DJ Horror Stories

by Mike Walter – “Multi-Op Corner”

Stacy Zemon, Publisher and Chief Scribe here at, sent me an email that inspired this article. She wrote:

I have been hearing so many horror stories lately about DJs stealing equipment from owners, DJs not showing up for weddings, and single-ops being too afraid to become multi-ops because they either don’t want to train or can’t find excellent talent to represent their companies.”

There are 2 issues at work here.

#1 – The first is the lack of ethics from some people (stealing equipment, not showing up etc.) This is why I always recommend working with newbies in an entry level position long enough to learn what kind of people they really are before you give them the ultimate responsibility of using your equipment and headlining events for you.

I challenge any Multi-Op owner with this question: Would you trust every MC on your staff with your house keys? If not, I would ask you why you trust that person with the ultimate responsibility on your events. There are a few ways to “test” a person’s ethics (some of which I get into in my book) but the bottom line is observation.

Over time most people’s true self reveals itself and it’s up to the savvy business owner to be aware and judgmental. Don’t let someone’s talent outshine their ethics.

#2 – The second issue is one of fear (“I’m don’t want to take the step to being a Multi-Op because I’m afraid of . . .”). However it will surprise most people when I tell you what I believe you are truly afraid of in this scenario.

I think deep down, maybe on an even subconscious level, many single operators who don’t take the jump to being a Multi-Op (or who take the jump and then fail for what seems like almost self-destructive reasons) are afraid of having someone on staff who is more talented than they are.

When I look back on some of the DJs who I lost early on, and the way I treated them that made them want to leave, I admit I used to be a victim of my own hubris in that way. And it wasn’t until I got my ego out of the way and allowed my staff to get more accolades than me, that I truly began to grow Elite Entertainment and create relationships with DJs who have stayed with me for many years.

Take a good look inside.

Now I understand most people are going to brush that off and say “No way, that’s not me” but couldn’t that be your ego (once again) talking and not allowing for the truth to surface.

Let’s face it, almost everyone who ever got into entertainment, whether it’s acting or singing or DJing, did so to satisfy that inner need for attention. Not everyone has it – – which is why not everyone pursues a career in the arts. But for those of us who have it, and that includes just about every DJ I have ever met, the need to be loved and praised is at the core of who we are.

And along with that comes an intolerance when other’s are being loved or praised. When a solo DJ receives a sales call or email it is almost always either a direct referral or an indirect referral for them. In other words someone who says some form of “I heard great things about YOU. I want to find out more about YOU. I’m interested in having YOU DJ my event.”

Those calls or emails are very ego satisfy. Far more than, “I heard great things about ONE OF YOUR DJS. I want to find out more about ONE OF YOUR DJS. I’m interested in having ONE OF YOUR DJS DJ my event.” Other than the ability to trace back and think: “Well I trained that guy so when he gets a referral that’s a compliment to my training” the ego satisfaction is far less in those second communications.


So when you think to yourself, “I’m afraid to bring a second DJ in because . . .” understand that any excuse you can think of is probably just that. An excuse. Because logic should tell you that plenty of other DJs have done it and have had tremendous success growing their businesses.

Maybe those DJs had a better business sense than you, or better management skills. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because they pushed their ego to the side and allowed their staff to be the real super stars.

It’s a bold question to ask yourself and you may not love the answer: What’s holding you back?


  • Mike Walter is the proud owner of Elite Entertainment, a Multi-System DJ Company in New Jersey that has been selected by and as a top Entertainment company in the country. For over 30 years, he has MCed events from weddings to fashion shows and beauty pageants and his public speaking experience and acumen have served him well as a presenter.

    He began to offer seminars in 1998, at first specifically to the DJ Industry, then he expanded to speaking to event groups and finally to any and all audiences. His seminars are known for their fast pace, mix of information and entertainment and deft use of Keynote. Having sat through enough tedious seminars in his life, Mike vows to never bore an audience. Whether he is offering life changing advice, motivational challenges or hard-core information on how to grow and expand your business, Mike promises he will deliver a quick, concise, and nugget-filled presentation every time he speaks.

    Mike has published three books, Running Your Multi-Op which is widely consider the most comprehensive book for anyone interested in expanding their DJ business, the self-help primer, Ten Things You Can Do to Have a Better Day and the music history compendium: On This Date in Music. He’s also released a number of education videos to help his fellow DJs and business owners. In 2014 he partnered with Joe Bunn to start the PhDJ Workshop and in 2017 the two began a weekly podcast called the PhDJ Podcast.

    For more information head to and

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