iPod vs. DJ

by Matthew Shew

In the search for an answer in the never-ending iPod vs. DJ debate, you must ask yourself one question: What role will the music (and the person controlling it) play in your wedding day? 


The most common arguments to be made for the iPod are monetary significance, control of the playlist, and a terrible past experience with a live DJ.  Let’s address each briefly.  If you have decided to use an iPod to “save money”, then you may not be considering all of your expenses.  Do you have all of the necessary sound equipment (speakers, speaker stands, amplifiers, microphones, wires, etc.) you will need?  In many cases, you will spend a decent amount of money to rent these things.  After the rentals, buying music, and paying someone to operate the equipment, you may be a few dollars shy of what a DJ would’ve cost.  (When I address the advantages of hiring a DJ, you may be asking if you can afford to NOT hire a DJ.)  Wanting control of the playlist is another reason you may consider the iPod.  There is no denying that once you hit play on an iPod, if functioning properly, it will play the exact songs in the exact order in which they have been preset.  You can also collect guest requests in advance, and incorporate them into the festivities.  In my 17 years in the business, I’ve heard of very few parties where a preselected list of music succeeded in making for excellent entertainment throughout the course of the entire event.  I’ve even had DJs make playlists based upon music they had been given, and change midstream due to not being the “right time” (by their estimation) to play something.  This is made an even more mute point, given the fact that most DJs are willing to play the music you want to hear.  While I have heard of certain DJs not wanting to play from a playlist or take requests because it hindered their ability to “do their thing”, I believe these DJs to be the exception to the rule.  Leading into my final iPod strength of not having to deal with a terrible, or just plain unqualified DJ, we must assume the operator of the iPod will be doing little to nothing.  They are there to “babysit” the sound equipment, and that is all!  If the fear of having a bad DJ experience is your motivation, then read on and hopefully I can put your mind at ease on some of those issues.


Unlike the iPod, the benefit to having a live DJ at your event receives a single argument.  That argument is what I will call the “human factor”.  The “human factor” entails many “pros”, but can also include some “cons”.  Since the “cons” of the DJ serve as “pros” to the iPod, I will address them now briefly.  All of them are relatively easy to avoid, but ultimately a percentage of them turn into the aforementioned “terrible past experience with a live DJ” we spoke of in the iPod section.  Whether your DJ is inexperienced, obnoxious, overbearing on the microphone, or maybe drunk, these are all things which an iPod (by itself) cannot be.  On the flipside, a coordinator, emcee, music expert, and troubleshooter, are things an iPod can also not be.  In these capacities, the “human factor” is very powerful and invaluable to a wedding.  A good DJ will keep the flow of the party by communicating and interacting with you and your guests, as well as any other vendors at your event.  Your photographer, banquet coordinator, and any of the other significant players will be thankful to you when they have someone else to assist on a professional level.  Being able to accommodate this “flow” is something which takes experience and knowledge.  This is arguably the most important “pro” of the “human factor”, and the one which was repeated in almost every reference I could find.  DJs will also be able to adjust the style and volume of the music, as needed, based upon crowd reaction or as necessity dictates.  Even with impeccable timing, this would be extremely hard with an iPod.  They will also provide their own personal sound equipment to ensure quality and familiarity.  These may seem like small details, but they are details about which you will not need to fret.  It is a very cliché statement (but very true) that a wedding day goes by too quickly.  One less thing for you to worry about is a battle won, two or three less is winning the war. 


Some of the other downfalls of iPods are reliability and capacity.  We use iPods as backups, and have seen them malfunction in the past.  Regardless of the size, an iPod can only hold a certain amount of music.  These negatives just serve as more positives for the DJ side. 


There is no right or wrong answer to this debate, and I am all for personalization & living within one’s means.  That being said, I think a professional DJ is the hands down, stress-free favorite of couples in 98% or more of all wedding situations.  Enjoy your wedding and make sure your guests enjoy it, too!


Matt Shew

Shew-sical Entertainment Services, LLC

"Make your event a Shew-sical Masterpiece!" Music. Party. Shew-sical.

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