By Gregg Hollman
As working disc jockeys, we’ve all griped at some point about party guests who have their faces buried in their smartphone and are not truly present at the party. It’s only fair to ask, are cellphones distracting us from delivering the best performances to our clients and guests?
In today’s hyperactive social media loving, selfie-taking society, does anybody even care if the DJ is on his or her cellphone at a party? I would argue that yes, clients are watching and it’s a bad look. Consider two DJs spinning at a casual bar job. The first is mixing, making eye contact with guests and “in the moment.” The second is sitting in a chair with a cellphone prominently in hand, face buried in his cellphone screen. In a more elegant setting, imagine a wedding with the newlyweds sharing their first dance in a beautiful venue. In the background, a DJ is seen in the booth with his cellphone in hand snapping a photo for a social media post. Is this the professional image that we want to represent?
In perusing online reviews of wedding DJs, one bride was unhappy to find her DJ browsing Facebook in the midst of her once-in-a-lifetime celebration. Another bride complained that her wedding DJ was snapping too many selfies. On Instagram, a wedding guest posted a side profile of the wedding DJ snapping a selfie wearing a big smiley face Photo Booth prop. The commentary of her post was not complimentary to the DJ.
Listed below are suggested best practices for DJ smartphone use:
1) Turn Off Your Cellphone. It’s easier said than done, but imagine how much more present you could be at an event without even the temptation to check your email or social media accounts. Imagine that every glance at your cellphone screen was replaced by a guest interaction or smile. Assistants and dancers should similarly have their devices turned off.
2) Be Discreet. If you need to keep your cellphone on at an event, use it discreetly and infrequently from behind a façade. Avoid holding it in two hands and close to your face.
3) Staff Your Events Properly to Get Photos for Social Media. Have an assistant or social media specialist take photos and video at an event, freeing up the DJ/Emcee to focus on their performance. Of course, in capturing photos, make sure not to interfere with any professional or videographer.
4) Make Social Media Posts AFTER the Event. I once reprimanded one of my company’s emcees who not only photographed a wedding couple’s first dance, but proceeded to make an Instagram post while the dance was still ongoing. Again, we need to be in the moment and performing our important roles at an event.
5) Involve Guests in Social Media Photos. Assuming you have a client’s permission, set up a big group photo on the dance floor. You can join the photo and even take it from a big selfie stick. Then watermark the photo with your company logo and share it with the client and on social media.
6) Ask Your Clients About Their Social Media Preferences. Most millennials love social media and create special hashtags for their events. Others value their privacy and prefer that photos of their private event not make it into the public domain. Be sure to ask your client about their social media preferences at the planning consultation. For those clients who enjoy photos and social media, they will probably be happy to pose with you for a photo. No need to sneak around snapping photos on the sly!
7) Brainstorm on Ways That Guests Can Use Cellphones to Improve the Quality of Your Show. For example, there are text to screen apps where guests can send requests or post messages to a video wall. Can you concoct a creative table game that involves guests using their cellphones? Does your DJ service have a proprietary app for clientele?
In summary, cellphones and social media are here to stay. As DJs, we need footage from events to promote our businesses on social media. But it is important to realize that immersing ourselves in social media at an event can be very anti-social as it distracts us from entertaining guests to the best of our abilities. Indiscriminate cellphone by DJs at a party can also make us look unprofessional.