For this installment of Mobile Beat, the call went out to us writers to explore the opportunities for summer events. So, rather than share my usual observations on a (typically controversial) issue I will attempt to share some of my own concepts for assuring summer success, as well as refer once again to Mark Silver and his computer music systems, which provide some especially interesting summer income possibilities.
SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER My strongest business avenue is school dances, so I am very sensitive to those three “empty” summer months. I never recall any summer school having a dance. But I use my relationships with the schools to promote any summer parties that the staff or students may plan.
For the end of the school year, before summer actually hits, one very useful element is to consistently advertise in a few local school’s newspapers. Most are subsidized by the school budget so I can get half-page ads for around $20. Sure, the demographic is small but it’s also focused. Besides showing support for the school, this is one way to get at the students themselves; a lot of the seniors will be having graduation parties. I’m fortunate that within my town of 90,000 people, there are four high schools that graduate a total of just over 900 seniors every year. That’s a lot of graduation party potential. While advertising in a few school newspapers does generate a few useful leads, the kids are not that focused in reading ads in any newspaper, so it’s a good thing it’s cheap.
On graduation day, two of the local high schools use the local large commercial amphitheater instead of their own gymnasiums or football fields. I seize the opportunity to enlist some $10/hr helpers to hand out flyers as everyone is leaving these venues. It’s a simple message: “Congratulations 2012 Seniors, Now Let’s Party…” Again, it generates some decent business. At least I’m not spending $500 for some printed ad and only getting 4-5 replies. The cost of printing and helpers is well under $100.
UNATTENDED FUN IN THE SUN
Graduation parties tend to be held through a range of weekends starting just before graduation and ending well into July. Granted, they almost always are on Saturdays, so there’s a high potential for conflict with weddings. But if your wedding bookings are down this year, then at least you can keep your equipment busy, albeit not for the mega-bucks weddings offer.
I presented this dilemma to Mark Silver, a local DJ who also rents computerized music systems (who I profiled in my article “_____” in the _____ issue of MB) and asked if he has any different takes on the summer business.
He tells me that he works with two churches and one local swim club and offers them the free use of his music systems on an ongoing basis. He explains that the swim club has four or five teen-nights on Fridays throughout the summer and he donates a system for those events, with the understanding that he gets to advertise for regular private parties. Likewise for the two local churches, where they also have a few teen nights throughout the summer, also For more info on Mark Silver’s computer-based rental systems, check out www.thepartycube.com or send an email to email@example.com. You can download a demo version of The Party Cube software at this website: www.thepartycube.com/download.html For over a decade, Mark Johnson has offered his insightful and often incisive perspective on issues of importance to mobile DJs here in Reality Check. His articles grow out of his own experience and observations of other DJs. Always providing an alternative view, his views are informed by a wide knowledge of the entertainment technology field and the professionals who work in it. on Fridays.
For him, Fridays are very available during the summer (as opposed to during the school year when they are always busy). So he brings over one of his music systems, sets it up in a few minutes and leaves to do any number of other things.
He has several systems and he figures they are more useful at ANY party instead of sitting in his garage. That makes a lot of sense, as he doesn’t have any real-time labor costs (i.e. a DJ employee) to stand at one of those freebie promo parties.
A big plus is that he gets a fair amount of other business that is directly related to these free rentals. He works with several commission-based party goods stores that also demo his music systems and feels that there is enough business to go around.
I’m kind of glad that he markets his systems in a different town than mine. But I can see how they sometimes make sense as some summer parties are a little hard to get off the ground. At least for me. For a long time now, I’ve dreaded those drawn-out parties that usually start in the early afternoon and continue way beyond the originally contracted time. It’s hard to justify an overtime charge for these outside parties. I’d much rather be a DJ at an inside facility where the time is fixed—and they have air conditioning.
For some unexplained reason, as I review my prior summer events and see what kind they were, there were more Sweet 16 parties than I would have expected. After all, people have birthdays year-round. Fortunately for me, Sweet 16 parties are just like small high school dances: same music, just at a rental hall instead of a gym (requiring less crowd control).
These were just a few ideas for leveraging your school and other youth event connections to generate some non-school-year business. Have a safe and successful summer.
Filed Under: Issue #142, Issues from 2012
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