by Stu Chisholm
Nearly all of the DJs I know who have made being a DJ their career not only have excellent mobile gear, but have cobbled together at least some type of production studio, be it anything from a laptop loaded with Ableton Live or Adobe Soundbooth CS5 to a full-blown Avid M-Audio home studio loaded with the latest version of Pro Tools.
Some years ago I was called on to provide PA for a local beauty pageant, a forerunner to Miss Michigan and Miss USA. I had to track which song went with each contestant and play it at the exact moment it was needed. The roster would be revised over and over during the two days of rehearsal and final performance.
During the rehearsal, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the music sounded terrible! In those days, the edits had been made on boom boxes or home cassette recorders. So I offered to do a “clean” edit for each contestant using my on-board Mini-Disc recorders. Most of the girls agreed and were delighted with the improved sound. I transferred all of the songs to a master Mini-Disc and, as the roster changed, I could easily change the playback order. Not only did this assure that I’d match up the correct song to the correct contestant, but allowed me to focus more on my script (yes, I was also the house emcee) and running the massive microphone mixer.
After that show, I contacted the producers and offered my services to future contestants. For the several years I was involved with the pageant, each show would be preceded by a parade of contestants and their parents (and sometimes coaches) coming by for an hour of music editing, which in more recent times was done completely in the digital domain, my trusty Mini-Disc decks being retired long ago.
One night a woman introduced herself as an instructor at a local fitness gym and, after complimenting my mixing skills, complained about the sorry state of affairs when it came to the music available for her classes. Apparently there were indeed a few companies that created mixes in the proper BPM range, but used studio “sound alike” bands to skirt copyright restrictions. When she told me what she was paying for these discs, I was stunned: they were charging a small fortune!
She told me that it would be cheaper for her to buy the music she liked and wanted to know if I could mix it for her. I agreed, mentioning that since she owned the music, she wouldn’t be in violation of said copyright. She ran two classes; step and cardio. Each had a set duration (45 minutes) and a set BPM progression. In my otherwise wasted off-time I could now produce custom programs for her studio. She had hot, new music that worked for her and no other aerobics studio had the same mixes. I got a paycheck for doing what I love in my spare time!
The Detroit Skating Club is a major hub for both professional and aspiring professional figure skaters. Their roster of instructors reads like a who’s who of Olympic and U.S. champions. All of them need music! In many ways their routines are like pageant contestants; they need tightly timed, precise music edits, often in different lengths for different phases of the competition. The biggest difference is that many sanctioned competitions have strict music guidelines, such as prohibiting vocals or requiring all classical numbers.
Many opportunities are missed simply because we’re not aware they exist. Now that you know about these competitors and their needs, you can get the full benefit from your expensive software and more productivity in your off hours.
Stu Chisholm – The Complete Disc Jockey
Stu Chisholm of Stu & His Crew Professional Disc Jockey Service in Michigan, has has worked in several areas of the DJ Universe.
He’s been a radio, mobile, club and roller skating rink DJ in the Detroit area since 1979, and done commercial voice-over work, as well.
Stu has been a keynote and featured speaker at DJ trade shows in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. He is the author of the book, “The Complete Disc Jockey” and is a regular columnist with Mobile Beat Magazine.
To contact him, email DJStuCrew@gmail.com. You can grab Stu’s book at TheCompleteDiscJockey.com.