Category Archives: Building A Better Business

Stay off your phone!

By Tony Fernandez

The Internet is a glorious thing.  It truly is.  I marvel at the unlimited power and capabilities one has access to with a mere click or keystroke.  Once you get past the click bait, porn, and Russian political meddling, you can actually find some really useful things out there on the world wide web.

What I DON’T understand is why DJs seem to be using the Internet to fill gaps in their repertoire.  I’m not talking about the Spotify/YouTube jocks that can’t even get on the service that doesn’t have ads (I’m sure there is a special ring in Dante’s Inferno for you). . .

And I’m not talking about the yahoos that can’t use Google after people take the time to help, explain, educate, and pass on knowledge… you STILL want a link to click. . .

I’m talking about the DJs that are AT gigs… right in the middle of an event and they are on Facebook and the plethora of DJ pages asking questions like: Where do I place my speakers? The bride just moved the time line, what should I do? And my favorite: What song should I play next?

I’ll tell you what you need to do:  you need to get off your smart phone, put your nose to the grindstone, put on your big boy or big girl pants and FIGURE IT OUT! Yeah l I know you can make the point that the offending DJ is doing that by getting on their device, BUT…   do you see other professionals working and getting on Facebook to ask for suggestions?  I’m sure a lawyer in the middle of a courtroom is going to whip out their iPad and Google a case.  I’m sure a doctor in the middle of a procedure is going to check on a Facebook page to ask how to continue what they are doing. Yeah, right.

Look, I get it, we ALL need help at some point. My self included.  No single human being knows everything – well, maybe one: I saw a piece on a student (from MIT, I believe) that was able to isolate the nerve/electrical impulse that our brain uses to communicate with the mouth.  This student was then able to tap into that connection and convert that electrical impulse into text, which he sent to Google.  So you can ask this student ANYTHING and they would have the answer.

I digress…

There are some really great people on these pages that genuinely and selflessly offer up invaluable information for the sake of being a decent person. They authentically want to help.  What I take umbrage with are DJs doing the asking WHILE at a gig in REAL TIME.  Especially on things they should know.  Specifically: what music to play.  You got ONE job, handle the music.  Handle it before the gig.  And if something comes up during the gig, HANDLE IT.  That’s your job.

How do you even find time at a gig to get on a device to get an answer for something you need immediately?   I would think your time is better served by paying attention to the situation at hand instead of wasting precious time tapping a screen and waiting for a response. And at the risk of sounding like the proverbial old “hey you kids get of my lawn” guy, people were able to use the power of problem solving, cognitive skills and intestinal fortitude BEFORE the Note or iPhone was invented.

I have to go get ready to play to a bunch of college students.  I’m doing my homework NOW.

Keep ‘em 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 djtonytf@gmail.com

3 Tips for Wedding Show Success!

By Eric Wenning

Whether you’re a seasoned vet or a novice in this business, at one time or another you’ve probably advertised at a Wedding/Bridal Show (or thought about doing so). What a lot of people don’t understand is there is a lot of psychology required in advertising at these shows: reading people’s reactions, knowing what to say when breaking the ice, your appearance and the appearance of your booth, and so on. All equally important if you’re going to successfully generate leads or even a sale or two. Screw up one and it could turn into a snowball effect and, soon enough, you could be left with a lot of money out of your pocket and no sales to account for it.

Let’s dive into some tips that can help you turn that around…

  • Stop Sounding Like Everyone Else!
    Your opening line to an already anxious bride needs to be something other than, “Do you have a DJ picked out yet?” The majority of brides are going to say “yes” because even though they came to the show, they really just want to grab your brochure and deal with you later. So, the trick is to ask them a question they will say yes to without knowing they are doing it. Here is a question that has made my company tens of thousands of dollars… ready?

“Wanna Play a Game?”

Now I have you scratching your head while you are reading this, don’t I? I have actually hidden a photo of ‘Where’s Waldo’ in my brochures. So I tell them, “Find Waldo in 30 seconds or less and I’ll give you an extra discount off your wedding.” What happens next is amazing. The bride grabs a brochure, the mother grabs a brochure, the maid of honor grabs a brochure, heck even the dad grabs a brochure. Smiling. Laughing. Pointing. Now visualize this, another prospective bride is walking down the aisle and sees a herd of people intently looking at my brochure and seems genuinely interested in what we are offering. We made them curious! You are now creating a buzz around your booth and people want to get in on whatever you have to offer!

