What year do you believe the Mobile DJ Community had the most active working DJs

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What year was the Mobile DJ community the Largest in your opinion among these options?

  • 1981 or prior

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1985

    Votes: 2 20.0%
  • 1990

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1995

    Votes: 1 10.0%
  • 2000

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2005

    Votes: 1 10.0%
  • 2010

    Votes: 3 30.0%
  • 2015

    Votes: 1 10.0%
  • 2021 as in RIGHT NOW

    Votes: 2 20.0%

  • Total voters
    10

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
6,827
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But I also don't think serious professionals should be concerned with that type of statistic. I think most people in the mobile DJ market are exceptionally part time doing a small number of gigs for some extra cash when it comes their way.
I think this is what the industry has largely turned into. Where in 2010 and prior to that, there were many more DJs employed by Multi Ops, and working either part time 1-2 gigs a month, or full time most weekends through out the year.

Many Multi Ops have faded away, and even the big agencies haven't been keeping their DJs busy for the last few years. It's either going to be a very part time money making hobby for many. Others it will be a good weekend side income where they can still work 12 to 30 or so events a year. Full time in this industry is fading away. I am positive there are far fewer full timers today than there were 10 years ago.
 

Albatross

DJ Extraordinaire
ODJT Supporter
Sep 7, 2016
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Many Multi Ops have faded away, and even the big agencies haven't been keeping their DJs busy for the last few years.
The big agencies have themselves to blame for a lot of that. From what I can see... the top talent drives enough of their own demand that it's not worth paying the agency. If all the planners are calling the agency and asking for me by name... the agency is now an expensive administrative service. Why would I give away 20-50% of my billing rate if the person they want is me. So the agencies have become the home of a lot of DJs that either don't want to or for some reason can't develop their own branding and demand.

Even inside the current agencies that seem successful, you're seeing people have to promote themselves. Look at a dude like Nick Spinelli. Nick has had to create his own identity and social media presence that is part of by discrete from SCE. I'm assuming there are benefits to being on that SCE team and other things he's getting from the relationship because he could clearly do the branding and marketing on his own.

Lately I've been thinking about the distinction between being self-employed and being a business owner. As a DJ, I largely consider myself self-employed. I have a small group of guys I trust and can throw work to, but I honestly don't put money or time into building them up actively. There are a few reasons for that, but the main one is that it just doesn't seem worth it. The amount I'd have to spend to market the team doesn't make sense at the incremental revenue I'd take in. I think I'd need to be MUCH bigger to make it work, and to do that I think I'd lose my pricing power. What I'm running works really well for me, but it really isn't a business.

Maybe there is a better business in the real production work, live bands, etc. when you go to that next tier. But a multi-op DJ service looks like a miserable business to be in.
 

djtaso

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 4, 2017
3,923
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NJ
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The big agencies have themselves to blame for a lot of that. From what I can see... the top talent drives enough of their own demand that it's not worth paying the agency. If all the planners are calling the agency and asking for me by name... the agency is now an expensive administrative service. Why would I give away 20-50% of my billing rate if the person they want is me. So the agencies have become the home of a lot of DJs that either don't want to or for some reason can't develop their own branding and demand.

Even inside the current agencies that seem successful, you're seeing people have to promote themselves. Look at a dude like Nick Spinelli. Nick has had to create his own identity and social media presence that is part of by discrete from SCE. I'm assuming there are benefits to being on that SCE team and other things he's getting from the relationship because he could clearly do the branding and marketing on his own.

Lately I've been thinking about the distinction between being self-employed and being a business owner. As a DJ, I largely consider myself self-employed. I have a small group of guys I trust and can throw work to, but I honestly don't put money or time into building them up actively. There are a few reasons for that, but the main one is that it just doesn't seem worth it. The amount I'd have to spend to market the team doesn't make sense at the incremental revenue I'd take in. I think I'd need to be MUCH bigger to make it work, and to do that I think I'd lose my pricing power. What I'm running works really well for me, but it really isn't a business.

