Full Compass Live

As a guest writer of this column I’m excited about presenting some ways that weekday events have added to my company’s success. We have been able to bring in approximately 20% more income to our business due to gigs that aren’t on the normal Friday- Saturday schedule. But in addition to income, there are other great reasons why you should be pursuing filling your weekday calendar!

Here are three important ways that pursuing midweek bookings can benefit your business, beyond the monetary realm:

TRAINING

This is a great opportunity for new MCs/ DJs to get their feet wet with talking on the microphone, basic mixing skills, as well as overall DJing. We have found that a lot of DJs and DJ wannabe’s that come to us as prospective employees often know part of the skill set, but obviously don’t have it all down right. A great way for them to hone their skills and gain valuable experience is working in front of small crowds that might even know them personally at a local town trivia gig or small corporate weekday gig. These event types are a lot more forgiving than a bride with 300 guests on her wedding day or a high school dance where 500-1000 kids are staring at you because you pressed pause instead of play.

WIRING AND SOUND

Here again, the smaller scale of the gig can help the DJ get used to dealing with their technology, by using smaller rig,and usually having a lot more time to set up the gear. Also, the reduced responsibility load helps with the learning process. The DJ also may have an opportunity to plug into a bar’s sound system, or to work with them on hooking up a new sound system. These types of things are done easily when the place isn’t open.

PERSONALITY AND NETWORKING

These smaller-sized midweek events are much better for a newer DJ to get out there and meet the people at an event. We encourage our DJs to get out there and get to know them, walk around, say “Hi,” and so on.

For example, on a regular trivia gig that I help out with, it’s expected that you are sort of like the bartender—sitting and listening to people talk about their lives, mixing it up with friends and getting to know everyone. This also goes along with the first point on training. In providing musical entertainment, aka DJ services, the DJs main job is providing a service to the client. And working with people is the most important part of that service. Any situation that gives a DJ a chance to develop this aspect of their skill set is has a value far beyond the fee being charged.

So, if you have been hesitant to jump into the weekday game, thinking about the above opportunities for growth in your business, as well as the potential boost to your finances, may help you see the additional advantages of getting into game shows, trivia, photo booths and other services into the mix of your company’s offerings.

By Marc Andrews

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #166 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/166

Each of us has gone on a different journey when it comes to transitioning from a part-time mobile DJ into a full-time mobile DJ. But we all have one thing in common: that moment when you make the decision to tap into your inner performer and passion to DJ as a career instead of a hobby or second job. Not every DJ wants to go full time, which is completely fine. This is my personal journey thus far, after making that life-changing decision. I hope it educates and inspires you, while also giving a realistic view of the road ahead, if you are thinking about your own next step.

I never thought I’d choose to provide awesome music soundtracks and entertain people at events as a career. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was born as an entertainer though. I can remember putting together a choreographed gymnastic or dance routine for company when they’d come over to the house for dinner, or setting up my red Little Tikes radio at the bus stop and putting my roller skates on to perform for the people while they waited. I grew up in a household where music was played frequently, so I fell in love with what music can do to one’s soul and spirit. And of course, I loved to dance to it!

HOLLYWOOD LIGHTS

I first was introduced to the world of DJing while attending college at Miami University of Ohio. I fell in with several area mic-masters and became their #1 fan. When the owner of the DJ company talked to me one night about trying it out, I immediately jumped at the offer. It seemed like a natural fit for me, not to mention a pretty good way to make some extra cash. The excitement and creativity I found behind the turntables was exhilarating and I started spinning at nightclubs and bars, as well as private and campus events. To compliment my live shows, I joined the college radio station to cohost a weekend music show.

After graduation, I continued to spin on the weekends while pursuing a career in TV broadcasting, which is what I really went to college for. I moved out to Los Angeles to continue to pursue my dream, but to help pay the bills I also subcontracted as a DJ/ MC/dancer on the weekends and even took a position as an office manager with a DJ company until I could get “my break” in TV journalism or some other niche I might discover in the crazy entertainment world. After years of many challenges, failures, few successes, an empty bank account, a broken heart, and an overwhelming feeling of being lost and unable to find a stable job I enjoyed, I decided it was time for a major change. I reluctantly packed up my things and moved back to the cornfields and green flatlands of Ohio. Little did I know that moving back to Ohio would be a blessing—and one of the best decisions I would ever make.

FINDING A NEW PERSPECTIVE

It took awhile to recover and rediscover what I was truly passion- ate about and what I wanted to do with my career life. That’s a whole other story in itself, so I’m going fast-forward a bit to get to the nuts and bolts of my experience going from PT to FT DJ.

While I was doing my “soul searching,” I stepped back into being a part-time DJ.

I figured I could always do it as a side business, plus I honestly needed the money. In the process of applying for “real world” jobs, rediscovering my passions, my likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses etc., I realized that becoming an entrepreneur as a full-time DJ/MC would be extremely gratifying on many levels and I could envision where this path could take me. Thus, I trusted myself and took a leap of faith.

