As we move into the wedding season, its important to remember - as Im sure all Pro Mobile readers do - that a wedding party is a very important day in peoples lives. We all have days that marked milestones in our lives. Getting married, the birth of our daughter, my first radio broadcast and my first solo flight as a pilot are my main ones. I have to add that these are, of course, in order (my wife may read this!). Moving on to the serious bit, we all try to provide a couple with great music at their party but what happens if the equipment breaks down?
I had a response to my last Ramblings from Chris Flory who sent me a horrific account of his first ever gig during which his amp literally blew up! He was left with a somewhat aggressive crowd who threatened all kinds of nasties including suing him! Fortunately, with the aid of a borrowed home sound system, he was able to complete the night. However, he writes that it was one of the longest nights of his life - Ill bet it was! It has to be the worst feeling for a DJ to stand, or maybe try to hide, behind your gear when the technology has failed. Of course without wishing to make light of a situation like this, the bottom line is that providing one can prove that one has back up equipment or that reasonable attempts have been taken to rectify the problem, any compensation would, I suspect, be limited to a refund of any fees paid. Personally, when I have had equipment failures, I have been very lucky in that there has never been an occasion when I have been unable to finish a nights music. I have, however, been left with only one deck (back in the days of CDs) and, at one wedding party, was forced to play about two hours of eighties music! Luckily for me, all the guests were eighties music fans!!
Backup gear and music is essential for a pro DJ, as is having a basic tool kit, assuming you have the knowledge to use it. My spares include duplicates of all my leads (these are the most likely parts of any set-up to cause problems); I also always carry two amps; music back up via either iPhone or computer (I have two); and a spare mixer. I also have a basic tool kit which includes a soldering iron, mains testing screwdriver, fuses, emergency light and, of course, all the usual odds and sods including gaffer tape, insulation tape etc. Ive heard of one guy who always carries a sandwich and bottle of water too in case he isnt offered any refreshments! I manage to last out at most jobs without food, but its obviously a personal thing.
Whilst I have been lucky with equipment reliability, I always keep two things in mind for if a problem should occur. First of all, unless there is suddenly total silence, its highly unlikely that a small problem will be noticed by everyone. Even if it is, a quick comment like Dont you just love computers! usually raises a smile and covers the hiatus. If something should prevent me continuing the evening for any reason, I would tell the client that of course there would be no charge and then phone around to see if I could get a colleague to cover the evening or possibly ask the venue manager if there is another music source which could be used. Its surprising how many venues have a small sound system hidden away somewhere which will get you out of trouble. In the end of course there is no way to guarantee total reliability with 100% certainty. People get ill, cars break down - even new ones and, although disco gear is pretty reliable these days, faults do sometimes happen. The important thing is to do as much as is humanly possible to sort the problem out and, of course, apologise sincerely. This might seem obvious, but sometimes polite customer service can go out of the window when youre stressed. However, as long as you keep your cool, most people - although angry and disappointed if their evening has been ruined - will eventually realise that sometimes s**t happens.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 71, Pages 58-60.