School & Teen Events My first School / Teen event

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DJ Forbes

DJ Extraordinaire
Jul 30, 2021
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So, the date of the event is 6/1. Due to chance of rain, they were going to have it inside and not have a DJ. I just got a call this morning that said the weather looks clear, so we'd like to have you (if you want) and they will set you up outside in the schools "common area" maybe 125' x 125' square (which is sort of a inner court yard, all cement, where kids hang out, play 4 square, and just mingle, as 7th/8th graders do, I guess. There will be other activities/shaved ice truck, etc. They asked if I would play for 3 hours. They will likely have one grade out for 90 minutes, then switch and have the other class outside. I expect I'll get requests to play some stuff a second time. LOL.

I'm all for it and plan on playing. I've been working on my library and was able to survey a group of friends' kids who gave me some ideas... interestingly enough, it's mostly 80-90's pop/oddball stuff that they like. Like was said, this is NOT a dance. It's just noise for them. I will take requests if they have them and play what I can. I've been working on my "appropriate" library for students and feel I should be able to play 5 hours without any repeating, at least. I work on it a little each night, so it continues to grow. I'd like to have a few hundred songs in there at least.

Thank you all for your feedback. I'll let you know how it goes!
 

DJ Forbes

DJ Extraordinaire
Jul 30, 2021
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610
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So I had my first Teen/School event yesterday. It was just for a last day of school "activity/fun day" sort of thing. Basically background noise while the kids had ice cream, ate lunch, played ball, socialized, etc. I played for about 4 hours. 2 hours per grade. One class had a lot of requests and interacted with me quite a bit, the other had zero requests and no interaction. It was neat to see, lol. The kids liked it, the teachers and staff all came by and thanked me for my time, and I had fun. This was a free event for me. I'm looking to maybe get into the school events around here, as I know most other DJ's aren't interested so I offered to play for free. I know the school dances/events don't pay more than a couple hundred bucks at best, but I enjoy it and the money is just a little bonus perk for me anyways.

Yesterday went well. I still need some work on my music library but that's an ongoing and ever changing task. Thanks for all of your input.
 

sonic-vision

Alive & kickin
ODJT Supporter
Feb 6, 2007
2,286
4,139
central Ohio
Kid shows are tough. Their likes in music can change in a heartbeat. Had a similar gig for years , two hours for age groups
Pastor picked up a hobby and plays music from youtube. Saved the school money ?
When the pastor asked, how do you play your music I said , I purchase my music in a mp3 format.
Ask why not use youtube, Don't like playing advertisement and I prefer not to steal!
Yes, I will never be back after that being said!😀
 

Ausumm

Gold Plated Productions
Oct 21, 2008
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Bethlehem PA
Kid shows are tough. Their likes in music can change in a heartbeat.

Worked with the boss from the multi op for a middle school "formal" last Friday.
I manned the photobooth, which was quite painless.
Freddie spun music in the gym.
He hated to sound like an old fart who complains about "kids these days"...
but swear he will never do another school dance as long as he lives.

This was a free event for me. I'm looking to maybe get into the school events around here, as I know most other DJ's aren't interested so I offered to play for free. I know the school dances/events don't pay more than a couple hundred bucks at best, but I enjoy it and the money is just a little bonus perk for me anyways.

If you can deal with the attitudes, and the hassles...
it can lead to regular, although low paying gigs.
And remember, all of those kids will have graduation parties, birthday parties,
and will eventually need DJ when they get married.
 

Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
8,019
5,284
Just be careful… you don’t wanna be the DJ that bombs on this and has their reputation tarnished with this group, especially if it’s a small town. The last thing you need is to give those $500+ guys more ammo as to why they should go with them.
I just did a joint teen dance (6, 7, & 8 graders) that was a joint event between two private country clubs. I hadn't done this age group in quite while but it's always EASY and FUN. My library is up to date - so, I started with a list of about 60 songs (3 hours worth) that I know generally work well, or are current radio hits. But that list is really just a backup and to cover the first 30 minutes while everyone is arriving and getting comfortable.

I OPENLY ASK FOR AND TAKE REQUESTS FROM THE KIDS.

Fully two-thirds of what I played were songs requested by the kids. Sure, there's some stuff I don't have (usually for good reason) or will pass over - but not a lot. The kids WANT to hear the songs they request and they are generally very good choices if you have the talent to put them together into a great sequence. They are the best resource available for finding out what is popular, or trending with them. The remaining third of the music were my selections based on experience and what was needed to transition between requests and keep the dance floor pumped up.

I don't generally use request pads - I talk directly with everyone who approaches me. On this night the hostess brought out some pads and pencils and the kids made good use of them. I continually refer back to these pages and IT MATTERS THAT THE KIDS CAN SEE ME CHECKING THE PAGES and ACTUALLY PLAYING THE SONGS.

The kids are cooperative and helpful when it is clear to them that we TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY and VALUE THEIR INPUT. If you're at all dismissive or fail to respect that this is THEIR event - you'll get the same disrespect and rebellion in return. Arrogance will only encourage them to play you for a fool every way they can.

I also charged them just under $500 and now have a regular house arrangement with the clubs displacing other DJs who have been over-charging and under-performing. (Their words, not mine.) What the clubs want is performance rather than excuses, and both facilities are just 15 minutes from my home. The dance was on a Tuesday night, semi-formal, from 7-9:30 pm, no lights, just two speakers on sticks, and a rocking dance floor.