LESSONS LEARNED

Here are five nuggets of wisdom I have learned along the way that I feel has contributed to shaping me into a someone who could succeed full-time in the DJ business:

Researching the Market: It’s important to research the market and competitors in your area. Figure out what type of events you want to do, along with what you are going to offer and what will you charge.

Branding/Marketing: This ties into the research aspect. I feel strongly that marketing is a powerful tool, so I put A LOT of thought into how I want to brand and market myself. Even down to the style of clothes I choose to wear for events and client meetings.

I made the decision to stay solo versus going multi-op, so I had to devise a plan for how I was going to market/ brand myself so as to set myself apart from others. I had to think long and hard about how to become successful as a “solopreneur.”

 

I wanted to give my clients that “wow” factor, along with consistency, so they know exactly what to expect when I’m hired. This stays in my mind when marketing. I also utilize a variety of the available marketing outlets i.e., social media, blogging, website (which I admit is overdue for a rede- sign-I will get on that before end of the year), YouTube, snazzy business cards, a press kit, online advertising, print advertising, bridal shows, etc. Not all types of marketing have worked in my favor, but it’s a learning process and the good ol’ trial and error method rings true for any new business. Networking: I am a networking enthusiast. When I moved back to Ohio after being gone for five years, I really didn’t know many people because I had only gone to college here and worked a couple of jobs. I had to start fresh with a blank slate. Even though I had 10 years of DJing experience, to everyone else (the venues, vendors, and clients) I was a “new DJ.” I had to break that impression and get out there and meet people. I am now a member of TBN (The Business Network) and the ToastMasters. I also will attend NACE & ISES meetings, Perfect Wedding Guide luncheons/networking mixers, eWomen Network luncheons, WIBN meetings, Chamber of Commerce or BNI meetings. Dedication and Ambition: These two words are vitally important when transitioning from a PT DJ into a FT DJ. The word dedication means “the quality of being dedicated or committed to a task or purpose.” Ambition means “a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.” With the roadblocks I’ve hit along the way, without having dedication and ambition, I would have given up already and be sulking in a corner eating Dove chocolates or working a job that I hate and just settled for. In addition, when I receive praise from a client or witness positive results from my hard work, it drives me to continue to be dedicated and ambitious.

Support System: I am surrounded with an incredible support system made up of my family, friends, mentors within the DJ industry and in life, and account- ability partners. Everyone needs people who give you love, honest and open feedback, who keep you on track when you feel you may be losing your marbles, and who help you move beyond the blocks, encourage you, make you laugh, and keep you aligned. I am thankful to those who have continued to be by my side along this journey.

It’s been almost three years since I took that leap of faith. It’s a continuous learning and growing process filled with amazing successes that leave me feeling elated and grateful. In addition, there have been failures that were tough to handle and times of exhaustion when seeking out elusive solutions for overcoming some major challenges. But all of this has made me stronger and helped me continually strive to be a better business owner. It is extremely rewarding when I reflect on how I have reignited my passion and found happiness in a full-time career, where I help people celebrate special moments and leave them feeling the shine too!

By DJ Dayna

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #166 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/166

Wedding guest song requests made via the couple’s wedding website before the big day is a trend I’m eagerly waiting to see blow over. I’m guessing couples must do this because they’ve hired a DJ they don’t trust and feel micro- management is their only solution for regaining a sense of confidence.

I love the idea of involving guests and trying to provide an ideal entertainment experience for all, but, in my expe- rience, most couples haven’t done the math here: It’ll take me over four hours to play all those song requests—and I have the couple’s must-plays to handle as well. The songs are rarely good for the overall enjoyment of the group, and the ones that are you would have probably played anyway, right? In a nutshell, it’s a train wreck.

The question is how to keep guests feeling involved (like all their requests weren’t just thrown in the trash) and still have the space you need to match BPMs, transition between genres, and raise the roof. Here are a few tricks I’ve used in the few instances I’ve been presented with a laundry list of website requests.

CROSS OUT SONGS THE COUPLE DOESN’T LIKE

Clearly this list of 87 website requests is going to have to be pared down. Start by having the couple remove songs they don’t like from the list. Simple enough. In my experience, you can reduce the list by 25-50% with this one trick alone.

PLAY NON-DANCEABLES DURING COCKTAILS AND DINNER

You know those songs that are great for singing along in the car or cleaning house but just do not translate onto the wedding reception dance floor? Use your expertise and experience to advise the couple that ABC and XYZ songs can be taken care of before open dancing. Hint: This is an espe- cially helpful trick to use for guests that your clients haven’t seen actually ever dance and/or are fairly certain will not dance regardless of the circumstance.

