Playlists – Why?

Client Play-lists for Mobile DJs – are they a good idea or not?

I can remember a time long before the Internet, Digital Music and Smart Phones when a mobile DJ was hired to play current chart music and classic dance hits from the “Hit Parade” or “Pop Music” from yesteryear or “Golden Oldies” as the radio Disc Jockeys called them.

Music had longevity back then. A “single” would be released and slowly climb the chart week by week. A tune would often stay in the Top 40 for months on end meaning that mobile DJs only had to buy a handful of records each week to stay up to date.

Building a record collection was a slow process and costly. Very few members of the public had extensive record collections. They simply relied on the radio to hear music and had an extremely limited choice of programs to tune into.

old gold disc

old gold disc

Back then Mobile DJs where expected to have the most popular tunes and the classic dance tracks and people were happy to leave the selection to the DJ with only a minimum mention of a more general indication to their favourite Groups, Bands or preferred genre before the party..

These days music is instantly available, often not even purchased, and spends only a few weeks in a diverse and specialised “Chart” with only a small proportion ever attaining popularity across the broader spectrum of the population.

For some reason instant access and bulging music libraries appears to have given licence to everyone and their son to think they know what music should be played at a party. They think their selections will be liked by their guests and more worryingly some party organisers believe they know when their tracks should be played and in what order. Why?

No professional DJ would ever pre-select and program an evening’s music for a live event where he did not know his audience. He might have certain “sets” of music prepared to cover brief segments of the evening but would rely on reading the audience and selecting appropriate tunes to transition between genres based specifically on activity before him at any time. Spontaneity and the ability to switch between genres is a bench mark by which DJs are measured and more importantly valued. So why would someone hire a DJ and then tell him what music to play?

Would they hire a comedian and tell him what jokes to tell. Would they give him a script and say tell the jokes in this order? I think not. The idea is absurd and so too is the idea of giving extensive lists to your DJ.

ipod-classic

ipod-classic

If a person is organising a party and they wish to influence the type or style of music they should TALK to their DJ before hiring him or her. They shouldn’t hire blindly via an email or website. They shouldn’t hire based on cheapest price. Hiring a DJ in this way and then relying on supplying a play-list is a disaster waiting to happen. [As is the often suggested brainwave of using an i-pod until the realisation that everyone wants to repeat play the same half a dozen tunes all night!]

 

A better solution is to share musical tastes with the chosen DJ. Many DJs will welcome a short list of specific tunes to be featured on the night. Ideally such lists should be no more than twenty tracks. This is enough to give a flavour as to the music taste but leaves plenty of room for interpretation and innovation based on the reaction of guests on the night.

Personally I prefer to spend the first hour of a party mixing informally with guests asking them specifically what they would like to dance to this evening. While the background music is on auto-pilot I take the opportunity to get to know their musical tastes and connect with their ideas of what will go down well with them and their friends. This method guarantees we get to play the right music for everyone in the room. The music selection is no longer based on theory or wishful thinking. It is based on real people’s wishes on the night and in the moment. Their selections will reflect their feelings there and then and will be somewhat influenced by their surroundings and the people they are partying with.

Thankfully modern technology by way of the World Wide Web and on-line music providers means almost all requests can be sourced and played subject to a suitable wifi connection. If need be the DJ can purchase legally sourced music instantly and keep everyone happy.

So forget long lists; relax and enjoy the evening. Hire a confident and competent DJ who has testimonials that confirm he knows his music and is happy to play what his audience likes. Leave the crystal ball in the cupboard and trust him or her to deliver a busy dancefloor built with talent, expertise and experience. That, at the end of the day, is why quality DJs can, and do, charge more than their local average disco operators.

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The Mobile DJ Challenge 2014

You would be crazy not to enter. This opportunity really is a once in a lifetime occasion. What have you got to lose compared to what you will gain by taking up the challenge?

