10 Ways to Keep Your DJs Happy

From “The Mobile DJ MBA” by Stacy Zemon

After meeting socially on several occasions, DJ Mike asked Lenny to join his multi-system mobile entertainment operation. Mike thought that Lenny, a novice who had bought some audio gear and practiced with it at home and at house parties, had “the right stuff” to succeed as a disc jockey, and so Mike assumed the task of molding him into the kind of entertainer who would do a great job representing his business.

Mike spent countless hours over the course of a year training his “newbie” on all aspects of performance and customer service. Lenny came along quickly, graduating from roadie to DJ – and then to a full-fledged MC. As a savvy business owner, Mike even had Lenny sign a non-compete agreement so he could rest assured that his new recruit would stay with his company and not try to strike out on his own.

Needless to say, Mike was stunned, hurt, disappointed and angry when, after only two years, Lenny left to start his own mobile entertainment company. Mike felt robbed of his investment and the last thing in the world he needed was another competitor in his area.

Mike took Lenny to court over the non-compete agreement, but the judge ruled in Lenny’s favor because the contract wasn’t worded specifically enough to legally keep Lenny from leaving Mike’s business and starting his own.

Where did DJ Mike go wrong?

If this sad tale has happened to you or you fear it might – relax and listen up. This writer has some good advice on ways to turn your DJs into loyal, long-term, highly motivated ambassadors for your company. Here are some creative ideas to get you started:

  1. Pay your DJs well and fairly. Go out of your way to praise them when they are doing a great job. Give biannual rate increases and every reason you can think of to stay and be happy working for your company.
  2. Help your DJs get tipped. You can do this by teaching them tricks of the trade such as providing the groom with a rose to give to the bride, turning down the meal, helping to wait on the head table, releasing the tables for the buffet line and looking for any opportunity to go the extra mile with customer service. Your DJs will be grateful to have earned the extra $50 to $100 or more per gig, and this perk didn’t cost you anything.
  3. Let your DJs keep their overtime money. This should apply to overtime requested by a client at an event, not in advance. It is a great incentive for an employee to know that he or she gets to keep 100% of the dividends from a jammin’ party at which a happy client asks him or her to extend the playing time.
  4. Launch an employee recognition program. Provide $50 to $100 cash-value gift cards to those who receive “X” number of high ratings from Client Satisfaction Surveys. Praise a winning employee publicly in front of the other DJs at your monthly employee meeting while presenting him or her with a hand-written greeting card from you with the gift card tucked inside.
  5. Provide more frequent work for your top performers. Seniority is a good thing because it means a DJ has been with your company for some time; however, in our business, no one gets to rest on their laurels. So, motivate your employees to continue striving for their best by giving your consistently top performers first dibs on new gigs.
  6. Offer a $100 bonus for new DJ referrals. The bonus should be available to all of your staffers, and it is best to give it only if you hire the person and he/she stays with your company for at least six months.
  7. Create a first-class company image and a positive work environment. Your staff will be proud to be associated with a company that has an excellent reputation and commands top dollar for its services. Set an example as a strong yet understanding leader. Share your company’s triumphs with your DJs at monthly meetings. Such gatherings help your employees bond with one another, offer an opportunity for you to publicly acknowledge people and hand out awards, as well as being an excellent time for your DJs to share their successes and challenges in order to learn from one another.
  8. Provide rate increases based on positive client evaluations as well as adherence to your company’s standards, policies, and procedures. A potential pay raise is an excellent incentive for your DJs to continually want to better their best. For those who slack off, however, pay decreases can also be made. Consider starting a newbie at 25% of the gross income for a gig and topping out at 70% (which should take at least a few years to reach).
  9. Provide a training program for new DJs. To initiate the newcomer into your business, have regular training sessions that include a combination of lecture, hands-on practice, observation with your other DJs at events and on-the-job supervised performance prior to going solo. Your thorough training agenda should cover all aspects of performance sequenced in a logical order, as well as your company’s policies, procedures, and standards – all set forth in a comprehensive training manual.
  10. Provide quality equipment and a comprehensive music library for your DJs if that is how your company operates. When you provide your staff with all of the tools necessary to perform well, you’re helping them to succeed. When people are succeeding at a job, they rarely feel the need to look elsewhere.

Remember your internal customers – your staff. The best way to attract and retain the best people is to compensate them well, show appreciation for the contributions they make and provide ongoing opportunities for professional and financial growth. These actions are nearly guaranteed to make them happy.

From performance and productivity to accountability and retention – talented, motivated and hardworking staffers lead to increased profitability and longevity for your business. And that should make YOU very happy!


  • Stacy Zemon is the Founder, Former Publisher and Former Chief Scribe of ProMobileDJ.com. She is a veteran DJ Entertainer who is widely considered an authority on the DJ business, and has become a distinguished industry leader over the course of her illustrious 30+ year career. Stacy’s mission is to provide educational resources for DJs that support their professional growth and financial prosperity. She is a longtime writer for DJ Times magazine, and author of the world’s best-selling DJ books: The Mobile DJ Handbook, The DJ Sales & Marketing Handbook and The Mobile DJ MBA. Stacy is a self-described serial entrepreneur (Equal parts creativity and business). From her efforts, she has spawned more professional disc jockey business owners than any other person in the mobile DJ industry!

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