  • Give Out a “Yes Bag!”
    Have you ever noticed a bride carrying a bag and the mother or fiancé carrying another bag? Did you know most bride’s have a “Yes Bag” and a “No Bag?” Did I just blow your mind? They don’t want to be rude to your face, so they will politely say, “We’ll look it over and give you a call.” Now, if you give out a bag with your logo on it (you’ve just built rapport with that prospect!) you can then say, “Make this your Yes Bag moving forward (with a wink, of course) and you will get a smile and a giggle, and hopefully a new client too!
  • Brand Your Sweets n’ Treats
    Everyone always hands out candy and treats at their booth. What you need to do is, once again, be different! Brand your sweets n’ treats. Put your brand all over suckers, candy, mints. Anything that will stick out from the rest. Because when those brides get home they will dump their bag all over their table and start to narrow down the yes, maybe and no literature. The more they see your brand/logo everywhere, the better your chances are that they will remember you!

Now go make a Great First Impression!

In addition to his highly successful multi-op business in Pittsburgh, PA, Eric has degrees in Graphic Design and Marketing and also owns a full ad agency that specializes in Social Media Advertising for many different types of companies. For more info or to contact Eric visit www.wenningmethod.com

The Art of The Follow Up (Bridal Show Edition)

By Mitch Taylor

Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that all bridal shows are not created equal.  It’s up to you to decide if that show is worthy of your investment or not.  How?  Ask around, starting with your fellow DJs and vendors.  What shows have been helpful to them?  What kind of business do they run from a size and service standpoint?  Find a like-minded business in your market.  Take the owner to lunch and ask why they choose the vehicles they choose to advertise in.  Their answers may surprise you.  Oh — and bring a referral or an idea they can use to help their business with you.  Givers gain.

Next, look at the size of the show. How many potential brides attend? This number will be significantly different from the total attendees so be sure you understand the difference before signing on the dotted line. If you are going for volume and willing to price your service accordingly, than a show with a killer marketing piece and several hundred brides may be for you.  If, however, you’re focused on high-end gigs and wanting to build quality relationships, then a smaller venue that allows more interaction with brides would be the best way to go.

OK… so you’ve picked a show.  How do you follow up?  Clue:  Ask them at the show.  Have brides sign up by typing their info into DJ Event Planner at your booth.  This eliminates misreading someone’s handwriting and ensures your message gets where it needs to go. Ask them when they got engaged and what other vendors they’ll be using and take good notes.  This can help you know where they are in the sales process and when it would be best to follow up with them. Brides with dates two or more years out best separated from brides who are looking for things within a year.

Now, based upon how the brides want you to follow up, set up schedule that works for them, not you.  Once a bride is ready to hear from you, put her in your cycle with unique touches designed to help her in the wedding planning process (apply different touches with your email, phone calls, snail mail and Facebook).  Use an email subject line that will make her want to read more.  Above all, your communication with her must be respectful of her time and conversational.

If you’d like a real life example of a follow ups I send my clients, send an email to mitch@tayloredweddings.com with the subject line “dj news bridal show FU” and I’ll get it out to you right away.

Lastly, be real. I often joke with the brides that stop by my booth that half of the information in their bags will end up being thrown out or forgotten in a corner somewhere.  People relate to real.  This is why if you are advertising at a high-volume show with dozens of vendors and hundreds of brides, you need a phenomenal marketing piece that really stands out from the crowd.  By striking up a conversation and genuinely seeking to help, you can cut through the hustle and bustle and get down to what really matters: helping a bride get the wedding she wants.

After all, that’s all sales truly is.  Find a need and fill it.