Are you really happy and contented with the current mobile DJ Marketplace situation? Do you find yourself frustrated by other DJs under-cutting your fee? Customers should value your top-end gear, huge music selection and your ability to fill the dance-floor, not to mention your great customer service, so why do they always say they can get something cheaper elsewhere?

Can you change this situation alone, probably not? Can you break free from this ever-increasing downward spiral? Yes you can. What do you need to do to make a change and regain control of your business? The answer, like most things in life, is simple and sitting right under your nose – you just can’t see it. Don’t worry; it’s not your fault. You are suffering from a decease which is rife within Mobile Disc Jockeys. The illness is called apathy and it’s contagious.

Apathy is spread by contact. You can catch Apathy by talking on the telephone, posting on forums and in social media networks. You can also be exposed to apathy by chatting to other DJs who agree with your views while downing a pint in the local pub. Apathy is dangerous. It is difficult to control and spreads like wildfire. Do not despair just yet for there is an antidote. However this medicine should not be self-administered.  It is strongly recommended that you should seek help and partake in the cure among people who have been through what you have experienced as they are best qualified to help you through the recovery process.

This is where your challenge comes in.

Your challenge, should you wish to accept it, is to stop mixing with negative people who constantly tell you things like the following statements;

“I wouldn’t pay £xxx for a Disco”

“You can’t earn more than £xxx in this area.”

“There is no way Dave Doubledecks is worth that kind of money.”

“I’d rather earn a few quid than be sat at home doing nothing”

The news gets even better. Remember I said that there is a once in a lifetime opportunity available to you? Well there is, and it’s only going to be available on one day this year. It will not be repeated in the UK so you have a decision to make which is literally life-changing. How do I know this; simple answer is I have been in the same situation and was lucky enough to be offered the cure.

Mark ferrell

Clear your diary for Saturday 26th of April and Sunday 27th. If you have a booking for any of theses dates do everything in your power to get out of it if you can. Pass the booking on to local DJs and tell them you have something vitally important to do instead. Do whatever it takes to get yourself to London for a meeting which will change your whole perspective on mobile DJing in the UK.

You will probably need to make travel arrangements that require you to stay in London overnight as getting to and from the event in one day may be unrealistic. You also owe it to yourself to be relaxed, refreshed and ready for what the day will reveal.

At this point I wouldn’t blame you for thinking you can smell the strong aroma of BS.

Yet I can’t stress strongly enough that I am deadly serious. Over the years I have written many words and delivered many seminars and workshops to mobile DJs. This advice is without doubt the most serious, and important advice, I have ever uttered.

Clear your mind, open your eyes, leave all of that negativity at home and get yourself in front of MR Mark Ferrell on Sunday April 27th at 11.00am. The venue is Dukes Meadows, Chiswick. The event is being sponsored by The National Association of Disc Jockeys but you don’t have to be a member to attend.

“Getting what you are worth” by Mark Ferrell is an updated presentation for British DJs based on the phenomenal presentation, which I attended in Las Vegas in 2002, to a room of over 800 DJs. The atmosphere was electric. It was standing room only and the standing ovation he received had to be seen to be believed.To my knowledge, for the first time ever, Mark will be presenting three one-hour seminars which will cover the entire spectrum of:

  • Getting what you are worth.
  • Believing and communicating what you are worth.
  • Being what you are worth.

All of this knowledge, experience and expertise is available to you for the princely sum of £15 while NADJ members get in for FREE! Yes, that’s correct, free, gratis, no charge, nothing, zilch!

Warning – this event will be sold out, make no mistake about that.

Guarantee your place TODAY by registering your attendance, don’t fall at the first hurdle and let apathy tell you that you can just turn up on the day or wait until nearer the day!

Don’t think to yourself “I’ll try and get along to this event,” we all know that really means you won’t be there. Tell yourself, “I’m going to be there”. “I need to be there”.

