Tips for the Beginner Mobile DJ|
Posted on Saturday, August 14 @ 20:06:01 EDT by DJAdvantage
Topic: Tips and Tricks
Let's face it, we all had to start somewhere in our mobile DJ careers, but nobody said that we all had to start at the same place. These tips are sure to give you that headstart you need to get ahead of the game and on your way!
- Get it in Writing - Put together a contract and have the customer sign it. That way if there are any questions later, both parties can see what was agreed upon. A written contract should detail the date and time of the event, the beginning and ending times of the music, the total cost for the time period, the deposit amount and when it's due, the balance amount and due date, the overtime cost, where the event is located and the full name of the customer and/or organization. Don't forget to bring it to the gig!
- Holding Dates - It's ok to tell someone that you can pencil them in, but make it clear that you can only hold it for 10 days. If you don't receive the non-refundable deposit and signed contract in that time, you'll have to make it available. You don't want to find yourself in a situation where you're turning away customers because you're "booked" only to never get a committment from the original person. Bottom line...No deposit, no play.
- Collecting Money - Some DJs will require the balance the night of the event, but you'll be much better off if you make it required three weeks before the engagement. This is not only the norm with other event vendors, but it gives you plenty of time to collect should they miss the deadline. It's also a great time to require any information sheets and request lists.
I can't tell you how many times I've waited around after the gig for someone to find their purse or wallet only to have them tell me an hour later that they didn't bring it and would have to mail it to me.
- Checklist - Put together a checklist of everything you'll need to bring to the gig so that you don't forget anything. Then, as you're loading up your truck/van/trailer, cross things off the list. Before incorporating a checklist, some of the things I'd forgotten over the years and had to go back for are: headphones, microphone, CDs, requested songs, address, phone number, map, extension cords, clothes, etc...
- Set List - One of the biggest problems that can come up at a gig is deciding what to play next. One way to get around this is to put together a bunch of music sets a head of time. Now, I'm not talking about pre-mixing your music, but simply coming up with collections of three or four songs that sound really good together. Typically, these would be of the same style (ie: oldies, rock, disco, etc..). That way if you get stuck, you can pull from your set list and keep the party moving.
- Music Sets - Whether you're playing at a wedding, a party or at your local dance hall, never play more than four songs in a row of the same style (ie: top-40, country, oldies, etc...). This will ensure that you provide a little something for everyone and a make for a well balanced party.
- Music Transitions - When moving from one completely different music set to another (ie: techno & big band), play a slow song or two in between sets. This will make the music flow seamlessly and give the dancers a minute to catch their breath.
- Music Lists - Rather than let people look through all your music at a gig, create a music list of your most popular songs broken down by genre. Most people are overwhelmed by a music list that is too many pages and it makes the recognizable songs easier to find. It'll also prevent people from walking off with your music and/or spilling their drinks on your CDs.
- Locating Songs - The simplist way to make locating songs easier is to categorize your music in a manner that makes sense to you (ie: genre, artist, etc...). Need something more substantial? Get a program to catalogue your music. Then you can print the list or bring a laptop to the gig for onsite searches.
- Group Participation Activities - Figure out how many activities (hokey pokey, chicken dance, etc...) you want to do at a gig and spread them throught the entire evening. This will give the impression that you're always doing something fun and keep the event lively.
- Interacting with your Audience - Don't ask open ended questions like, "How are you doing tonight? Ready to have some fun?" Instead, tell them they are going to have fun and why. Questions can prompt negative responses producing the opposite result of what you're looking for.
- Music Start Times - When working out the details with the customer, always try to schedule the starting time of the music at the beginning of the event. Otherwise, the guests might interpret your arrival as being "late" even if you're right on time.
- Music Selection - Always keep your audience in mind when deciding what to play. It's their party, so you won't always be able to play music that you like. Keep the music recognizable as it will have more mass appeal.
- Requests - Take requests from the guests so that they feel they are contributing to the party. They may even surprise you and have an inside track into what the guests like.
- Read Your Audience - Before the party even gets started, take a look at your audience. Are they wearing cowboy boots? Are they younger? Older? Simple observations before the event can sometimes give you an idea on how you might want to proceed with the music.
- Cables - Make it a habit to tape down your speaker cables and extension cords. It'll not only look better, but prevent someone from tripping on them and "pulling the plug" on the party.
- Mailing Address - If you're working out of your home, use a post office box rather than your home address. Many big businesses have a PO Box and people will have no idea that you don't have some big office somewhere. It'll also help you sleep at night knowing that the public doesn't know where you store your gear.
- Answering Machine/Voice Mail - Make sure that your message greeting can be clearly understood and that it's not distorted. Keep your greeting to 20-30 seconds tops so people don't hang up before leaving a message. Your greeting should also identify the business name, "Hello, you've reached Dave's DJ Service", not "Hi, you've reached the Smith residence...".
- Tuxedo Dressed DJs - If you DJ weddings, why not take it up a notch and wear a Tuxedo? Many tux shops will sell their rented/used tuxedos at a discount. It's a big selling point and only you and the tux shop will know you didn't spend a fortune.
- Moving Gear - To keep you speakers and DJ coffin looking their best while moving them from one place to another, always put the back part of the equipment against the handtruck. This will prevent the viewable sides from getting marked up while transporting it. Foam padding on your handtruck will also help.