What’s Next? By: Jim Papa

January 1, 2013 by Aaron Burger


So you’re a single operator. You love to play music.
You love to meet new people. You love it when people respond to your hard work. You don’t even mind working late at night, weekends and holidays.
You enjoy your work a lot; but when the music stops, the lights dim and the crowd goes home, you are always asking yourself, “How do I book more events” How can I make more money?” What’s next?”
Over the years I have attended various conventions, seminars and networking events. Meeting DJs from around the world you become aware that many of the problems and difficulties you are facing in trying to grow your business are shared by DJs everywhere. What you realize
is that there is no magic pill for
success, except for hard work; and
with a few exceptions there is no
right or wrong way to do things.
Ultimately, to consistently book
more events, you need to find out
what you are good at and work
hard to make yourself different
and better than your competition.

With technology making it easier
and easier to acquire and play
songs, it seems like just about
anyone who enjoys playing music can declare themselves “a real live DJ.” Nowadays, everyone has a family member or knows someone who believes that they are qualified. In the media they are everywhere. Does Jersey Shore ring a bell? Without any training, knowledge or practice, many of these weekend wannabes gather a list of songs that they personally enjoy and go through the motions in front of people they know. Somehow, regardless of their preparation or their ability, they make everyone believe they are very talented. It reminds me of when someone considers themselves to be a great singer just because the crowd encourages them at some local karaoke venue. Many of these singers are being mocked behind their back, while others are being encouraged solely by family members. Many have absolutely no singing talent at all and sound simply awful. If you don’t believe me, just watch American Idol. Besides the great talent discovered over the years, the producers have made hundreds of millions of dollars showcasing these clueless singers.
People like these would probably also assume that it’s easy being a DJ. We have all worked events where someone in the crowd comes up to us and says that they are a “DJ too.” Often they try to stand next to us while we are working and want to, “talk shop.” They like to compare gear or music, and may even suggest what to play. My question is, why would such a great talent not be working that gig?
Try to find a DJ for an event you are personally planning,without using a friend, colleague or your personal knowledge of the business and you will see how hard it is to choose. Companies tend to market themselves in pretty much the same way. They sometimes use the same catch phrases, tag lines and bragging points. All of them try to convey that they are the biggest, the best or the most experienced.
When a customer chooses a DJ
company solely on the basis
of what they read or what they
see on a website, it can be hit
or miss. When the event is over,
success, mediocrity or failure to
deliver is simply accepted by the
A successful event leaves
everyone happy but a bad job
by the DJ will be remembered
for a long time. If this happens,
the customer probably won’t
use that DJ company again. But
unless the customer is a catering hall or restaurant owner, or they are a party planner, their need to hire a DJ may not come up very often.
Given the relative rarity of most people’s entertainment needs, when a person does have the need, you want to make sure that they call you. That’s why successful DJs know that the best advertising comes from those who have witnessed a great live event, and who, in turn, give a good referral.
To stand out, simply don’t do what everyone else does.
Concentrate on specific talents that you have that can separate you from everyone else. Find a niche. Some of these talents or skills may include being able to entertain as a singer, dancer, KJ, game show host, light show guru, charismatic MC or magician.
Before you go ahead and promote these talents make sure you are comfortable with these skills and are able to deliver them on a professional level. You can also promote yourself as a DJ with a specific style, a DJ who provides a certain type of music or one that specializes only in a specific area, like high school dances or upscale events.
It really doesn’t matter what your niche is. You just need to find what you are good at, what you can really deliver, and promote yourself effectively. For example, if you specialize in A born performer, Jim Papa has been singing since age eight, and in 1996, began Magical Music Entertainment, a karaoke/DJ entertainment business based on Long Island. In 2001 he decided to live out his dream and made Magical Music a full time venture. Since then he has entertained at hundreds of weddings, private parties, fund raisers and more. Today he sings and entertains at over two hundred events a year and has become one of the area?s most requested entertainers.
Latin music and speak
Spanish, over time you
can gain a reputation as
the DJ who speaks the
language and has experience
in handling successful
Latin events. As a
specialist, this can differentiate
you and make it
extremely hard for other
DJs to compete in that
area. In addition, you can
offer your expertise as a skill that’s hard to find and charge more for your talent.
Of course, whatever niche you choose, you should always be able to provide music from all genres at a moments notice, just in case. While you become the best DJ in your particular niche, you can still offer things like karaoke, game shows or photo booths, but consider these additions or up-sells, unless of course your specialty niche is one of them. Of course, the flip side of finding your niche is a mistake a lot of DJs make: trying to be everything to everyone. If you do, chances are you?ll end up with fewer gigs, rather than more.
As a single op DJ who also works as a singer/entertainer I entertain at over 225 events a year. My particular niche is offering music as a DJ or singer
for people who enjoy
music from the 1930s
through the 1980s.

I specialize in entertaining
senior groups,
which includes a wide
variety of venues,
such as senior centers,
hospitals, libraries,
independent living,
assisted living, rehab
facilities and adult day care. By offering music to these groups on a full time basis, I am not only able to find work on weekends, but I also book a lot of work during the week when much of my competition is not available.
These gigs allow me to perform in front of thousands of people each year. I meet residents, their families, visitors, customers and the staff of all of these organizations. In turn, by meeting all these people, I book all types of events throughout the year, including everything from backyard events to lavish, expensive weddings.
Over the years I have amassed many tips on how to have successful events, especially in front of senior crowds, which I will share in future articles. Until then, spend some time coming up with an answer to the question: What’s next? MB

Aaron Burger Aaron Burger (77 Posts)

Filed Under: 2013