The best part of these gigs is not the money - it's being forced to stay relevant - and then being able to take that fresh experience with me into other more significant events including weddings, galas, and more where other DJs sit in their comfort zone growing more stale and boring with every passing year. :)
 
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djtaso

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Apr 4, 2017
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I just did a joint teen dance (6, 7, & 8 graders) that was a joint event between two private country clubs. I hadn't done this age group in quite while but it's always EASY and FUN. My library is up to date - so, I started with a list of about 60 songs (3 hours worth) that I know generally work well, or are current radio hits. But that list is really just a backup and to cover the first 30 minutes while everyone is arriving and getting comfortable.

I OPENLY ASK FOR AND TAKE REQUESTS FROM THE KIDS.

Fully two-thirds of what I played were songs requested by the kids. Sure, there's some stuff I don't have (usually for good reason) or will pass over - but not a lot. The kids WANT to hear the songs they request and they are generally very good choices if you have the talent to put them together into a great sequence. They are the best resource available for finding out what is popular, or trending with them. The remaining third of the music were my selections based on experience and what was needed to transition between requests and keep the dance floor pumped up.

I don't generally use request pads - I talk directly with everyone who approaches me. On this night the hostess brought out some pads and pencils and the kids made good use of them. I continually refer back to these pages and IT MATTERS THAT THE KIDS CAN SEE ME CHECKING THE PAGES and ACTUALLY PLAYING THE SONGS.

The kids are cooperative and helpful when it is clear to them that we TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY and VALUE THEIR INPUT. If you're at all dismissive or fail to respect that this is THEIR event - you'll get the same disrespect and rebellion in return. Arrogance will only encourage them to play you for a fool every way they can.

I also charged them just under $500 and now have a regular house arrangement with the clubs displacing other DJs who have been over-charging and under-performing. (Their words, not mine.) What the clubs want is performance rather than excuses, and both facilities are just 15 minutes from my home. The dance was on a Tuesday night, semi-formal, from 7-9:30 pm, no lights, just two speakers on sticks, and a rocking dance floor.

The best part of these gigs is not the money - it's being forced to stay relevant - and then being able to take that fresh experience with me into other more significant events including weddings, galas, and more where other DJs sit in their comfort zone growing more stale and boring with every passing year. :)
Asking for requests isn't the issue, as I welcome them and take them (no note pad... just take em verbally)... it's knowing if they're going to be effective, that separates the skilled dj from the inexperienced one. I get requests from guys at Sweet 16's and teen dances all the time and their the most random songs that no one's really heard of... how do I know... well at Sweet 16's I'll ask the girl during a break, "hey I got this request, you cool with it"... she has no idea what song that is, and usually she's in a group with other girls and they all look at you confused with what that song is and who asked for it.

I'm not sure what the price aspect has to do with it. I just did an 8th grade dance last week on a Tuesday from 7-10, ten minutes from my house... for $2150... sound only. I've been doing it for that school for 6 yrs now... so I don't think my performance is of concern... which brings me to ask why, if you're overperforming and exceeding their expectations... you're not charging at minimum what the other dj's were charging. You charge what you believe you and your time are worth (up to others to decide if it's worth it).
 
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Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
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If you can deal with the attitudes, and the hassles...
it can lead to regular, although low paying gigs.

Wow. That really speaks more to poor public relations than anything about the gigs. It's not enough to "pick your market." You also have to be prepared to serve that market in all the ways that keep you connected with the people and decision makers who can hire and refer you to others.

No, I didn't make a killing on a teen dance - but, I had a prior meeting with the facilities managing director who had been referred to me by a previous client who knows me from prior events of a much larger scale.

On Tuesday, it was a teen dance. But now I have a relationship with a facility that holds a lot of very high profile events and is in need of a reliable DJ. They also now know that I'm also a fully qualified event tech that can do some very complex stuff. Like any business - success isn't really about WHAT you do - it's about growing the list of key people that KNOW you can do it well.

I've worked 60 events in May and June alone, often doubles on weekdays, not simply parties on weekends. Bookings are the result of BEING SEEN and recognized as the go to person for a particular need. I haven't done any advertising in 26 years and the last time I made even a minor update to my website was in 2013.
 

Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
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5,284
... if you're overperforming and exceeding their expectations... you're not charging at minimum what the other dj's were charging. You charge what you believe you and your time are worth (up to others to decide if it's worth it).

You're focusing on the wrong target. When DJ gigs are the top of your game, that's as far as it goes and a nice check is the crescendo. That's not me.

I'm not in it for the teen dances, that's just using my prior experience to solve a problem for someone. I'm in it for the business relationship with club members and managers - the people who bring me much more lucrative and recurring event work well outside of the DJ realm.

It's not realistic in this day and age to think of DJing as a career, that was the 80's and 90's and a lot has changed since then. Being a capable DJ has to lead to something else or you're not growing vocationally or personally.
 
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djtaso

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Apr 4, 2017
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It's not realistic in this day and age to think of DJing as a career, that was the 80's and 90's and a lot has changed since then. Being a capable DJ has to lead to something else or you're not growing vocationally or personally.
What threshold needs to be met to constitute something as a career? Is it a certain income, longevity, ability to retire from it, etc? The person that's a teacher considers their job a career, yet they make less than most full time dj's, and in my opinion work much much harder with way more stress. Just curious how you're defining it.