Mitch Taylor has worked in the Mobile Disc Jockey industry for over two decades, first cutting his teeth as an on-board club DJ for Carnival Cruise Lines. In addition to owning and operating Taylored Weddings in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, he is a sought-after speaker and Gitomer Certified Advisor whose sales training, books, coaching and workshops are in high demand all over the country. For more info about his Creating Connections books and workshops visit creatingconnections.biz

Stop Boosting and Start Funneling (Part One of a series)

By Eric Wenning

 I know many of you out there are struggling to advertise on social media with little to no success. Let me guess what you are doing. You have a picture of a packed dance floor in your ad that states something like “Book us because we are AWESOME and PROFESSIONAL” and are clicking on ‘Boost Post,’ thinking that will help bring more traffic to your site and you’ll get more sales…

Am I getting close?

As a successful multi-op who also owns a company that specializes in social media solutions for other companies, I’m here to help you with some of the marketing troubles you face on a day-to-day basis.

First, you have to understand there are many components in a successful ad.

  • Targeted Ad Copy
  • Targeted Audience
  • A Clear and Precise Irresistible Offer (to lure them in)
  • A Video to Grab Their Attention
  • A Clear Call to Action
  • Send your Leads through a Proper Sales Funnel
  • Installing a Facebook Pixel so you can track everyone

I know this might seem overwhelming, but you have to first know the ingredients to understand how something’s made, right? Almost all of you running ads are running them to COLD Traffic. Say what, Eric? WARM and HOT Traffic are leads from a friend, family or vendor referral. Cold Traffic are people that have NO IDEA who you are.

You have to target Cold Traffic differently than you would Warm and Hot Traffic.

What makes you stand out from your competition when it comes to Cold Traffic? Almost nothing until you get them on the phone, right? All they see are the same flashing lights and people having fun that appear in any DJ ad. But what can make your company look different in their eyes…

You have to understand that people price shop tangible products all the time. You and I both do it. We do it at the grocery store, Amazon, anywhere we can save a buck. Now put yourself in the bride and Groom’s shoes as they look at your company and your competition. The prices are almost the same, but what is going to give that Cold Traffic a push in your direction?

An offer they can’t refuse.

Without getting into the dreaded price conversation, you have to understand once that couple becomes a client they are more likely to spend more money because you have a trust factor with them. Prospects that are still on the fence are a harder sell to because you have not gotten them emotionally involved. The method to sell to Cold Traffic is to get them in at a cheaper price with an Irresistible Offer and then UP-SELL them once they are a client.

To accomplish this, make sure you have an Irresistible Offer. Make sure that offer is clear and precise. Make sure to have a clean landing page that CLEARLY states the offer you are making or your ad may get denied from Facebook.

Start with a broad audience, then narrow it down and retarget the people that saw your ad and did not convert. Create a video that has Stopping Power, meaning your video makes them stop and watch so you can explain your offer. Stop just using photos.

To recap, start CREATING COMPELLING ads instead of just boosting a post, and start to Funnel Your Clients!

In addition to his highly successful multi-op business in Pittsburgh, PA, Eric has degrees in Graphic Design and Marketing and also owns a full ad agency that specializes in Social Media Advertising for many different types of companies. For more info or to contact Eric visit www.wenningmethod.com

Digging for Diamonds

By Tony Fernandez

Through my travels on the web and through the various DJ pages, I keep seeing a recurring thought: The state of music, specifically current music, is at an all-time low. If that isn’t enough, that state of mind puts DJs into the frame of mind of: what are the good songs that should be played? The stuff out now is crap… blah, blah, blah….

I gotta tell ya, I really have no sympathy for the DJ who can’t figure out where to get “good” music. Let me explain my position before you flame me…

A long time ago in a galaxy not far away, there were these things called record stores. These record stores would have music on physical formats that people would purchase. DJs, at least the proactive DJs, wouldn’t go to a “regular” retail stores where troglodytes would buy their music. Nope. DJs would go WAY off the beaten path to find outlets that catered to them.

In these establishments is where bonds were formed, deals were made, fortunes found.

Now I’m not really going to wax on about record stores. That’s not the point. The point I’m trying to elucidate is: if you are lacking “good” music, go find it. It’s out there. Nothing worthwhile is just going to drop in your lap.