Maybe there is a better business in the real production work, live bands, etc. when you go to that next tier. But a multi-op DJ service looks like a miserable business to be in.
The online persona and the wedding world demand are two different things.
 
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logisticalstyles

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 7, 2018
73
260
46
If you are still in the game in 2021 and had a good reputation prior to covid, you're gonna come out even stronger than before as supply of dj's has shrunk. I've gotten so many calls from couples who had to postpone now saying their djs are no longer working and they need a new dj.
This is so true. I am getting a lot of calls for gigs. I get a call or text every day now. I have 5 gigs booked this weekend. June is looking to be just as busy. It's not just weddings either. I'm getting a lot of interest from communities that are opening up their pools and want a DJ for the weekend.
 

Albatross

DJ Extraordinaire
ODJT Supporter
Sep 7, 2016
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The online persona and the wedding world demand are two different things.
I don't disagree that they are different. But I'd equate the skills to build an audience online to be similar to general marketing skills.

Do you think those components are different?
 

djtaso

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 4, 2017
3,923
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NJ
www.djtaso.com
I don't disagree that they are different. But I'd equate the skills to build an audience online to be similar to general marketing skills.

Do you think those components are different?
Perhaps similar in concept, but the approach is ultimately very different. Online you can dish out content as much as you desire and let the views build, heck one viral video and it's instant success... however to get clients in the wedding world you actually have to find people actively planning an event and then selling yourself to them. And it takes A LOT Of TIME and Patience to get results to the point where the business becomes self sufficient almost. It's like the online dj world knows Nick Spinelli... but does the NJ wedding world know who Nick is... and ultimately that's where the relationship with SCE comes into play.

This isn't a dig at Nick... I don't know him and personally I do like his online content and feel he's done a great job branding himself on youtube. You and others mentioned something though about dj's not needing to be part of a multi-op or are now branding themselves. My belief is this... the only way to effectively and successfully do this, without the need to be part of a larger recognizable brand, is to have a VERY STRONG word of mouth following. You just can't compete as a solo op against these large companies trying to gain market share through advertising alone. We're talking about companies each spending hundreds of thousands here for advertising between billboards, google, facebook ads, bridal shows, paying to be the preferred vendor (10's of thousands per venue), etc. My entire gross revenue matches some of their marketing budget. DJ's joining big companies often are struggling to gain clientele on their own and they don't have the funds or ability to stand out against the big companies eating up all the marketing share. If they're not getting a strong word of mouth following, chances are they're not doing anything to stand out and that's my honest belief. Why would you give up profits to join a bigger company if you had the business already? Think about it.

I often wonder, at companies like SCE and others... do the clients hire the dj because they want the dj... or does the dj get hired because they want someone from SCE. If you broke down the individual numbers, how many of their events are direct referrals vs leads provided by the company. If Nick, or someone else from a multi-op, left today, would they be able to gain the same revenue and business right after? I asked myself those two questions for months before making the decision to leave my multi-op.
 

Ausumm

Gold Plated Productions
Oct 21, 2008
11,631
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Bethlehem PA
I chose 1985 because that is right around when I started.
I got hired with no experience by a multi-op,
because the owner had more work than he could cover.
He had 9 systems (of assorted sizes)
and during wedding season he's have all nine on the road,
and was still turning away work.
Plus, a lot of the jocks had regular bar gigs...
PLUS, Holiday parties had all of us booked every Friday and Saturday in December.
 
Last edited:

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
6,827
5,077
39
I chose 1985 because that is right around when I started.
I got hired with no experience by a multi-op,
because the owner had more work than he could cover.
He had 9 systems (of assorted sizes)
and during wedding season he's have all nine on the road,
and was still turning away work.
Plus, a lot of the jocks had regular bar gigs...
PLUS, Holiday parties had all of us booked every Friday and Saturday in December.

