This followed a hectic day and evening running an awards event and after party for a big corporate client. I don’t mind admitting, we were congratulating ourselves on a job well done - no, in fact, fantastically well done - and very much thinking “we’ve cracked it – we’ve arrived”. This continued on Monday the 27th when the venue called to congratulate us on a thoroughly professional job. This was almost immediately followed by the customer who we had entertained, calling to ask us to do the same job next year in a different location. We were on our way!
For the last couple of years, Carl and I have been building a new entity/service, using experience gained during our corporate years, and all of our learning as DJs, to give companies who are celebrating in any way, a truly bespoke service. And it’s been a fun journey.
Instead of being “just the DJ”, for quite a while now, a good number of us have specialised in weddings, extending services backwards to include entertainment during wedding breakfasts and even the crucial music for ceremonies. Carl and I have been applying that same logic to corporate events, extending backwards from the evening entertainment to include sound, lighting and music beds for awards shows. It’s amazing how great sound and lighting can lift an awards ceremony way above anything the company has experienced before, to an event which won’t be forgotten in a hurry by anyone in attendance.
Following that successful event back in January, Carl and I were looking forward to a truly fantastic year as we continued to roll out this new concept to many more corporate clients, on top of our usual wedding and party work. But, of course, that’s not how 2020 has panned out!
This year has been excruciating. We have lost nearly all of our proms, the entire summer’s weddings and a myriad of other events, not to mention all of the new corporate work we were making such fantastic headway on. And yet, I remain largely optimistic. Most significantly, I keep my head high because I know that there have been literally millions of people who have had a much worse time of it. It’s so very hard to feel sorry for ourselves when lives have been lost. All of us know, or at least know of, someone who is no longer with us – which puts our troubles firmly into perspective.
As I write, the world is slowly changing. Against a backdrop of flare ups and second waves, Britain seems to be slowly creeping, if not out of the tunnel, at least towards the light. It could be by the time this article is published, we have regressed, gone back into national lockdown and reversed all of the progress. But, lacking a crystal ball, I am going to try to summarise where we are, whilst looking to others in our industry for potential ways forward.
Shortly after the full lockdown, I found my local butcher on the verge of a full-blown crisis due to a huge increase in demand. With all of the work in my own business postponed, I temporarily joined his team and proceeded to devise and install a number of basic systems to make their days that bit easier. Carl got himself a job working for Asda, and many others I know who work as mobile DJs full-time have managed to find some kind of work to help pay the bills. On the other hand, many have not. Some have received government help, whilst others have seen very little income over what is turning out to be a ‘long haul’. And we are yet to see just how our sector will be supported (or not) going forward. However, certainly at the moment, it feels like we are really very marginalised and out here on our own, so what do we have to look forward to and how can we navigate a way forward?
I vaguely remember a quote from a film which went along the lines of: “When you lose all options, suddenly you have all the options”. I’m not sure that’s quite right, but it works well for this purpose! I’ve seen some of our colleagues taking part in new ventures recently, and all right up our street. Plus, suddenly, we have room to breathe and plot the future. Indeed – when you think about our skill sets, there is quite a lot of scope to start building new services and also learn new stuff to take forward in the post-coronavirus era.
>>> Online Broadcast >>>
I’m sure we’ve all seen DJs have a go at online broadcast, anything from a casual set up in the garage to superstar DJs with elaborate staging and dancers. A hugely popular forum during lockdown has been Mulligan’s Virtual Bar, run by Wedding Host and DJ Pat Mulligan. This ‘virtual venue’ is a Facebook page which has over 35,000 followers and hosts regular appearances by live acts as well as DJs.
On a smaller scale, and more local to me, is alternative DJ David ‘Hammy’ Hamilton (who was profiled in Pro Mobile issue 101). David is probably the best version I have seen of an individual mobile DJ breaking into this new world. He does have an advantage over many of us in that for decades he has had a residency in a number of Southampton pubs. This has given him a loyal following of ‘Hammy enthusiasts’ – people who will go out especially to hear his unique, truly massive, collection of music. This basis has proven to be the foundations of a hugely successful online show every Friday night, and now also on Sunday mornings.
With lockdown closing all pubs, David spent two weeks converting his garage into a studio capable of broadcasting his show. Many hours were spent on YouTube learning how to set everything up, and many more trying different techniques and streaming platforms, with a lot of problems along the way. With those problems now ironed out, you can find him on Soundcloud (supersonicdjhammy). His shows attract up to 1600 viewers at any one time, so it’s well worth the watch. It may not be as lucrative as regular mobile DJ work, however, quite a few of Hammy’s listeners donate through a payment portal – on one occasion he was even sent £100 from an avid fan in the States!
“I had been thinking for a while that perhaps an online radio show would be the way for me to go, as I get older. But now I’ve been forced to go down this route, it’s helped to pay the bills this year, and I can even see how I could one day earn a living entirely from online shows. I’d actually go as far as saying, it’s been life changing!”
David (Hammy) Hamilton
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 103, Pages 26-28.