With the dawn of the digital age, record stores met their demise. As such, music is currently traded around, downloaded, and acquired in the digital scheme. That scenario, I think, has made a lot of DJs lackadaisical, complacent, passive and downright lazy to a fundamental aspect of being a DJ…

You have to dig to find that diamond in the rough. You have to put a bit of effort in your musical acquisitions. There is absolutely no reason to be obsequious in this aspect of your job. Make the time. It’s part of your job.

Just because you keep up with charts, subscribe to record pools and/or remix services doesn’t absolve you of keeping up. You really can’t just sit back and expect format radio to break the next “hot” song.

If you haven’t figured this out… format radio isn’t in the business of breaking music. Format radio is in the business of selling advertising time, to make money. They use music to do that.

You can’t just wait for your inbox to give you a notification that your downloads from the pools/remix services are ready and you’re good to go.   It’s not the job of record pools to pad your hard drive. Pools are at the mercy of the record labels and their release schedules.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of tracks that radio, the charts, the pools, the remix services are NEVER going to pick up on, play, or release. It’s incumbent on you to seek those out. To at least listen and see if something new and different is worth playing it or your crowd.

I also realize that people are creatures of habit. They like familiarity. They like things they know. They like things they’ve heard. I get that. I’m in no way saying that DJs need to play unreleased, white label, bootleg versions of songs to be cool or relevant. The vast majority of DJs play to the general public. As such, we need to keep our music programming recognizable. I do get that.

Since music now is in a digital medium, we ALL have access to the SAME tracks. (Pretty much…) We all are drinking form the same fountain, as it were. Because that’s the case, we need to set ourselves apart. Finding new music and/or remixes to current / popular music is an aspect that DJs need to take advantage of. There is good music and good remixes out there. Just don’t expect it to fall into your hard drive.

Keep ‘em spinnin’ and dig around a bit. You’ll never know what you might find.

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 djtonytf@gmail.com

The Big F. U. (How do you “Follow Up” with your potential clients?)  

By Mitch Taylor

Just because you book the client doesn’t mean you don’t speak to them again until it’s 2-4 weeks before their event. After all, the sales process doesn’t stop after you make a sale.  It’s a continuous cycle that is ever evolving and yet the steps have remained the same since the beginning.

The only thing that has truly changed is HOW we communicate to our clientele with our delivery methods.

For many of us, that’s the frustrating part. We have to manage SO MANY different platforms today. Instagram, Facebook Page, Facebook, email, internet, text…it’s overwhelming. You can’t force a client into having the communication only where YOU want to have it; today’s client isn’t like that. They want to communicate in the manner in which is most convenient to them. What to do? Save scripts.

If you travel a lot like me, this is an invaluable way to be sure you’re getting back to people in the voice you want to get back to them in and in the medium they wish to communicate. You can’t be trying to figure out what you want to say to a client when you’re traversing gates at an airport or at your kid’s evening game. Speed is the name of the game in communicating with today’s client so you need to setup some ways to stack the deck in your favor to quicken your response time.

My method of choice for this is Google Drive in folders in my business.

I have a parent folder in my Google Drive for my business called Taylored Weddings (simple, right?). From there, I have folders for the six facets of our business: 1. Marketing. 2. Sales. 3. Operations 4. Planning 5. Production and 6. Performance. In my sales folders I have the scripts I created that allow me to have a faster response to a client so I can just go into my sales folder (which also has subset folders for each step of where a client is in the process (Booked, Pending, Active Lead, Followed Up, etc), copy and paste the appropriate response with a quick personalization to that client to freshen it up, and then send.

The end result is happier clients (you got back to them fast!), and a more productive you (GO YOU!)

Thoughts? Share them!

C’mon, Man!

By Glen Ervin:

 Assumptions: We all make them all the time. It’s how our brains function, the result of millions of years of evolution (one would assume) during which pretty much everything was trying to kill you. Good times. Problems arise, however, when we confuse our assumptions with reality despite clear evidence to the contrary.

The pipe and tweed crowd refers to the habit of hoarding preconceived notions as cognitive bias, and have come up with some pretty catchy titles to describe its symptoms.

