By Stu Chisholm
A History Lesson
Repertoire. That was the word I kept hearing back in the ‘70s when DJs first began really competing with bands. A DJ has thousands of songs, but a band has a limited repertoire. Ads touted “we take requests” and “we don’t take breaks!” It was all about the music and the way it was presented.
In the absence of the Internet and trade magazines, DJs worked in a vacuum. They designed their own road cases or cleverly retrofitted cases from the guitar and drum shop. They developed their own styles and routines. A light show wasn’t common, but those who had them also designed them from scratch, often using the same stage lighting used by bands.
With the late ‘70s and early ‘80s came DJ associations, trade publications and entertainers began to network. All of this had both good and bad consequences.
The Good: Networking encouraged communication between competitors. Additional know-how allowed single-ops to offer the same levels of service as multi-ops, such as having emergency back-up gear available. Across the board, the level of quality and professionalism began to improve, which helped the industry as a whole.
The Bad: DJs began copying each other. What began as something adopted by one DJ to set his/her service apart from the crowd became “the next big thing.” Flash forward to today, where photo booths, photo montages, “The Love Story” and up-lighting are common among service offerings. DJs rush to the trade shows to see what the next leader has for them to follow.
Those innovators of the early days created products, services and dance routines that today’s DJs use or emulate on a routine basis. They didn’t buy or get their ideas from any other disc jockey, although YOU can, thanks to them. And because of their entrepreneurial savvy, today even mobiles with modest business skills are able to offer “the latest and the greatest” to their clients.
So Now What?
The bottom-line is that all of us (who keep our egos in check) want to be better entertainers and business people. If we can learn from others to avoid some of the pitfalls and dead-ends while also picking-up some good techniques, then it’s good for both us, our clients and the industry.
Still, we’re left with that ever-present question we hear repeatedly from our potential clients, “How are you different from any other DJ?”
The answer lies in being an innovator. Innovators think “outside the box,” looking to other industries to see what product or service might add value to his/her business offerings.
Why not apply your creativity and do something fresh? For example, if weddings are your mainstay, then think about what you would like at YOUR wedding that isn’t common place. Ask your friends, family and significant other for their romantic and fun ideas. Visualize possibilities. Brainstorm ideas from the minuscule to the outrageous and see what emerges.
You might surprise yourself or you might feel discouraged; however, if you set your intention to think of innovative ideas they will come to you – and almost always at a time that seems like its from “out of the blue.”
Who knows? One day, you could be the one giving a seminar or selling books and DVDs at trade shows. More importantly, you could have a powerful, compelling, unique, money-making answer to the question, “How are you different from any other DJ? And that means money in the bank for your business!
Are you an innovator? Tell us about it!
Stu Chisholm – “The Complete Disc Jockey”
Stu Chisholm of Stu & His Crew Professional Disc Jockey Service in Michigan, has has worked in several areas of the DJ Universe. He’s been a radio, mobile, club and roller skating rink DJ in the Detroit area since 1979, and done commercial voice-over work, as well. Stu has been a keynote and featured speaker at DJ trade shows in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. He is the author of the book, “The Complete Disc Jockey” and is a regular columnist with Mobile Beat Magazine. To contact him, email DJStuCrew@gmail.com. You can grab Stu’s book at TheCompleteDiscJockey.com.