Many independent mobile disco operators & DJs aspire to landing a residency but is this really a good thing for the client?
[This refers to private parties and not bars or night clubs]
Traditionally the very term “mobile disco” relates to a DJ who transports himself and his equipment to a venue where he recreates the discotheque atmosphere in a room which would otherwise be devoid of professional sound systems, flashing lights and non-stop dance music. He or she delivers everything needed, including an extensive music library, and the ability to read an audience while keeping the dance floor packed all night long. In return he receives a fee which reflects the fact that this is no easy feat, one which few people can achieve and is therefore financially rewarding.
The mobile DJ needs to find his own work. He is independent and therefore seeks out his clients by marketing his services via word of mouth, flyers, business cards and web sites as well as referrals from satisfied clients. Very often third parties such as venues are impressed with the standard of performance and they offer to take contact details and pass them on to people interested in hiring their venue for a party. This is good news. Venues are keen to recommend service providers who do a good job. They are also happy to refer DJs who work well with the staff and “fit in” with the logistics involved in hosting a party for their mutual customer.
Some venues go one step further and are happy to offer a single DJ to become their “Resident DJ / Disco”. The venue knows who will be playing the music and the customer gets an entertainer who is recommended and is guaranteed to do a good job [theoretically]. The mobile DJ likes the idea of regular work at the venue which means he or she will not need to spend as much time and money on advertising his DJ service and finding his own clients. It looks like an ideal partnership. A win-win situation – but is it?
In an ideal world it probably is but this is not an ideal world. Firstly we need to consider the end-user by which I mean the person whose party it is. Is it possible for one DJ to be sufficiently talented, skilled and experienced enough to cover every type of party offered to him? Is it conceivable that he can deliver the same standards night in night out to the diverse eclectic clientele offered by the venue. Is it likely that the resident DJ would ever refuse to host a party because he admits he is not proficient with a music genre or a type of client?
Secondly we need to appreciate the venue’s position. They are looking to please as many people as possible. If they perceive the entertainment as “Music and Lights” and are looking for a predetermined level of service from their DJ it may well be the case that a “Jack of all trades and Master of Non” is what they value.
In other words the whole idea of resident DJs in venues works for the venue more so than the DJ or their client for that matter.
As in all walks of life there are exceptions to the rule. There are I’m sure Resident DJs who have the wealth of knowledge, skill, talent and experience to provide excellent performances for varied clients. Unfortunately they are difficult to find and their residencies are under threat. They are under pressure from venues and accountants who are keen to take advantage of the DJ’s vulnerability.
Venues are being constantly approached by DJs who want a slice of the action. You can guarantee that a venue will receive requests for meetings or offers of low-priced fees for regular work from dozens of DJs each and every month. These DJs are eager to get regular work, many have full-time day jobs and are therefore not able to spend time seeking work from individual clients. A residency is seen as easy money and they will be happy to undercut the existing fees attributed to the current resident.
All too often the accountants rule the roost and the pressure to reduce costs is too great to ignore. Quality is subjective and as long as none of the end-user clients complain then where is the harm in opting for a more competitive price? Unfortunately once a venue takes this stance the whole situation becomes desperate. More mobile DJs are keen to offer their services and the price keeps being driven down as is the standard of service offered. So what started out as a good idea quickly becomes a bad idea especially for the DJs and the end-user clients. The venues are left with mediocre talent and parties which at best may only be described as average.
Ironically the mobile DJ has become his own worst enemy. In chasing what seemed a pot of gold he has helped devalue the pricing structure and played into the hands of the accountants. Clients are suffering as standards fall and all DJs are being tarred with the same brush.
Good news. All is not lost. There is an emerging breed of DJ who is carving a new path through the doom and gloom. The new thinking is based on individual personalised marketing. Some DJs are now opting to offer their services as preferred suppliers to a venue. They are looking for referrals based on a client’s needs. They are prepared to offer their services directly to the end-user client but not to be held to ransom by the venue. Developing this relationship also means that the venue would be encouraged to offer a selection of preferred supplier DJs to their clients. This would create competition based on talent, service and professionalism. It means customers have a choice. They can make an informed decision based on their needs and not the needs of the venue.
Overcoming the accountants may well be a stumbling block. In order to become a preferred supplier the DJ may well have to offer a commission or finders fee to the venue. This is not uncommon in the industry and if all is above-board and transparent then it is an acceptable cost of doing business.
If I were planning a birthday party, corporate event or a wedding I’d be suspicious of a venue offering me a resident DJ. Who are they to tell me who will entertain at my party. They don’t know me or have any idea what my tastes are. Choice is what I want. Let the venue recommend by all means but please leave the final decision to me.
