Get Ready for School – by Arnoldo Offerman

June 29, 2011 by Dan Walsh


If you’re reading (or skimming) this article, you either want to get into the school market or revamp your school events. Like the rest of your business, you need a plan; and the task doesn’t come lightly.

Over the next few articles, I am going to teach you everything you need to know to grab this market by the horns and move your company to the front of the herd.

Those of you who know me are aware I don’t own A Premier Entertainment. Rather, CEO (and one of my best friends, Kelly Suit does). This brings the question that you rightfully may ask: Why listen to me? My job in the company (Productions Manager/VP) breaks out to many tasks, but our school division, ForSchoolsOnly, begs a different title and set of responsibilities. I am the division president, and this market is my baby. I created the name, concept, promotional materials, and sales techniques for this division. The result? In a market of $600 school DJs, we do dances from a simple $1,500 to $11,000 per event. During homecoming or prom, we knock out about four dances (alongside weddings and such) and keep things flowing rather smoothly. Schools ask for our DJs by name and grinding is NOT a problem at our dances. Our set up is efficient, powerful, and memorable. Call it ego, but I believe we are the best teen dance specialists in our state, if not the country. A Premier Entertainment owns all its own equipment and has dedicated employees. Simply put: We know our stuff.


Now that the “watch me puff myself up” part is over, let’s talk schools. First we need to make sure you’ve got the right stuff. Let’s go through a checklist; do not advance until you can say “CHECK!”

Equipment: If you own anything less than 15’ of Global Truss and a pair of crankstands, then start over. We tried using less for schools when we first began, and boy, I wish I could go back and fix that mess! A school gig demands big speakers, big subs, big lights, maybe video. You also need a big enough truck to haul this all in. Don’t go breaking your bank! We started years ago with two 5’x7’ screens, a 10’x10’ truss rig, and 10 lights. We rocked it back then and you can, too!

Roadies: I don’t care if you think you can set this all up on your own. Load-in and set up are mentally and physically draining. It WILL hinder your performance. Get ready to expand and hire some roadies!

Stamina: Doing large teen dances takes a lot of energy, and doing them back to back doesn’t get easier. As your venture grows, so does the to-do list. Floorplans, music, request lists, parts list, equipment check, cleaning, rider, etc.—this WILL wear you out!

Big brass “jog wheels:” School DJs are often ruthless. Some will be very nice to you, but tough competition, others will snake gigs from you and trash-talk you every minute they can. Keep a thick skin, you’re going to need it!!

A love for today’s music: If you hate today’s music, this will NOT be enjoyable for you, and that changes the energy you emit to the students. You’ll need to be well-versed in the music these “young whippersnappers” listen to nowadays!

Mixin’ skills: Yes, programming is important, but couple it with beatmixing for a unbeatable combo!

5-Hour Energy shots. I’ve gone six years without needing one, but I’m about to reconsider!

Honestly, you cannot do this successfully without possessing every quality above. The good news is, most of these criteria are easily met by most experienced DJs. You could argue some of them, such as beatmixing, but the honest truth is that I know I’m not the only one who has gotten schools’ attentions just by repeating the word. If you want to do this, REALLY want to do this, but there’s something above you’re not comfortable with…fix it! Don’t give up easily; this is a very rewarding market with many side-market opportunities, such as Sweet Sixteens. With some hard work and time/money investments, you will school division with some impact!

Dan Walsh Dan Walsh (104 Posts)

Filed Under: 2011, DJing School Dances, Exclusive Online News and Content, Mobile DJ Performance Tips