Book it now, its simple and painless – just follow the link below. I’ll be checking later with my colleagues to see if you did – big brother is watching you!

Register Here

Love from Sunny Cyprus. I’ll see you there, we’ll take the cure together, or in my case, get my booster Jab which should protect me for another 12 years.

NADJ


2013 What a year it’s been so far!

First DJ Workshops in Scotland

The year got off to a whirlwind start with Southampton, Reading, Maidstone and Glasgow. “The Specialist Wedding DJ A-Z” was attended by 50 DJs from around the country and was a resounding success. Feedback from the delegates was very positive. Many of those who attended have since reported an increase in confidence and this is reflected by an increase in bookings and higher fees for services offered.

Wedding Marketing for DJs – The Book

new book cover frontIn February I received a phone call from Eddie Short the editor of Pro-Mobile Magazine. He asked me if I would be available to attend the first ever Pro-Mobile Conference in Oxfordshire in March? He also asked if I could present a seminar and casually dropped a bomb which took my breath away. “oh, and I’d like to finish the final edit of your book and launch it at the conference”.

The following four weeks were frantic to say the least. Not only did we have to revisit every word in the book, we also had to sort the art work and arrange printing and distribution. Eddie did a fantastic job. The book was proofed, printed and delivered with only a couple of days to go before the conference. Meanwhile i prepared my seminar, “Ten Top Tips for Wedding DJs” and crossed my fingers that all would go well.

Lifetime achievement award.

Little did i know, as my wife Carol and I boarded the plane, that Eddie and Co-Producer Mark Walsh had a surprise waiting for me. On the evening of the first day of the conference everyone attended a celebration dinner. The evening was an opportunity to network and to relax and be entertained among friends and colleagues from all over the Uk. Jim Cerone from the USA was the guest of honour and he was accompanied by his wife and sons. I was looking forward to the evening yet had no idea what was about to take place.

pro mobile conference

pro mobile conference

You could have knocked me over with a feather when Eddie stood up, went to the stage and announced the first ever Lifetime achievement Award for services to the mobile DJ community. I couldn’t believe my ears when my name was mentioned. Carol had to pinch me and when I accepted the award from Eddie. I was, for the first time in my life, speechless. It is a great honour and I’m humbled to think that my work has been recognised in this way by my peers for which i thank them most sincerely.

More Workshops.

While in the area i took the opportunity to repeat the January workshop for those who couldn’t make it and also repeated my original workshop, “Wedding Marketing for DJs”. Once again I brought the workshop to Reading, Bolton and Glasgow.

Wedding in Cyprus.

Upon our return to Cyprus I hit the ground running with the first of my weddings for couples who fly from The Uk and Ireland for a small intimate wedding in the sunshine on the “Island of Love”. The Summer was steady if not busy, considering the economic climate and problems with the local banking crises which had an impact in the short-term. Strangely July can be a quiet month for weddings on the island. This is probably because temperatures soar into the mid to high thirties centigrade and prices for flights and accommodation tend to be more expensive. The same can be said for August but the schools are on holiday and it’s easier to arrange for guests to fly out and accompany the bride and groom so August tends to be a busy month for weddings.

BPM Show – Birmingham – September

I love this show. It’s the biggest and the best of them all. I’ve been associated with it, in one way or another since before it’s inception. Mark Walsh and Eddie Short [and their team] work tirelessly to produce and present a spectacular three-day event which covers the whole spectrum of DJing. Alas, due to commitments in Cyprus, I could only attend the Monday this year. I was scheduled to present, “Ten Top Tips for wedding DJs” at 1.00pm in one of the four areas set aside for education. My area was sponsored by The National Association of Disc Jockeys and the line-up included Darren Latimer, myself, Tony Winyard, Paul Askew and Mark Walsh.

old friends with Justin

old friends with Justin

It was an afternoon when time whizzed by. It was fantastic to meet friends old and new. unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to spend with everyone as i would have liked. My Seminar was really well attended. Standing room only meant we had to encourage people to huddle-up and make more room. Afterwards i spent time in the NADJ networking area where I chatted to many new people who had questions to ask and wanted more information about what i do by way of education.