Some you may recognize: the Bandwagon Effect, Confirmation Bias, Cheerleader Effect, the Dunning-Kruger Effect, aka all the other kids are doing it, I’m just here for opinions that agree with mine, five girls in skimpy skirts are better than one girl in a skimpy skirt, and way too many idiots have an inflated opinion of themselves, respectively.

Others less well known have no doubt spread your way.

Maybe you’ve caught an earful of the Sharing Music Doesn’t Hurt Anyone Bias. That’s the shell game some DJs play where they convince themselves that taking caviar off the table of rich recording artists is no big deal while conveniently ignoring the fact that everyone from secretaries to songwriters to how much DJs can charge for their events is negatively impacted by music piracy.

Or maybe it’s the Music Is Free Effect, Real DJs Don’t Use Sync Bias, Real DJs Beatmatch Effect and, my personal favorite, the I Have More Songs On My Hard Drive Than You Do Bias that make you back away from the keyboard and voice the only reasonable response available…

C’mon man!

If you’re in a place where you think you’re entitled to earn a living by ripping off artists and driving down prices for other DJs. Or need to build yourself up by tearing other DJs down, that’s… a choice.

Just know those of us who strive every day to make our best better and value the music that makes doing what we love for a living possible are rolling their eyes.

And while we may not always say it out loud, we’re thinking it…

C’mon man!

After being turned out to pasture following a 16-year club residency, Glen Ervin finds himself gainfully employed as Promo Only sales manager, media consultant and staff writer.

Pioneer’s New DDJ-400: Club-standard layout & new Tutorial feature

If you want to try DJing at home and see how far you can take it, Pioneer has created the perfect controller to learn on: the DDJ-400. Made for dedicated use with their professional performance application, rekordbox dj (free license key included), the 2-channel DDJ-400 is designed to help you get the most from the new features coming to the software with the release of rekordboxTM ver 5.3 today.

The DDJ-400 is the ideal piece of kit for first-time DJs. Its controls enable you to easily learn the basics, plus it’s packed with features that will help you develop your skills. The controller is compatible with the new Tutorial feature in rekordbox dj, which explains basic equipment operation step by step. Even if you’ve never ventured behind the decks before, you can learn how to DJ.

Thanks to the lightweight and portable design, you can take the DDJ-400 to friends’ houses to practice together or bring it to parties and small venues to perform. And if you want to take mixing to the next level, you’ll feel at home in the club DJ booth because the DDJ-400 inherits design traits from our professional range. The layout of dedicated play/pause and cue buttons, Beat FX, CDJ-style looping controls and more is inherited from our NXS2 set-up.

The DDJ-400 will be available from late June at an MAP of $249. Watch the introduction video or find out more about the controller.

A license key for rekordbox dj worth $129 is included with the DDJ-400 so you can plug it into your PC or Mac straight out of the box and start mixing. If you already own rekordbox dj, upgrade to the latest version to use the controller.

KEY FEATURES OF THE DDJ-400

  1. Club-style layout

The buttons and knobs on the DDJ-400 are arranged in the same way as those on our club-standard CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-900NXS2 set-up.

  • Player sections

Get familiar with jog wheels, play/pause and cue buttons, tempo sliders, a loop section and cue/loop call buttons just like the ones on the CDJ-2000NXS2.

  • Mixer section

Use the trim and EQ knobs, and the headphone cue buttons, in exactly the same way as those on the DJM-900NXS2.

  1. Other features
  • Built-in sound card (audio interface) – plug and play by simply connecting the controller to your PC/Mac using a single USB cable.
  • Mic input circuit clear audio without distortion, even with high input level.
  • USB bus powered no need to plug into the mains.
  • Grab handles on both sides – easy to carry.
  • Class compliant – no need to install a driver.

KEY FEATURES OF REKORDBOX VER 5.3

  1. Tutorial feature – learn how to DJ

Follow the instructions of the Tutorial on your PC/Mac’s screen. Even if you’re a complete beginner, you can learn how to DJ. The Tutorial feature is also compatible with the DDJ-RB as of 26th June 2018.

