Nowadays, Silent Discos are popular and widespread. At these parties, each participant is given a set of headphones; on the set of headphones is a volume button and another button to switch the station. Guests put their headphones on and can listen to two or three different stations. The channels could simply be two iPods playing different music simultaneously, it could be two live DJs, or even a band and a DJ. Most equipment used at these parties also has a light on the side of the headset that corresponds with a channel. That makes it so you can know what everyone else is listening to.
Gear: There are just a couple of components: wireless headphones and transmitters, which both come with rechargeable batteries inside. The transmitters that I have use female RCA inputs, and then you can connect to whatever music device you’d like, whether it’s an iPod, computer or microphone.
There are two options for the equipment. First, you can rent it—which is what I did before I purchased because I was not sure if I wanted to invest in the gear due to the initial cost. So, this way, you sell the gig, then the rental company ships the gear to your door, you use it, and you ship it right back the next day. There are also price discount options for larger rentals as well as extended rentals. By renting, you can try it out without worrying about being constantly booked, and as long as you don’t lose or damage the gear it’s a pretty simple transaction. The only downside is that this route is expensive relative to the price you can charge for the service. Renting the equipment is a good way to essentially train yourself when starting out, but wouldn’t be the most profitable way in the long term.
The other option is purchasing the equipment outright. I had a few events lined up and decided to buy the gear for $5,000. I bought 125 headsets and three wireless transmitters. The headsets come with charging docks, and I bought the extra transmitter as a backup, just in case. The headphones and transmitters last approximately six hours on a full charge. In case I need to do a larger event than I have headphones for, the company I rented from also sold me the equipment, so we use the same gear which means I can rent supplemental sets from them.
These Silent Discos have been a great source of income this year for me. I signed a corporate client that gave me a series of events throughout their national festivals that happen all year. They have me come to their festival and I set up a 20’ x 20’ tent. They provide the service at no cost to the festival attendees; they can just stop by and participate freely. These events have alcohol and participation gets progressively larger as the event goes on.
But, aside from what I’ve mentioned so far, the applications for the equipment are vast: you can do mobile pub crawls, city tours, bilingual event translation, dance parties where there is a noise ordinance, college orientations, flash mobs, summer camps, birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs and anything else you can come up with!
For every person participating, there are a handful of people watching. It’s really something to see. Not only is it kind of odd in and of itself, but my colleagues and I have declared “headphone courage” a thing: The second you put the headset on a person, all inhibitions are lost and they just immediately start dancing!
Filed Under: Events, Issue, Issue #165
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