New Workshop.

Birmingham also saw the debut of my new workshop Entrances and Spotlight Moments. This workshop draws on content from Todd Mitchem who demonstrates how to recognise and use the focal point of a room when making introductions. This is a much more “Hands On” workshop and it encourages the attendee to grasp new ideas and techniques and practise them before his peers.

For the first time in Birmingham i held three workshops back to back. the idea was to provide a “Fast Track” experience for anyone new to the concept. It was hard work but very satisfying to see wedding DJs prepared to devote so much time to improving themselves and their services.

My trip was completed with yet another couple of workshops in Reading, Maidstone and Glasgow. once again i was humbled by the number of talented DJs who came along and shared their experiences. Unfortunately i was taken quite ill on the night before the Glasgow workshop. I had been vomiting during the night and was nowhere near my best in the morning. However i struggled through and hopefully the guys didn’t miss out too much compared to my previous presentations.

Wedding Day Secrets –

Facts the Industry would prefer Brides don’t know.

Wedding Day Secrets

Wedding Day Secrets

This is the title for my new book for brides. I wrote it in July and managed to get it from conception to publication within four weeks thanks to a little help from my friends. Alan Marshall, Gary Evans, Paul Taylor, Stephen Davies and Tony Winyard all helped keep me focused and reigned me in when i got too controversial. The book takes the stance, “Brides Don’t know, what Brides don’t know”. this is the first book written by a British DJ which attempts to explain what actually happens on the day of the wedding. It focuses on Entertainment and the value which this brings to the occasion. The book is available as an e-book from Amazon in Kindle Format. It can also be read on any smart phone, i-Pad, laptop or PC by downloading the free apps from the amazon web site. I would recommend the book to all DJs as a reference guide and also to all future brides as an illustration as to how to achieve a day which is truly unique, fun and memorable.

Music Open Pafos 2013

Once again i was asked to co-host the third international festival for young opera stars in Cyprus. The evening took place at the Coral Beach Hotel in Coral Bay and it was a sell-out.

Music open pafos

Music open pafos

500 people were entertained to music which celebrated the 200 year anniversary of the composer Verdi. My co-host, Natalie made introductions in Greek and Russian while i did my best to offer translations in English. It was a difficult week working on the script and presentation but all turned out right on the night.

Bristol and Bolton –

Entrances and Spotlight Moments

I’m currently working on the final preparation for another couple of workshops in November. the hotels are booked, My flights have been arranged and all we need now are a couple more  brave DJs to join us for another adventure into the world of weddings and how to do things differently.

As ever I would like to thank everyone for their continued support, it means a great deal to me. I would love to hear your comments and suggests. please use the contact box underneath.

cheers,

Derek.


What Makes a Good Introduction?

When did you last witness a good introduction?

Was it on television, on Stage or maybe something you heard on the Radio?

More importantly, what was it which made it good, what made it memorable?

microphone

microphone

Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients which go into the making and the delivery of a memorable introduction. we will also look at some of the basic issues which surround introductions and some of the obstacles which can prevent your introduction from being as good as it could be.

I’m currently working with a group of around a hundred DJs around the country and much of what is written here is taken from my work with them.

Your Voice and Microphone are not enough!

It is a well-known fact that people only take in ten percent of the spoken word. That statistic is also dependent on you gaining the full attention of the person [s] you are speaking to. It you are trying to communicate to a room full of people, and you do not have their undivided attention, your introduction will be ineffective and you will find yourself having to make repeated announcements in order to achieve your objective.

Mark Walsh in action

Mark Walsh DJ / MC & Host from Preston.

