5 Tips on Establishing Yourself as a Successful Mobile DJ/MC
DO YOUR RESEARCH PRIOR TO THE EVENT! Consult with your clients at least two weeks in advance to determine:
the type of event they'd like you to accommodate (e.g., wedding, graduation party, sweet 16, surprise party, etc.)
their DOs and DONTs for song selection (you must know their personal preferences)
the location (and floor level, if applicable) of the event as well as where they’d like you to set up your equipment
the way in which they would like their event to be organized (e.g., cocktail hour —> 60 minutes of dance —> 30 minutes of dinner —> 30 minutes of speeches —> 30 minutes of dance —> 30 minutes of dessert)
DON’T CHEAP-OUT ON EQUIPMENT! Invest your money in purchasing industry standard equipment. If you’re unable to do this at the beginning of your career, it would be a wise idea to seek out small-paying gigs for your friends or acquaintances. Budget your money accordingly and purchase the right gear. While this may seem cumbersome, you never want to be in a situation where your equipment breaks down during a live event—don’t assume you can take financial shortcuts. People want to recommend/hire DJs who are reliable, so make sure your equipment is capable of withstanding your ambitious career. And in the event something were to go wrong, you should have the following spare items.
2x's the amount of required...
XLR cables RCA cables necessary for speaker output
IEC power cables to power audio equipment and lighting
Industrial Power Surge Protectors to prevent your equipment from malfunctioning due to a voltage spike
(2) 1/4” headphone jacks
(2) USB 2.0 A-Male to B-Male cable if you’re accessing music from a laptop
(2) surge protectors and
(1) roll of gaffer tape to secure your cables and prevent floors from being damaged
For more information on what equipment to purchase, Joe from JK Pro Audio is a great resource for Long Island DJs. JK is located at 202 Merrick Road, Rockville Centre NY 11570.
BE MORE THAN JUST PUNCTUAL! Arrive at least 90 minutes prior to the event for the following reasons:
parking and unloading your equipment might be an issue
if you’re performing at a catering hall, it may take up to 10-15 minutes to locate the manager who will inform you where you will setup your equipment. And if it’s an old building, they may only have 2-pronged AC outlets for your equipment in that particular room you’re required to setup your equipment. In that case, you must locate a three-slot grounded outlet and run an extension cord into the room you’re performing in order for your equipment to function properly.
it’s important to conduct a proper sound-check with your microphone(s) and audio players/mixer before any of the guests arrive. If there’s a problem that requires immediate troubleshooting, it is extremely difficult to resolve it when the client and/or guests are eager to introduce themselves along with several song requests. Their immediate impression of you should be someone who’s confident, organized, and ready to entertain. A successful mobile DJ will start playing music at least 10 minutes prior to when the event is supposed to begin. If guests start pouring into the room minutes prior to the event starting, your stressed-out demeanor will put a major damper on the party-vibes.
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Your family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and online social network should know you’re a DJ/MC who’s ready for hire at any given moment. Here are some additional tips on making your presence known…
always carry around a stack of business cards in your wallet; if someone’s reaching out to you for a potential DJ gig and you don’t have a business card on hand, you appear unprepared and someone who doesn’t take his/her business seriously
record yourself performing live mixes and place them on YouTube, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, etc. for potential customers to view and click “like.” You should also be posting as many relevant blogs as possible on your social media accounts specifically geared toward your DJ career (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
sometimes it even pays to perform for free at a bar, private party, department store, etc. to promote customer awareness. If they’re nice, they’ll at least give you a tip to cover gas expenses. Especially when you’re at the beginning stages of your DJ career, you shouldn’t always expect to get paid for every gig you do. Whether you’re aware of this or not, there’s much to be learned on how to master the art of spinning records and wielding a microphone. The majority of successful DJs in this industry began their careers by performing live for an amount that was slim-to-none because they valued knowledge, experience and exposure over how much money they felt entitled to earn. The beginning of your career should be about paying your dues, not how your dues should be immediately paid.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule holds no exception with the art of DJing and MCing. I would even argue that it takes much longer than this to consider oneself a true, unequivocal, professional in this industry. Here’s a list of certain things I’ve personally done to establish myself as a professional mobile DJ…
If you want to be considered great at DJ/MC, it’s impossible to learn on your own or from an amateur/enthusiast. I would strongly recommend learning from a certified instructor at SPIN DJ Academy who all exceed the required knowledge and skillset to be deemed successful in this industry. Being the best at anything in life, means learning from the best…this has been my personal tried and true method for elevating my skillset and career in this industry.
Like any instrument, you need to practice for countless hours if you wish to improve your mixing and scratching abilities. I personally practice for at least 1-2 hours each day to create original mix compositions that will command people out of their chairs and onto the dance floor. You must know your music inside and out, and especially what songs work well with others. Though DJing should be about knowing how to read your crowd for upcoming songs to select on-the-fly, there should be little-to-no guesswork when deciding which songs to initially play that will make people get up and dance. And though it took me years to feel as if I’ve perfected this art, I’m always left with something new that’s been learned after every practice session and live performance.
To feel confident about using a microphone at a live event, you should pre-script how your announcements should sound when addressing your crowd during key transitions of their event (e.g., when to sit for dinner/dessert, first dance of bride & groom, official opening of the dance floor, etc.). For more information on how to master the art of MCing, a future blog will be posted in the near future.