Attack Of The Clones
For a number of years now, the focus of this magazine has been on changing the perception of the mobile DJ industry. I believe that together, through a hell of a lot of hard work, we’ve made significant steps forward with this. We’ve changed what it means to be a mobile DJ, from the stereotypical image of the middle-aged man, pint in hand, mumbling down the mic… to the new, much more realistic idea of the mobile DJ as an events industry professional, often wearing a suit and usually going above and beyond to deliver a great party. A DJ, Master of Ceremonies, Entertainer and Wedding Advisor all rolled into one.
But lately I’ve been asking myself whether this professional development and change in public perception has come at a price? I believe it has.
ATTACK OF THE CLONES
In our search for a more professional reputation, we’ve turned into robotic DJs and wedding hosts, all saying the same thing and offering the same packages. And ultimately this could be our downfall.
I think there is a balance between becoming professional and becoming too straight-laced, losing the comedy and entertainment factor. We’ve raised the game; changed how the public views this industry; but in the process the industry has lost its personality. It’s like an Attack of the Clones: we all look the same, sound the same, put into action the same ideas, use the same order of ceremonies… the list goes on. I mean, take a look at the Gear Junkies feature in this very magazine – how many photos of the same setup can we have? The only really notable change from setup to setup is the colour of the up-lighting!
These may seem like harsh words but I say them because I care so passionately about this industry. And while I’m happy that we’re more professional than ever before, I’m sad when this professionalism comes at the cost of what makes us – as people, DJs, and wedding hosts – so interesting to begin with. Because, at the end of the day, a client hires a DJ because they need a musical expert who is the best at what he/she does. Lately it seems we’re more focussed on being customer service assistants than mobile DJs, and for me that’s a step too far.
So, in today’s hyper-professional world, how can you be different and really stand out? Where has the personality gone and how can we get it back before it’s too late?
Our industry is a lot more creative, diverse and skilled than people once believed, and we’ve been successfully proving it over recent years! The mobile DJ world encompasses people of all ages from all different backgrounds, each with something unique to bring to the table. But sadly this doesn’t always show. We’re so concerned with being professional that our true personalities are often disguised, obscured, or just plain hidden all together.
So, what can we do about it?
THE RETURN OF THE JEDI
In the days of Spotify playlists, 4G web access and direct streaming, you need to make sure clients understand the importance of the DJ and clarify why hiring you for their event is such a vital move. One of the reasons you could give your client is that, unlike a computer, you are unique. You offer a service that goes above and beyond a playlist, using audience interaction, a bespoke musical repertoire, and your hosting skills to provide a special, memorable day for the client and their guests.
OK, that’s all well and good, but what does your personality bring to all this? Do you offer something nobody else does? Or are you just going to repeat the standard ‘professional DJ-come-wedding-host’ mantra?
If you need some inspiration, look towards the mobile DJs out there who do think outside the box. There are some doing exemplary work when it comes to bringing personality and pizazz to their events. Harry Kilb’s Steampunk Disco [featured in this issue’s Gear Junkies section] is a particularly memorable example, combining Harry’s obvious love of Steampunk aesthetics with his business as a mobile DJ to provide a service that clients love for its eccentricity and amusement. When potential clients Google for mobile DJs in Kent, you can guarantee that Harry Kilb is the only one offering a Steampunk Disco. So, check who your local competitors are, assess what they’re doing, and then try to do something different!
Allowing your personality to shine through is an important aspect of any entertainment role, whether you’re a DJ, wedding host, musician or comedian. John Richardson, a comedian and TV personality most of you will know, is an example of how personality feeds so well into comedy. His jokes are obviously clever, but they’re funnier because we in the audience know that he’s an OCD clean-freak. He brings his personality into his performance – and that’s no doubt what’s made him into one of the UK’s top comedians.
You should aim to bring some element of your personality into your work as a mobile DJ. It’s not for me to tell you exactly how to do this, but you shouldn’t be afraid to maintain your persona, to embrace what makes you individual as a person. Nobody likes a poser; so stay true to yourself – after all, a distinct musical love of yours or that strange hobby you have (no, not that one!) may be the key to a new avenue of business.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 84, Pages 30-32.