Monthly Archives: February 2017

What happened to Opening DJs?

By Tony Fernandez

Another year has passed and with the New Year is upon us it’s time to reflect. As I look back on the past year and forward into next year, I had a thought strike me: Where are the opening DJs?

Now before we get too deep into this thread, hear me out. This may seem like more of a club DJ thing, but you mobile DJs need to stick around. I read posts all the time about tandem mobile DJs, DJs-in-training, new DJs looking to get some live experience – an opening DJ slot is a great way to take things to the next level.

What exactly is an opening DJ? An opening DJ is a VERY important role in the grand scheme of how a night is going to roll out. It’s a very specialized skill.

Your job as an opening DJ is to set the table, as it were.   You’re setting the tone for the night. You’re like the first stage of a rocket heading into orbit… if you don’t do your job right, no one is going anywhere.

The internet has been a great source in reading (horror) stories about opening DJs and their folly. DJs that play inappropriate tracks, DJs that play tracks at 10:30 that should be played at 12:30. DJs that don’t know how to read a room. DJs that are not well versed in the subtlety of programming and set building.

There’s no doubt that going from gig to gig, events are different. But the role of the opening DJ stays pretty constant. This is a GREAT opportunity to learn and hone your song programming and crowd reading skills.  You can test, try out, experiment, and probe. You can build on your skill set and improve on that skill set.

Your role isn’t to supersede or usurp the DJ coming on after you. By all means, do your best, take the moment to shine, and make it your own. However, as an opener, you’re not the focus of the night. Do your job, know your role, whet your skills, and you’ll be surprised how you can succeed.

Keep on spinning.

Based out of Richmond, VA, DJ Tony Fernandez has been a DJ, Remixer, Producer, Musical Soothsayer and Audio Gear Oracle since 1980. Find him on facebook. Email

Tips To Being A Traveling Destination Event DJ

By Brian Buonassissi

People ask me all the time, “How do you get into the destination event DJ business?” usually followed by “How do you make money doing so?”. Both are great questions and I’ll do my best to unpack some tips I’ve learned along the way (some of which weren’t available to me when I started).


It doesn’t matter what business you are in, networking is essential. But when it comes to destination work, you find that 99.9% of destination clients have destination event planners. How do you find the planners that fit your ideal clientele? Utilize social media! For events, the best platform is Instagram. Search hashtags of areas you want to target such as #hawaiiwedding or a more generic term like #destinationevent. Then without being a stalker, follow and comment on vendor posts that make sense. I’ve booked more business on Instagram this year than in any year prior (I predict it will outpace my website bookings soon). Once the event happens, utilize Instagram again to showcase your work there (with appropriate hashtags) and tag the vendors. Then blog about it (great for SEO).


With music going digital, this has made travel events much easier. Most people don’t know this but Guitar Center rents gear and it’s affordable! I rented 2 speakers/stands, a lapel mic and cables for about $100. That’s an insane deal! I have a few different hardware controller options (different sizes/etc.) that I carry-on with me on a plane. Flights, transportation, and accommodations are typically the biggest cost you have – utilize travel websites and apps (message me for specific ones). When I wanted to expand to NYC, I would do an event and not even book a hotel room; just hang out in the City after the event and take the redeye or first early flight the next morning to save costs. Uber and AIRBNB give you many affordable options.


I quote in 2 ways – the first is a buyout for travel (does not include performance fee). Depending on where you go, this can range anywhere from $500-5000 and I include all my travel costs and gear. The 2nd way is to line-item it. With that 2nd option, I give them the option to book transportation/hotel or include as a line item. Most of the time, they have a block on rooms with a minimum and it helps the client to have you on that block. They also may have a transportation option for their guests/vendors to get to hotel/venue. The key is to give your client options. Some love the buyout; others are numbers people and like exact breakdowns. The more flexible you can be, the more jobs you’ll book.


When you’re just starting out, as mentioned above, you want to keep costs low. However, there is value for you to using the same services. For instance, Delta is my airline. I use them for just about everything and I acquire points/mileage. Avis is my preferred car rental and so on. As you book more destination events, this tip becomes more useful.


I put it last but without this, none of the other stuff maters; you’ll be a “one and done” destination event DJ. One thing I always do is to infuse the performance musically with some of the cultural feel of the location. If I’m in LA, I’m playing some West Coast Hip Hop; in NOLA, I’m adding some Zydeco; in Chi-town I’m dropping some house and “Homecoming”. In Jamaica, you know I’m mixing some Bob Marley. Research the area and know what works there AND with your crowd.


Based out of NYC, DJ Brian B is a successful internationally traveling private event DJ/MC. He runs a multi-city mobile DJ/event business with offices in Orange County, Calif, Destin, FL and New York City. You can check him out at or