SHINE LIGHT ON GUESTS FOR AN UNEXPECTED TWIST

As you are going through the website request list with your clients, ask them if they know the story behind any of the requests. Was “You’re Still the One” the First Dance song at her cousin Mary’s wedding four years ago? Take note of it, gather as many details as you can, and mention it if/when you play the song at the wedding. Even just mentioning the name of who requested what contributes to guests feeling more involved and sticking around until the last dance. Don’t be afraid to discuss with the couple which extra special guests would be best to highlight (someone who traveled a great distance to attend, the only kid who’s going to be there, etc.).

 

ASK THE COUPLE TO UPDATE THEIR WEDDING WEBSITE/SOCIAL MEDIA

Another sticky point with these wedding website requests is that now her Aunt Sue and his cousin Frankie are expecting “Ring of Fire” and “Besame Mucho”.—and they’ll be watching you like a hawk until they hear them. Have the couple pre-empt some of this tension by updating their wedding website before the big day to read: “Thanks for your song requests! We got such a great response that we most likely won’t be able to play each request. We are planning a super fun celebration that we’re sure you’ll greatly enjoy as much as we plan to. Love you all and can’t wait to see you soon!”

ON THE ACTUAL WEDDING DAY

About two minutes before you plan to put on a request, create a bit of buzz by announcing, “In two minutes, find out what Best Man Ryan requested for the dance floor tonight!” This lets the guests know that the website requests were not just all tossed in the trash. I also tells Best Man Ryan that his butt better be on the dance floor in two minutes—and it gives him time to round up some buddies to join him or to plan who is doing the Worm first. Finally, it signals to the guests if the song is a flop why you might be fading it out and moving on quicker than expected.

Hopefully these ideas have given you some food for thought, and maybe even inspired you come up with your own methods to deal with the latest trend that’s come along to test our patience and creativity.

by Staci Nichols

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #166 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/166

One of the things that I realized once I owned a DJ business is the seasonality of it. I’m sure each and every one of you can understand this. There are times when you are steady, times when you wish you had 40 more DJs and times when you barely think you are going to pay the bills. I can tell you exactly when those moments will hit each year. Especially the slow times!

Once you have been through that cycle enough times, you realize how important it is to expand your offerings; to be more than just a one dimensional business. Thus, many of us are offering a plethora of different options or services to help add revenue and value for our customers. I wanted to take some time to share my experiences with expanding your business offerings. We have tried lots of things, so I think I can help you just a little.

The biggest thing you need to do is decide what services you actually are going to offer. This may sound silly, but you really need to focus on the right services for you and your company’s culture. Let’s look at the photo booth service, for example. Some of you may want to add photography or lighting or video; doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it makes sense for you and the growth of the company. When I was looking to add something to our company’s offerings, the photo booth wasn’t something that I thought would be a service I wanted to do. I didn’t like it. It didn’t get me excited. It wasn’t my cup of tea. So we tried things other than photo booths. Musicians, drummers, new lighting packages, all sorts of stuff that seemed more fun. They didn’t flop, but they didn’t make money. They just settled into a “Yeah, we do that” state. All the while, more and more companies were offering photo booths. So I really had no other choice than to get on this service.

When you do finally make a decision on what options you are going to offer, you need to plan on how you are going to do it. I have seen so many companies fail at the “other” things they offer because they just say they are doing it without any thought behind the “how.”
Here are my four key questions you need to answer to be successful when offering other services.

How are you going to generate a profit from it?

2) How much is it going to cost you to take on this endeavor?

3) Who is going to manage it? The marketing, sales, operations, etc. all need to be thought out.

4) When do you expect to break even? Unless this new service is going to be a loss-leader, i.e.

Something you are doing to stimulate other sales of more profit- able services, you need to make money at it. You need to figure out your pricing so you are at a gross profit of at least 50%. This has been and always will be my number for sustaining a profitable business. In order to set the price, the costs are going to dictate a good part of that. So you need to really drill down on the operational side of things. Can you do things differently to keep operations costs low, so you can offer a lower price? Is your booth going to be fancy and require more work to manage, therefore costing more to clients? Can you cut down on other costs associated with it to keep the price down? Is your booth going to be an elite type of booth that warrants top dollar because of its style and options? The way you go about setting up your operation is really going to dictate the success of the new service. Every time I have spent the proper amount of time thinking through things like this, we’ve been successful.

Next up would be the way you enter the market. And this just isn’t the cost of the physical service. You have the marketing costs, the new hires costs, the administrative costs, etc. All these costs need to be reviewed and thought about so you can make an informed decision on what you are going to bill, so you can turn a profit. Remember, turning a profit is what we want.

The human element is important to consider. You can’t do everything yourself. And a big mistake we made was expecting existing staff to be able to take on the new work. That wasn’t going to fly, when two months later people were booking and needed more attention. We also didn’t think about the additional work that was going to be required of the warehouse, the scheduling and the operations of getting a booth prepped. From the jump, we should have hired one person to handle only photo booth options. One reason why we weren’t as prepared as we could be was that we didn’t jump right in with us buying, managing and going all sorts of crazy with it. We reached out to a third party and had them be a supplier for us. All we did was sell it, they managed everything else. I suggest this way of starting out. It allows you to see what is really involved with the new service you want to offer, as well as giving you time to slowly create the plan as you go along (if its working of course), without any out-of-pocket costs. We still had problems the first few months, as you saw above, but we were able to quickly address them.

