The DJ Age Issue

Dave Austin

By Dave Austin – “The Music Professor”

I had lunch with a DJ buddy last week, and as we waited for our food, he began to tell me about his business being substantially down from previous years.  He wondered aloud if his age was keeping him from booking events he would have gotten previously.

As I’ve gotten older, I also, have become increasingly aware of the age difference between me and many prospective clients.  I certainly don’t feel or act my age, but to a 20-something bride-to-be, I can be perceived as too old to be the DJ for her wedding.  Like it or not, getting older is a part of life, and our ability – or inability –  to relate to a young person becomes a concern as we reach during the latter stages of our careers.

Here’s the question:  How do we deal with the age issue?  Should we try to hide our age by getting a couple of tattoos and an ear ring to show that we’re really hip…a facelift…get contacts and ditch the glasses…get Botox injections…?

In my view, such options will produce minimal business results, so what can we realistically do to offset the age prejudice which may be costing us clients?

First and foremost, since you can’t change it, accept your age for what it is and begin making some positive changes in order to address the concern.  Step back and try to impartially assess your particular situation.  Have you reached the point at which you should make the decision as to whether you want to continue DJing?  What is the level of your enthusiasm? Are you bored, tired of doing it or just in it for the money?   Should you move into a management role and hire younger DJs to actually do the gigs?

Consider whether you should begin de-emphasizing weddings and other young-oriented events and concentrate your marketing toward a more mature clientele – reunions, country clubs, fraternal organizations, businesses, singles groups, etc.  A friend recently told me about a 1966 class reunion she attended for a group 65 year-olds.  When the guests would request their young DJ to play songs they had enjoyed in their youth, they frequently received a blank look and the response, “I’ve never heard of that song.”  So, there definitely is a substantial market for the mature DJ.

Take a critical look at your website.  You may want to call on some younger friends or family members to assist you in evaluating your site.  Does it appear tired, dull, trite or dated?  Is it generic or does it reflect your personality and style?  Does it tell the story you want clients to know about your business?  Does it tell the visitor what to you specialize in – weddings, mitzvahs, business events, etc.?  Does it have current photos and/or videos of your events?  Does it tout your experience and expertise without sounding boastful or arrogant?  Bear in mind that attention spans are very short and you may only have a few seconds to grab the visitors’ attention and motivate them to want to know more.

In reality, we’re still going to get calls from brides-to-be and we don’t want to turn down business unnecessarily, so when the call comes, evaluate whether you would be a suitable fit for that client.  If she’s looking for a wild hip-hop reception party, for example, it may not be your forte.  Otherwise, you’ll want to tell her about your years of experience and how your experience with hundreds of weddings can benefit her.  Create your own list of advantages about which you can tell your prospective clients.  Is there something unique that you offer?  Do you have referral incentives?  Do you have ethnic music for those clients who may want it?  Give it some thought and you’re likely to come up with several items which you offer and your competitors do not.

Finally, the ultimate option to address the age issue would be either closing or selling your business.  For most of us – me included – this would be a painful decision, but in all honesty, we knew from the start it would come to an end someday.  Where else could we possibly have a job that is so much fun and for which we actually get paid!


  • Dave Austin began his career at age 13 at a small, hometown radio station. He went on to graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s degree in broadcasting. Since that time, Dave has been a mobile and radio DJ, radio station Program Director, and a TV news reporter and anchorman. He has also done voiceover work for documentaries and commercials. In 1986 Dave’s longtime passion for music prompted him to start “Southern Celebrations DJs,” a multi-system mobile entertainment company serving clients in Tennessee, Northern Georgia and Northern Alabama. You can email him c/o

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