When making an Introduction you should always start with your objective in mind. What is it you wish your Introduction to achieve? I would suggest you envision the outcome of your objective and then work back from that point in order to establish a sequence of events which will result in your objective being achieved.

let’s say our objective is to have a room full of people standing, clapping and cheering when you announce a Bride and Bridegroom into the room.

We now know our objective, next we need to think of all of the things which could prevent this from happening and also look at some things which will make the introduction different, exciting, enthusiastic, emotional and energetic.

Making a good introduction is similar to telling a good joke. It needs to be set up, the content should grab your attention and the punch line should be delivered with confidence. Timing is also important when telling a joke. The delivery needs to paced just right and your vocal inflection will enhance the end result.

Cover for audio MP3 download

Cover for audio MP3 download

Unfortunately many DJs and poorly trained venue staff rely solely on the very basic ingredients when they make an introduction. They will often repeat a tried and tested, and often tired, method of making an introduction. usually this involves clinking a spoon on a glass, or banging a gavel on a table to get people’s attention, followed by a very simple one-line introduction. “ladies and Gentlemen please be upstanding and welcome your Bride and Groom”

Is there anything wrong with this introduction – no, not really. Could it be done differently and have a greater impact – yes, most definitely.

So what do we need to consider when making introductions.

I’m indebted to my two Industry colleagues, Mark Ferrell and Todd Mitchem for their advice on this subject. You will find links to their web sites at the foot of this article.

It may surprise you that where you make the announcement / Introduction from is most important. Every room has a focal point. This is the point where your eyes are drawn to instinctively whenever you enter a room for the first time. this focal point in some rooms may be fixed and is created by a structure like a fireplace or a recess / alcove. However in modern featureless rooms the focal point will change based upon the way the room is dressed and items placed within it. At a wedding the focal point is usually the  “The Top Table” or The wedding Cake or the Dance floor.

Establish the Focal Point before you make your introduction.

Ideally you should make your important announcements from the focal point and not from your DJ stand or booth. This will mean you will need a wireless microphone and some method of controlling the volume level of your music remotely. This could mean using an assistant, having a remote handset or a method of introduction which allows you to move freely from the focal point back to your booth when required. [Staging]

Set up the introduction.

If, as in this example the intention is to introduce a bride and groom into the room this is not the time to introduce yourself. It’s a good idea to have already warmed-up your audience and gained their attention. I would strongly recommend that you introduce yourself at least ten minutes before you are due to introduce the guests of honour. This will help you establish the audience’s attention, build a rapport with them and use the focal point to your advantage.

News at ten method.

Todd also demonstrates that using what I call the news at ten method really helps you achieve your goal. If you watch the beginning few minutes of News At Ten you will notice that the first thing they do is tell you about what they are going to tell you about later in the show. So in our situation it’s a good idea to tell people what is about to happen. Instruct them as to where the bride and groom will enter and explain what they, the bride and groom, are expecting to happen when they make their entrance. It’s also a good idea at this moment to get some kind of moral committment from the audience that they agree to do what is expected of them, ie, stand, cheers, clap etc.

Use all of the senses that you can.

Remember the voice alone may not be enough. You may need to use either an energetic piece of music to generate some energy into the room. Likewise you may wish to use a softer more romantic piece of music to add emotion into the introduction.  On the other hand it may be a good idea to drop any music which may have been playing and use the power of silence just prior to making your introduction.

Lighting can also be employed for more dramatic effect. If you are able to suddenly flip the lighting colour of the room as you step into the focal point people will naturally stop what they are doing and look around. If you have dmx moving heads you may be able to produce a spotlight into the focal point or the point where the bride and groom are about to enter.

Choose your words carefully.

This is not a time for you to show off your “microphone Voice” or the inane “patter” some DJs are renowned for. This introduction should be short, sharp and to the point. introducing a bride and groom into the room is all about them and not you. Verbally less is more. In order to achieve your objective you need to think ahead and only use words which are succinct and relevant. Try to refrain from over use of “Filler” words like, “OK”, All Right”, “Now then”, “Please”, “Erm”, etc.