  1. Track Suggestion – displays tracks that match well with the one currently playing1

This feature ranks every track in your rekordbox library according to how well it matches with the one you’re currently playing, helping you choose tracks that will fit well in your set. The track displayed at the top of the track list is the most relevant one to play next. Quickly scroll through your music, making maximum use of your collection.

There are three sorting modes:

  • Era: tracks with a close year of release.
  • Mood: tracks with a similar mood.
  • Association: tracks sharing traits such as artist, label,

1 To use this feature effectively, build up track information in your rekordbox library.

  1. Easy sharing of mixes to social media with track titles and time stamps

Use rekordbox to record your sets and share them with the world via social media channels such as Mixcloud, YouTube and KUVO. When you upload your mix, all track titles and time stamps are automatically added by rekordbox, so listeners can check each track title while enjoying your set.

DDJ-400 specifications

Software rekordbox dj
Frequency Response 20 Hz to 20 kHz
S/N Ratio 103 dB (USB)
Total Harmonic Distortion 0.005%
Input/Output Terminals Inputs MIC x 1 (1/4-inch TS jack)
Outputs MASTER x 1 (RCA x 1)

PHONES x 1 (3.5-mm stereo mini jack x 1)

USB USB (Type B) x 1
Maximum Dimensions (WxDxH) 482.0 x 272.4 x 58.5 mm
Weight 2.1 kg
Accessories USB cable

Quick Start Guide

rekordbox dj license key card

 

rekordbox dj system requirements

Compatible OS Mac macOS High Sierra 10.13 (updated to the latest version)

macOS Sierra 10.12 (updated to the latest version)

OS X 10.11 (updated to the latest version)

Windows Windows® 10, 8.1, 7 (the latest service pack)
CPU Intel® processor CoreTM i7, i5, i3
Memory 4GB or more of RAM

 

To mix or not to mix (hint: mix)

By Tony Fernandez:

Its 2018 right? Which means that since the late 1960s DJs have been segueing from record to record, song to song, to maintain a vibe and the consistency of that vibe, roughly some 50 years. So why is it in the technologically advanced world that we currently live in that some DJs still chose not to mix?

Before I continue on my diatribe, let me step off the soapbox for a moment…

I do realize its America. As such, I know I have no right to dictate how one should DJ. I’m sure there are plenty of DJs that don’t mix and make a lot more money than me.

Back to my soapbox…
I’m not saying that all DJs need to be qualifiers for the DMC battle for World Supremacy or finalists for Red Bull Thre3Style. Just asking how is it possible that some DJs put no thought or effort into mastering a fundamental skill that all DJs should have in their arsenal.

Let’s put it this way: If you don’t mix, you’re pretty much a bag of bones that pushes buttons.
You’re just navigating a playlist. And yes, for those who don’t know, I am NOT a fan of playlists.

Let’s frame it another way: On some level we’re all pretty much playing the same songs. We all subscribe to the same record pools (shameless plug for Promo Only here). We all have the potential to have the same content. So… how are you as a DJ going to distinguish yourself from everyone else?

Come on kids, you have to do better. You have to maintain a certain set of fundamental skills. Know your music. Know how to read a crowd. Know your gear. Know how to say no to that seventh cocktail. And know how to mix.

While I’m pontificating, let me add: If you don’t mix (for whatever justification you hang your headphones on) don’t post up and comment on how ‘I haven’t needed to mix in the two centuries I’ve been a DJ and I’m still getting work…’ Honestly, to me, that’s a cop-out and a mitigation of a rudimentary skill you should possess. Besides, stating that you don’t know how to mix isn’t really painting yourself in the best light.

Mixing isn’t neurological surgery. I’m truly not trying to make mixing more important that what it is. But there is a method to the madness, as it were. Mixing is more than just finding songs with the same BPM. Mixing is more than just blending two (or more) songs together. You have to pick the CORRECT song to mix with. You have to know when to START the mix. You have to know when to END the mix. And you have to be consistent from song to song to song, usually for 4 hours or more.

I truly do not understand how someone can find solace in not mixing, ergo, not being a complete DJ. Mixing music is what a DJ does. It’s part of the essence of being a DJ. Dare I say (if I haven’t said enough already) that mixing is a requisite skill that every DJ should have in their toolbox.

