Entry Level Positions

January 26, 2008 by Mike Walter

Recently a thread started on one of the DJ chat boards about whether to use a two-DJ package or not. I am a strong proponent of working with an assistant so I followed the thread closely until it took a few tangents and had lost its focus. Of the responders who actually answered the basic question (do you use a two-DJ package or just one DJ?) 60% said they used a second person at least some of the time.

To me there are so many reasons to use an assistant that I don’t even know where to start. But since I am in the “recruitment” phase of my weekly article, I’ll start there.

Having an “entry level position” available within your company is essential to bringing in new talent.

When I meet someone, a new recruit, no matter how perfect they might be for my company and no matter how strong they come on in our initial discussions, I still know nothing about this person and he or she knows nothing about the DJ business. How could I ever entrust an event to this person so soon? (that’s a rhetorical question)

The position we have here at Elite Entertainment is called “music mixer.” The job entails going out on events along with my veteran emcee/entertainers to help out at the events. They will be doing some of the basic mixing (any in depth beat for beat mixing will be handled by the veteran emcee) and most importantly hitting “play” on the key songs like the Bride and Groom’s first dance so that my emcee’s can introduce those songs from the dance floor. Next week I’ll discuss how this can make you a more polished emcee and provide a smoother presentation for your events, but for now I want to focus on the benefits to the new recruit.

This new person, who I may have just hired a week or so ago, is now able to make some money (not great money like my emcees make but anywhere from $8 – $15 per hour) in the DJ business right off the bat, instead of waiting till their emcee training ends which will be MONTHS from now. Plus, they get to start witnessing successful parties. This experience will only enhance their training. The more parties they mix at, the easier they will pick up the things we work on in the classroom because they won’t be esoteric “theories” but rather practical concepts to get a party going. As the months go by and they gain more and more knowledge from these experiences, they’ll become better music mixers, offering song suggestions to the emcees or maybe even getting on the dance floor and leading some of the audience participation stuff. When they’ve reached this level, their journey to emcee/entertainer status here is almost complete.

I train my new recruits to music mix in one or two nights. They receive hands on training in our warehouse facility on one of our standard DJ systems. I teach them the basics of mixing: cueing CDs and segueing two songs together. They learn the difference between mixing out of a song that ends cold versus a fade. They also learn how to follow the different hand signals they may receive from their emcees: the fade, the point and the ever popular “raise the volume.” Once they seem fairly capable, we get them out in the field with one of our veteran emcees and the growing process begins.

Till next week.

Mike Walter’s emceeing career began in his hometown of Queens, New York in 1984. With an eye towards radio, Mike attended Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 1988 where he was chosen from his class of 25 as “Most Likely to Succeed.” After school, Mike helped to develop a staff of DJs from 12 to over 50 by training new recruits and handling an increasingly complex schedule. In early 1993, Mike felt an increasing desire to venture out on his own and by March of that year he became a partner in a much smaller Mobile DJ company, Elite Entertainment. He quickly had an impact on the Elite staff, imposing his high standards of emceeing and DJing. Mike bought out his partner in 1998 and Elite Entertainment has continued its growth (21 emcees in 2006) and sets the standard for excellence in New Jersey. Mike has always believed in training talent from within and his message has helped show hundreds of DJs from across the country that it is possible to grow their companies without sacrificing quality.

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