Mobile Beat is 20 years old this year, so that makes my mobile disc jockey company 25 years old. In 1986, I started my mobile DJ service along with a friend at our high school radio station when a couple of middle schools and other area groups called asking for DJs to do their dances.
ECHOES OF THE PAST
Way back when, we used a belt-drive consumer turntable, a dual cassette deck and one of those newfangled CD players, all going through an Audio Centron amplifier and Sunn speakers (a nice step up from my first couple of gigs using an Onkyo tuner/ amp that would overheat with four home speakers wired too it!). I hit the new generation just right with that CD player. CD singles weren’t popular yet in 1986, but CDs still became the best way to get new music.
(This was way before services like Promo Only, ERG, RPM or PrimeCuts were available.) I would buy
spin it back about a full turn so that the song would start right on. I used my Radio Shack DJ mixer to move between the two sources.
GRADUATING TO BIGGER GIGS
I started keeping track of my gigs using paper forms that listed the event details. I had some great brochures for the time, promoting myself as the “$150 DJ service.” I actually ran across one of them about 10-12 years ago that a facility had handed out to a potential client, and I had to tell them that the brochure (and price) was out of date, but that we would still love to work with them. After high school we moved the company with us to Iowa State University and tapped into the college party scene. Sometimes we would set up in the dorm lobby and crank the under the influence
tunes from 9 PM to 2 AM of cutting-edge tech. Alternatively, we would work the fraternity parties, I began in front to protect us and making the transition to our gear from beer splashes. Our carpeted speakers would end up smelling of all kinds of funky things.
TECH KEEPS GETTING BETTER
But back to the DJ service. Moving into the ’90s, services like Promo Only began taking care of my music. Pro DJ gear truly came into its own, with high-quality mixers and CD players becoming the norm. Marketing became web centric and highly targeted. We had started doing bridal fairs, and weddings became the largest (and most profitable) portion of our business. In the late ’90s, Marketing to those audiences was easy because we lived on campus and would put flyers in the dorm boxes and more. At one point during my college days (and the five years or so after that), we would have three or four parties going on at one time, which I would go and cassette singles and set up, then relax and surf the net, manually cue them circa 1994. up before the dance right to where the music started. At that point it wasn’t really much of put one in the deck, an Information Super Highway, as be ready with the they called it, but I enjoyed the chat stop button, and areas and email. I started to see the once I heard music, potential of this new medium.
So, in 1995 I created the first online gathering place for mobile DJs, originally called ProDJ.Com (a domain name that has since been sold to a DJ store).
Not long after that, a friend in my local DJ network, Rick Ludwig, introduced me to Mobile Beat (after I had been a reader of DJ Times for a year or two.) Mobile Beat stuck in my head, and as soon as I created The Internet’s Source For DJs, I had to contact the owners. That began a long relationship that ultimately resulted in ProDJ acquiring Mobile Beat.
We also began keep track of our company gigs in Customware’s Infomanager 2, which we would continue to use until we moved to a combination of DJ Intelligence/DJWebmin (eWebmin) around 2005.
From a high school kid who thought he might have a career in radio and who thought this mobile DJ thing would help him make some good money during college; to a full-time mobile DJ dabbling in the Internet; to owner of a full-fledged online portal for DJs; to publishing the industry’s #1 trade magazine; what a fun ride it’s been! I wonder what’s coming up in the next 20 years for me, my company, and for the industry? MB
Filed Under: Issues from 2011, Profiles
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