DJ Jerry B’s Blog Mostly daytime ramblings

February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day Special on DJ Services!

Filed under: Advice,Weddings — Tags: , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 12:48 pm

Yeah, that’s not going to happen here. I’ve seen ads all over the web from every Tom, Dick and Harry offering one so-called “special” after another. I suppose if you are operating a restaurant or retail store, and you are trying to get people to discover the products that you offer, an incentive with a gimmick attached is as good a way as any. It’s the reason that mass-buying outfits like Groupon exist. The idea is that, once you try us, you’ll be back for more.

I have consistently rejected this approach for a variety of reasons. For most people, hiring a DJ is a one time experience. From a marketing perspective,  in my opinion, when you offer “discounts” for arbitrary reasons, you only lessen the value of your services by sending a subliminal message to the customer that your full (non-discounted) rates are inflated and out of line with what you have to offer. I do discount for reasons that are important to me. Military personnel and their immediate families always get the best rate I can justify. The same goes for charitable organizations that I have a personal relationship with. I don’t talk about it too much and I won’t go into those details here — the reasons are purely personal and there is no need discuss it in this type of forum.

Another reason to stay away from this type of come-on is that it’s gimmicky. I’m not about gimmicks (or any trick to get you to hire me.) I am as straightforward as I can be with clients and using any type of bait just doesn’t suit me well.

So, in short, there is no coupon code of “SheSaidYes!” or “today only” sales going on. The only thing I’ll do, to those of you that celebrate it, and especially to those who are getting engaged today, is to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Oh, and if you need a wedding disc jockey, I know a guy: http://djjerryb.com

 

January 28, 2012

Choosing Price Over Quality

Filed under: Advice — Tags: , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 2:41 pm

The following statement is borrowed from another wedding professional, but I’m happy to use it without claiming it to be my own:

“It’s hard to promote quality service to people who shop for their wedding vendors like they shop for groceries.”

I had never really thought about some of the challenges there would be in getting the right message out to my potential customers until I heard that. But now those words constantly echo in my head.

I read the wedding forums and actively participate in a few of them. I hear the same things over and over again. DJs are obnoxious. DJs are all the same. As soon as a DJ hears “wedding” they automatically jack up the price — presumably arbitrarily.

Um, no…

Some (not all) DJs are obnoxious. Some (not all) hairstylists are obnoxious. Some (not all) cab drivers are obnoxious. Some (not all) salespeople are obnoxious. Some (not all) teachers are obnoxious. Notice a trend here?

Anyone who thinks that the demands of a wedding are the same as those of any other event (and, therefore, should be priced the same) have clearly never been involved in the wedding industry. The funny thing is, I’ve never heard a bride say that planning her wedding was exactly the same as planning a party.

I like to highlight what a true professional disc jockey can offer to their clients versus what an amateur cannot. If you go with a professional, you will get peace of mind knowing that they’re ready for whatever you hand them. They have the experience, talent, and know-how to get the job done. You can rest easy at night knowing your wedding day won’t be an experiment for them.

Okay, now help me here folks…what is that worth?

If statistics are to be believed, a couple will spend, on average, between $22,000 and $25,000 on their wedding. Now that’s a national average. Some will spend from several hundred to a few thousand dollars (Kim Kardashian’s little soiree , on the other hand, probably cost upwards of $10 million — but you have to take into consideration that, for that investment, there were 72 whole days of wedded bliss before filing for divorce. My thinking is that the Defense of Marriage Act may be targeting the wrong demographic, but, I digress…)

I read somewhere that Martha Stewart once stated that the entertainment chosen for a wedding is responsible for 80% of the event’s success. I don’t know if Martha ever really said that or how to quantify such a factoid (i.e. did 80% of the guests have a great time while the other 20% thought it was only “meh…”; or will everyone enjoy everything for 80% of the wedding?) What can I say, I tend to take these “statistics” with a grain of salt, but there is still a perfectly valid takeaway from it:

If YOUR measurement of success for a wedding is having your family and friends raving about how good a time they had, the entertainment is a huge priority. Please (!) choose wisely.

July 5, 2011

2012 Weddings

Filed under: Advice — Tags: , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 6:00 am

It’s hard to imagine that, here in the middle of wedding season 2011, I’m going to suggest a call to action for couples who are planning their wedding next year, but that’s precisely what I’m going to do. The reason is very simple.

Availability.