One of the best reasons for using a third party first is to have a trial period. If the service offering is strong and people are booking, then you can take the plunge after you have a solid foundation of using the third party. If the service isn’t booking, you haven’t lost any money and you can focus your attention on trying another service.

My biggest piece of advice is to only have two or three key extra services that you offer. Our “3-D business” involves entertainment, lighting/AV and photo booth. If I continue to offer more and more services, I run the risk of diluting our brand and potentially not doing them all well. For many of you, running one business can be hard enough and adding more and more options just takes away from the key reason you founded your company. Be great at the few things you do, and your customers will appreciate it and come back to you.

By Jason Weldon

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #169 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/169

You just threw the party of all parties! The crowd is coming up and telling you that you were the “best DJ they’ve heard in a long time.” The bride and groom are the star of the show and everyone is telling them that they just hosted the best reception ever!

Your computer is still on, the lights are cooling down, the speakers are warm and drinks are sitting very close to your equipment everywhere. Sweat beads are coming down your forehead and the venue manager walks up and asks…“How long will you be?”

Now let’s stop this moment right here. Yes, you showed up an hour or two prior to the event to load in. Yes you just performed for 4-5 hours. You’re 7 hours into your day. You’re WHOOPED!

But instead of brushing off the venue manager or, worse, confronting him or her and telling them that you need at least two hours for break-down, consider this. The venue manager showed up maybe at 10:00 AM for the florists, the bartenders, the decorators, the bride and groom or hosts of the event. It’s midnight—and they’ve been there for 14 hours.

Load-in and Load-out is time that you’re working but not technically getting paid for. Make the best of it. Prepare to work harder at this point than any other point of the night.

My goal with every event is to start rolling equipment out by the time the last guest leaves. That’s usually 30 minutes after the end of the event.

But why? Why should I hurry up, get my stuff loaded as quickly as possible and get out of the venue? It’s simple: Who refer’s you? Venue managers are usually the first people to meet the hosts and initially make contact, establish a relationship, and more importantly, they’re who the client gets referrals from.

Will a venue manager refer you if they walk in after their already 12 hour day and find you and your buddies cutting up about the event? Or find you moving slowly and pointlessly wandering around a room that looks the same as when they left it an hour earlier? THEY WANT TO GO HOME!

The first thing we do is to make a difference. Cables take a second to roll but they have the least visual impact when it comes to making progress getting out the door.

In order, we follow the following load out list:

  1. Shut down all computers / hard drives and pack them up. It takes just a few seconds but they can get bumped or knocked off in the quick load out, so its always best to protect your most important investment.
  2. Unplug everything—speakers, lighting, consoles, video etc . To gather all items that came in a road case, locate it to the center of the dance floor as a central location and quickly check to make sure that you’re returning with everything that you brought to the venue.
  3. All trussing, facades and drapes get unpinned, put away in their covers and loaded up.
  4. Roll up all cords. This is where a majority of your time will be spent. Consider custom cables to boost your efficiency. For example, we have a single custom cable that we roll to each side of our set up that has power, DMX In and Out and 2 XLR cables for sound. So

instead of rolling up five cables per side we roll up one.

The last stop of the night is always venue manager’s office, to let them know I’m leaving. I’ve gotten load-out down to approximately 30 minutes. Most of the time I’m out of there before the caterer’s have cleaned up or decorators have finished tearing down. The venue manager is always relieved seeing us on our way out, knowing that they’re one step closer to going home.

When that next client comes in and asks for a DJ referral they remember who was looking out for them: who is there in plenty of time for load-in, has a great looking set up, throws the best party and…the one who expedites their exit. Make it easy as possible for the venue manager to work with you, and they’ll want to work with you again. It’s as simple as that.

By Cory Leonardo

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #169 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/169

From the Department of “Write What You Know” comes this issue’s tale of woe: the unexpected setback known as computer failure. No, I’m not talking about a laptop deciding not to work at a gig, but the backbone of our home base: our studio and office computers. First, I’ll tell you my sad tale, and then the many ways you can avoid being in the same position.

NOT SO HAPPY HOLIDAY

It all began a few weeks before Christmas… Working with my studio computer, which had been referred to as “Bigass Pentium” since it was built in the late ’90s due to its enormous bulk, I decided to cap off the workday with some maintenance: software updates, an antivirus scan and a quick restart. It was at this point that the “fun” began: boot failure. Not only did it refuse to boot, but would not even go into safe mode. Something very big was very wrong.