December use to be the MEGA MONEY MONTH in this business. My Dad worked for a multi op in the 80s, and early 90s (Davis Deejays) and there were weeks in December where he would be doing 11-12 events PER WEEK. He even had days where he did TRIPLES! AND the equipment was considerably heavier back then. Parties were always a single sound system set up, and he rarely had to set up any kind of lighting.

December has gone from being a HUGE Money month in our industry to being a lackluster slow month. It has been on the decline for years. First it was the Alcohol laws that slowly made companies re think corporate holiday parties. Then it was the recession in 2008 that really changed things up. Now far fewer holiday parties occur out there compared to the 80s and 90s.

I remember 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 being very good Decembers for me! 2008...Terrible, and only low money gigs were booked. I had to settle for a 2 hour Mid NIght to 2 a.m. Restaurant New Year's Eve party for $350 Cash that year. The year before, I earned $1,000 for a 4 hour NYE party. My December income was down like 65% from 2007, and Annual income was down 40% that year from 2007.
 
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ittigger

Hundred Acre Industry Icon
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Feb 1, 2011
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Overall, I don't think people are paying less for events - as prices on nearly everything has gone up. Times change and people change. Sometimes you have to reinvent / re-acclimate yourself to the changing times (grow). Lighting was not as big a thing back in the 80's / 90's and this was also seen in the concert world.

If you were your own customer (outside looking in), would you buy your package (this requires some honest and difficult self critiquing)?
 

Albatross

DJ Extraordinaire
ODJT Supporter
Sep 7, 2016
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Lighting was not as big a thing back in the 80's / 90's and this was also seen in the concert world.
The effect that LED has had on what lighting is possible from a mobile production is ridiculous too. Old incandescent par cans were heavy as crap, hot, and produced one single color. Effect lights made it a little bit better, but a spin and puke gets old quick.

It's not a shocker why lighting might not have been a big part of the business back then.
 

Jeff Romard

Administrator
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Sep 4, 2006
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The effect that LED has had on what lighting is possible from a mobile production is ridiculous too. Old incandescent par cans were heavy as crap, hot, and produced one single color. Effect lights made it a little bit better, but a spin and puke gets old quick.

It's not a shocker why lighting might not have been a big part of the business back then.
Picture this we used to stack tables and duct tape coloured spotlights to it when we needed a big lighting rig other than that pars on a tree were the standard if any were used at all. |I wish I had a pic of the big setup and I'm kind of glad I don't at the same time LOL
 

Ausumm

Gold Plated Productions
Oct 21, 2008
11,631
13,780
57
Bethlehem PA
First it was the Alcohol laws that slowly made companies re think corporate holiday parties.
You should live in Pennsylvania.
The liquor laws here were/are horrible.
I saw it from the live band point of view, being a roadie...
and I saw it from the bar owners point of view trying to write a radio commercial,
while trying to keep it "legal"
 

djtaso

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 4, 2017
3,923
7,885
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NJ
www.djtaso.com
December use to be the MEGA MONEY MONTH in this business. My Dad worked for a multi op in the 80s, and early 90s (Davis Deejays) and there were weeks in December where he would be doing 11-12 events PER WEEK. He even had days where he did TRIPLES! AND the equipment was considerably heavier back then. Parties were always a single sound system set up, and he rarely had to set up any kind of lighting.

December has gone from being a HUGE Money month in our industry to being a lackluster slow month. It has been on the decline for years. First it was the Alcohol laws that slowly made companies re think corporate holiday parties. Then it was the recession in 2008 that really changed things up. Now far fewer holiday parties occur out there compared to the 80s and 90s.