Most importantly think every introduction through well in advance and make each one different. Write what you intend to say down on paper, or enter into your Ipad [ other brands are available. Lol] and then rehearse what you intend to say. Strike out any words which are redundant. refine your introduction until you are comfortable with the content and it sits on your tongue with ease.

Personalise your Introduction.

At the very least your introduction should include the first and last names of your bride and groom. If they have chosen a particular piece of music to enter into,  you may need to make reference to it, or use its energy when you deliver the introduction.

Here is a recent example of an introduction I did at an outdoor event in Cyprus.

The Reception was held in a garden next to the waterfront and there were about 150 guests. The tables were spread around an area about half the size of a football field. There was no obvious focal point as the top table was positioned in one corner and the whole area was dominated by a stage prepared for the Band which was opposite where the top table was. I decided that most people would look to the stage as that was where any amplified sound would come from, and therefore chose to make my Introduction from the leading edge of the dance floor, which was positioned in front of the stage and was roughly in the centre of the field.

Previously everyone had attended a drinks reception over to my left in another area. The Bride and groom had gone off for sunset photographs and would be back shortly although I had no idea where to my left they would be appearing. Only my wife knew this and she would make sure they entered at the right time and from the right place. They had chosen a piece of music by “Pink” called “Raise your Glass” and the idea  was to make the introduction and time it so that they entered exactly as the words “Raise your Glass” were uttered. This is thirty-seven seconds into the song.

This is how i did it.

Sound engineer had the track and started to play it.

I had a radio microphone with auto voice override enabled on the sound desk and walked to the leading edge of the dance floor

The music has an energetic beat so my introduction was paced and timed to fit with the beat.

“ladies and Gentlemen” [wait for their attention and then add}

“This is the moment we have been waiting for” [ wait again as the music level increases]

“Everybody, stand up, and Clap your hands to the beat of the music”. [ Wait for people to do as instructed while i start clapping my hands above my head]

“Direct your attention to my left where we have just come from”

“And welcome Jo and Fi, the new Mr and Mrs Stamataris”

Needless to say the whole area was filed with people standing clapping and applauding as my B&G entered just as the lines “Raise your Glass” were heard over the sound system and people quickly picked up their glasses and started raising them in the air.

Job done – objective achieved.

I’d like to thank all of the talented, experienced and open-minded DJs who attended my workshops recently. If you would like to join us for a more in-depth look at how your introductions can be improved please visit the web site.

Thanks for reading, feel free to post your comments in the usual way.

Take a workshop – details can be found here

Reading

Reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More information about Todd Mitchem can be found here

http://www.mitcheminteractive.com/store.htm l

More information about Mark Ferrell can be found here.

http://markferrell.com/


Playlists and time-lines

Don’t you just love it when you receive a playlist from a bride and you just know it’s either too long or too structured.

As you may be aware, dear reader, I reside in Cyprus for most of the year and my clients are visiting the island to be married. Usually there are no more than thirty guests at the evening reception with a maximum so far of fifty on one occasion.

usually the wedding takes place between four and six in the afternoon and is followed by a drinks reception and the inevitable photographs including final shots taken as the sun sets which is around eight o’clock in the evening.

Dinner will be served anytime from six o’clock onward and speeches and those sunset photos will be intermixed within the time-line according to the venue and event coordinator’s agreed instructions from the bride.

Cypriot meals have a tendency to take far longer than those in the UK. Traditionally a meal is the time for relaxation, conversation and no one is watching the clock. This can come as a big surprise to visiting families from the UK. Inevitably this time factor eats into the allocated time for dancing. Believe me I’ve been present when the first dance scheduled for 8pm has not taken place much before 10 o’clock.

