Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Mobile DJ?

Have you ever considered parlaying your love of music and parties into a mobile DJ career? This article addresses the required traits of a successful mobile disc jockey.

There are three main categories of DJs:

Club/performance DJs - think of your resident DJ at the local dance club, or DJ Skribble or Paul Oakenfold for a big Las Vegas or Miami club.

Bedroom DJs - think of aspiring DJs who create mixes from the comfort of their bedroom "studios."

Mobile DJs - mobile DJs travel with their audio and lighting equipment to a party near you, typically held at a banquet hall. Take note there are two parts to the phrase, "mobile" and "DJ." In addition to the performance (the "DJ" part of the equation), mobile DJs must pack, transport, load-in and setup their equipment (the "mobile" part of the equation).

This article relates to the desired traits of a mobile DJ based on my experience with staffing a successful mobile DJ company:

1) Love of Music/Music Knowledge - Mobile parties typically feature "general audiences." This is not a night out at the club with a 21-30 year old age bracket demanding the hottest dance remixes! Rather, most family style parties/weddings feature guests of all ages - from kids up to grandparents. A good mobile DJ must be a musical chameleon, capable of dropping a big band, reggae or 90s dance set on a dime. Musical programming, the ability to program appropriate songs in a logical manner, can be taught. However, many DJs are natural programmers, having an innate sense for how to order song selections and build dance sets. If you are a music lover across multiple genres or people have commented on your great musical taste, then you would make an ideal candidate for a mobile DJ!

2) Love of People - As a DJ at a party, you are in the center of the action. You will be working closely with a banquet staff, other vendors (such as photographers and videographers) and several hundred amped-up guests. Your outgoing and friendly nature will contribute to a fiesta atmosphere and maximize the fun had by all. Those DJs who genuinely care about their guests will make each party a success, and in time build a list of loyal clientele. A pet peeve of mine is the apathetic wedding vendor - grouchy and anti-social. This is a party... we are in a service business... please smile!

3) Energy - Mobile DJing is a physical job and you'd better eat your Wheaties. You will need to lift and transport gear - some of it heavy, possibly up and down stairs. Not all banquet halls have elevators. Work hours can be irregular, with very late nights followed by early mornings. A basic level of physical fitness is required, and those in better shape will deal with the rigors of the job better. Your passion for the job will provide additional energy to make it through the most demanding weekends.

4) Confidence - Getting on a microphone in front of a group of strangers week after week is not for the feint of heart. You had better be comfortable in your own skin, and also be prepared to take some criticism from guests. DJs can be lightning rods for hecklers and other "haters" who are envious of your position as steward on the wheels of steel. By the same token, there is a fine line between confidence and ego-mania. A successful mobile DJ keeps his ego in check and adjusts the show accordingly to make the party a success.

5) Reliability - Mobile DJs travel to the far corners of the state, and must take great care in plotting their arrival on a timely basis. For a DJ to be late to a party is unacceptable and should be avoided at all costs. DJs who fly by the seat of their pants arriving on their own terms, also place unnecessary stress on the client (not to mention on their boss!). To be a successful mobile DJ, you should be well-organized and willing to build in a nice-sized buffer to absorb any unexpected delays.

6) Maturity - Maturity is less a specific age but more a state of mind. Mobile DJing involves performing at milestone events such as Sweet 16s, Anniversary Parties and Weddings. Mobile DJs should be prepared to honor their performance commitments, even when they would rather be lounging at the beach with friends or attending their child's soccer game. For better or worse, the DJ's work week is a mirror image of the typical worker's. Our work week begins on Friday night! For those DJs with spouses and children, are you prepared to forego some of your family's weekend events in order to DJ?

The final two characteristics below are particularly relevant to "Wedding DJs." Wedding DJs, a specialty within the mobile DJ field, are entrusted with a couple's once-in-a-lifetime celebration. The stakes are much higher than for a birthday party at a local VFW Hall.

7) Attention to Detail - There are an abundance of details to be covered in planning a successful wedding reception. A successful wedding DJ must take detailed notes and carefully prepare for each performance. One overlooked detail could de-rail the success of the party and your business reputation.

8) Ability to Act Well Under Pressure - Even with the best preparation, it is not uncommon for Bridal Party rosters to suddenly change moments before the Grand Entrance, or for other problem issues to arise. A seasoned wedding DJ will remain "cool as a cucumber" and adapt as needed. While there may have been chaos behind the scenes, guests should have no clue!

Ambient DJ Service is always interested in meeting candidates who possess the characteristics above. Contact Gregg at 609.672.1270 or info@ambientdj.com for more information.

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