Turn an event into a CELEBRATION! Kupah James and Emily Lalone share their expertise.
Kupah James, KLASS Universal Entertainment
Emily Lalone, Lalone Marketing
All party elements are critical, however music sets the tone. An inspiring DJ or bandleader brings guests from whatever they’re focused on at the time to a party state of mind. The #1 party ingredient: hands down – music.
Are you wondering how to find the right music for your next event? I sat down with Kupah James of KLASS Universal Entertainment and Emily Lalone, Principal of Lalone Marketing, to find out. Kupah James has performed for Paul Pierce, Bob Kraft, and Donald Trump, as well as being a regular host at Boston’s Taj Hotel, the Revere Hotel, and the Langham Hotel. Prior to launching Lalone Marketing, Emily Lalone handled public relations and marketing for Bryan Rafanelli.
Debbie Good Miller, Good Celebrations, LLC: Kupah and Emily, in your respective careers you both have experience taking some of Boston’s best parties to the next level. Kupah, you’ve earned a reputation for connecting with the room and rocking it. How do you deliver better than expected results each time?
Kupah James, KLASS Universal Entertainment: KLASS Universal Entertainment provides the best in-room experience for guests because we treat every event like an audition. Each event presents an opportunity for my team to demonstrate our unparalleled level of fun and interactivity. Also, I am a firm believer in over-delivering…
Debbie Good Miller: Kupah, customers and guests must appreciate your team’s demonstration of an “unparalleled level of fun and interactivity”!
Emily, you’ve worked with top talent and a discerning customer base. What is the best way for people to begin looking for an entertainment company that ascribes to Kupah’s philosophy? How does one attain the best music for a corporate event, nonprofit fundraiser, wedding, mitzvah, or milestone celebration?
Emily Lalone, Lalone Marketing: Music and lighting are the two make-it-or-break-it elements to set the right mood at an event. Never underestimate the power of the right music. Word-of-mouth and the Internet are your two best friends when starting your search. Talk with your friends/peers, get their recommendations, and then scour websites. 90% of the time—as with KLASS Universal Entertainment’s website—you can watch live video of the DJ/band in action. Also, choose an entertainment partner who is multi-faceted. Someone who can perfectly execute a mitzvah, a wedding, a corporate event… you name it. It will make your job that much easier next time when you only have to make one call to book talent you know and trust.
Debbie Good Miller: Good idea – knowing reliably good talent for any event. When searching, however, how do you discover if an entertainment specialist is not a good match for your event?
Kupah James: Each member of KLASS Universal Entrainment is professionally trained and personally gifted. I know each and every member of my team has the ability to accommodate any audience. It’s something I’m quite proud of. From mitzvahs to proms to cultural weddings to corporate celebrations, my DJs use their musicality to create an ultimate party experience, every time.
Emily Lalone: I always want to meet with a vendor before the event. I want to shake their hand and hear their voice. In the meeting, I want someone who presents professionally and who answers my questions well. (*I always ask a lot of questions!) Don’t be afraid to set up an in-person meeting with an entertainer, especially if you’ve never met them before. Chemistry—especially an entertainer—is key. You want to surround yourself with a family of vendors who make you feel comfortable and confidant. Long story short, I recommended getting to ‘know’ your entertainer and then trusting your gut.
Debbie Good Miller: I agree; it’s critical to meet vendors in person. Even if I recommend a vendor, it’s important that the client and vendor meet to establish if it’s a good match. One question to ask during that meeting is, “How does party timing influence your decisions throughout the party?” How would you answer that question?
Kupah James: KLASS Universal Entertainment uses the provided Event Timeline as a loose guideline. Meaning, we know there are always changes once an event gets underway. That’s why we roll with the punches and work with the planner, the caterer, the venue personnel—so we achieve the perfect party every time.
Emily Lalone: I come from the “planner” side of things and know every successful event comes with an Event Timeline. That being said, certain things cannot be controlled—a Best Man speech can go too long, rain can force an event to start later than expected, the host can decide to extend the party until midnight. Events are ever-changing entities. That’s why it is very important to choose vendors who perform well under pressure. You want an entertainer who, onsite, is three-steps ahead of the party, sensing the crowd, and making adjustments in-the-moment so the “timing” of the event goes unnoticed by guests.
Debbie Good Miller: So true. It’s essential to have a plan, and plans shift. If the entertainment specialist can’t read the cues or address unexpected circumstances, the event may be less than spectacular. To avoid other pitfalls, what are the 3 most important questions a consumer should ask an entertainment specialist?
Kupah James: I recommend consumers think in terms of the past, the present, and the future. The three most important questions I think should be asked of a DJ are:
1. How did they start DJing?
2. Why do they still DJ (ie: What motivates them)?
3. What are their goals as a DJ?
…And I’d even add a fourth question: What do they use for equipment. (All kidding aside, the equipment a DJ uses actually says a lot about them.)
Emily Lalone: In keeping with Kupah’s “past, present, future” theme… I recommend consumers ask:
1. Can I speak with three past (*but recent) clients?
2. What are you loving right now that is “new” in the industry?
3. Is there an event you’re DJing soon so I can stop by to see you in action?
Debbie Good Miller: All good ideas! What are the most common mistakes that consumers make?
Kupah James: There are definitely a few common mistakes:
First is booking the DJ last—the DJ should be one of the first vendors you book because our calendars book many months in advance.
Second is requesting a sample of music—check out a website first for video clips and playlists.
Third is not getting referrals—I always want a new customer to talk with my existing clients, who are my biggest cheerleaders.
Last is that many DJs are not public speakers—remember that some events do require both a DJ and a designated Emcee.
Emily Lalone: Many consumers don’t ask enough questions up front. On the first phone call or at the first in-person meeting, ask all the questions you know you’ll end up asking later on:
Ask for their full range of services—you might be pleasantly surprised that a DJ offers more diverse services (rentals, videography, etc.).
Ask for pricing—it’s always best to iron this out in the beginning if the budget won’t support the cost of the DJ.
And, of course, always ask for referrals—word-of-mouth is essential.
Debbie Good Miller: Thank you – important considerations. When you’ve done the due diligence, hired an entertainment specialist, and the event is in progress, how do you know when you’ve succeeded in creating the ultimate party mood?
Kupah James: I know a party is in full-swing when the initially “shy” guests are up and dancing, children and adults are sharing the same dance floor, the lights are bright, people forget what’s going on outside of those four walls… that’s when I know the party—and the music—are perfect.
Emily Lalone: I have to echo Kupah here. It truly is a magical feeling as a planner to stand back—with almost a birds-eye view of the event—and see chairs strewn about with no one in them, a packed dance floor, the clients with huge smiles on their faces… It’s this feeling of celebration, of happiness, that rolls off the guests. And if you’ve got the right DJ—like Kupah—who thrives at creating that kind of atmosphere, you’ve got yourself one heck of a successful party.
Debbie Good Miller: There’s nothing as exhilarating as seeing empty chairs and a crowded dance floor! A party is a CELEBRATION when the entertainment drives the atmosphere to unexpected heights. Music is the #1 party ingredient. Thanks to Kupah and Emily’s input, finding a great entertainment fit for your next event just got easier. Follow Kupah and Emily’s expert advice—lead the way to celebration success.
Life is short. Celebrate!