Let me apologise in advance if this blog has offended any of my fellow DJs. It was not my intention to offend anyone. My aim is for all of us to reflect on the state of the market as it is today. We need to be honest with ourselves. We need to know our limitations. I write from experience.
Think of me as poacher turned gamekeeper. I have held residencies in venues. I admit to becoming complacent. It’s so easy to think I can play the same music on Saturday for a wedding that I played on Friday for a birthday party, How difficult can it be – play the current chart music and throw in a few requests if I happen to have them, right?
I have been a multi-operator / agent. I’ve been shafted by DJs who worked for me and screwed by venues who wanted to reduce my fees.I’ve booked DJs who have proved inconsistent and unreliable. I’ve worked with some fantastic talented DJs who are much better than I could ever hope to be.
The debate will continue of that I am certain. However the question still remains. Are residencies all they are cracked up to be. Whose interests do they best serve – the DJ, the client or the venue?
Answers on a postcard please – or you can leave your comment below.
New image – new skills – new focus – new ideas – new clients.
There is a very quiet revolution taking place across the United Kingdom.
Mobile DJs are shedding their dated images. Gone are the huge speaker systems which deafened audiences. Gone are the banks of flashing lights and strobes which dazzled and bemused your guests. Gone are the egotistical “all about me” DJs who are only interested in playing their music and consider the party to be a huge success when the dance floor is “rammed”. [Even though you can only get twenty people on the dance floor and there are 200 people at the party]
If you look in the right places you will find a new breed of wedding DJ. One who has embraced new technology and invested in a compact sound system which still delivers great digital sound but does not need to be the size of a wardrobe. The lighting has also been reduced to create a more sophisticated, soft and atmospheric effect. “Mood lighting” can now illuminate the venue walls as well as the dance floor.
Dance floors too are changing. Drab wooden floors are being replaced by stunning sparkly floors which are available in a variety of colours. Available in Black, white and pink [or a combination of the three] as well as floors which can change colour at will thanks to modern LED DMX technology.
More and more brides are concerned about the “Look” of the venue and our new breed of DJs appreciate this and are investing in new equipment which facilitates this new image.
The Specialist wedding DJ is also investing in himself and developing new skills which enable him or her to offer new services which are a natural extension to his existing music and sound knowledge base.
Many DJs now offer a custom music package to enhance and compliment a civil ceremony in a hotel. They will work with a bride to ensure that the selected music is played at the right volume and most importantly is edited to ensure maximum effect especially during the processional and recessional stages of the ceremony.
First impressions count. You DJ has the ability to introduce the bridal party into the room. He can select rousing, dynamic sound beds which will add tension, suspense, emotion and energy into the room. If you want your Wedding Breakfast to “get the party started” you would be well advised to seek out a new breed specialist wedding DJ.
Master of Ceremonies.
If you would rather not have a professional Toastmaster host your wedding reception why not ask your DJ to be the MC. Many DJs have this skill set and the talent to make announcements. Usually this is in a far more relaxed style and one which reflects your personality. Many DJs are now researching the Toasts and traditions associated with weddings and are keen to share and introduce to you little “Spotlight Moments”. They are designed to personalise your wedding and make it be remembered as being different and special. Microphones are also often provided for toasts and speeches should they be required.
Do you know why there is a wedding cake? More importantly why you need to cut it and share it with your guests? Will you pose for the photograph, stick a knife into the cake and have it taken away to be cut or will your DJ / Host do it differently. Will he or she share the history and the full details of the ceremony and invite you to “Spotlight” that moment by doing something your guests have never seen before?
First Dance – Father Daughter Dance – Family dance.
A wedding reception party is like no other party and is a one-off, never to be repeated event. How will your first dance be received by your guests, Will they be involved or will it go unnoticed . Has anyone ever mentioned the idea of the bride dancing with her father to a special tune? How about the idea of a custom song for the bridal party – a family dance. “Spotlight moments” don’t just happen. They need to be organised, produced and directed by an expert. In this case the expert is our new breed of specialist wedding DJ & party host. He or she has the skill and talent to present these dances in such a way as to involve every one of your guests. Photographers and videographers love the way such dances are produced. Your guests will enjoy them too. In fact they will be talking about your wedding reception for weeks, months and years to come – for all of the right reasons.
Enjoy your wedding, relax in the knowledge that the celebrations are in good hands. Seek out a new breed of specialist wedding DJ today and set up a meeting. You will be pleasantly surprised how things have changed.
Where can you find the new breed of wedding specialist DJ?
Organisations like The National Association of Disc Jockeys, or The South Eastern Discotheque Association and The Alliance of Mobile & Party DJs would be a good place to start. There are also a number of groups on Facebook wher you can find like-minded DJs. Mobile DJ Network is one such group.
Some things Brides and DJs need to know about UK Hotel wedding packages.