To be honest, although it was very inconvenient timing- wise, I saw this as a bit of an opportunity. The old beast had been having its parts swapped out for decades, and the putty-colored ATX housing looked like a relic, despite updated drives and other hardware. It was time for an upgrade. So, to keep this story short, my tech guy and I took a trip to the computer geek HQ known as Micro-Center, picked up a more modern chip, motherboard, RAM cards, a much smaller, yet feature-packed case, then headed back to my home studio to build us a new beast…with as many drives from the old computer as we could filch. A new solid state drive is now the boot drive for this new bad boy, and we were able to rescue all of the data from the couple of drives that would no longer fit into the box. Mission accomplished! Little did I know, this would be a prelude to the real disaster.

WINTER ARRIVES

Contrary to popular lore, Michigan winters have been fairly tame over the past few years. This year has been about the most docile one yet! So when the night of the ice storm happened, I wasn’t too worried. It looked like it was going to pass without incident. That night, I finished my work and headed off to watch some TV, and that’s when the lights went out for the first time. It was brief, with power returning in less than five minutes. Neither computer was on an uninterruptible power supply, because my old ones had failed and I hadn’t yet replaced them. (It was in my budget and on the calendar!) I really wasn’t worried, because the new computer was programmed to stay shut down. It performed as advertised. My office computer was another story. While it sits maybe a foot or two away from Lucy, my studio computer (it glows a sinister red, so I named it after Mr. Deity’s sidekick), the office box is programmed to come right back on when power is restored. From the next room, I heard it play the familiar login music. My TV program was back on, so I ignored it. Then the power cut a second time. This time was going to be a bit more traumatic! Note to Windows 10 users: If your power goes out while parked on the login screen, it could mean trouble. For me, it meant a corrupted boot sector. Déjà vu! No boot sequence, none of the automatic repair features working, system restore points all failed—and no safe mode. After trying every- thing in my extremely limited arsenal of tricks (“I’m a DJ, not a computer nerd!”), I contacted my amazing duo of IT pros: Monty Boleyn of New Concepts Software, and my aforementioned tech guy, DJ colleague and friend, David “Scary Guy” McMahon.

Back in the Windows 98 and XP days, we routinely would respond to such a crisis by taking any old copy of Windows, inserting it into the disk drive and selecting “system repair” in safe mode. No, it doesn’t always work, so I’m told, but for me it did, many times. This is why I brought my disk of Windows 10, from the new computer, along with the ailing computer, to Monty’s bench. Things, however, did not go as planned. Despite near-heroic efforts, there was no way to repair the system. The drive appeared healthy, but the files were in such a state that only a fresh install would do. Monty was able to boot off of the DVD-ROM, and we moved all of the files from the disk onto an external HD. Then, using that same disc we loaded into the studio computer, put the OS on the office box. We’ve got a pulse! The files restored overnight. Now it was just a matter of putting all the pieces back together.

Back at the office, I was very relieved the next day when Scary Guy was able to restore most of the settings and program functionality to the thing. Next came the battle with Microsoft to get a fresh activation key. (It’s a bit hard to explain all of this to a guy on the phone who barely speaks English!) In any case, here’s your predictable payoff for reading this terrible tech tale: back-up is ESSENTIAL!

BACK DAT [DATA] UP!

With these two repairs, the difference between minor inconvience and near-disaster was my almost complete lack of backup and lack of a UPS. An uninterruptable power supply will keep your machines running during a power outage for long enough to properly shut them down. (There’s even software that will shut down any running programs and properly shut down your computer hands-free.) The one we’ve just installed will keep our entire network (both computers, modem, monitor and printers) powered up for a full 45 minutes before needing to be shut down. This step alone would’ve prevented the whole SNAFU. Another thing we’re now implementing is Drobo, a rather clever, redundant file back-up system that should handle both computers, and possibly my wife’s video editing network, rather nicely. Considering how maniacal I am about onsite backups at gigs, I now know firsthand that backups are every bit as vital in the studio and in the office! That is, unless you have a couple spare days to devote to data recovery.

Now it looks like the studio is ready for the rest of 2016. Over the coming months, the final phase of the rebuild and relaunch of my DJ business, Stu & His Crew, will play out, and I hope you’ll join me on that hopefully more pleasant journey right here in Mobile Beat. Until next time, safe spinnin’!

By Stu Chisholm

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #169 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/169

One of the many challenges we face as mobile DJs is dealing with the variety of venues we are asked to perform in. From banquet halls to boats, we are often asked to perform the impossible while looking like the professionals we are. One good way to avoid any last minute frustrations before setting up at an unfamiliar venue is to do a proper walk-through prior to the day of the gig.

