When it comes to learning It pays to travel

small workshop group

watching a video clip

As I prepare to embark on my return to the UK, and put the finishing touches to my new workshop for mobile DJ wedding specialists, I am reminded of the objections some people have toward traveling outside of their locality for education and training.

It appears everyone wants a workshop in their town. I understand how convenient this would be however my experience is that generally it’s impractical and almost impossible to accommodate such requests. Unfortunately  there are not enough mobile DJs interested in such events at the moment.

Ironically attending a seminar or workshop in your own market could work against you. Very often travelling to another area allows you to meet and share with people who are not your competition, or at least perceived as such.

My workshops held in Birmingham were well supported. DJs from all over the UK came together to learn and share without concern that they would be giving away their secrets to others who may use them to poach potential clients.

It’s refreshing to note that mobile DJs such as Alan Marshall. Mark Walsh, Eddie Short, Brian Mole, Barney Grossman, Martin Keogh, Gary Evans, Gary Jones, Adam Forgie, Clive Hodghton, Simon Fletcher, Sandy Sounds & Paul Smith and many more have all seen value, as I did in 2002, of traveling to the USA in search of knowledge and training.

MobileBeat 2012 Classroom style

an interactive sesssion

Thankfully ten years later people like Toby Oakley, Brian Marshall, Mark Walsh, Brian Mole,Ken Savage & Brian Roe as well as Johnathan Lewis are breaking new ground and providing more education and training for mobile DJs.

NADJ, SEDA and AMPDJ are all offering practical support to help DJs benefit from the wealth of expertise which is abundant in the UK today. They regularly organise events throughout the year where members and guests are invited to develop their skills and learn about new products and latest technological developments.

Up and coming opportunities in 2013 begin with my workshops in January followed by MobileBeat Las Vegas in February. March sees the BPM / Pro-Mobile weekend conference in Oxfordshire which features “The Perfect Host” Jim Cerone. April and May sees the return of Mark Ferrell to the UK with a series of workshops  teaching and coaching the art of being a professional Master of Ceremonies.

As I write this blog places are filling steadily for my Wedding DJ  workshop in Southampton, Maidstone and Glasgow while Reading is almost sold out. Reading is a place I have held previous events and many of the attendees are repeat customers.

The reality of the situation is that many of the DJs in the room will have travelled anything up to a hundred miles to be there. Most will have travelled around forty miles or so. Yet within an hour or so of the start of the workshop I can guarantee that the idea of protecting their secrets will have melted away.

Attending a workshop will enable you to embrace the notion of fraternity. You are all in business together but you are not in competition with each other. How can you compare another DJ to yourself. He is different. He has different skills, level of expertise and experience. He may do similar things but he will do them differently to you. More importantly the clients he wishes to attract are most certainly different from the ones you may wish to work for.

Another point to remember is that typically in a workshop there are usually a dozen or fewer attendees. In any city on  a weekend how many weddings are there likely to be taking place. How many venues are licensed for civil ceremonies? How many churches are there to choose from? There are plenty of opportunities for all, especially for those DJs who wish to specialise and be identified as different from the rest.

So, whilst it may well pay you to get out of your comfort zone and visit another area I understand sometimes this is not possible. If one of my workshops is being attended primarily by “Local” DJs I will go out of my way to put attendees at ease. Nobody need share a “secret”. There will be more than enough ideas and content for you to take away. I will be sharing not only my own content but also I will be showing you where you can get more support from experts in the UK and overseas.

Travelling outside of your locality can be seen as inconvenient however for me this is more than offset by the new, fresh environment which adds to the experience. Meeting new people in the same business and exploring how they deal with situations common to us all is refreshing. Remember too, all travel and costs associated with learning are legitimate business expenses which can be offset against tax.

It’s not very often the Tax Man gets to pay for something of benefit to you

Until next time………….


So you want to be a “Specialist Wedding DJ”

What follows is an explanation as to how Djs can make a difference to any wedding reception.

No two wedding receptions should ever be the same and no two performances by a wedding Dj should ever be the same either. They should, by their very nature, be different.

As you may know I am passionate about weddings.

I believe that a specialist wedding DJ can turn an ordinary wedding reception into a memorable and enjoyable event which will leave everyone happy and talking about it for years to come.

However let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Let’s take a look at how things are at the moment.There are wedding receptions and then there are wedding receptions.

Organising a wedding reception is like buying a house.The cost of both depends on two vital factors a] the budget and b] Location, location, location.

As DJs it is generally the case that our fee [and hence our perceived value] is very small. If fact in many cases it will be the cheapest item on the list. I’m glad to say this is changing slowly but we still have a long way to go to raise the average fee and demonstrate the true value, or worth of a great wedding DJ. More on this topic a little later:

The location of the wedding reception will very often “but not always” give you an indication as to where in the marketplace your client is positioned. As a general rule of thumb the more up-market the venue is, the bigger the budget will be, and almost certainly more detail will be applied to the planning of the event.

“Budget wedding receptions” are usually held in a local pub, social club or village hall”

“The average wedding reception” these days is held in a two or three star hotel”

“premium wedding receptions” will be held in four or five star hotels, country clubs, golf clubs and even at home in a marquee.

Now I know this is an over simplification but we are talking generally here so there will be some blurring of the lines from time to time but in principal these three categories hold true for our purposes.

When it comes to marketing your DJ services it is most important to understand your client and to explore what they want. It is also true to say that you need to target the kind of clients you wish to work for. The venue can very often be a good place to start. The venue may well shape the kind of entertainment options available to the bride and groom. The venue may well be an indicator of the kind of personality of your client and may also reveal hints or clues as to their social standing and the standards which they will expect from their service providers.

