From The Ground Up: The 2015 Report

February 5, 2015 by Stu Chisholm

Failure to launch (on time)

My original plan had been to be completely ready by January 1st for the relaunch of my DJ business, Stu & His Crew.  But, as I reported a couple of installments ago, whipping up enthusiasm, even among my paid vendors, has been a bit of a chore!  There have been delays and over-runs, but so far there have also been some exciting developments!  Here is the timeline so far:

Saturday, 11/01: No response yet from Debbie re: my logo update. Left a phone message.

Monday, 12/8: Vanzilla taken in to Mike’s Truck Repair for mechanical repairs/estimate.

Friday, 12/12: Learned that no work has been done on van. Had to drive to Mike’s in order to pull DJ gear for Saturday’s gig!  Mechanic promised estimate promised Monday (12/15).

Wednesday, 12/17: Still no call.  When contacted, they promised an estimate by day’s end.  Didn’t happen.

Friday, 12/19: Estimate finally given (verbally).  Accepted; work to begin ASAP.

Sunday, 12/28: Order for new console and lighting equipment placed with Ben Stowe/NLFX.

Tuesday, 12/30: Mechanic found new problems with the exhaust.  Given OK to proceed.  Work in progress.

Wednesday, 12/31: First package arrived from NLFX; my isloation transformers.  Surprisingly fast delivery!  A few more boxes and work can begin!

Friday, 01/02: It’s raining packages!  Both Chauvet light show packages (GigBar IRC X 2) arrived in AM, and the Pioneer XDJ-Aero controller came just after noon!  I’m excited to start putting together my main DJ console, but it appears I’ve got one HECK of a learning curve ahead!  Up next: getting back the van and planning the new graphics!

Saturday, 01/03: Utter disappointment, as it looks like the controller’s Rekordbox software won’t work with my very expensive tablets.  Consulting with Ben to see if there’s a work-around.

Monday, 01/05: Wi-Fi hotspot arrived.  This little doohickey will be handy if I want to utilize the Wi-Fi capabilities of the Aero, which I still haven’t determined will work or not.

Tuesday, 01/06: The final piece of the DJ console “puzzle” arrived in the form of my Sennheiser digital mic.  Potential problem: they sent the wrong reciever!  I was under the impression I was getting the hand-held transmitter with the ultra-small diversity receiver usually mounted on video cameras.  Instead, it’s got a much bigger (heavier) metal box.  The worst part: ONE MORE DAMNED WALL WART!!!  Dig: my tablet: one wart.  The controller?  Wart.  Wireless mic?  Ditto.  And I’ll most likely need a “powered” hub so that the Aero won’t freak out.  That’s another wart.  Each one is basically a transformer, and FOUR of them will be a hot mess, both figuratively and literally (they generate heat).  NOT what I envisioned, but for most gigs, I’d really prefer not to rely on battery power alone.

Wednesday, 01/07: Got word that Vanzilla will be getting out of car jail tomorrow morning!  Total bill: $3,700.00 n’ change. Told that the motor “runs like a top” now and that they’re putting the finishing touches on the “small stuff,” one of which is a loose hand-hold by the rear door.  Can’t wait to “inspect” it!

Thursday, 01/08: Vanzilla is back!  Still has a few minor details to attend to, but is 99% in new condition.  Took the evening to design a new brochure for Sunday’s bridal show, my very first in years and the opening volley in my new marketing plan, such as it is.  Since I’ve been working on the truck and console, my new marketing plan is not yet fully fleshed-out, nor are my new performance ideas.  These will become my focus once the first two are completed.

Friday, 01/09: Dropped files for brochure at FedEx Office (formerly Kinko’s) for pick-up tomorrow.  Trying to decide exactly how big or how small I’ll be going for Sunday’s show.  I can bring my huge bridal show display, with 8′ tall grids and hard plastic “banner” that runs across the top of it, or simply roll in my CSL Supertable with a brochure stand, sit there and answer questions.  I may do both.  It would be great to have some help, but I can’t count on it.  Another possibility: bringing the new GigBar for some razzle dazzle!

