Tag Archives: Mobile DJ Tips

Work Out Your Weak Spot!

By Mike Walter

As I write this, NAMM has just wrapped up out in Anaheim.  I didn’t attend it this year but I know it just happened because social media tells me so.  My timelines have been flooded with pictures and videos of the latest exciting gear being produced for our industry.  And along with those posts come the DJs who encourage their peers to stop focusing on gear and spend their money on talent.  Take a workshop or attend a class, they write.  Invest in yourself.

It all reminds me of a Facebook post I saw recently.  Somebody asked which was more important, talent or equipment? And while most people responded that talent was more important, I chimed in by saying: BOTH!  Because it’s not like you have to choose between the two. It’s not a zero-sum game.  In fact, the best DJs I know focus on both aspects of their career.  They do everything they can to improve their talents.  But they also would never leave the house (or the warehouse) without the very best gear.  And plenty of back-ups as well.

I had the same thought years ago when the “Got Music?” T-shirts started popping up at DJ Shows and then just as quickly there was backlash from some who thought they over-emphasized the importance of music at the cost of talent. I remember thinking, “wait, what?” I care tremendously about my music library (which is why I’ve been a proud Promo Only subscriber for well over twenty years now) and every great DJ I know does as well.  We realize that songs are our tools and we need them to pack our dance floors.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t work on my MCing skills every chance I get.  The two are equally important and focusing on one doesn’t mean you ignore the other.

So now that I’ve gotten that off my chest allow me to offer some advice. In your most honest of moments, think about your overall skills as a DJ and MC.  What are you best at and what are you weakest at?  This is for you and you alone so be 100% honest with yourself. I did this a few years ago and I had to admit that of all the traits that are most important to success in our industry, music mixing was my weakest.  I was good.  But I wasn’t great.  My programming was better than my mixing.  My MCing was better than my mixing.  My equipment knowledge was better than my mixing.  So I focused on improving that skill to get it closer to the others. And I’d advise you to do the same. It doesn’t mean you have to forego the other skills.  I still practice my MCing and listen back to my own introductions and prompts and look for ways to improve them.  I still spend a few hours every week listening and cataloging new music.  But I spent more time on mixing than I ever had. And I think in the last few years that skill has gotten closer to the others for me.

You can do the same.  You can take an MC workshop if that’s your weakest skill.  You can practice, practice, practice your mixing till you get better.  Or you can study your songs and improve your programming.  If you really want to be the best at what you do, stop focusing solely on your strong points.  Start improving the part(s) of your show that need it the most.

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.

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

It’s never too early to start reading your crowd

By DJ Rachel Lynch

Dinner music is an excellent opportunity to gauge what type of crowd you have and help set the tone for the night. Think of dinner and cocktail music like paint primer. The better job you do to prep the wall, the better the finished outcome will be.

DJs who have a great dinner or cocktail crate may do a decent job with a “set it and forget it” playlist as they have built the list with years of experience.  Since they feel that they already put in the work ahead of time they may decide to use dinner/cocktail downtime to time to eat, relax a bit before the party, use the phone, smoke, etc.  Sadly, this mindless and relaxed approach is a missed opportunity for DJs to connect with the guests in a subtle but powerful way.

Adding to this passive approach is the assumption that nobody is actively listening to the DJ because they are engaged in conversation or enjoying food and drink. I disagree completely. Dinner time is when a DJ should work the hardest to understand who is in front of them and what music directions they can approach later on. Dinner/cocktail time is a smart way to take risks and try different stuff to see how it feels. Dinner/cocktail music can be a fun part of the evening if a Dj is really focused on the task.

Things I ask myself during dinner/cocktail music:

How engaged are they? Who are my dancers? Who is there for the free food only? Who is taking advantage of the open bar? Who’s sitting with who? Who are my “party people”? What are the age groups here? Are there any cultural considerations?  Who’s signing lyrics while sipping their wine? Are there foot taps from anyone? Is anyone bobbing their head? Are people smiling? Etc.

Nonverbal cues during dinner will absolutely help a DJ smash the night. Don’t miss the chance to own your audience!

About:
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

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

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.

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

 

A DJ’s role

By Tony Fernandez:

Let me say right off the bat… I am NOT a fan of Cardi B’s music. To me, “Bodak Yellow” is unlistenable. Recently, however, I found myself, mostly out of curiosity, watching Cardi B co-host the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I will admit I was thoroughly entertained. She was funny, engaging and genuinely herself. She was hilarious. Then she performed “Money Bag…” which brings us to the dynamic of music in general and to the DJ’s role in that music specifically.

As I have stated, I am not a fan of Cardi B’s music. However, I totally respect her as an artist. She has the right to create any music she desires and to work her shtick any way she sees fit. I don’t find fault with that whatsoever.

On the flip side, I believe any artist that puts themself in the public forum, any artist that is trying to monetize their craft, opens themselves up to admiration in conjunction with disregard: I can acknowledge and respect Cardi B as an artist…

I don’t have to purchase or play her music.

As DJs, we’re hired to be professional music soothsayers. We play songs in accordance to the client’s wishes or the crowd’s feedback. We all, myself included, play music that we don’t personally like. We’re there to do a job, not play for our personal entertainment.

BUT…. (there’s always a but) while we are DJs, we are human as well. We all have our personal proclivities. We have our biases. We have our likes and dislikes. And on some level, consciously or subconsciously, our dispositions are reflected in the way we program.

As a DJ, I have both the right and responsibility to pass judgement through my own personal filter. As a DJ who acts as an ambassador of music and is a tastemaker, I have the right to exercise my disposition at my discretion.

I play songs I personally don’t care for all the time. There are also songs I will not play. Period. I have garnered through experience and reputation the right to be in that position. I work with clients and venues that understand that I have PLENTY of other options, songs, and artists to play/program.

Not playing an artist doesn’t pass my personal filter is not going to kill my floors.

I don’t let what’s popular dictate how I program. I do take requests. But those requests have to be tempered with what works best at the event I’m working. Taste, appropriateness, content, and personal experience all come into play before a song is played.

I feel it’s incumbent on DJs to be able to exercise their judgement and mollify music that has questionable content. Granted that “questionable content” is often subjective, but the fact remains that DJs should feel compelled to be gatekeepers of “good” music.

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

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.