Thoughts about the appropriate place of tools (toys) and temperamentLike most DJs, I love having cool stuff. Lots of it. Every time I get a little extra cash, I think of a thousand more things I’d like to have. But I’ve come to realize that having cool gear doesn’t get you more work. Cool toys are great, but it’s the PERSONALITY of the jock that seals the deal. After all, there is no better sales tool than someone seeing your work at a gig. Think of it this way: We’ve all seen the dorky guy who can afford the real nice car, but has no clue on how to drive it.
I see so many DJ websites where DJs apparently cannot pass up the opportunity to talk about their gear! I’ve even seen sites that show pictures of their spouse, their kids…and the trailer they use to haul their gear!
But does all this matter to a potential customer?
Let me explain it this way. My 9 to 5 is as a commercial copywriter. Clients pay me to write and produce radio commercials that will get customers into their store. This is done not by appealing to the client, but by sticking to information that will attract the customer.
So, how does the cool stuff you choose affect the amount of jobs you get?
To cut to the chase…I don’t like ‘em! Never did. I’ve had more brides who were glad to hear that I don’t use them. I’ve had few occasions where I was asked to bring blow-up props. They were a big hit with the four-year olds, and I ended up bringing most of them home. I used the same bunch of props for three years. In fact, I think I still have some of them in the garage somewhere. In my experience, a real “party” crowd doesn’t need props to have a good time. (Just a little alcohol.) A quiet and dull crowd will avoid them, and make you regret taking two hours to blow them all up.
Every time I talk to potential customers (typically brides), they ask if I bring a light show. I have lights. I bring them to every job, except for daytime or outdoor gigs.
I don’t charge extra for using lights; I feel its part of the whole package.
I have enough lights to add a little sparkle, create a little distraction, and make for good pictures. I like my lights because they are simple, easy to load, and light enough to carry. They’re small enough to fit into any space, but big enough to fill almost any hall.
I see pictures on some websites of thousands of dollars in lights, often mounted on huge trusses. They require an extra hour to set up, and most of them wouldn’t fit into HALF of the places I play. I think the only people they are really trying to impress are OTHER disc jockeys.
Besides, most guests would rather act crazy when no one can see them. Light them up with 10,000 watts of power, and they tend crawl into a shell.
Some websites take the time to list every piece of equipment the DJ owns. Some even go to the trouble to show you pictures, and give the model numbers.
Once again, who are they trying to impress?
In all my years, no bride has ever asked me what kind of CD players I use. No one has ever asked me how many watts of power I can “put out.” And they certainly never made their decision based upon what brand I use, or whether I prefer the “1300 Series or the new “1400 Series!”
As for me, I have equipment that I like to work with. I went to a lot of trouble to pick each item, based upon my tastes, and my budget. I take great care of it, maintain it regularly, it sounds great and works just fine.
I am still lugging around my CDs. Yes, I’ve decided that my next cool item to buy will be some sort of computer or MP3 player. But I am not sold on “digital” just yet. Most technology is not truly dependable until it’s been tried and tested for LONG time. Think of how often they come out with new video game systems. As for dependability, look at it this way. If computers were dependable ALL the time, we wouldn’t need Computer Guys to fix them all the time. I try to see it from the customer’s point of view. They see a DJ using only a laptop or a couple of iPods® and think, “Heck, I coulda done that!” I feel that if a customer is paying you big bucks, they want to see gear on the table. Then, at least, they can feel that you’ve earned your pay, just by loading it in!
Personally, I still like CDs. I use them as inspiration. When I am stuck for a song to play next, I can look at all the titles on the edge of the jewel cases, and it sparks an idea. Having everything in the computer requires me to have a VERY good memory, which I don’t. (What was I just talking about?)
In the end, a great personality with average gear is still more entertaining than someone with no talent and the best equipment that money can buy. The only thing that really matters to a potential customer is…Can you do the job, have some fun, and make people dance? (And how much it’s gonna cost, of course!)
They need to feel comfortable and confident in YOU, not your gear!
(And in case you care, I’ve always preferred the 1300 SERIES)
Mike Foxx has been in the music business since 1981, beginning his career at WZZO radio (Z-95) in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. He is now a production manager and also remains on the air, besides maintaining a thriving mobile DJ business. After 25 years, he feels like he “seen it all” and “done it all” but somehow still manages to entertain himself as much as the listeners and party guests!
Filed Under: Issues from 2008, Sound
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