DJ Education: A Life Altering Reality

By Robert D. Riley

I believe that any morning we DJs get out of bed and don’t learn something new about our craft, is a day completely wasted.

I started out in this business in 1995. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was charging about half what other DJs in my market were charging ($250 for four hours). The fact is, I had no idea how much my entertainment services were really worth. I was just a small fish in a small pond.

As time went on, I did the best I could to improve my skills, and talked “shop” with other DJs I met – but I was hungry for real knowledge about how I could improve as a professional.

Mark Ferrell

Mark Ferrell DVD

Then, several years ago I started hearing “buzz” about a man named Mark Ferrell.  He was promising DJs that they could make $1,200 per event. Hell, I was barely making $500!

I wanted to know what all the hubbub was about, so I purchased Mark’s CD set. On it he talked about Veggie platters…how the guests were never going to say, “I want to go to another wedding because the chicken was so good!”…how the average cost of catering at a wedding is $1,200…and he drove home the point about the real value of the entertainment. Then he said the words that have stuck with me, and probably every Ferrellite out there. “Are you worth more than a veggie platter? Be worth more than broccoli!”

That was it. I was off and running, looking for anything I could get my hands on to learn more about being a better DJ, and running a better business.

Peter Merry

The Best Wedding Reception Ever!

Peter Merry’s book “The Best Wedding Reception Ever!” became the next tool in my learning arsenal. I got the first edition when it was still a soft cover book, and it had a personalized note attached. Man was it good! The book covered everything about the different options I had for customizing weddings and their timelines.

I knew I was improving when my client reviews started saying things like, “That was the most fun we ever had at a wedding!” Brides regularly started telling me that their guests were still talking about how great their reception was months later.

The Mobile DJ MBAStacy Zemon

The next addition to my library was Stacy Zemon’s book, “The Mobile DJ MBA.” Not only did I gain a competitive edge by following her business, sales and marketing advice – but also from the sixty other industry experts that contributed their wisdom to the book.

Randy BartlettThe One Percent Solution


Randy Bartletts DVD, “The 1% Solution” was a gold mine of specific suggestions for improving my MC skills. He showed me how I could implement simple, very small changes that would result in a vastly improved performance.

Todd Mitchem

Hey DJ...Focus!

Todd Mitchems “Hey DJ Focus” came next, and was a real eye opener. His DVD taught me how to command a room rather than fight to get guests to listen to me when making announcements on a mic.

Education throughout my career has continued to be a life altering reality. Starting with my high school debating team, marching band, speech classes and plays – to reading books and watching DVDs from the best in our business – to attending “The Las Vegas DJ Show” and the “ARM DJ Conference” have allowed me to continuously improve. Taking full advantage of these learning opportunities has made all the difference in the world from where I began to where I am now!!!

Putting Learning Into Action

Everything I learned I put into action – and my client reviews kept improving. By now I was charging more than my local competitors and getting more bookings!

I’m proud to say that my company was the first in my area to use low-lying fog and lighting for Broadway-style grand entrances. Using one of the groomsmen at a wedding, we also did the “Newlywed Game” and guests loved it! We changed the timelines for weddings in Arkansas completely, doing things West coast style. How about “roasting” a wedding party? Yup, we’ve done that too. Extended intros for the wedding party with sound effects, and “Love Story” style introductions for the bride and groom…our clients had never seen anything like them!

My Message to You

Now all of this may sound like I’m bragging, and yea, maybe I am a little, but there is a reason. What’s happened for me can happen for you too IF you take the time, spend the money and put in the effort to gain the rewards!

I hope my story has inspired you to take action in bettering your best! I highly recommend all of the products and people mentioned in this article, and there are even more products and trade shows you can learn from, not the least of which is THIS great free website with its robust Knowledge Bank!

I have gone from being a “Craigslist DJ” to being one of the highest paid and most sought after entertainers in Central Arkansas. My company’s slogan is: “Providing an imaginative and memorable brand of entertainment that transforms typical wedding receptions into extraordinarily memorable celebrations.” I encourage you to “step up your game” starting TODAY!


  • “Purveyor of music across decades and styles in a perfect mix .”

    That’s how Robert describes himself as a entertainer. Never afraid to have fun, his wedding receptions are a perfect mix of Broadway style blocking and transitions and good old southern charm. Having grown up on his families eclectic combination of Outlaw country, (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson), 70's -80's Hard Rock, (Kiss, Iron Maiden), and synth-infused pop 80s (Prince, Alan Parsons Project)… all which became infused with his own love for both early hip-hop and southern rock music, Robert ended up with quite a mixed spectrum of musical influence. Today, this translates into sets that will take you back into yesteryear and send you flying into today's hottest hits without ever missing a groove,
    A very active member of his local community, Robert is no stranger to the ups-and-downs of a small-town music scene. Though he loves playing in nightclubs, patios and special events, his love for music goes beyond the spectrum of mixing tunes. As a wedding entertainer he found a love for making the perfect show seamless, from those very first introductions till the final dance is played, every moment is like a beautifully choreographed Broadway show, where the stars are the Wedding Party.
    “For me, it’s all about making that day seamless, to let the wedding party and their guests relax and enjoy the day, knowing that everything is handled"

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