Till next time DJs. Keep ‘em spinning.

And mix those spins.

 

 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 djtonytf@gmail.com

 

Where Are You At Your Events?

By Mike Walter:

I gave a seminar at Mobile Beat’s Las Vegas show last month and one of the things I discussed was breaking the fourth wall and getting out on the dance floor at certain moments of your events.  That’s a style of DJing that has been engrained in me from my earliest days as an MC so it’s something I have always done, and something I have always taught my DJs to do.  If it’s not something you do, please allow me to make my point.

My very first MCing job was back in Queens, New York in the mid-eighties at a bowling alley.  I was an avid bowler at the time (used to carry a 170 average for what it’s worth) and I frequented this one place near my house and got to know the owner.  He came to me one day and said he was starting something called “Friday Night Madness” which I’ve seen in many other bowling alleys since, often under the name “Rock and Bowl” or something like that.  Friday Night Madness went from 10pm to 2am and featured a DJ, disco lights (which, looking back, were pretty lame) and one red pin in each set of pins.  The point of the red pin was that whenever it came up as the head pin, the bowler could win a prize if he or she threw a strike. I thought the idea sounded great and I figured he was just telling me because he was excited about the concept and wanted to share it with his regulars.  But then he made me an offer.  He’d hired a DJ to play music but that guy didn’t want to speak.  And they needed someone who could get on the microphone and make some announcements, mainly, spotlighting whenever a red pin landed as the head pin.  I jumped at the chance, especially when he offered me $25 for the night (and unlimited beer). As a nineteen year old, that was a pretty good offer!

The first few weeks I stood behind the counter (the one where you get your rental shoes and pay for your games) and made all my announcements from the microphone on the gooseneck stand.  I felt detached from everything and ineffectual.  After a few weeks, attendance was booming and the owner told me he was getting me a cordless microphone.  Once I had that I was free to roam.  If a red head pin came up on lane #38, I sprinted down to announce it and watch the bowler throw their ball. And if they hit a strike I was the able to congratulate them as I gave them a prize.  If a guy wanted to dedicate a song to his girl I walked over to their lane and made the announcement in front of them and then urged them to kiss. And late in the night if some of the ladies wanted to dance, I was right out there with them, bumping and grinding (I was nineteen!) and inviting others up.  I felt much more effective as an MC because I wasn’t tethered behind the counter.

When I started at Star DJs they had a similar approach to DJing.  They expected the MC to do bridal party introductions from the dance floor and to lead the crowd in dances as well.  This was the late eighties and every MC was equipped with a sequined jacket that we broke out at climatic moments of the night like “Shout” or “Mony Mony.”  And while times have changed, no doubt (I don’t even know where my sequined jacket is these days and I no longer jump up on my bass bin and lead the “Y.M.C.A”) the basic philosophy still holds true. We, as MCs, are more effective when we get out in front of our DJ system and utilize the wireless microphone technology God has given us to make our announcements and (from time to time) lead some dancing or prompt the crowd.  If you doubt that, I’d encourage you to think about any concert you’ve ever been to.  Has the lead singer ever hopped off the stage and gone up and down the aisles?  I’ve witnessed artists like Michael Buble and Mick Jagger and Michael Franti do this and it always brings the energy up.  Now, you could argue that we aren’t rock stars and that getting out on the dance floor can steal the show from the bride and groom, but I’d come back with the fact that, as DJs, we are the rock star at the event and that clients hire us to make the best possible party — so if penetrating the dance floor does that, then I’m just doing my job.

I know this topic can be divisive so if you vehemently disagree with me and think a DJ’s place should always be behind the system then I have to respect that and say, fortunately, there’s more than one way to be successful in this great industry. But if you normally hang back behind the gear and are willing to give it a try, I’d encourage you to get out front a bit. I believe you’ll be happy with the results and may start doing it more and more. And if you love it that much, let me know. I’ll try to find my old sequined jacket and lend it to you.

Mike Walter is the proud owner of Elite Entertainment, a Multi-System DJ Company in New Jersey that was recently selected by TheKnot.com and WeddingWire.com as a top Entertainment company in the country.