You’ve been a mobile entertainer for years. You were a mobile disc jockey during the growth and maturity periods of the profession. However, now you’ve reached the point where you have trouble connecting with younger audiences; your body is taking longer to recover from an event or a weekend of events; you no longer want to continually invest time and money to keep pace with the rapid technology changes in the industry; you feel out of touch with the current music scene or you’re just plain tired playing the same songs repeatedly. Or, maybe you just burned out.
Whatever the reason for your revelation, while you no longer may desire to be a mobile entertainer, you do not have to give up being an entertainer. Good news—you can still be a crowdpleaser!
THE TOOL KIT
How do the skills of a mobile entertainer translate into continued crowd-pleasing beyond the dance floor? Perhaps my own experi- ences might provide some ideas for how you can transition to new ways of using those deeply ingrained entertainment skills.
For more than twenty-five years, I was active in the mobile entertainment industry, one of the first entertainers with my company, Dance Express (in the Bay Area of California), to consistently integrate dance instruction and performances in mobile DJ-based presentations in the 1980s. Like any mobile, I serviced a wide array of weddings, class reunions, anniversa
ry celebrations, corporate shindigs, sock hops, disco parties and country jamborees, I was frequently hired because of the dance instruction/performance additions.
GOLDEN GATE TO HIGH DESERT
Since moving to Bend, Oregon ten years ago, I scaled back on the mobile business, due to a combination of other market opportunities and a smaller pool of potential clients available in my new location. The Bay Area is the eleventh largest met- ropolitan area in the United States with more than 4.4 million people, while Central Oregon ranks 249th with just over 162,000 residents (according to the Metropolitan Statistical Areas of the United States Census Bureau). A disinclination to invest in new entertainment technology, and a healthy dose of burnout also played their parts.
Yet, like most mobile entertainers, I enjoy performing and decided to pursue other outlets for artistic expression. My journey of past several years into other forms of entertainment has been fun, exciting, and rewarding, albeit not quite as lucrative as the mobile entertainment biz. Here are some additions to my curricu- lum vitae that grew from the same root as my mobile DJ personal.
I have appeared in nine productions during the last four plus years, playing a range of roles, from an acerbic New York radio producer to a charismatic swinger, to the kindly Bob Cratchit, to a 1930s era shyster. Memorizing lines has become easier with each succeeding production (my line load is usually light to moderate, since I quickly found a niche as a character actor), and blocking feels like a natural extension of dance choreography.
As mobile entertainers, we play roles. Sometimes we are efficient music programmers, occasionally we dance instructors, periodically game show emcees, and more often today, event producers. Entertainers need to work as part of a “cast” in the production that is a successful event. It’s no different for a stage production: we actors need to execute our roles and support our scene partners, and we need all personnel—crew, lighting, sound
and actors—working in sync for an audience-pleasing “show.” Go ahead and explore community and professional
theatre—you might be surprised at the rewards.
PUBLIC ADDRESS ANNOUNCER
During the past ten years, I’ve served as a public address announcer for collegiate level summer baseball, the State Little League baseball tournament, high school basketball, indoor soccer, and more.
As a mobile entertainer, your voice is one of your most important tools. Modulation, pauses, tone and clarity are valued even more in the field of public address announcing. As Bob Sheppard, the legendary voice of Yankee Stadium famously noted, “A P.A. announcer is not a cheerleader, or a circus barker, or a hometown screecher. He’s a reporter.”
Can you inform with clarity and brevity? Can you report with objectivity when needed and subjectivity when called upon?
Often, public address announcers will employ sound bites and music to enhance the game day experience—that should be a no-brainer for a mobile entertainer. However, you do need to select songs that fit an arena’s game-day energy rather than fill a dance floor. But, the possibilities are rich.
Again, vocal skills are one of the key reasons disc jockeys are hired for an event. The difference in voiceovers is the ability to come across as believable, to be able to act, vocally. And, even more critically, can you sell? Can you accept direction? Develop rich characters? Craft meaningful relationships? Listen? All in 30 to 60 seconds?
If so, voiceover work, particularly with the rise of home studios and the internet, is no longer bound by geography and access to production equipment. And, the money can be very lucrative if you can evolve into a first call, in-demand artist.
How about showing up for an event with only your microphone? I’ve enjoyed opportunities to emcee dozens of events during the last several years without lugging and setting up equipment. Like Tom Bergeron, I listen attentively and often embellish scripted events with simple, quick and tasteful flourishes to enliven an event. This one is simple—you already have this one in your tool bag!
To be frank, the money will not likely be anywhere near as generous in any of these areas as can be earned in the mobile entertainment industry. Yet they may be just as gratifying, perhaps, even more so. You might even want to pursue one or more of these avenues along with your currently successful mobile entertainment business. But if you are looking for ways to exercise your performance muscles beyond the realm of the mobile dance floor, maybe now you know what can be next.o
Filed Under: Business, Issue #150
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