I remember 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 being very good Decembers for me! 2008...Terrible, and only low money gigs were booked. I had to settle for a 2 hour Mid NIght to 2 a.m. Restaurant New Year's Eve party for $350 Cash that year. The year before, I earned $1,000 for a 4 hour NYE party. My December income was down like 65% from 2007, and Annual income was down 40% that year from 2007.
The opportunity that exists now to make more per event outweighs the attractiveness of having the ability to perform so many potential events. I'd rather work 10 events in a busy June season, than 40 events in a holiday season... only to make the same or more profit (more labor and general expenses with the 40 events). Difference is now that the competition is more intense so you have to work harder to stand out. Back then, advertising was a simpler less hands on approach... most sent postcards, advertised in the yellow pages or local coupon books, and bridal shows for those that did weddings. Now you have to be posting on social media consistently with high quality content, content on every social media platform, having a captivating website, video recaps of your events, promo videos, youtube channels, online reviews, providing access to you directly, etc. You can't take a break from it.
 

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
6,827
5,077
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The opportunity that exists now to make more per event outweighs the attractiveness of having the ability to perform so many potential events. I'd rather work 10 events in a busy June season, than 40 events in a holiday season... only to make the same or more profit (more labor and general expenses with the 40 events). Difference is now that the competition is more intense so you have to work harder to stand out. Back then, advertising was a simpler less hands on approach... most sent postcards, advertised in the yellow pages or local coupon books, and bridal shows for those that did weddings. Now you have to be posting on social media consistently with high quality content, content on every social media platform, having a captivating website, video recaps of your events, promo videos, youtube channels, online reviews, providing access to you directly, etc. You can't take a break from it.

This is true!

The DJ company back in the day advertised on radio ads constantly on major market stations. They also had a TV commercial playing on TV from time to time, and of course the Yellow Book. Prior to the internet, if you wanted to find the number to any type of service, you picked up the yellow pages, and searched for some services to call up. Of course Word of Mouth back then traveled much better to. People use to hang out more frequently, and in conversation someone mentions they are going tom be looking for a DJ, and the other person would automatically share who they know or used before.

Today, people barely even hang out in person or converse with one another in person. Everything is online, and most people are distant from their peers...especially now thanks to the Pandemic! I haven't seen any of my friends in person since 2018...and I only saw a few of them one time in 2018! I don't think I have had the chance to recommend any service to any of my peers in person in years. People may ask for recommendations on facebook once in a blue moon, but my recommendation on there holds no more value to them than anybody else's recommendation. If they get a dozen different recommendations from people they know on social media for a DJ or photographer, or Refrigerator Repair man, then who knows if the person will even bother contacting any of those recommendations for info/quote.

Things have changes for sure since the 90s on that front!
 
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Ausumm

Gold Plated Productions
Oct 21, 2008
11,631
13,780
57
Bethlehem PA
The effect that LED has had on what lighting is possible from a mobile production is ridiculous too. Old incandescent par cans were heavy as crap, hot, and produced one single color. Effect lights made it a little bit better, but a spin and puke gets old quick.
Yeah, I think most of us (old timers) had the 4-color pan can chase,
and a spin-n-puke.
But I don't lighting effects "got old" to the customers,
just to the guy behind the DJ table who looked at the same set-up every gig.
Even with new technology, I don't think guests really notice (or care) as much as we think.
And I am NOT talking about the paying client.
What THEY want, what they expect, and what they are willing to pay for it is a different story.
 

Albatross

DJ Extraordinaire
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Sep 7, 2016
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Even with new technology, I don't think guests really notice (or care) as much as we think.
I agree with you. I think most guests don't notice the attention to detail or what goes on in order to improve guest experience in small ways. But I do think the aggregate gets noticed.

I talk about stuff like this a lot with my couples. Nobody that attends one of my events knows why or how the sound might have been better. But they might have enjoyed that they didn't have to strain to hear toasts because I put speakers back there.

They might not notice that I was able to pause my lighting for a slow dance, or move to a slow color fade that is music appropriate. But they might have been annoyed had the "Spin and puke" light continued to go nuts during a romantic slow dance.

I see lots of DJs (this isn't directed at you at all) that cut a corner because they don't think guests can tell, or they can't charge directly for the improvement. But in a lot of ways I think that is holding DJs collectively back. If we view it as just playing music loud, so will clients. If we view it as improving outcomes, it changes the business we're in a bit but also moves the product to a higher level.