If you were to believe many of the online planning tools, they will suggest that you can get a DJ anywhere from six to twelve months prior to your wedding. And that’s PARTIALLY true if you plan to pull names from a phone book.  But if you are looking to hire a specific DJ (or photographer,  planner or wedding venue) you shouldn’t think that this time frame is safe.

In my own experience, just so far this year, I have turned away 15 to 20 couples who inquired about dates that I already had booked. I’ve been asked many times over the years why I have never pursued the idea of hiring other DJs so that I can take more bookings. For me, it’s very simple. I am a service provider, not a product. Truly “personalized service” is not a marketing ploy. It’s the heart and soul of my business. I do only one wedding on any given date and so do many other independent vendors.

Prime wedding season is from early April though late October. There are only 25 to 30 Saturdays within that time period and those are the dates that book the fastest. If you are planning a Saturday wedding next year, it’s not too early to get your vendors under contract.

 

 

 

March 13, 2011

Happy Guests

Filed under: Advice,Weddings — Tags: , , — DJJerryB @ 12:15 pm

For many years, I’ve made it a point to talk to guests at the weddings that I have worked. Make no mistake, weddings are a big deal, especially to the couple getting married. But I think a lot of couples would be surprised to find out that, while your family and friends are pretty joyously happy for you, they are not typically as caught up in all of those details that you (okay, the bride) agonized over.

It seems that keeping them happy is a result of a lot of fairly LITTLE things done well. I suppose the flip side would be that it’s the little things that, if not so well thought out, might make them “less than happy”…but let’s keep this on the positive side, shall we?

Location, location, location (Part 1)

One of the really wonderful things about a wedding is that the ceremony can take place just about anywhere. At a church, at the beach, in a park, under your favorite tree, etc. You get the picture. The place you choose may be personal for you. Make sure that if you choose a place that is a little off the beaten path, you provide your guests with solid directions, maps, landmarks, signs, etc. GPS won’t help them find you if you are getting married under the fourth elm tree past the big rock.

Location, location, location (Part 2)

Even if you are choosing something more traditional, think about the guest’s experience. Are many coming in from out of town? How far is it from the hotels? Is there adequate parking? Would a shuttle make things a little easier on them? If alcohol is being served, there may be added incentive to providing some assistance with the driving.

Location, location, location (Part 3)

If the ceremony and reception sites are some distance from each other, there is another chance to get lost or run into traffic delays. Keep that in mind as you work on the time line for your wedding. And again, try to make it as easy as possible for your guests to find the place.

Down time

Long delays between ceremony and reception activities can have your guests twiddling their thumbs, so if it’s unavoidable, try to keep them engaged. It’s not reasonable to expect guests to wait hours for dinner without providing some type of nourishment to keep them going. Cheese and crackers are okay for an hour or so, but if it’s going to take longer than that for photographs, differences in the availability of the church and reception venue, etc, consider something a little more substantial. Your caterer or food manager will be able to make suggestions for you.

Also, think about both younger and older guests. If many children are invited, they will need some distraction, so give some thought to activities geared to them (and, as a totally personal aside: the DJ is not a babysitter.) For the older guests, if the main ballroom is not available during this time, you’re going to want to ask if there are places for them to sit while waiting.

Buy their drinks

Okay, at least buy SOME of their drinks. No, I’m not suggesting an unlimited open bar unless you have pretty unlimited finances (and if you do, have I got the DJ for you!)  But there are various options, from beer and wine only, to a signature cocktail, to buying your own liquor to stock the bar if permitted by the contract. In most cases, your guests have made a pretty serious effort to dress their best, arrange their day around you and spend money on a gift. Dinner is nice, but it shouldn’t be the equivalent of BYOB.

February 25, 2011

Cocktail/Dinner Music

Filed under: Advice,Weddings — Tags: , , , , — DJJerryB @ 8:59 am

For many couples, very little thought is put into music for the cocktail and dinner hour of their reception. The majority will opt to have typical lounge or jazz, which, in all honesty, I fully understand. You generally want something that blends into the background so that your guests’ senses are not assaulted and they have the ability to socialize.

For couples whose taste is a little more on the edgy or less traditional side, this is a great opportunity to incorporate some of “their” music into the day. An eclectic mix that incorporates ambient, downtempo and indie artists, along with more mainstream styles, can be just the thing that will put your personal stamp that guests will remember as being unique.