In this economic climate I can understand why hotels are keen to offer “Wedding Package Deals” to their customers. It is a very competitive market and business is tough. Brides are conscious of keeping their budget under control and value for money is an important part of the process when hiring service providers.
However cutting costs too far can be a false economy especially when slashing budgets may well mean poor quality and indifferent service. Saving money on products can be a good idea especially if the consequence is negligible. Choosing a Chicken dinner instead of Beef or a less expensive Cava instead of Champagne will save money but will not detract from the overall enjoyment of the event. Services however are a whole different ball game.
Cutting costs on services can seriously impact on the guest’s enjoyment. When a hotel claims they can provide certain services usually associated with other professions please be very careful for all may not be as it seems. The hotel “Wedding Planner” or “coordinator” may well believe that such services are a great reason for clients to take the package but in my experience, and many of my colleagues, what is provided is often below parr. All too often they result in a bland, stereotypical production line wedding reception no different from the one the day before. Where is the personalisation, how unique will the service be and who is guaranteeing the enjoyment of the guests?
“Our Duty Manager as your Master of Ceremonies”
How experienced is this member of staff. Does the bride have the opportunity to see an example of his work. Very often the hotel won’t even know who this individual will be until nearer the date. Staff members come and go, and rotas are not prepared much more than a few days before an event. Do brides really want to take a gamble when it comes to being introduced into the room and announcements made for toasts and speeches. Is it acceptable for Mr and Mrs Jones to not be referred to by their first names and does the father of the bride wish to be called Jack instead of John or is he to be announced as Mr Smith?
You DJ is included in the price.
This is scary. How can a hotel use the same DJ day in day out and guarantee that their DJ can provide a unique, fun and memorable entertainment experience for everyone. Maybe they can. Maybe the DJ will agree to meet with the bride ahead of the date and will work with her to create something special. However I doubt it.
In my experience in the majority of instances the in-house DJ supplied by the hotel will not be available to meet with the bride. This DJ is probably, but not always, supplied by an agency or is part of a group of DJs who work for the Hotel. Remember this, the DJ is working for the Hotel and not for the bride. The hotel has its own criteria for using this type of DJ. Generally speaking a hotel is terrified of a failure for a DJ to turn up so they insist on using a DJ service that can cover sickness, accident and unexpected events at short notice. The hotels just want an average dependable DJ and surprisingly they expect to get such a DJ for very little money. Worse still, many hotels actually make money by offering this kind of package. You can be assured the DJ does not receive the fee mentioned in the advertising.
Who gave them the right?
A wedding reception is a once in a lifetime event. Two families are being united for the first time. Guests are travelling often many miles to share this special occasion. The wedding breakfast and the reception afterwards should be a reflection of the personalities of the bride and her bridegroom and families. Who gave the hotel the right to treat entertainment as a product like a cheap bottle of wine?
You don’t know what you don’t know.
If no one mentions the DIFFERENCE a QUALITY, EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONAL DJ or MC can make to a wedding then the bride will be left in the dark completely unaware that there is a better alternative. I heard the other day of a venue who wanted an independent DJ to be their wedding package DJ after he did a great job at the hotel’s Christmas part season. He was happy to oblige but was disappointed when the hotel only offered to pay him less than half his usual fee per wedding. It turned out that their usual wedding DJ was, in the words of the hotel, “crap” and they wouldn’t dream of using him for an event held in their name. Yet they are happy to have him “entertain” at a wedding reception!
Do you really want to end up with a MacWedding?
There is a better way. There are DJs & MCs out there who are specialists in wedding entertainment. They will want to meet brides and help plan the party. Many will have lots of ideas as to how to introduce special “Spotlight Moments” into the proceedings where all of the guests can be part of the celebration. My advice is to seek these specialist wedding DJs out and do the research. Insist on meeting a “house” or “resident” DJ and ask them exactly how they intend to entertain your family and guests?
Level playing field.
Not all resident DJs are as previously described. There are some very good resident DJs who do offer a personalised service. They will meet with brides and they will work with them to help create something special and memorable. Sadly they are few and far between and are difficult to find. They will price their service according to the time taken to plan, prepare and customise their performance. They will not be cheap. They will represent good value for money and will be backed by testimonials from satisfied clients.
The same is true of venues. Some venues are very customer focused and appreciate the value of professional services. These venues will offer a choice of service provider and will encourage clients to meet and talk through with them their requirements. A venue which recommends clients select their service providers [all be it from a preferred list] and is prepared to work alongside them is a much better option in my opinion.
When a venue starts trying to tell brides they must have a particular DJ they need to ask why. The venue will mention things like insurance, back up, reliability. These are red herrings. A good local Independent Wedding DJ or “Specialist Agent” can match all of these “reasons” and deliver much more. Think about this? Venues don’t say brides must use this Band for live music so why are they being allowed to say which DJ should be used?
