The DJ vs. the iPod
At more wedding receptions and clubs, MP3 players are taking over
for disc-spinning humans
By Danielle Samaniego, MEDIANEWS STAFF
Article Last Updated: 04/05/2007 11:06:30 AM PDT
JOSH RUTHNICK - MediaNews staff IF VIDEO KILLED the radio star, will
the iPod take out the DJ? Not quite, but if wedding-planning message
boards are any indication, more people are considering MP3 players a
cheap and convenient alternative to hired entertainment at weddings
and other events.
Adam Love and his wife, Jennifer, were looking at trying to keep
their costs down and their ceremony intimate when they decided to
use an iPod for their reception in 2005. They created a five-hour
playlist and found that the celebration turned into more of a social
affair than a dance party — just the way they liked it.
"If the music isn't something
you expect to be the centerpiece of the wedding, it's just an easy,
less expensive way to handle (your event)."
"We had a lot of folks from out of town,
and there were those I went to college with, so it was more
about getting together to talk and get reacquainted rather
than highlighting a band or DJ," said Adam Love, who now
lives in Berkeley. "If the music isn't something you expect
to be the centerpiece of the wedding, it's just an easy,
less expensive way to handle (your event)."
"Ipod DJ Package
Finances are a big part of the increasing popularity of MP3 players
as a DJ alternative. Hired DJ services can cost anywhere between
$600 to more than $1,000, depending on his or her experience and
equipment. With an Apple iPod (costing between $149 to $350
depending on the gigabytes), there's the added cost of speakers —
about $100. For a live band, costs can climb into the thousands.
Still, some say an iPod can't replace a human who has the ability to
maintain pace and read a crowd's mood to keep the dance floor alive
and know when to bust out "The Chicken Dance." Couple that with
other perks that usually include a top-notch speaker system and a
catalog of music outside of iTunes boundaries and you've gone from
background music to a party.
"(iPods are) nice because it does save money and they're able to
play songs they choose, but you don't have the DJ there to keep the
flow of things, so it's almost like you need an emcee to direct the
crowd and get people on the dance floor kind of thing," said Alanna
Grossnickle, event coordinator at Garre Winery in Livermore.
Drax, executive director of the American DJ Association, a
1,500-member association, agrees.
"PA Package #1"
"An iPod is music, and what brides really
want is an eloquent spokesperson that can represent them at
their event in front of family and friends to create a
once-in-a-lifetime, memorable experience," Drax said. "We
work in harmony (with photographers) to craft deeply
powerful, poignant memories for friends and family where
they feel that they've experienced something that was
"The Kodak catches the moment — it's the DJ's job to create
Meanwhile, some businesses are working to
make sure that prospective clients have an option. The sound
system at Garre's event center has led to an increase in
iPod use for special events like company and holiday parties
And it's not just happening at special
receptions. Some bars and clubs have taken to using iPods in between
jukebox sets to maintain an ambiance, while hotspots like Walnut
Creek's Spoontonic Lounge hold special nights where patrons can
create their own iPod playlists.
Walnut Creek native Erin Bristow and her husband Marcus Roll decided
to take their music into their own hands. When they began planning
their wedding in September, they initially considered hiring a DJ
but as the months waned and plans were set, they decided it would be
easier to cut out as many vendors as possible, including a DJ.
"In the end, we decided that it would be fine to do it ourselves,"
said Bristow, 23. "It's been a fun project to make this playlist for
us anyway, to think of songs we love and some songs that we haven't
listened to in years, and we had fun doing this together."
Bristow, who was married Saturday in a smaller ceremony in Berkeley,
set up a Web site where guests recommended songs for the event. The
bride said it helped bring guests into the fold more.
"We've had a really good time doing all the planning and I think
that comes from not having to worry about so many things at one
time" like juggling too many vendors, Bristow said. "Getting married
is stressful, but planning a wedding should be fun."
Still, Spoontonic owner Jeffrey Sun admits that his iPod can never
replace Two turntables and a microphone.
"DJs still bring in the crowds," he said. "There's definitely an art
to DJ-ing. There's an actual talent required for making music flow
that only a DJ can do."