Cash and Compliments: It’s All Good

June 23, 2016 by Robert Lindquist


Have you noticed that, over the last couple of years, people seem to be less appreciative of what we do? Maybe it’s a millennial thing, but we have had several events now where the dance floor was packed right up to the last song. Then, as we were packing up, the bride and/or groom walked by numerous times ignoring our very existence—they couldn’t spare even a moment to say thanks or anything. Pretty rude.

On the other hand, some people can’t do enough to express their appreciation. Now, If you are the owner of a multi-op, you may have a bit of different take on this. I recall when I owned a multi-system DJ service some years back, I was far more interested with what the client was paying THE COMPANY—I couldn’t care less about the size of the tips my DJs were getting.

However, now that I’ve had the opportunity to work FOR a multi-op for the last seven years, I’ve really come to relish the phrase “Compliments are a good – Cash is gooder!” And, I’m fortunate to work for a company that has “DJ keeps tips and overtime” policy. If you run a multi-op and don’t have such a policy, you certainly should.

Don’t Send Me To The City

The casual agreement I have with Jeff, the owner, is that—unless absolutely necessary—my assignments will consist of wedding ceremonies and receptions outside the metro areas. Those downtown hotel ballrooms are nice and fancy and all, but I’d rather play a legion hall, country club or party barn away from the glow of the city lights. One of the reasons is these places are just a lot less stressful. Typically the load-in/load-out is easier and there’s plenty of hassle-free parking. Another, more important, reason is that people outside the city typically really love what we do.

Last summer, one of the receptions my wife and I played was at a charming, family-owned restaurant/party house (with a remarkable history) down a secondary road near a small village just west of the middle of nowhere—or so it felt. It’s in one of those parts of New York State that the big apple crowd refuses to acknowledge, and we hope it stays that way. There were a few houses, a church, a post office, a dog and this venue. That was it. No kidding.

Everything was wonderful about this place: the staff, the food, the owners, the load-in, everything. Because it was a longer than normal drive in a relentless downpour, and we’d not been there before, we gave ourselves a generous amount of travel time. By the time the first guests arrived, we’d already been set-up for an hour.

Take what you need

One of the first gentlemen to enter came immediately to our table, introduced himself as the father of the bride, and thanked us profusely for being there. He then reached into his pocket, pulled out a Jed Clampett size roll of Jacksons and said, “What are the damages.” I told him what was owed. He then handed me the whole roll and said, “Just peel off what you need.” I did, and then he tosses a couple more in the kitty for good measure. I turned to my wife and said “Apparently we got paid just for showing up!”

Being that his bank roll was all 20s led me to surmise that he had stopped at an ATM prior to the event, but it was not about the money—what mattered to him was not cheaping out on his daughter’s wedding day, and letting us (and all the other vendors) know that he really appreciated that we were there and ready to serve. It was one less thing for him to think about.

I’ve learned a lot about people during the years I’ve been DJ’ing weddings, and one of the list toppers is that the people who can most easily afford to give the DJ a generous gratuity probably won’t. It’s the ones who could probably use the cash for a car payment who will. But not always.

A few weeks ago, we played a job at one of the more extravagant venues in the area. I never got a chance to chat with the bride or groom ahead of time as they were coming in from out of town—as were many of the guests. I have no idea who these people were, where they worked, or what they did, we just showed up and did our thing. It was apparently some sort of tradition for this group to give the DJs a Jackson every time a request was played. It’s nice to appreciated. Oh, and yes, we played a lot of requests.

Robert Lindquist Robert Lindquist (39 Posts)

Robert Lindquist has been involved in the DJ profession since 1967, when he built a make-shift sound system from spare parts in order to provide music for a birthday party. From that point on, he supplemented his day-jobs in radio, TV and advertising by DJ’ing in clubs and for weddings and corporate events. In 1987, he was encouraged to share his DJ experience in writing, which led to the release of “Spinnin’” at the initial DJ Times Expo in Atlantic City.Recognizing the need for a publication dedicated to Mobile DJs, he created Mobile Beat “The DJ magazine” in 1990. In addition to still being a sound tech and DJ/MC for weddings, he is a producer of video content writes for several audio publications and blogs. He is also a partner in Las Vegas based Level 11 Media, which maintains several Web sites and digital publications for musicians and touring sound engineers and is an IMDb listed actor and voice talent.

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