Monthly Archives: February 2019

How To Survive R Kelly & Other Troubled Artists

By DJ Brian Buonassissi

I feel like this is the elephant in the room at the moment for the DJ community so why not talk about it. If you’ve been living in a cave the past few weeks, Lifetime released a documentary series called “Surviving R Kelly” about the rumors and, in some cases, allegations of sexual, physical and mental abuse against Mr. Kelly. This type of documentary programming is part of the channel’s commitment to provide a platform for woman to bring awareness to harassment and abuse that largely (especially in the case of R Kelly) goes ignored in the mainstream media. The response to the documentary has been pretty big. Not only is the media picking it up but it’s starting to have some larger repercussions — Kelly and Sony (his label) have parted ways, artists that he’s collaborated with are removing songs they jointly work on from their catalog, his manager turned himself into the authorities and probably the most damning thing is his daughter has called him a “monster”.

Admittedly, I haven’t and probably won’t watch the documentary. I have many more things that I want to pour my time into this year than watching something like this. I’ve known of the allegations levied against Kelly for years so more witnesses coming forward or damning evidence isn’t going to move the needle of me thinking any less of him.

In a private DJ Facebook group I’m in, one of the DJs asked what our responses are going to be to this and how we’re handling it? Honestly, I hadn’t given it much thought until he made that post. There are plenty of other artists who have done things that morally are seen as disgusting – Michael Jackson’s child abuse case, Chris Brown’s domestic issues and though not entirely in the same vein, Kanye West’s eccentric behavior – and while they’ve caused waves in the news, I haven’t ever had a client or guest ask me not to play their music due to those issues. In some of the other DJ groups I’m in, I’ve seen posts from DJs who’ve been booed for playing any R Kelly at their events the last couple of weeks and other DJs who’ve removed all the content of R Kelly from their computer so it got me thinking what my take is and what I’m going to do about it.

The reality is that we all have skeletons in our closet – maybe not of the magnitude of R Kelly’s but if clients really knew some of our baggage, would they even hire us? It just so happens that, as a celebrity, R Kelly’s baggage is way more public. How many other artists are doing things that we don’t even know about, yet we play their music and clients/guests sing and dance to their tracks? I just saw a documentary on Whitney Houston that made her out to be a drug addict and a bad mother. The moment we start drawing a moral line of what is acceptable and not, it becomes a slippery slope. I’m not giving R Kelly a pass. If the allegations are proven true, he deserves punishment that fits the crime, but keep in mind that documentaries are, by design, one side of the argument.

Here’s how I’m handling it right now (and I’m not saying my way is the best way or only way). Hopefully, it’ll give you pause to consider your response. For one, R Kelly’s tracks aren’t going to make/break my programming. I use 1-3 songs on a semi-regular basis but I can easily replace them with others. I don’t feel like I have to have any “one song” to make a party lit. Now, if it’s on a client’s “must play” request list, then I’m going to play it.  If it’s requested by a guest at an event, I’ll ask them, “Are you sure?” and measure their response. If it’s met with hesitancy, I’ll suggest we table it and ask if they have a different song I can play instead. I recently had a guest who did request it and when I posed that question, her response was, “You played Michael Jackson, didn’t you?” She’s right. I did and it worked. The difference here though is that this is a hot button topic right now. I don’t want to test the waters unless I’m absolutely convinced I need to play it (which is rare). I ended up playing it and it worked great. That said, I’ll probably stay off his tunes in my regular programming until the temperature cools a bit on this one.

My guess is that it’ll be old news in a few months. In some respects, it’s sad to be writing that but it is reality. We live in a very short news cycle environment and the next scandal to break will replace this one.

What’s your response to this issue? How are you handling it? Drop me a note and let me know.

Based out of NYC, DJ Brian Buonassissi is a successful internationally traveling DJ/MC specializing in luxury destination private events.  He runs a multi-city mobile DJ/event business with satellite offices in Southern California, Scottsdale, AZ,  Destin, FL, Tallassee, FL and New York City.  You can connect with him at brian@djbrianbofficial.com.

