Where’s the Line? By: Mark Walsh

December 25, 2012 by Mobile Beat Staff Writer

Now here’s a good question: What makes a good DJ good, a bad DJ bad and an average DJ ok? Where’s the line? What separates the Pro from the AAA and AA leagues?146-067

In an industry with no formal regulation, no government-certified qualifications, it is very hard to define the boundaries. So, as DJs, we have to rely on our own peer to peer interpretations and the perceptions generated by our clients and their guests.

Most clients will only book a DJ once or twice in their lifetime. We are not an everyday purchase. However, the public will compare our industry, its quality and practices to other products and services they encounter from other sectors. So, as an industry, we must promote our service and value.

So in DJ terms, what is value? In a nutshell “value is the perception that a service provided was worth the price paid, if not considerably more.” Value is never a figure in itself, and certainly isn’t about being cheap. McDonald’s provides value, offering (usually) fast service for a cheap yet tasty meal. However my favorite steak restaurant also provides value; the excellent food and attention to detail from the waiters is well worth the cost of a meal, even though it is many times more than a Big Mac.

This perception of value is largely down to the customer. If I went for a quick fast food meal and got landed with a huge bill, I’d certainly not feel that I’d received good value for money. Equally, if I’d taken Mrs. Walsh out for an anniversary dinner and been presented with McFood, even if the price was low, I’d still not consider it to be good value.

It is so important to know exactly what a customer is looking for, and also to have the courage to turn down the job if you can’t deliver it. They may want something that you can’t offer in terms of service or performance, but equally they may want a lot less than you routinely deliver and therefore not be looking to pay your fee. In both cases you won’t be able to deliver value. An NFL player or merchant banker will assess value in a totally different way to a potato picker or someone whose sole role in life is to put the frosting on donuts.


Many DJs want to raise their prices and earn a good wage for what they are doing, but unfortunately don’t understand what they need to do in order to provide a service that offers value. You can’t just charge more; you need to deliver more as well, to raise your game.

One way I raised my game was by spending time documenting some of my business processes. I reviewed my event tasks and performance elements. By analyzing every fragment and documenting my thought processes, it soon highlighted areas I needed to improve on. It also showed areas that I just took for granted where I was actually quite skilled.

Take something simple like music and what tracks to put together. For a few weeks I recorded my sets and links and I found that I had a natural skill in choosing songs that fit together well. Without realizing it, my music programming was logical. I used stabs and fades to my advantage, whereas I listened back to other DJs and their music programming was all over the place. This was not about beat matching, this was about selecting the correct two songs to go together, knowing the tracks and using their flow to my advantage. Since analyzing this element of my performance it is now something I look at pre-event when programming my clients’ set lists. By deconstructing my processes I am able to deliver a far slicker set.

In contrast, I found a weakness in my MC technique. I used to use the word OK far too many times on the microphone. This process of analyzing everything I was doing highlighted this annoyance and I was able to work on rectifying it.

So where’s the line? It is for you to decide. By dissecting what you do, what your clients want and giving every event the attention to detail it requires, you will naturally be the right side of any line you or your clients project.

Mobile Beat Staff Writer (371 Posts)

This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.

Filed Under: 2012, Mobile DJ Business, Mobile DJ Career Development