I guess we could lay the blame for this on the wedding event planners and the venues for not advising the bride or sometimes on the waiting staff for not being organised. However none of this prepares the DJ for the frustrated bride who simply wants to do her first dance and get the party started, especially when she has supplied you with a playlist running to four hours or more of music.

Communication is vital to avoid such situations alas very often the DJ has no or very little contact with the bride before the day of the wedding. All communication is with the tour operator or the venue and the DJ is only given the playlist and expected to fit a quart into a pint pot![ or whatever the metric equivalent may be]

Example 1

Music – DJ Play List edited

My first reaction to this list was that it contained far too much music. It had a running time of seven and a half hours. I was also concerned about the bride’s allocation of times when music selections should be played. Apart from the early music for dinner I was concerned that her choice would be too much to her taste and not that of her guests. I doubted very much I could stick to this list and provide entertainment for all of her fifty guests. The reception was to be outdoors by a pool and music volume would have to be reduced significantly after 11 o’clock with the party finishing at 12 midnight.

Anticipating not being able to play all of the music I asked the bride to highlight in bold her “must plays” and then proceeded to refresh my memory by listening to the selected tracks and graded them by scoring each track as a 1 = great tune, 2 = definite maybe or 3 = doubtful to be well received.

On the day we juggled the photographs and the speeches by starting with the father of the bride’s speech and then taking the first course of the meal while the bride and groom went for their sunset photos. We then carried on with the other two speeches and toasts prior to the main course being served.

The mood was lively and it became apparent that i would not need to add much more to  the older music selections. In fact I opted to introduce her “Other special requests” during the meal and was amazed when people started dancing at their tables and in front of my DJ booth. Before I knew it we had a party on our hands before desert had been served or any of the three spotlight dances had taken place.

We had to put the brake on, call a halt to the open dance and introduce the three spotlight dances. I suggested we start with the father daughter dance so that dad could hand his daughter to her new husband for their first dance. This worked really well. Finally we took the brake off and invite everyone back onto the floor for the third spotlight dance and sure enough our party was back on track.

It turned out that this bride did indeed know her family and friend’s taste in music very well. She was up for a party and so where all of her guests. My challenge was to keep to the time line. I managed this by editing her playlist with brutality. I stuck to her “Must Haves” and then selected according to my own scoring system. I removed over three hours of her music selections while retaining the order of her music choice rearranged into a more acceptable structure which maintained the energy and delivered a packed dance area throughout the night.

Indeed the night was so successful that they asked me to relocate to a room indoors where we continued to party on for another two hours.  So I am delighted to say that my apprehension and doubts were unfounded and on this occasion my bride had proved to be the exception to the rule. She really did know better than me. I however used my experience and knowledge to take her idea and programme a playlist which evolved in real-time on the night. Together we produced a fantastic party which I am sure everyone will remember for many years to come.

Example 2

Wedding Play List edited

The first thing I noticed about this playlist is that it had three and a half hours running time and that most of the tracks were popular choices which would work fine. Then I realised my bride wanted them playing in decade order starting with the sixties and working toward the present day. She later added another six current chart hits to the list.

I have previously encountered such lists with a similar structure and was aware that this may not be an ideal way of presenting this music for maximum effect. I had also noticed that the start time was 5.30pm. Upon arrival i was told that was the time of the wedding ceremony and that dinner would not be served until 7.30pm. Fine.

Once again the issue of speeches and time taken to serve and eat the meal were of concern. My bride was very demanding and was keen to squeeze in as much music as possible however she did not appreciate how long the meal would take. She had arranged for a videographer to come back at 9pm to film her first dance. When he returned some guests where still eating their main course which was the third item on the menu that night. Deserts where still to follow and so too were the speeches.

Eventually it was decided to hold the speeches once everyone had finished the main course. Desert would be relegated to after the first dance. I arranged with the bride and the videographer to insert a second dance into the scenario as the first dance was to be a special routine created by the B & G.