DJ resolutions you should keep

By DJ Rachel Lynch

If you’re looking for the secret to drop 25 lbs while still hitting up the late night menu at Wendy’s or fix the current state of hip-hop this blog won’t be much help. However, DJs are always looking to do the job better, faster, and easier. With 2019 in full swing, here are some tips to do just that.  Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Meaning, find the best tool for the job and perfect the process. Here are some things you can do RIGHT NOW to start 2019 off on the right foot.

Consider Hydraulic/Lift Assist Stands– Sticker shock tends to deter some DJs from investing in these however they were my BEST purchase of 2018. If you’re on the fence, consider this. Lifting an object that weighs 10 lbs puts approximately 100 lbs of pressure on your lower back. With the average human torso weighing 105 lbs that 10 lb object adds up to 1,150 lbs (now think of your speakers and do the math). Having a speaker stand that can share some of the workloads is a smart move. You and your back are worth the investment.

Elevate Working Surfaces– Working from a comfortable height will elevate your performance and prevent unnecessary injury. Flight cases and equipment have become slimmer over the years causing the modern Dj’s working height to be reduced. Consider sourcing a table with adjustable legs or buying one that gets your gear to navel height.  Using the lid of your flight or controller case is also helpful to raise those platters and jog- wheels. If you’re tall, try bed risers. The goal? Work from a surface where your wrists are neutral with your gear. I challenge you to evaluate your posture when you DJ, you’ll be surprised at how bad we are to our bodies when we mix. If your back and neck hurt after an event this may be why.

Productive Pack Up– After a gig, the first thing on a DJ’s mind is getting out of there as quickly as possible. Over the years I have learned that despite the urgency to hurry up and leave, taking a few extra minutes to pack up properly has saved boatloads of time. One of the biggest mistakes I made was letting a “good samaritan” help me pack up. The next event took almost 30 minutes longer to set up because the cables were mismatched, tangled, and I couldn’t locate what I needed easily. Your clean up should be as neat and as systematic as the setup. It will save you time and money in the long run instead of having to repurchase things that are misplaced or accidentally left behind. Another time saver tip is to leave whatever you can pre-wired. This can be a significant time saver and stress reliever the next time you set up.

Shop Smart– Just because something is new doesn’t mean it is good. If you’re in the market for new gear, try renting it first. Take time at home to get comfortable with it. Run through the setup and breakdown. Test it with your other equipment. Is it comfortable? Consider the Weight? Portability? Practicality? Does it do what it claims? Do you have to have it? Are the newest features worth paying top dollar for? It may be better to consider last year’s model or buying something second hand. Chances are you’ll get a steep discount and still get the upgrade you’re looking for.

Forget the To-Do List– I said it. Stop making to-do lists. Wanting to start a website for your business? Do you need to back up your hard drive? Or deal with the check engine light on your DJ van? Throw Out your to-do list and get it on a calendar. What’s the difference? The paradox of choice. With a to-do-list there too much freedom. We often do the most pleasant tasks first versus the more complex ones. Or we push off tasks that seem less important until they become significant. The loose wheel on your Dj cart that you meant to fix since last month is much easier deal with at home on a Sunday versus fixing it when it when it breaks at 1:00 a.m. while using it. Having actions items a calendar (with a set date) will help you solidify your commitments and visually help you see if you can take any more on. It will also help you focus on tasks that have the most impact and reorganize those of less priority.

Keep Going– It is essential to set some realistic goals and strategies to ensure you are at the top of your game. If you aren’t, I guarantee you the competition is. So my last tip to making the most of 2019 is to not coast on your previous success but rather use the momentum to ride a bigger wave. If you had your highest number of events booked or were the most profitable, you had ever been, great! But that doesn’t guarantee you anything. Success isn’t accidental or lazy. It’s a direct result of preparing, planning, and aligning your time with your goals. Get back to work and keep challenging yourself.

Fun, creative, and ambitious, DJ Rachel is making her mark as one of the top mobile DJs in the tri-state area. Her diversity as a DJ allows her to play at events that include MetLife Stadium (for the New York Jets) and serve as opening act for George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic and Gloria Gaynor. For more info visit: facebook.com/DJRachelRLynch