By Gregg Hollmann, “Party Professional”
I’m a believer in the adage that “readers are leaders.” As a boy, I loved reading mystery books and biographies about my favorite sports stars. During summer vacation, I would typically read a book a day. Fast forwarding to my late twenties when I became interested in the mobile DJ profession, I once again returned to the books to learn about the industry. Unlike many mobile DJs, I am entirely self-taught and never worked under another DJ company. Books were immensely helpful in bridging the information gap.
Much of what I learned via books helped me to create a successful small business. Even so, years later, I continue to read in my spare time. In the non-fiction realm, I particularly enjoy books about business, music history and the DJ industry. These days I do most of my reading on a Kindle (love this device!). By now, I’ve encountered many of the key concepts of the mobile DJ continuing education curriculum. However, my quest for knowledge remains high and I never mind receiving a refresher course on a particular topic. Reinforcement of educational material is one way to ensure that it becomes cemented permanently in your knowledge bank.
What types of books should mobile DJs read? Since most us wear many hats as DJs and business owners, books related to music, technical skills, emceeing, sales skills, finance and management are welcome additions to any DJ’s library!
In this blog, I share five book recommendations that should appeal to you as a DJ or small business owner:
How to DJ Right – The Art and Science of Playing Records, by Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster.
This book explores the power of music and how an adept DJ can get inside the minds of guests and create memories. How to DJ Right provides instructions and graphical depictions on beatmixing and popular DJ scratches. The artist interviews are also inspiring. I provide this book to all of my new hires. While not specifically geared towards the mobile DJ, this book is a must read for all DJs.
Also recommended by Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster is their beefy history of the DJ and dance music, “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life”. Learn the stories behind industry pioneers like Alan Freed, Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and David Mancuso. Explore the birth of various music genres and understand the interrelationships between them.
Running Your Multi-Op, by Michael Walter.
Mike Walter is the owner of Elite Entertainment based in New Jersey. Many consider Elite to be America’s most successful multi-op DJ business. In the book, Mike shares in great detail how he recruits and trains DJ talent. He covers a wealth of topics including non-compete agreements, how to train emcees, the employee versus subcontractor debate, how to “sell down”, how to make winning promo videos and how to create a successful business that can run itself without the constant presence of its owner. Mike delivers the information in his patented fun and candid style.
Running Your Multi-Op is a beneficial read for any DJ – whether single-op or multi-op. Furthermore, you will gain many tips on how to become a better emcee. Running Your Multi-Op is also available as an MP3 audio book. Mike’s teachings really come alive in the audio book version, read by the author himself.
The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, by Joel Whitburn. In the updated ninth edition of this book, Whitburn’s encyclopedic music guide spans complete chart information about America’s most popular songs and artists from 1955 to 2009. The largest section of the book contains an alphabetical listing of artists where you can read the artist’s bio and see the details about all of their songs that charted. Want to know what year Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” was released and how many weeks it spent at #1? Then this book is for you.
The latter section of the book contains the Top 25 songs of each year and also reveals the top-ranking artists by decade. This book is a must-have for any music lover. I often use it when researching playlists or preparing for a class reunion or milestone birthday. A DJ can also use the information in the Billboard Book of Top 40 hits to create fun ‘name that tune’ or musical trivia contests for events.
The Mobile DJ MBA (Business, Sales & Marketing Industry Secrets Revealed), by Stacy Zemon. Stacy is the Editor and Chief Scribe at ProMobileDJ.com. The Mobile DJ MBA is a collection of articles written for DJ Times Magazine by herself, joined in several articles by co-writers like Jeff Stiles and Cap Capello. The book begins with an inspiring foreword by Bobby Morganstein who shares his journey from working as a rookie for a company called Fascinating Rhythms, before founding his own company and undergoing a series of expansions and service diversifications that transformed his business into a conglomerate powerhouse. A common theme of the articles in the book is that it’s seldom the best entertainer who is the most successful in this business. DJs and DJ business owners need to possess serious marketing and sales chops. The readings provided by Stacy provide information on advanced strategies that DJs can use to their benefit. Some of these topics include power partnerships, guerilla marketing techniques, sales techniques to increase your closing rate, DJ contracts (presented by Cap Capello) and how to keep your DJ staff happy. More than feel good general information, the articles in the Mobile DJ MBA provide detailed, actionable ideas.
The Mobile DJ MBA is recommended for DJs of all skill levels, but particularly for business-minded DJs seeking to grow their operations.
Profit First: A Simple System to Transform Any Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine, by Mike Michalowicz. This moderately technical, but well-explained book, presents a methodology that ensures that all of a business owner’s hard work will be rewarded in the form of dividends that do NOT get plowed back into the business, but rather are used to reward you and your family. Too many event professionals start a business based on passion, but soon find that they are terrible business people. The Profit First system imposes a discipline on an owner that will have the business serving you, not vice-versa.
For those interested in learning more about Profit First within the DJ context, connect with DJ Jason Spencer who is a certified Profit First professional and has received formal training in the program. Jason has been speaking at national DJ conferences on this topic. For a quick primer, see my previous article on ProMobileDJ.com “How DJs Can Use the Profit First Financial Management System”.
Those who are contemplating starting their own DJ business are also well-advised to read Michalowicz’s “Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” that provides important training to survive your first years in business.
Don’t Forget the Periodicals!
Also, you are well-advised to order subscriptions for DJ Times Magazine, Mobile Beat Magazine and Disc Jockey News. The cumulative cost to subscribe to all three is only $65. In addition, ProMobileDJ.com publishes articles written by experts on a weekly basis that you can enjoy for free.
In a subsequent ProMobileDJ.com article, I’ll share another five recommended books for Mobile DJs. In the meantime, happy reading!