January 14, 2011

Most Requested Songs for 2010

Filed under: Advice,Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 12:42 pm

DJ Intelligence has released its annual list of most requested songs. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the company, DJ Intelligence offers disc jockeys a computerized database to manage their song libraries. Every song that is requested through the software is then tallied by the company. DJ Intelligence states that millions of actual client requests from real weddings and parties result in the compilation of these comprehensive charts, which you can download here.

To be sure, not everyone will be a fan of every song in the Top 200 listing. One couple that hired me last year went through an earlier list to create their “do not play” list. A little insider secret : although not widely distributed, DJ Intelligence also compiles a Top 200 DO NOT PLAY Song list. And, as you may have guessed, there are a large number of songs that appear on BOTH lists.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t avail myself of the DJ Intelligence database in my own business. I create my own song listings based on my own client feedback. I also constantly solicit input from customers and their guests, based on what they request and what gets them dancing. But it would be foolish to ignore the charts entirely, since the one thing that I do know is that I don’t know everything.

December 29, 2010

Picking Songs For Your Wedding

Filed under: Advice — Tags: , , , — DJJerryB @ 10:58 am

This is not going to be about choosing music for your first dance, last dance, the Bride with her dad or Groom with his mom. Perhaps that will be material for another post. This is about picking songs for your DJ to play during the dance portion of your reception. Couples can be all over the map on this one.

I have had a few prospective  customers call me who wanted to choose every song, and, in one instance,  to have them all played in a specific order. No variations and no requests from guests.

Um… okay… why did you call me? If all you need is someone push the play button, you don’t need a DJ.

Don’t get me wrong. I want input from every person who hires me. It’s the only way for me to get to know your likes and dislikes. Make as many suggestions as you like relative to music and song preferences. Choose 10 or choose 100. It’s really completely up to you. And I promise that I will take every suggestion that you offer to help build a play list that will make your reception as fun as it can be.

It has been so overused that I try to avoid using the term “it’s your day.”

Yes, it is your day. If you hire me, you are my boss that day. And it’s my duty to do the best I can to give you and your guests the best entertainment possible. That means being flexible. It means watching your guests and how they respond to the music selections. Choosing the time to change the tempo to try to get everyone on the dance floor. It means choosing different songs or styles because it’s what the crowd is responding to. It’s being able to play a request from a guest because it will add to the energy of the mix. And it sometimes means diplomatically saying no to a request that isn’t right for the moment. These are things that can’t be done by simply pushing the play button.

So you say you don’t want to hear those cheesy songs that every DJ plays? Guess what. DJs don’t want to hear them either.  Believe it or not, when I am getting ready to leave for a performance, the first thought going through my head is not, “Oh boy, I get to hear ‘Y.M.C.A.’ for the 8,000th time!” No talented DJ will ever add those songs to his play list for the evening. A veteran DJ only plays songs like The Macarena, The Electric Slide, Cha-Cha Slide or (ugh….) Chicken Dance because either a client or a guest requests it. Will I play them if the client has said it is okay to accept those requests? Yes I will and I’ll do it with a smile on my face. Why? Because it’s my duty to make everyone feel that there is room at the party for them. That said, you should absolutely provide your DJ with a do not play list for any songs that, under any circumstances, you don’t want to hear. And you should be specific by adding “even if requested by a guest.”

In a typical wedding reception, you will likely end up with around two hours of open dancing. That will translate to between 35 and 40 songs. Keep those numbers in mind If you have any must play songs for this portion of the reception. If you choose 30 songs that you have to hear, you are not leaving much room for your DJ to show the flexibility needed to craft the music that your guests will remember.

December 9, 2010

Questions to Ask Your DJ When You Don’t Know What to Ask

Filed under: Advice — Tags: , , — DJJerryB @ 11:08 am

Although not intended to be all-inclusive, if you’re hiring a disc jockey for the first time and don’t know where to start, here are a few questions to include in your initial inquiry:

Question #1. Are you available?

I know it may sound pretty basic, but you would be surprised how many times I’ll get an e-mail asking about my rates, style, experience, etc. without mention of a date. None of that matters if I’m already booked. Give your prospective disc jockey the date, time and location of your function before asking anything else.

Question #2. Do you offer a written Contract?

If the DJ you are considering only does business with a handshake, or a wink and a smile, run (do not walk) for the door. The Contract should clearly spell out all charges, what is required, and what is included.

Question #3. Do you require a deposit/retainer to hold the date. If so, how much is it?

Most vendors will require a retainer. It can be a flat dollar amount, but is more commonly a percentage of the total charge (in my experience, between 25% and 50% of the total is the norm.)