Service providers in all industries base their fees generally on two principles.

A] The level of skill, knowledge, expertise and experience they have in their field.

B] The time it will take to complete the contract from start to finish.

There is no logical reason why your pricing structure should not follow the same principle,

If you have a less demanding client who wants, “Just music” for four hours it follows that your fee would be less than if your client required you to host the event, make presentations, create interactive ice-breaking routines for the first hour and then to put together custom music sets especially for groups of guests at the party maybe featuring music from different countries.

Your time, your expertise and your talent are worth more than you think! Once again the laws of supply and demand come into play.

If you are simply a “turn up and play” dj who is primarily focused on playing tunes, filling a dance floor and selling your business based on sound and lighting gear, then you will have a great deal of competition in your market.

Most mobile DJs use this approach and therefore most clients have difficulty understanding why one DJ is more expensive than another. Therefore price becomes a major factor in the buying process and inevitably the lowest price wins most of the time.

On the other hand if you are a DJ who understands that above all other types of party a wedding reception is DIFFERENT, and you are able to use that difference to demonstrate how your performance will compliment the difference and result in a truly unique, fun and memorable wedding reception, then you will separate yourself from the competition. Your clients will be able to make value judgements based on your level of service and especially based on how SPECIAL you will make their wedding reception.

However we as mobile entertainers, for that is what we are, have a problem.

This problem is one of ignorance, lack of understanding and contempt personified by so called wedding industry experts who place little or no importance to the quality of entertainment at wedding receptions.

Take a look at any wedding planner’s guide and see how low down the list your eyes have to drop before any mention is made of entertainment. It’s a travesty. Flowers, favours, cakes and confetti all come before the entertainment and yet without exception Industry surveys consistently point to the fact that after the wedding dress and the marriage ceremony itself, it is the entertainment which the guests will remember long after the day is over.

It is my opinion that many large hotel chains have, over recent years, systematically reduced a wedding reception to what is to all intents and purposes a very expensive meal.

When you look at the costs involved the lions share of the budget is dedicated to food and drink. This is also one of the most profitable areas of a venues business so it will come as no surprise to learn that many such venues like to protect their competitiveness by providing additional, added value services.

Duty Managers will take on the role of Toast Masters and very often the in-house DJ will be provided at a knock down price or provided free of charge in order to enhance the package on offer.

This may seem a good idea, and it is, but only for the venue.

What they offer is practically a production line wedding reception devoid of character and one which does not even consider the unique nature of the event or the individuality of their customers. It’s almost true to describe such events as a Mac Wedding. No offence to McDonalds but do you see where I’m coming from.

When I see the way many venues treat B&Gs it makes my blood boil. Often the designated member of staff allocated to look after them has very little experience and what experience they may have is more often then not to do with the logistics of a wedding and is devoid of anything related to the enjoyment of the event.

To put it bluntly all these staff do is promote the way the venue does weddings. They sell the same thing to each client. “This how we do it” and B&Gs are expected to go along with what is on offer. “And why shouldn’t they” they don’t know any better.

The B&G will no doubt be impressed with all of the promises and the testimonials produced. They will be swept along by the atmosphere of the venue and the appeal of the grounds for photographs and the convenience of the location for their guests or even by the “Wow Factor” of the venue whatever that may be.

What they don’t know is how this sanitised and commercial approach to weddings will impact on their wedding. The B&G will trust the venue. They have no reason not too. After all the venue hold wedding receptions week in week out so why should they doubt that everything will not be as it should?

Which brings me to my first Special Point?

If B&Gs don’t know any better. If venues are treating them in a similar fashion: If no one is telling them things can be “different” then what else are they supposed to do?

B&G’s don’t know what they don’t know.

Yes they’ll have a vision as to how they wish their big day to be, but they have no idea as to how that dream can be turned into reality.

So what I hear you shouting has this to do with us as wedding DJs?

To answer this question we need to examine what a wedding reception traditionally is all about. We need to reflect on how things used to be and examine some of the ceremonies associated to wedding receptions and how they have been allowed to fade away. Many couples getting married today have very little idea that such ceremonies or special moments ever existed.

A SPECIALST WEDDING DJ can use his knowledge, skills and talent to enhance a wedding reception and provide choices to a B&G. These choices will empower them to make decisions which will have a dramatic and positive effect on the enjoyment of every one involved in the wedding.

Together we will look at a typical wedding of today and break it down into segments. Segments which a pro wedding dj can enhance:

This will uncover opportunities for the dj to use his vocal ability, his music knowledge, his selection and programming skills, his knowledge of audio systems and effect lighting, and his ability to plan, produce and direct events in a controlled and seamless fashion.

Oh, and if your wondering if you actually have these skills and talent don’t worry.

I know you do! And by the end of this audio presentation you will have the confidence to offer your services to B&Gs safe in the knowledge that what you can offer is far and away better than what is being offered by venues at the moment.

Weather you are currently an evening only wedding reception DJ or a mobile DJ wanting to break into the wedding market there will be something of interest and value in this recording for you.

If you are already starting to offer additional services for weddings then my new audip CD / Presentation and forthcoming workshops will give you food for thought. They will provide Ideas to help you market what you do as well as Hints and tips relating to how you can improve what you do and the way that you do it.

The Audio Presentation is a 55 minute insight into what makes a Specialist Wedding DJ Different and includes another nine “Special Pointers” to help you communicate your specialty. It costs £4.99 is available to download as an mp3 file. please allow 24 hours from purchase to receive the download link.

Check out the list of workshops in the UK this January.

workshop attendees,

watching a video presentation

Until next time…………………

Many Thanks

Derek Pengelly Aka David Summers.