Author: Gregg Holmann
Now that you’ve selected the best business model for your DJ activities, here are some tips to stand out from the crowd.
(1) Develop a Niche. A business card that reads “DJ for All Occasions” in my mind means, “jack of all trades, master of none.” Strive to specialize in areas that command above average pricing. At our company, these niches have been multicultural/music-centric weddings, interactive kids parties and “video fusion karaoke.” The list of possible niches is limited only by your creativity.
(2) Be Unique. Too many DJs entering the business attempt to copy other successful DJ businesses, even naming their businesses to sound like the incumbent company. This is unoriginal and unethical. You are better served by developing an entertainment style based around your own personality and unique talents. Nobody can do you better than you!
(3) Charge a Professional Rate. It can be tempting to gain your initial jobs by undercutting the prices of competitors. However, you serve yourself and our industry better by charging a full professional rate. Of course, you’ll need to have the skills to command professional rates. You’ll also need to possess the marketing acumen to present your services in a way that justifies the rate you are charging. Jon Taffer, the hard-driving host of the show Bar Rescue in his book “Raise the Bar” advises, “if you are in a marketplace that accepts a $22 hamburger, you’d better come up with a burger that is worth that price.”
(4) Adjust Your Service Mix to Reflect Market Forces. Prevailing prices for DJs are based on undeniable economic forces. Why does Avicii command $100,000 for a set while the talented local house DJ might only get $200? Rather than swim against the tide, I recommend focusing on entertainment segments that are in high demand and underpinned by clients with the money to pay a full professional rate. While these segments may not be as glamorous as your preferred segments, it’s usually better to embrace market forces and accept that there is no glamor in being a broke DJ.
Tweaking your service mix into higher average pricing categories is effectively a way of raising your prices.
(5) Get Social. Social Media is an entrenched facet of today’s society and where your prospective clients are spending huge amounts of time each week. Your DJ service needs to be consistently in front of them. When doing social media well, it’s inevitable that you will receive a Facebook messages that reads like, “hey DJ Gregg, are you available to DJ our wedding?”
I see too many DJs doing social media poorly or not at all. I recommend strong presences on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and even Snapchat. An informative blog with useful content for your community is also a must!
Use your social media accounts for digital storytelling. To get a quick snapshot of your branding and storytelling, call up your Instagram account and look at the grid of photos. Ask a friend to tell you the first impressions that they get about your brand after viewing the grid of photos. If their impressions are not how you want your brand to be perceived, then make adjustments accordingly.
Social Media is not a field of dreams. It takes consistency and tenacity. Don’t be discouraged if at first nobody likes or comments on your posts. Realize that there are many lurkers out there who see your posts, but never like or comment. In time, you’ll get your social media groove on!
(6) Don’t Be Cheap. DJs who cut corners and cheap out may win short-term victories, but don’t typically excel in the long-run. Musical curation in particular should be done the proper way by purchasing songs legally to reward the musical talent who created them. Paying for music ensures that you listen to and properly appreciate the music that you’ll be playing out.
Another poor look is DJs who are too cheap to purchase liability insurance (just $400-$500 per year) yet feel they are worth top dollar for their services. Equally as confounding is the DJ who won’t invest in his or her business with common sense purchases like a quality website or advertising. The key word is “invest” meaning that you spend a dollar, in hopes of getting back that dollar plus an additional financial return. Successful initiatives have the power to generate returns of 5 times (i.e., spend $1, get back your $1 plus an additional $5).
I advise all DJs – whether they own their own company or not – to think like a business owner and make strategic choices for the long-term.
(7) Invest in Continuing Education. Speaking of a high return on investment initiative, investing in yourself is one of the best purchases that you will ever make. According to KC KoKoruz, only 5% of professionals in any given field willingly participate in continuing education. For the DJ industry, the participation rate is even lower. Yet is it any surprise that the DJs who are participating in continuing education tend to have the most successful and fastest growing careers?
Some of the typical excuses that DJs make for blowing off continuing education are:
- I’m too busy running my business
- I have to watch the kids
- I’m tired from my day job
- It’s too expensive
- It’s the same topics over and over; there’s nothing new to learn
- The topic doesn’t interest me
- I don’t want to be in the same room as DJ X (i.e., ego issues)
My career has benefited immensely from continuing education. I’ve learned new performance skills, learned how to DJ/Emcee new party types, and learned from the best on how to run a successful DJ business. All for very little money and just a small commitment of time on my part. Skills pay the bills!
Join a local DJ association such as The New Jersey Disc Jockey Association (NJDJN) or a chapter of the American Disc Jockey Association (ADJA). If no association exists in your local market, then create a group with your respected colleagues. Annual DJ conferences that contain educational content, such as the DJ Times International DJ Expo (held each August in Atlantic City) and the Mobile Beat Show (held each March in Las Vegas) offer an efficient way to gain a large amount of information over a short period of time. Another great way to learn the business is to shadow a successful DJ and have them show you the ropes for a particular party type.
Did I mention that continuing education events offer unparalleled networking opportunities? In past years, I’ve generated up to 15% of my annual sales from referrals and subcontract work from other DJs in my local market.
One of my favorite inspirational quotes about continuing education is by Julia Child, “You’ll never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
There are many paths to success in the DJ industry. There is no right or wrong way. Choose your path wisely and be sure to enjoy the journey!
About the Author
Gregg Hollmann is the owner/operator of Ambient DJ Service based in East Windsor, New Jersey, a former President of the New Jersey Disc Jockey Network, and the author of “The Bride’s Guide to Selecting the Perfect Wedding DJ ”(available on Amazon.com). Follow him on Instagram at “AmbientDJs”