Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Why I don't DJ Weddings.

Let me kick off this piece by saying Weddings are fantastic. If you're an upcoming Disc Jockey looking for work in the music entertainment business, Business is good, really good in fact. Today's cost of entry has never been cheaper for mobile DJ's. I've recently discovered a service called Thumbtack that provides great leads for DJ's looking for gigs. It's much better than going it the hard way and spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on websites, advertisement. After a few gigs you can make you're return on investment on your initial hardware purchases.

Before we go further on the benefits of being a mobile/wedding DJ, I ask that you take a moment to understand where I come from. The Art of mixing records and the technology behind it was fascinating at an early age to me. I essentially became a DJ when I bought my first controller, A Hercules RMX in 2011. The rest is history. I became a highly successfully globe trotting success overnight playing to thousands of scream fans almost overnight. Sounds like "bullshit" right? Well that's because it is.

I spent the years of 2011 and 2012 playing to almost anyone who would give me the time of day to spin records, Mom's backyard, friend's basement, anywhere would I could play my favorite tunes of the week. Many thanks to all the friends and family for those moments. Looking back retrospectively, I was pretty awful. Sure I did my research and read great sites like Digital DJ Tips and DJ Tech Tools religiously, downloaded the Beatport Top 10 and the Top 40 Billboard Chart, yet I was still terrible. During those formative years I wanted desperately to play somewhere, anywhere, yet disappointment set in quickly and often. Something had to change, I thought to myself, perhaps my mixing is terrible, well it was. Going back to bedroom, I practiced and self-studied music theory. Learning a few things along the way, it wasn't just how well I could blend two tracks together, it was which tracks did I drop and when that really mattered.

One day I was faced with a dilemma. Is my drive to play for a crowd the most important reason to DJ for me? Someone offered me to DJ a wedding. Here's the paid opportunity I was waiting for! Or was it?  The theme and music format of the event was American Country Music.

Oh Sweet Mother of Jesus... 

I just spent around two years worth of building a library of Trance & Electro House music. There was just no way I was ready to spin country music. How does one even mix country music? The answer is you don't. Play one track after another and quick radio fade, something an iPod can do. Due to my inexperience or perhaps poor communication the gig fell through and another DJ replaced me, Bummer or so I thought.

This setback turned out to be a very important experience. Discovering the answer to my earlier question was absolute, I do care what I play. Therefore what I play is more important than just finding a place to spin records. Time did not stand still, and I had to move on. Experimenting with a broader spectrum of music I found myself, what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. No longer shackled to playing for to generic mainstream crowd, I had the opportunity to really define & discover myself in terms of tastes, likes, and most importantly, appreciation for music.

Therefore, I have resolved to leave weddings to the mobile entrepreneurs who can appreciate or at least tolerate a wide format of hip-hop, country, pop-rock, and mainstream dance music. At the end of the day it is a business that takes hard-work and dedication. To me however, so much of the spark and fun of DJ'ing a wedding get's left out. Getting on the Microphone and being a good Master of Ceremonies has much more value than mastery of special effects and four-deck mixing. In my view, a good wedding DJ is not only defined by how much fun his customer is having (the wedding party) but also how much fun he or she is having as well.

As for myself, I still continue to spin my own sets and play for the fun and appreciation of Electronic music. Tight blends, harmonics, track selection, and energy level management is just so much more important to me, then allowing for strange requests from the tipsy bridesmaid.