by Mike Walter
It’s been fifteen years since Beck released Odelay which is still to this day his defining CD. It includes the awesome song “Where It’s At.” I love that song so much I use the opening cords of it in between the sections of my audio book. Besides the infectious melody I think I just love the “two turntables and a microphone” line so much which is why it’s always been a favorite song of mine.
The Basics and More
Two turntables and a microphone. Think about it. As DJs, isn’t that what we all fell in love with? Isn’t that the basics to everything we do? Mixing music and making announcements.
Sure, to be successful in this industry you need to master a lot more than that. Pre-planning with your clients. Maybe becoming a lighting expert. Adding photo booths and plasma screens and up-lighting and whatever other accoutrements we can up-sell to our clients. But as Seth Godin blogged about recently, fledgling sushi chefs spend months learning how to make rice. They don’t move on until they have mastered that basic necessity. Mixing music and making announcements. That’s our industry’s rice. It’s the basic that has to be mastered before you can move on to anything else.
Go With the Flow
I was reminded of this recently at a wedding I was DJing. My client had asked for The Proclaimers song (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles, which is a song that rarely works for me so I had stuck it in my “I’ll get to it” playlist. Then at one point in the night I was playing Billy Idol’s “Mony Mony” and I thought, “this is the same beat as 500 Miles!!!” (Yes I think to myself with multiple exclamation points.) Sure enough I threw it in over one of the breaks in “Mony Mony” and it slayed. The dance floor went wild. I may not have been using “two turntables” but it was a mix that worked and it maximized one of the bride’s requests (as opposed to tossing it in at some inopportune time just so I could cross it off my list, like I was planning on doing).
Find Humor in What’s Around You
At that same wedding, the bride and groom had named their tables after Yankee greats like Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter (they were big fans). I noticed there was no Alex Rodriguez table (he’s generally hated by most true Yankee fans) so at one point early in the night I made an announcement to this effect: “Hope everyone has found their correct table tonight. They’ve all been named after legendary Yankees. You’ll notice there is no A-Rod table. That’s because Erika and John wanted to make sure we had no choking issues tonight.” I’m no Chris Rock but that line got a huge laugh.
So at the same event, I had a superb mix (two turntables . . .) and a great laugh line (and a microphone.)
Master Cooking Rice First
I’ll be starting a new training class soon. I have two awesome prospects that I believe can go on to be great Elite Entertainers. My training is all about “two turntables and a microphone.” I spend more time on the microphone part but I certainly emphasize programming and mixing enough to know my graduates have a firm grasp of these basics as well. They know how to cook the rice before they move on to anything else in my company and I think if you want to build talent, that’s a great point of emphasis for you as well. Make sure your new DJs have mastered the basics.
Mike Walter – Multi-Op Corner
He is also a writer for Disc Jockey News and Producer of the International DJ Expo’s “DJ of the Year” competition.
Mike is the owner of NJ’s Elite Entertainment, selected by The Knot and Modern Bride magazine as one of the country’s top entertainment companies.
To contact him about his on-site training services or for general inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike’s new book, Running Your Multi-Op, and his highly praised DVD set, Training Your Next Great DJ, are available at DJMikeWalter.com.