-written by David Pickett, owner of A 2 Z DJ Service in Memphis, Tenn.
Every month, I see new DJ’s appear on Craigslist. Some are amateurs; some are pros seeking a new place to advertise. This post is mostly for the amateurs…but even pros need to ‘brush up their Shakespeare’ from time to time.
How to be a pro DJ in three simple rules:
1. Act professional
Before you have the right sound or the right lights, you must be professional in appearance and attitude. It starts with simple things. Be prompt. Return emails and phone calls. Smile. If things go wrong, offer to fix them. When things go right, don’t gloat. Always let your client take the whole spotlight. Never talk bad about your competition. Don’t get on the mic and make jokes for the sake of making jokes. Don’t drink to excess. Don’t expect tips. Bottom line, ‘if in doubt, don’t.’
2. Look professional
Before people will look at your gear…they will look at you. Remember Kohl’s is your friend. Look nicer than the clients who attend your gig. Don’t wear flip-flops – even to a pool party. Find a few polo shirts and comfortable khakis. For wedding and fancy gigs, find a few long sleeved dress shirts and ties. Get a pair of Rockports. (Yes, they are more expensive than something at a discount shoe store, but they last and last). Save the sneakers for school dances (and pool parties). Keep your hair groomed, your pits clean and your teeth brushed. When you have the money, create a good website. Most of your business will come from it so make it stand out from the garbage that’s out there.
3. Sound professional
This isn’t really about gear. It’s about how you carry yourself when you speak. Speak with confidence. Take toastmaster or public speaking courses if you’re nervous about speaking in front of crowds. Learn your gear—their assets as well as limitations BEFORE taking a paying gig. Learn how to read a crowd—playing hiphop all night may make the kids happy but won’t impress Grandma. Remember your client owns the volume knob.
If there are a large number of professional DJ’s in the area, the happier clients will be. This leads to more success for all of us. And it’s as easy as one, two three.