A walk-through gives you the opportunity to get the “lay of the land,” so to speak. It allows you to note the locations of doorways, electrical outlets, aisles and your workspace, as well as to get a general idea on the set up of the event. It affords the opportunity to plot speaker and lighting locations too. A walk- through also allows you to identify any trouble spots that could arise during the event and provides an opportunity to bring them to the event coordinator or client’s attention so they can be addressed. One example of a “trouble spot” would be the placing of tables too close to your speakers. You already know this will be a source of volume complaints from the people sitting there, but it can be overlooked by the event coordinator or client because your speakers aren’t in place yet. I once had a late booking for a New Years Eve gig and it was too late for a walk-through. The client wanted my speakers placed right next to tables on each side of the dance floor adjacent to my setup. I knew it was going to be a problem and brought it to their attention. They had already finalized the table setup and couldn’t change it. Needless to say I had to find the delicate balance of having it loud enough to keep the dance floor packed while not upsetting the guests sitting at the tables next to my speakers all night long. Had I been able to look at the set up prior to the event, I would have been in a position to suggest an alternate arrangement.

During any walk-through, I like to note the location of doors and other high-traffic areas that might cause a trip-and- fall situation should I need to run a cable across it. If you find you have to run cables across doorways or aisles, you need to make accommodations to secure them or you may be liable for any injuries caused by loose cables. I always have on hand some gaffer’s tape to tape down the cables, or I will use a cable cover. A more attractive option would be to use mats to cover them. Most venues have mats that will match the décor, or you can bring some yourself. It’s a good idea not to place your speaker stands too close to an aisle or doorway either, or you may find a guest accidentally knocking them over.

Another item to cover is the location of the electrical outlets. Most banquet halls and wedding venues will have a stage area that will have power, but you may not be so lucky if you are doing a house party. You may even be asked to set up in an outdoor location far away from electrical outlets. This will allow you to plan accordingly with additional extension cables and power strips. I did one gig on Catalina Island where I had to use a portable generator! It’s a good idea to take notes of where outlets are located away from your booth to accommodate powered speakers and lighting. Now is also the time to determine if they are working or not. If you suspect they are not, speak with the venue manager or event coordinator to confirm that they are. You could always carry an AC receptacle tester with you to check them yourself. They cost around $10.00 at most hardware stores or online. You also want to ask if they are on a switch and where that switch is located. Knowing the location of the breaker panel that services the outlets is good idea too. How many of us have done a gig where the breaker tripped and spent the next 15 minutes looking for the panel?

To avoid any misunderstandings, I always note in my contracts what my electrical requirements are and specify dedicated outlets. This gets it down in writing and avoids any last-minute confusion. The last thing you need the day of the gig is to fight with the videographer or photographer over outlets you assumed were for your equipment. It’s good to have a copy of the signed contract with you just in case.

I know some of us have had the opportunity to do events aboard private and dinner cruise yachts, which adds a new dimension to spinning an event. You often get to enjoy an afternoon or evening on the water and get paid for it. How great is that? Yachts have their own peculiarities though, and as with land-based venues, similar preparation applies. A note about power on yachts vs. land based venues is that they usually get their AC power from generators that are running below. These generators may not always provide a steady source of clean AC power like you are accustomed to on land. They may also have limited power capacity, so I like to arrive extra early to speak with the captain or engineer to discuss power requirements beforehand get clear on any limitations. It’s recommended you at least run a surge protector when doing events on a yacht. If you run a power conditioner, that is even better. Extra care must also be taken with speakers and your gear aboard party yachts. Since they are in motion and may move abruptly when docking, you want to ensure everything is well secured. You will have guests at your gig that may be uneasy on boats. They may trip on, or even worse, instinctively grab a speaker to steady themselves. One recommendation is to place them on the deck, (floor) or secure them with Zip Ties or straps so they don’t fall in unsteady conditions.

If you are a DJ who likes to spin vinyl, this type of venue poses additional challenges too. Be aware that engine vibration and sea con- ditions on smaller yachts may cause

your needles to skip. If you have a controller or CDJ based setup, you may want to bring that instead. Years ago, before digital, I had to tape coins to my tone arms to keep them from skipping while spinning a gig on a boat.

Even if you don’t have to meet with the client, and its feasible, I recommend contacting the venue and ask to view the space. Not only do you come prepared to your gig, it allows you to meet the staff and forge working relationships for any future event you may book there.

A proper walk-through can help you be truly prepare for any gig. My philosophy when loading out for a gig at any unfamiliar venue is, “Better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it”.

By Scott Jarema

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #169 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/169

If you aren’t familiar with Mixcloud, it is a social networking website for DJs to post and share our mixes. You can create a profile, follow other DJs, like their mixes, and see a news feed of what your DJ friends are uploading, liking, and listening to. It’s free and a lot of fun.

In addition to networking and working on our craft, Mixcloud also has great potential to help us market ourselves for weddings. Here’s why:

  • You can embed long mixes directly from Mixcloud to your website. • You can pin your mixes to Pinterest—you know, where brides roam free in their native terrain.

(As well as share to Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.) • You can send brides and grooms the link to your Mixcloud profile page and let them see your full range and listen to what appeals to them. Or send them a link to just one specific mix that perhaps appeals to their specific needs.

  • It’s great brand association for wedding DJs, as Mixcloud is young, hip, authentic, non-commercial, and so on. • You can show off not just your mixing skills but your song choices— something brides are definitely concerned about and something that is challenging for us to convey without real samples.