Unfortunately there are more DJs out there than brides. Many DJ’s treat a wedding like any other party. In their eyes the reception is no different from a birthday party. They believe it’s all about the music and that whatever was played last night will be more or less the same tonight with one or two requests thrown in. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A wedding reception brings together people of all ages with a huge difference in musical taste. The specialist wedding DJ needs to cater for everyone in the room and focus on the bride and groom’s personal preferences in a way in which they are represented and presented to their guests. The specialist wedding DJ knows that the reception requires more than just great music to interact and entertain all of the guests.
It’s not WHAT a DJ does it’s HOW he does it which gets results.
How are a bride and groom going to be announced into the room?
How will the cake cutting be announced?
How will the first dance be staged, directed and produced?
How will the party finish, with a bang or a whimper?
What will the guests remember weeks, months and years after the event?
Is it worth the risk, the gamble, of hiring a cheap unknown DJ for the most important day of a bride’s life?
Please do the research, don’t accept anything a venue says without checking out the details and do please seek out a professional Wedding DJ and ask the right questions.
Beware of the phrase, “we always do it this way”
Engaging a DJ / MC directly can often save money too. Very few are VAT registered where as every venue will add VAT to the bill. The extra 20 percent could go a long way to helping make the day “perfect”
Congratulations, good luck and best wishes.
Your customer only needs one good reason to book you – do you know what it is?
Mobile DJs are not alone in thinking that all of their competitors are undercutting their prices and that the whole world is looking for the cheapest option.
However I would argue that many DJs are blinded by this simple assumption and as a result are blinkered as to the actual reality of the situation when a potential customer makes contact.
Unfortunately very few of our fellow DJs realise that what they offer is a SERVICE and not a PRODUCT. They continue to take the easy option and market their speakers and lights as an item, “A Disco”. This is further exasperated by the same “Discos” fighting for exposure on numerous collective web sites which promise the visitor a large selection of “Discos” to choose from.
Little wonder then the result is a prospective client sees no DIFFERENCE between the “Discos” and shops on price alone.
If you are suffering from persistent price shoppers you really do need to reassess your marketing and examine the kind of client you are being exposed to. You also need to stop marketing your “Disco” and start pushing yourself forward because the only DIFFERENCE between you and the others is YOU.
You can’t be hired for less than your chosen fee. Yes you can get another “Disco” but that is not the same as hiring you. You are the DIFFERENCE. Your expertise and your experience, your Skill and wait for it = your TALENT can not be purchased for less.
Your TALENT comes at a premium which deserves to be valued. You need to be blowing your own trumpet more and educating your clients as to the DIFFERENCE between YOU and the competition.
Be confident and agree with people when they enquire as to your availability. “Yes you can get a cheaper “Disco” locally. I personally know of dozens locally, however I would not recommend any of them”.
Explain, “All of my clients last year knew they could have hired a DJ for less but chose not to!
The simple fact of the matter is – Customers only need one good reason to book you. The challenge is for you to understand what that one reason is.
Do the research and check with your past satisfied clients. Ring them up, thank them for their business and ask them a simple question, “why did they book you, what was it that convinced them to hire you”?
Better still break your simple survey into two groups. One group who have booked you but you have not yet done the event and the other group where you have completed the booking. You only need call about half a dozen in each group. I suspect the answers will be very revealing. I also suspect that the answers will not be what you think they may have been.
Use the answers to define what it is about you that is DIFFERENT from a client’s perspective and use their answers in your marketing.
Remember clients only need one good reason to book you and “price” you will be happy to know is not the primary reason. Price is a contributory factor but only an important one when compared with quality and value. We have all regretted buying the cheapest in the past. Your clients are no different from you. Fortunately you are in a position to help them from making a mistake. It’s down to you to focus your marketing and address the situation because if you don’t you will be lost in the maze of other “Discos” who simply roll over and compete on price alone.
It’s time to tell Sid to take a hike and stay out of your business. It’s time to distance yourself from where Sid is lurking. It’s time to target your clients and to decide who you would like to work for and which venues you would like to work in. Leave Sid to the Bars, Pubs and Social clubs and start looking for clients who appreciate quality and are prepared to pay more for professionalism.
Start building relationships with venues, photographers, florists, cake makers and Dress hire shops. Get your face and name known to as many people as possible who are in a position to recommend you. PERSONALISE your marketing. We DJs offer a very personal service. There is only one of you. Only you do what you do in the way you do it. There is no competition. You are unique.
Market your DIFFERENCE and let your clients make their decision.
After all, they only need one good reason to book you and that reason, I believe, is YOU!