Question #4. What styles of music do you have?

Again, you would think of this as a no-brainer, but on more than one occasion, someone has hired me, generally at the last minute, failing to mention that the party has a “theme” — and I’m caught unprepared to play four hours of “NASCAR’s Greatest Hits”…

Question #5. Do you maintain a list of references that we can contact?

Don’t just rely on testimonials posted on a website. As unconscionable as it is, there are examples in which those “testimonials” are not from genuine satisfied customers. Some less than scrupulous vendors have been known to have friends, family or hired reviewers write what they think prospective customers would want to read. Some others have offered deeply discounted (or free) services in exchange for a favorable review. It’s not ethical, and I HOPE it’s the exception, but it does happen.

October 14, 2010

Whose Wedding Is It?

Filed under: Advice — Tags: , , , — DJJerryB @ 11:16 am

For most people, planning a wedding will be one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) things they will ever do. It is inherently stressful, regardless of whether it is a small informal gathering or a blockbuster of a party. Families, friends, co-workers — they will all have an opinion on what a wedding should be. And while those opinions will be helpful to some, they may instead create more stress for the couple. I get to observe part of the process, and this is really more directed to those who KNOW someone who is planning a wedding, rather than the two people getting married.

First, realize that their entire thought process is wrapped around the wedding. Yes, they can become a little self-absorbed. Try to cut them a little slack if they forget (occasionally) that the world doesn’t revolve around them. I know it can be frustrating at times. I can’t count the number of times a prospective customer has contacted me, asked for a quote, or even JUST if I am available, then disappeared off the face of the earth. They’re just GONE. Is it thoughtless not to acknowledge that someone has taken the time to reply promptly to their inquiry? Sure it is. But we’re talking “Wedding World” and it’s going to happen. A lot. I’m not saying that downright rude behavior is acceptable, I’m only saying that in the heat of planning, anyone can lose sight of things. If you feel slighted by someone who is in the middle of their planning, and feel you have to say something, please, be gentle about it.

Remember too that your vision of weddings probably doesn’t match theirs. Unsolicited advice, or comments about weddings in general, can be a lot more bothersome than you realize.

You may feel that spending tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding is insane. Or, just the opposite, perhaps you could never envision the idea of wanting something very small and simple.

Perhaps you’ve had a bad experience with marriage and can’t remember what those feelings are like. But do you REMEMBER when you felt the way they do now? Why would you want to take that away from them?

Each of us brings our own opinions when the subject of a wedding arises.  The problem comes in when those who are single can’t relate to the world of planning a wedding. As a result, they may trivialize the stresses involved, or question the personal choices the couple has made. They also may throw out advice that shows how little they understand about the family dynamics of the couple getting married.

On the other hand, engaged friends are busying deciding how they want their “perfect wedding” to look and if it differs from yours, it can be a challenge unto itself.  Remember that your perfect wedding may be the exact opposite of what your friend wants.

I realize that, for the most part, people don’t intend to come off as insensitive. I think they just get caught up in their own thoughts, memories and ideals.

September 27, 2010

Working and Playing Well With Others

Filed under: Advice — Tags: , , , — DJJerryB @ 12:26 pm

I firmly believe that any good mobile DJ (and one who truly wants to be a GREAT disc jockey) needs to understand that, more than music, this job is about customer service. And borrowing a term from my old financial services days, you have both external and internal customers.

The external customer is an easy one to identify. They are the ones who pay you. The bride and groom, the host, the corporate event planner and so on. And if you want to get work, you better provide them with top-notch customer service.

The internal customer is a different story. When a DJ  is hired to perform at a wedding, or any function for that matter, he becomes a member of a team. The photographer, videographer, florist/decorator, event manager, bartender, catering staff, cleaning crew — all need to have a good working relationship to make it seamless to the external customer. And his role is no more important than any other team member. Some disc jockeys would be well served to remember this simple fact.

Whenever I arrive at a venue to set up, I always make the effort to smile and say hello to every person who is working that day. If you have ever worked in the food service industry, as I have, you know how boring and repetitive (and underappreciated) it can be. A little friendly small talk can go a long way in letting them know that you respect the job that they are doing.

Teamwork between the DJ and photographer is paramount, otherwise special moments can be missed. Working closely with the caterer ensures that their staff can provide the best service to guests.

Having an open line of communication with the other professionals who are on the job will provide a better finished product for your shared customer.

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