That being said, most of us on Mixcloud do not have very bride-optimized profiles. Remember when Facebook used to just be about friends like 10 years ago…then businesses started creating profiles and it became a marketing tool? Well, Mixcloud is still in the “friend zone,” but here are some pointers to turn your profile into a wedding marketing tool:

  1. Just like Facebook, consider creating two separate Mixcloud profiles—one for your business, one for you personally.
  2. On your Mixcloud business profile, keep every- thing branded, use your local keywords, and use your professional headshot.
  3. Only post 8 to 12 wedding-specific mixes of varying lengths (10 to 25 minutes). Think of it as a portfolio. Just like a photographer doesn’t show a prospective client every photo they’ve ever taken; they pick and choose a curated set of images that highlight their style. Do the same. And ask yourself how likely a bride is to listen to a full one-hour mix. Not very.
  4. Reserve your progressive electro-house whatever mixes for your personal profile, and keep your business profile mixes mainstream (you know…wedding music).
  5. Show your range. Most mixes on Mixcloud are “my “90s hip-hop spins” or some other one-genre mix. You want a bride to hear your mix and be able to visualize your jam rockin’ her reception. So, for most of us, that means multiple mainstream genres. Use songs that you regularly play at weddings.
  6. Ditch the clever mix titles like “Cr8 & DevAst8 FlaVaJaM.” Give your professional mixes descriptive, easy-to-understand titles like “Wedding Dance Floor Opener” or “My Line Dance Remixes.”
  7. Properly tag your mixes with the genres of music you incorporated.
  8. If you’ve posted a mix with R-rated words, put that in the mix title.

Finally, here are a few creative wedding ideas to consider for your Mixcloud profile if you really want to stand out:

Throw together a mix of custom First Dance songs you’ve made for past couples. Post a sample of your fave cocktail hour or dinner music to show your creativity in song selection (letting a bride know she doesn’t have to spoon-feed you every song for the whole night). One of my faves is “MAD SKILLZ’S Pre-Wedding Mixer Mix” by Footlong_Development. Create some fun drops with the newlywed’s names and incorporate them into a dance set to show how you can personalize the music.

If you have a music specialty, create a mix highlighting your niche.

Take some of the stale, yet tried-and-true wedding songs and remix them or trick them out so they sound fresh and fun (“Celebration”—I’m looking at you! Time for a makeover.)

Post a recorded live set from a real wedding. If you have video testimonials from clients, turn the audio into MP3s and mix a little upbeat promo track!

With the competitive- ness in the wedding DJ market, Mixcloud is a great tool to help showcase your skills, stand out, and book more weddings.

By Staci Nichols

 

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #169 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/169

A well-made promotional video is great for your business. You may have fliers, posters and awesome word of mouth. You may have a good website, an awesome presence on Facebook and other social media. Small additions here and there can be the difference maker and indeed one difference maker is certainly the use of videos. Having the right marketing materials, including videos, can help you increase your bottom line and bring in more midweek money.

With a minimum of software invest- ment and not an unreasonable amount of effort, you can create professional-style videos. One reason you need to consider making them is to keep up with technology. Most companies have moved to online promotion, as it is the most effective, wide-reaching and useful tool for marketing. And to be most effective in the online world, you must produce high-quality videos to use on YouTube, Facebook and other social media.

PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION

The first thing to consider is whether you can you do it. Making a bad video with poor sound and poor image quality will have the opposite effect of what you want. You need to make an appealing, interesting and professional-looking video. Start looking into software you can use. There are so many skilled video makers out there that it does take a lot to stand out. You don’t need to make THE best video out there, but a video that looks professional and modern. Don’t settle for second best. Even if it costs more to get one made for you, the investment might be worth it.

You have to make sure the production is something simple yet effective. The customer who has watched the video should leave knowing exactly who you are, what you are all about, why you are better than the others and—a fact DJs often overlook—how they can contact you. Without these factors it will fail. Keep production snazzy yet not too fancy, clear not confusing. Keep the video easy to follow and simple to watch. It is good to consider friends and/or family and script out what you want them to do.This controlled environment produces better results and may better represent what you have to offer.

Have you had that incredible game show moment that you wish all your potential clients could have seen? It is a simple thing to get friends and family to recreate the fun and excitement from a previous show. It’s not false advertising; you are merely portraying what prospective clients can expect at their events.

  • Capture players pressing their buzzers, answering questions and having fun. • Show the audience participat- ing and laughing.
  • Have a testimonial or two from past trivia clients. • Show winners receiving prizes.

Your video needs to be short, sweet and to the point. It is good to have two types of videos: The full-length version and the shortened website version. If the website video is anything over about 40 seconds, it may negatively affect people who view it. Basically, a 40 second video makes them want to see more. Then you can provide a link for the longer version. The longer version should not exceed three minutes in length. You need to make sure you keep the attention span of people focused on your product. You need to get the message across quickly and clearly. Don’t overload them with information or go into too much detail. Don’t repeat and repeat and don’t let the video drag on.

