DJ Jerry B’s Blog Mostly daytime ramblings

January 1, 2015

2015 – Happy New Year

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 12:08 pm

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Being a DJ means that you have down time — especially come winter and “off-season”. There is always something to be done. This is the time for new and upgraded equipment purchasing. I do a good amount of research before adding to the equipment inventory, especially now that I am offering rentals. Of course, it’s also a good time to do early work for tax-filing (always such a joy, but I’d rather do it now, rather than waiting until the deadline, which is also just about the official start of wedding season.)

Traditionally, it is also the time when inquiries roll in for wedding season. Many, MANY couples get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. There are also a few winter weddings on the docket, so it’s a fun time to put energy into those. The website will get some minor tweaks. I’m also happy to have connected with a vendor — a truly gifted Celebrant — and I’m glad to have the opportunity to add her to the links page.

So for me, in every sense of the word, it’s a New Year. I hope yours is as good as mine looks to be.

November 22, 2011

Off Season has arrived

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 11:23 am

The end of wedding season is always a mixed bag. 2011 was a great year on several levels. I’ve written about many of the couples I worked with and I would say that it was as satisfying a year as I can ever remember. And while one couple in particular made a huge impact on me (and if you are reading this, you know who you are!) I have to say that, across the board, I am thankful to have shared such special days with so many truly good people — I wouldn’t have traded ANY of them. I thank them all again for letting me be a part of their celebration.

And while there may be some small measure of taking a breath as the slow season arrives, it also presents new opportunities.

Inquiries for the following season begin to pick up around the holidays (many people either become engaged or announce it to their loved ones during family get-togethers around the holiday season.) Many dates in 2012 are already booked and, in fact, I am already beginning to turn away couples because their date is taken — probably my LEAST favorite part of this business. Even as I write this, I have several pending meetings with prospective clients who are anxious to hire their DJ.

It”s also a time to focus on the management side of things by looking ahead. It’s a time to plan business purchases, update/upgrade equipment, determine marketing plans, website updates, budgets and so on. I am excited at the prospect of adding uplighting  as an optional service. As a side note, I’m always very cautious about trying to wear too many hats, but this will fit nicely into the service that I provide and is only being introduced after careful consideration and planning.

2012 looks to be another very good year.

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.

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.

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.

June 25, 2010

“Can we come see you at a performance?”

Filed under: Advice — Tags: , , , , — DJJerryB @ 8:08 pm

There was a time that this was a common question. On the rare occasion that I am retained to play for a public event, sure you can stop by. I will generally list these on my Facebook page.

And once in a while a prospective customer will ask if they can “drop by” at a wedding to see me in action. I’ve even seen it as a suggestion on a few websites.

The short answer is, “no, I’m sorry, you can’t.”  The reasons should be obvious.

How many uninvited strangers do you want “dropping by” at your wedding? How distracted do you want your disc jockey to be by treating your wedding as an audition for his next job?

Moreover, what is really to be gained by seeing someone on the job that can’t be determined during the interview? Listen to your DJ’s voice. Watch how attentive he is to your vision of your wedding. Is he personable and confident, or loud and obnoxious? Ask for references from past wedding customers and check them.

One other thing to consider is this: what will you see if you eavesdrop on someone else’s wedding? You’ll see a performance based on the vision that they had for their wedding, not yours.

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