I think it’s fair to say that at the beginning of the year none of us thought we’d now be inhabiting a world of clandestine haircuts, 10 weeks of doorstep clapping on a Thursday night and zimmer-framed pensioners topping the charts. Yet here we are in lockdown limbo. It’s not quite what I had in mind for 2020! How’s it working out for you?
Whilst I haven’t learnt to play the guitar or written that long-threatened novel, I have sought refuge in music, including probably my favourite band of all time, the criminally underrated Prefab Sprout. “Darling it’s a life of surprises. It’s no help growing older or wiser,” emotes Paddy McAloon on Prefab Sprout’s late ‘80s single ‘Life Of Surprises’. Whilst he never explicitly mentions global pandemics in the lyrics (well, nothing rhymes with pandemic) he may have a point. Nothing in my locker of experience has prepared me for this, but that doesn’t mean I can’t plot a course through it for my DJ business.
I won’t pretend to have all the answers about when we’re all likely to be able to get back to the jobs we love, but I do want to create a vision of what weddings might look like in the medium term. I’m no Nostradamus – if I was, I’d have booked the year off! – but here’s what I think the new normal might look like and why it presents us with some opportunities.
The Guest Cull
It’s very possible that when weddings are allowed to resume, they’ll be more intimate affairs with perhaps only 20 or 30 guests allowed at the venue to ensure social distancing. I’m sure we’ve all DJed at some intimate events over the years, I certainly have! In my experience, whilst the smaller numbers can present a challenge, they can actually turn out to be some of the most rewarding events, allowing you to really get to know the audience. However, there’s every possibility that the format of the day itself will change so we may have to adapt to a very different sort of wedding day than we were previously used to.
I reckon it’s not just the guest numbers that will be shrinking but also the length of the wedding day itself. Compared with a lot of other countries, UK weddings are fairly epic affairs, typically starting at 1 or 2pm and coming to an end at midnight. We may see this change to a far more stripped back day with a lot more focus on the meal than the dancing. I can foresee a timeline that would start with the ceremony at maybe 2pm, followed by an outdoor drinks reception, then the wedding breakfast and speeches, with the celebrations wrapping up at 8 or 9pm. This would give us DJs a much narrower window of opportunity to entertain guests and, if I’m being blunt, makes it more difficult to justify our involvement at all. It’s depressing isn’t it, to consider being erased from the wedding day? So whilst we were all looking over our shoulder concerned about the threat from Spotify, along comes COVID-19 and kills off the DJ!
Ok so maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but what are you going do to remain relevant until we can get back to normal? I’m going to use a word I’ve heard a lot recently in relation to business: ‘pivot’. Pivoting, in the context of your DJ business, is about changing your service as a reaction to having the wedding rug pulled from under you and it’s something we all need to consider in order to survive this challenge and remain invaluable to our couples.
Here are some ways you can work with your couples and their venues to adapt and stay relevant:
I won’t dwell on this too much because countless other Pro Mobile articles have been written on this topic. Suffice to say there are lots of ways you can add value with ceremony music production, drinks reception music outside and making the meal music more upbeat for your couples.
Wedding Day Hosting
Here you can add some real value for your couples. If the evening entertainment is curtailed then the meal is likely to become the focus of the entertainment. Having someone there, like you, who can pull everything together will be crucial.
So how are you going to keep guests engaged and entertained during the meal? I already offer my services as a wedding day host and regularly get involved in orchestrating things like speech sweepstakes, table games and advice cards for guests to share their wisdom and good wishes with the happy couple. I think this is an area where we are all going to have to innovate and develop if we want to be a part of wedding celebrations in the medium term.
The Guest Book Reinvented
Think about how you can use the skills you’ve built up as a DJ and transfer those to the new wedding landscape. One that springs to mind is audio editing. I’m frequently asked by couples to edit tracks for things like the first dance or a mash-up bridal party dance. There are lots of different pieces of audio editing software out there, many of them free and fairly intuitive to use. Why not use these to help couples produce an audio guest book, enabling those guests that can’t physically be at the wedding to leave messages for the bride and groom that can be played back during the wedding breakfast?
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 102, Pages 44-48.