PROPER PLACEMENT

It is no good making a video if you then don’t make the effort to get it out there. You need to make sure it gets seen by adding it to social media. Put it dead center on your homepage. You should even have it running on screens at your events when people are coming in, with the permission of the booking client, of course. Just sticking it on YouTube and hoping people will see it will never work. Send it out in emails, promote it on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t be afraid to show people you have a good product.

This message about making a pro- motional video is as loud and clear as I can make it: Try it! People in this day and age have short attention spans and do not want to read long paragraphs, Heck…I will be shocked if you are still reading this. They want something that sticks out and uses modern technology. It shows you care; the fact that you are making the effort shows you are serious. It shows professionalism.

Put it in the right places, on the right kind of channels, market it well, and you will see it makes a difference. It’s a good selling tool for you and speaks volumes.

What are you waiting for? Get that video produced today and start increasing your business.

By Rob Johnson

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #169 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/169

The quickly changing social media world can be overwhelming, with dozens of new platforms being introduced each year. It’s clear that this era is here to stay, and social media has proven to be a viable advertising outlet for businesses across the board, including mobile entertainers. If you leverage these marketing tools the right way and provide good content to your viewers, prospective clients, fans, etc. then your ROI can look promising.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest have become common enough in our culture that my 89-year-old Grandma has an account. They rule the social media world. In this article, though, I want to talk about a newer social media app, Periscope. It boomed in 2015 and will continue to rule in 2016. And it can be added to our DJ marketing toolbox as a sharp new social media tool.

Thanks to social media, we have become a culture that has become enamored with the “in-the- moment” and “on-the-go” perspective at our finger- tips. Pictures can capture memorable moments, but live video takes you to back to that moment any time to experience it again.

And that is what Periscope does. It’s like your own personal tour of a user’s life. It is the most popular app where you can share and watch live video broadcasts from your mobile phone. The live video streaming service—which was acquired in January 2015 by Twitter, before it was publicly launched—boasts more than 10 million accounts, and says its users watch the equivalent of 40 years’ worth of video every day. Twitter shared that Periscope had reached 1 million users just 10 days after launch. Crazy, right?!

Periscope makes it easy to press a button and have a notification go out to your followers to let them know that you’re doing a live transmission. Let’s say you are at a wedding and some family or friends couldn’t make it. You can use Periscope to shoot some of the highlights of the wedding, so now those family members and friends can see it while it’s happening, and still be a part of the experience. I couldn’t make it to a good friends wedding in another state, but one of his guests was “periscoping” during all of the festivities throughout the day, so it was amazing that I got to watch what was happening from my iPhone!

Periscope also has other cool features, including a way for the viewer to interact with the “periscoper” while they are broadcasting. The viewer has the ability to send messages, so the periscoper can respond in the middle of a broadcast. They can express their love by tapping the screen, which triggers multi- colored hearts that float up the screen, which, in turn, will make your broadcast more popular. It’s similar to Instagram, where you “heart” someone’s photo.

Another key feature is that it records the live streams, allowing anyone to watch the videos for 24 hours after the broadcast. This is an especially important feature, given that more people will be able to watch a replay than drop whatever they’re doing to view a live video. And you can personally save the footage to your own phone if you want to keep it to replay or share to other social media platforms. In addition, it’s a great way to gain more Twitter followers, since it’s linked to that account.

If your wheels haven’t started turning yet on how this nifty new social media app can apply to you and your DJ business, let me give you a little push. Periscope allows us to directly connect to our audiences and allows them to interact with us. Our industry is all about connecting and engaging with our audience, right? So this visual echo of what’s happening right now is an effective DJ tool. You can use it at events to show the packed dance floor or the first dance at a wedding. You can record a part of your set to showcase your mixing or mic skills. You can interview the bride and groom or people at the events you are performing and tag them in the video, which will then draw any of their viewers or followers to your Twitter feed. If you get to travel with DJing like I do, you can periscope from cool local spots and show your audience the places you get to explore. Plus, it’s great to reference to clients who ask for video of you performing. You can let people know when your upcoming events are and they can tune in.

It’s important to remember that the key to using any social media app effectively is the content. Be smart about it and provide content that is interesting, appealing, and shows you and your business in a good, unique light. Also, remember to utilize your social media platforms as hubs to promote an event or periscope broadcast ahead a time. Instead of thinking about them individu- ally, think of how to use all the tools to your advantage and how to send your followers/viewers/clients from one place to another. Crossing platforms can be a sure way to build the audience you are aiming for. Some of you may decide not to become an avid Mr./ Mrs. Periscoper right away, and will stick to other social media that you feel more comfortable with. But, for those of you who decide to join in, I’ll see you live in…5, 4, 3, 2—and 1!

By DJ Dayna

 Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #169 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/169

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