DJ Jerry B’s Blog Mostly daytime ramblings

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.

September 16, 2010

Some Days Are Very Good Days

It’s a very gratifying day when two different wedding professionals think enough of your work to want to quote it and include it in their own wedding blogs. This is a “thank you” to both of them.

Kat Mooney operates Kingdom Wedding Photography out of Albany, Vermont. Her entertaining and informative blog features a combination of real weddings, vendor spotlights and tips and advice. I was pleased to be her first ever “guest blogger.”

Lester Molina is professional photographer based in Tampa Bay, Florida. A rising wedding and engagement photographer, his portrait work is beautiful. You should check out his website and blog.

Two great pros who are dedicated to providing the best for their customers. Thanks guys. You helped me learn some new things today.

September 13, 2010

“Preferred vendors”

Filed under: Advice — Tags: , — DJJerryB @ 9:01 am

When securing a venue, the couple will often be given a list of “preferred vendors” to use for their wedding. Some even require that you use their vendors as a condition of using their facility. While there may be a convenience factor to this, there is also a dark side to it that should be considered.

In many instances, the reason that a vendor is listed as preferred is that there is a financial relationship between the venue and the vendor. To put it bluntly, the venue gets a kickback from the vendor for booking the business. How do I know this? Because I have been approached by a few event managers over the years that have offered such arrangements with me, with 10% to 20% being typical of what was required. In some instances, preferred vendors are required to pay an “advertising fee” to be listed with the venue’s promotional material. This can be anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand dollars that the vendor must pay to work at that facility.

If this fact was fully disclosed to the client, I would have less of a problem with it. The thing that I find troublesome is that most customers will be led to believe that the vendors are being recommended solely on the excellent service that they provide, rather than the fact that the venue is serving as a booking agent and collecting a fee. And some venues will charge you a premium price if you DON’T use their vendors. It speaks volumes if you are not allowed, or are required to pay a surcharge, to have the professionals that you want for your wedding.

That’s really the thing. What if you have a florist whose work you love, or a photographer that is exactly the style you are looking for, or a band or disc jockey that you saw and loved at a friend’s wedding? I find it almost criminal that unsuspecting couples, caught up in the excitement of their planning, can be misled this way.

I am very proud of the fact that there are several venues who will recommend me when a couple looks for a DJ referral. I have never paid a fee to be recommended and never will.

September 6, 2010

The iPod Wedding

Filed under: Advice — Tags: , , , , — DJJerryB @ 11:18 am

All you have to do is Google “ipod wedding” and you’ll see a big can of worms open before your very eyes. You’ll find passionate arguments on both sides of the debate on whether you should do-it-yourself on music for your wedding.

I think there a few situations in which a DIY approach makes a lot of sense. First, if you have no desire (or don’t expect) to have dancing at your wedding, and are just looking for background music, then an iPod or a pre-programmed playlist on your laptop is a reasonable approach.  Second, I think that doing your own music would be preferable to hiring a really bad DJ. At least you know what will be played if it’s your music. It is also a perfectly logical choice if you are doing your entire wedding on a shoestring budget.

What is NOT reasonable is the presumption that there is no difference between an iPod and an experienced professional disc jockey, since they both play music. That whole thought process is flawed. I like to use the analogy of the stone mason:

Imagine that a truck delivers a load of field stones into a pile. You could probably, without any experience at all, take the stones and form a wall of some type. It may not be perfect or stable or beautiful, but it would technically be a wall. A talented mason can take those very same stones and, with his experience, build a wall that is eye catching, memorable and will last a lifetime. Is there a difference between the two? You betcha!

One big disadvantage in using an mp3 player or laptop is that all you are doing is playing music — music that you chose based on what you THOUGHT your guests would enjoy. What happens when it’s time for dancing and people aren’t responding to what’s being played? And do you have a plan “B” if that iPod happens to freeze up during your wedding? If not, it’s sort of like skydiving without a reserve parachute. No iPod can take requests, make introductions for you, help keep your time line on track, work with your photographer to ensure that those special moments are captured, or use its expertise to adjust the music to get everyone involved in the celebration.

Some DJs like to post a link to a video that is easy to find on YouTube and many other sites that purport to show an iPod Wedding Disaster. For the record, I’m not convinced that what is being shown is genuine. I might be a little less cynical if it weren’t so boldly stamped with the logo of the American Disc Jockey Association. It screams “self-serving” with that big red, white and blue watermark. I have no direct evidence that it is staged; I’m just saying that I have my doubts as to its legitimacy. I know that a LOT of entertainers were quick to link to the clip. To me, those are just cheap scare tactics.

You can also read many forums in which brides brag about how they did their own music and how great it was. Again, in some cases, I am somewhat dubious. How many brides are really likely to ‘fess up to the fact that they tried something and it blew up in their face? Also, it’s possible THEY thought it was great because they saved some money, but I wonder if their guests shared their opinion. There are at least an equal number of forum writers describing their experience (as a guest) as awful.

If the only argument in favor of doing it yourself is the cost, there is some element of truth to that and there is no sense denying it. I’d like to point out that there is also a difference in cost between what your caterer charges and how much you could save by providing each of your guests a “Value Meal” from Taco Bell. And no reasonable thinking person is going to suggest that you can get a similar finished product by simply handing out disposable cameras instead of paying an experienced professional photographer.

And before you decide that doing it yourself is cheap, please remember that there is more to it than showing up with your iPod. Do you need to rent a sound system (amplifier, speakers, mixer, cables and microphones) that is powerful enough to fill the space? Also, what is the backup plan if something goes wrong? Who is going to transport the system to the venue, set it up, monitor it during the reception to balance the sound and then tear it all down and take it back at the end? Are there going to be announcements or other emcee duties? Who will be responsible for those?

To be clear, the decision lies with those who are paying the wedding bills. My hope is that it is a fully informed and educated decision.

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