It was gone 9.30 before we introduced the B & G onto the dance floor and then invited the rest of the guests [only 24 in all] to join in to “My Girl” by the temptations. The instruction was to carry on with the playlist which i did. Once again I had to be brutal with removing tracks I believed would not work and also rearrange the running order to get best results. I removed one and a half hour’s worth of music yet kept the floor steadily occupied throughout the night. We had planned some slower quieter music for the final twenty minutes and finally finished on a high with “500 miles”

A good time was had by all and we finished on time which was essential as by law in Cyprus you can can not go on after midnight. All outside music has to be off or else you risk your equipment being confiscated and a hefty fine.

Conclusion

I don’t always know best despite my thirty odd years playing music at weddings. Brides sometimes do know better than us. Even with the best of planning time-lines slip. My job as the DJ is to make the music fit. I need to use my programming skills to ensure that the right music is selected and organised into the best order with the most chance of delivering a full dance floor to the satisfaction of my client. On both of these occasions I can honestly say Job Done!


DJ Seminars – workshops – conferences what’s the difference

Seminar

A seminar is usually a taster. It is an introduction or an overview of an idea, a technique, a system, a service or a product The seminar is often given in the form of a lecture and will include the opportunity for questions to be asked of the presenter either during the event or as it is drawing to a close.This structure enables a large number of people to attend and evaluate whether the topic is worth pursuing or not as the case may be. Most seminars are of a duration of an hour or two or less.

Workshops

Workshops are more interactive and practical. The presenter needs to engage with the delegates as individuals. Therefore usually the number of attendees is strictly limited. Much of the content is designed to be one on one or delivered to small “breakout” groups. People who attend workshops should be prepared to get involved. Delegates will be expected to do some practical stuff related to the workshop theme. A workshop will also include some style of critique. The presenter and the other attendees will be expected to pass opinion on exercises undertaken by the group. A workshop can often be a half day or full day duration.

Conferences.

Conferences can take many forms. Some will consist entirely of seminars while others are a mixture of seminars and workshops. In order for a conference to be viable they tend to be held on a much larger scale. In many instances conferences take place in dedicated venues which are equipped to handle large numbers of people. The venue will also be equipped with state of the art audio and visual equipment and have catering facilities on hand to feed the visitors. conferences can be a one day event or anything up to a week.

Why should I attend?

People learn and evaluate new ideas in different ways. Some people can read an article on-line or in a book and translate the written word into a process. Others are not so fortunate. They need to be shown how something works. Many of us need to be “Hands On” in order to comprehend an idea or method. Seminars, workshops and conferences gives the attendee a chance to ask questions, see for him or her self and seek clarification and support from presenters and fellow delegates. Often other people in the room will share their experiences and knowledge of the subject so that others can reason and evaluate the topic under discussion “in the moment” rather than having to reflect or review what had been presented at a later date.

Cost verses value.

Generally the cost of attending an event is considered to be a legitimate business expense and is therefore a tax-deductible investment in your business. So one way of looking at it is that such education is free and that the real cost to a business owner is his time. Time invested in a business is precious so one would expect an educational event to result in added value to your knowledge and skills. Attending a seminar, workshop or conference will not in its self improve what you do in your business. Implementing new ideas, methods and systems will!

Networking – the added bonus.

A spin-off from attending educational events is the networking. Meeting and talking to people in your profession can be very therapeutic. You will be surprised at how many others are in a similar situation or who have similar issues and challenges in their line of work. Often solutions are shared in an informal environment over a cup of coffee or a drink in the bar. Simply knowing that you are not alone and that others are facing the same situations can be inspirational and will prompt you to see things in a new light.

Education can be fun.Take off your blinkers, step out of your comfort zone and S-T-R-E-T-C-H. You’ll be glad you did.


“Resident” Mobile DJs – is it good news for the client?

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.

Preferred suppliers;

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.