DJ Preparedness: What’s Your Plan? – By Joe Bunn

November 6, 2014 by Mobile Beat Staff Writer

You know how you go into a large building and blow off those signs that tell you where to go in case of an emergency? Or how about the flight attendants that you ignore when you travel?

Well, you should probably pay attention to them (or at least pretend to) because, they are telling you what to do in case of an EMERGENCY! I’m not here to chastise you though, I’m here to help you. As a DJ company owner, whether you have one DJ or twenty, you MUST have an emergency plan.

DJemergencyI won’t go into all of the details, but I have spoken about my biggest nightmare gig before at a couple of DJ conferences. To sum it up, I was picked up in a golf cart on an island that doesn’t allow cars. I was told that the island was flooded, but that the cart would make it through. What they didn’t factor in was adding me at 170 pounds and several hundred pounds of gear. Long story short-the cart stalls, then goes, and my entire DJ rig dumps off the back into a swamp…two hours before my wedding gig. YIKES! Talk about a disaster.

So what did I do next? Well, I was able to salvage a couple of things, but I also had emergency things in the one bag that I had on my back, my “Emergency Kit” if you will. So what saved this gig? For one, I had my phone in my pocket with the Mobile Beat Top 200 in a playlist, as well as a huge 160GB iPod classic with almost my entire catalog in it. My mixer still worked (sort of) so I was able to crossfade between those two sources. Was I able to beat mix? No, but nobody seemed to mind. I also lost my wireless mic, but guess what was in the DJ backpack? A trusty corded Shure SM58. And all of this went through one Bose L1 tower and one B1 bass bin that I was able to dry out before the gig. Not only did the guests and bride and groom have a blast, not one of them knew anything was wrong until they read my blog the week after the wedding!

So, that’s my personal emergency plan, but what about for those of you with multiple DJs? What if a DJ gets sick or has an accident on the way to the show? Do you have an emergency plan to make sure that your client is taken care of? Two summers ago, I was sitting in a movie theatre with my two sons when I got an urgent “CALL ME” text from one of my best DJs. I tell my guys to leave me alone on the weekends unless they really need something for their show, and so I knew this was bad. It turns out that he had pulled a back muscle and was laying face down on his kitchen floor. Not only could he not move, but he couldn’t load his gear or get to his gig. This would have been a HUGE problem if I didn’t have an emergency plan! But what did I do? I walked out of the theatre, looked at the calendar on my iPhone and figured out exactly who was not working that day and then I started going down the list calling each one until I found an open DJ. I said “Suit up man, Greg is hurt, and I need you to cover his gig”. Without flinching, my other DJ says “I’m on the way.” The other way to insure that you could cover a gig is to always leave one of your DJs open and make them the “on-call” guy for that weekend.

Now, how does the replacement DJ know what their first dance is, who is giving a toast, etc.? That part is simple! You can either give your DJs the master login for your DJ booking software (DJIntelligence, DJEventPlanner, etc.) or just email them the information they need on the way to the gig.

At the end of the day, my “backup DJ” made it to that gig, on time, ready to go, dressed the part, and even though the bride was disappointed that her chosen DJ couldn’t make it, my guy still did an amazing job and everyone had a blast! Save!

The bottom line is this, things can and will go wrong, in this business like any other. Be prepared for the worst, don’t panic, and do whatever it takes to pull off the show. I’m sure you all have “war stories” of your own and I hope you’ll share them with me in February at MBLV!


Emergency Kit Checklist

  • Wired microphone (preferably Shure SM58)
  • Smartphone Charger
  • Extra Laptop Charger
  • Velcro Wraps
  • 3” black gaff tape
  • Batteries (AA or 9V)
  • Battery life tester
  • Extra XLR cables
  • Extra USB cable
  • Pens
  • Small pad of paper
  • Business cards and holder
  • Spare headphones or earbuds
  • Adapters of all sorts and sizes
  • Extra 1/8 inch to RCA for iPod
  • Snacks (example: peanuts, granola bar, mints)
  • Back up CDs or iPod of top 200 and dinner/cocktail music
  • Small tool kit or Leatherman (pliers, blade, wire cutter)
  • Grounding plug adapter
  • Back up Serato control CDs or Vinyl (for those still using Serato box)

Joe Bunn started his DJ career at age 14, when his mom drove him to gigs in her wood-paneled Jeep Wagoneer. His company now does about 400 weddings a year and another 200+ private, corporate and charity events. He has been on the board of both ISES and NACE, founded the Triangle DJ Association, and has also won numerous industry awards. Recently, he has been helping other DJs grow their businesses as a consultant. He has also presented at major industry events including MBLV. For more info go to

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: 2014, Mobile DJ Performance Tips