PLAY SOMETHING WE CAN DANCE TO!
One of the main points that I try to get across to my freshman business students, in a class where they create their own business plan, is that you should find and focus on your target market. Finding your niche, that is, your target market is essential. Otherwise your business may fail because it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be all things to all people.
My students often state on their end of semester course review that they enjoy how I’m able to bring my real life experiences as a mobile disc jockey and business owner into the classroom and combine it with the textbook’s theory. The example that I give them about finding their target market is that at one time my business cards and literature stated that we performed at weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, corporate events, school events, and all occasions. Was that what we did? Well, yes. We were trying to be all things to all people instead of finding what one market was our target market. Once we decided that our target was the bridal market, we stopped trying to get events in other areas. If you look at our website (jaymaxwell.com) or our business card, the only type of event you’ll see is weddings. At first we thought this might have an adverse effect on our bottom line since we were not going to actively seek non-wedding events. Instead, we began to increase our profit. This was because our revenue increased per event since weddings were our highest priced service, and costs were lowered since we were not advertising “everywhere.” We soon became one of the most requested wedding disc jockeys in the number two wedding destination city in the U.S., Charleston, South Carolina.
But did we give up booking events that were not weddings? No, we just didn’t spend any money advertising trying to get those events. Often, non-wedding events happen either during the week or during “off” times. Although weddings are typically the high-priced events, the smaller events can bring in income that is mostly pure profit, since the alternative would have been to sit at home and do nothing. A few of our recent events will shed light on the potential rewards of accepting events outside your target market—events that bring in extra income and can be a lot of fun. One event is a sports pregame show and the other is a community event.
THE SPORTING LIFE
Two sporting pregame shows were held within two weeks of each other at the university where I teach. The first event was a Tuesday night block party prior to a baseball game. Tables were set up on the pavement for the students to gather to eat grilled hotdogs and hamburgers. There was plenty of space to dance if they wanted to, but the main objective of having me there to DJ was to create a festive atmosphere to get the students excited about the upcoming game. Some students did dance when line dance songs like the “Cupid Shuffle” were played, and the team mascot (a buccaneer) danced around when “Party in the U.S.A.” was played. The DJ table was set up on a grassy hill just a few feet above the students’ tables, between them and the entrance to the baseball field. For only an hour and a half, I pumped high-energy tunes to get them worked up about the game. Then, five minutes before the game began, with “Sandstorm” playing, I made the announcement that the game was about to begin and for them to come inside for the action.
This event was so well received by the students and staff who put it together, that the very next week I was booked for a spring football game pre-show event for a Thursday night. This was actually a historic night for the university since it was the first time that the field was to have lights and played in the evening. As you might have guessed, the university is not very large (about 3,000 full-time students), but we are proud of our Division I sports teams. Once again, for an hour and a half, as the fans filled the bleachers, I was on the track surrounding the football field filling the stands with pumped up tunes. The song list was preselected (see this issue’s list) to make sure that every song was energetic and I also wanted to try and ensure that none of the songs had any suggestive lyrics that someone might feel were inappropriate, since our university is Christian-based. One of the highlights for me was that at the last minute, the head football coach was called to do a television interview, so he wasn’t able to introduce the team. The privilege fell to me. What a thrill it was for me to say, “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for the 2014 Charleston Southern Buccaneers.” While they were coming onto the field, I played about 30 seconds of the original Superman movie theme, followed by the last minute or so of Queen’s “We Are the Champions”, and then the Rocky movie theme song while they began their warm-ups on the field. They were to practice on the field for another 25 minutes before we flipped the switch to turn the lights on for the first time, so I played the “Cha-Cha Slide,” “Macarena,” and “YMCA” to get the crowd dancing in the stands for the next several minutes, until the countdown for the lights and then the game. Once the game began, I left the track knowing the crowd was pumped.
EGGING THEM ON TO A GOOD TIME
Two days later, it was time for the annual community Easter Eggstravaganza, from noon until 2:00. At first I didn’t think it would be possible, because of all the weddings that were already booked for that day, but the weddings didn’t start until 6:00. This left plenty of time for a family-oriented, fun-filled event where the music that was provided made it, as one neighbor put it, “A one hundred percent better time for everyone.”
The music was once again a mixture of classic standards and new upbeat tunes to set the stage for a festive occasion. Much of my time was spent making announcements about the face painting, Easter egg hunt locations and times, games, the raffle, and reminding people about the free baked goods available for everyone to enjoy. The two hours went quickly and it was such a pleasure to see everyone bouncing around and experiencing a good old fashioned fun time with friends and neighbors on a beautiful spring day. However, just before I was going to play my last song that I had pre-planned (again, see this issue’s list), a lady came up to ask for ‘Teach Me How to Dougie” for her son. Not only did her four-year old son dance to this song, but about ten other youngsters joined him on the grass to show their moves. It was gratifying to think that our music at this small event had hopefully made a big impact on their memory of a fun day. I was so glad I listened to his mom when she asked me to “Play Something We Can Dance To!”
Baseball Pre-Game Block Party
(Playlist, in order of play:)
|I GOTTA FEELING||BLACK EYED PEAS|
|GOOD TIME||OWL CITY & CARLY RAE JEPSEN|
|GET LUCKY||DAFT PUNK|
|DON’T STOP THE PARTY||PITBULL|
|I LIKE TO MOVE IT||WILL.I.AM|
|GOOD FEELING||FLO RIDA|
|SAFE AND SOUND||CAPITAL CITIES|
|CALL ME MAYBE||CARLY RAE JEPSEN|
|DANCE WITH ME TONIGHT||OILY MURS|
|PARTY IN THE U.S.A.||MILEY CYRUS|
|TWIST & SHOUT||BEATLES|
|GET READY 4 THIS||2 UNLIMITED|
|GLORY DAYS||BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN|
For the rest of Jay’s lists, check out the May issue of Mobile Beat. Subscribe today for instant access to the online edition!
Mobile Beat’s resident musicologist since 1992 (issue #11), Jay Maxwell runs the multi-talent entertainment company, Jay Maxwell’s Music by Request, LLC, in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also a professor of Business at Charleston Southern University. His passion for detail and continuous research of clients’ requests can be found not only in this column, but also in his annually updated music guide, Play Something We Can Dance To.
Filed Under: Issue #156, Music, Performing
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