each period of your event.
  4. What is the room set-up? Can it be customized to my event’s unique needs? Once you have determined the basics about your venue’s sound and lighting systems, determining details regarding DJ décor, and DJ placement in relation to the dance floor are important. Additionally, if your venue operates more than one event at any given time, it is a good idea to determine if the rooms are separated by solid or folding walls. If it is the latter, then it is suggested that you test the sound system of all of the rooms in relation to your own. There’s nothing worse than being disturbed by another event’s music during an essential part of your own!
  5. How robust is the venue’s on-site technical support and backup equipment systems in case of equipment failure? Regardless of the expertise of the DJ and the quality of the equipment, failures happen. How a venue deals with these occurrence separates the outstanding venues from the average ones. Ask the venue consultant if there is an onsite technician who is dedicated to controlling the sound and lighting for the entire duration of the event. If the venue has multiple rooms, is that technician responsible for the entire venue? Also, what is the plan in the case of equipment failure? Is there an easily accessible and implemented backup sound and lighting system? Finally, determine whether or not a refund is given should a system failure occur.
  6. Are there any additional details, or charges associated with the usage of onsite entertainment equipment? And, what refunds are available should system failures occur?

The Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association is Canada’s largest and most recognized disc jockey association. For more information, visit