Sunday, 01/11: I think I can call my first show of the season a success.  In fact, it was my first in several years.  (I really hate bridal shows!)  Ended up having to assemble my display by myself, a rig consisting of the aforementioned eight-foot tall by 20″ (approx.) wide steel grid panels, the large, delicate Plexiglas sign, trapezoidial table and some lights, after hauling it in and oofing it around half of the stadium where the show was held.  And this was before I spent five hours on my feet talking with brides!  Lucky for me, it all fit on my Rock-N-Roller cart, with the help of several bungee cords.  Another positive: I gave away every piece of literature I brought and booked one appointment the same day when I got home.  Exhausted!  But a good debut for at least one of my new Chauvet GigBar units.  These things are wicked cool!

Monday, 01/12: Got an interesting offer from a friend.  On Mondays I meet with a Sci-Fi social group, something I do for fun.  A ton of our members are IT professionals and other assorted geeks.  I was explaining my problem of mounting wall wart overpopulation — a potential space hog/weight contributor to my envisioned DJ attache-style console — and he offered to try and cobble together a single strip unit with transformer(s) built-in.  I told him that, if successful and he could repeat the feat, he may have a product that a ton of other DJs, bands and AV professionals would love to have!  I’ll have to get back with him later.

Wednesday, 1/14: Sal, my IT guy called with a preview of my new website.  I had hoped to have it up and running by the 1st, but from what he showed me, it’s going to be worth the wait.  All I can say is, “sexy!”  With any luck, it’ll be up and fully functional by sometime in February.

Saturday, 1/17: Spending the day reading over the manual for the Aero.  This thing has a pretty steep learning curve for this ol’ DJ!  Need to adjust the LAN settings to interface the tablets, which can be connected wirelessly.  This is important, as they only have one USB port, which I’ll need to connect my tiny hard drives.  So far, so good.  Need to run to Micro-Center or Best Buy for a few more parts; first and foremost, a hub.

Tuesday, 1/20: Met with two couples I met at the Bridal Show!  Both live in the same town, so I was able to stagger meetings and meet with both at the same Starbuck’s.  Lucky for me: they’re awesome people.  I can’t wait to work with them!

Since then, I’ve abandoned the timeline format, but have had a few more things crop up.  I’m still awaiting word from Ben, who promised to consult with some of his experts to make the Aero work for me.  He’s been delayed by traveling to various cities to make presentations.  (It must be fun to be Ben!)

One issue I’m focused on is to whip my music library into a better state of repair.  I’d found some corrupted files and other problems that I’ve been “weeding out,” so that when I spool the library on my new HDs, it’ll be as close to perfection as I’m likely to get.  I’m hopeful that the Aero will be able to control Virtual DJ or some other platform without any restrictions on the number of songs it can accommodate; the fatal flaw with Rekordbox.  If so, I should be up and running very soon.

I’ve also submitted a mock-up for art work on my van to my graphics guy.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get rolling on that, too.  The funny thing about radical departures: there are no fast answers!  As tempting as it is to grab old slogans, logos and graphics from my decades-old files, I reject them all.  I need to start fresh, so graphics are taking longer than I expected.  Par for the course.

On the upside, I’m two months closer to the “big reveal”!  What THAT will be is the only question.  If I’m extremely lucky, the new console will be road tested at a Valentine’s Dance coming up on the 13th of February.  Ten days later, I hope to be seeing many of you at MBLV!  Until then, my thanks for tagging along on this crazy journey of extremes that is rebuilding my business from the ground up.  Watch this space!

Stu Chisholm Stu Chisholm (52 Posts)

Stu Chisholm had been collecting music since he was about eight years old and began his DJ career in 1979. After much hard work, trial-and-error, and a stint at the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts, he studied the DJ arts with famous Michigan broadcaster, Bill Henning, at a local college. Stu interned at Detroit’s rock powerhouse, WRIF. To his radio and mobile work Stu later added club gigs at Detroit’s best venues, and voiceover work. He has shared his extensive DJ experience through his Mobile Beat columns, as a seminar speaker and through his book, “The Complete Disc Jockey: A Comprehensive Manual for the Professional DJ,” released in 2008.

Filed Under: Mobile DJ Business, Mobile DJ Career Development