One of the great things about being a mobile entertainer is that one gets the chance to visit many different places, some that would be out of reach in the ordinary way. Over the years, I have played music on HMS Belfast, the battleship moored near Tower Bridge. I have been into the House of Commons working as a toastmaster, provided the music for a company party at Blenheim Palace and set up discos in Madame Tussauds as well as The Natural History and Science Museums. I even once played in a boat weaving about on the Solent.
I have also been lucky enough to work abroad - in Dubai, the South of France and Spain. Most of us also get the chance to meet the occasional celebrity and, sometimes, even to work with them. It all makes for great variety and means that I have yet to become bored and not look forward to going to work. How many people can say that?
The reason for my little preamble is to illustrate that every job is different and we all have our own ways of doing things. No one person is right all the time and, although some people hate a particular type of music, that doesn’t mean that it should never be played. ‘Grease’ is not the word, the word is ‘Cheese’! In my Ramblings some while ago I asked what is meant by musical ‘Cheese’ and am still waiting for a satisfactory answer! The best description I have found so far was suggested by a member of the Mobile DJ Forum who wrote that “Cheese is music that people like, but wouldn’t admit to liking”! I think there’s a lot of truth in that. The post on the forum was prompted by a potential client asking a DJ not to play cheese at a forthcoming wedding party. The problem with this is that everyone has a different idea of what cheese is! One person’s ‘classic track’ is another’s ‘cheesy rubbish’. That said, in the past I have been asked not to play ‘Aga-doo’ or ‘The Birdie Song’, which led me to wonder what sort of parties these people go to?
The truth of the matter is that if you are charging people a professional fee as a DJ, you should be able to read the floor and judge what is going to work. If people are starting to sit down then maybe, just maybe, they don’t like the music you’re playing! Of course they may just be tired and there is always the possibility that food has appeared and no one has told you (really difficult if it happens to be in another room!).
I once chatted to a comedian who told me that the aim of his first few gags was to establish in which direction his act should go. He would always start by trying three or four ‘one liners’, each with a different theme. Then, depending on the reaction, he would tailor the remainder of his act to the taste of the audience. In DJ terms it’s fairly easy to find out what is likely to work with any group of people - if they like rock and you’re playing house then they simply won’t dance!
Now on to a subject that I have mentioned many times before and is always discussed whenever a group of DJs meet - fees. I read recently of a DJ who turned down a job supposedly worth over £900! Now far be it for me to accuse anyone of stretching the truth, but I do find this rather unlikely. Unless the person concerned was also supplying a dance-floor, up-lighters, more than one sound system etc. (not to mention making the tea and sweeping up after the party!), £900 sounds like an awful lot of money to pay for a mobile discotheque. I have no doubt that someone will prove me wrong and if anyone reading this is earning that sort of money for an evening’s work then please call me ASAP, I have a few dates free over the next year!
We are, of course, in the wonderful world of showbiz and perhaps a little embellishment is understandable. However, unless you are a world-renowned DJ whose appearance will guarantee a promoter hundreds of ex-tra pounds in ticket sales, anything over about £500 I would say is fairly unlikely. In the West End of London one can expect to be paid a little more than the average fee. However, considering that coming into central London means that one has to pay the Congestion Charge, expensive parking and have the added hassle of actually finding somewhere to park, any extra fee is soon swallowed up. I’m not sure that the extra money earned is actually worth the hassle!
Now I’m sure that I’m not the only person who - when searching on the internet for, say, a computer mouse (as I was the other day) - gets side-tracked and ends up reading a fascinating piece about the spread of Norovirus in Outer Mongolia! Last week I bought my computer accessory but ended up spending about an hour looking at other people’s DJ websites. I find it fascinating.
Some are clearly designed to suggest a ‘cheap and cheerful’ disco where the emphasis is on price. When you book The Bill Bloggings Good Time Party Disco he will probably arrive in an ex-BT Transit still in its grey paint, with a fair amount of rust and a tube on top designed for carrying pipes.
On the other hand, if you book the Galyard Farqhson-Holmes Mobile Music Extravaganza you will get a brand new Mercedes van (driven by a trusted roadie), announcing to the world on its sides that some lucky guests at a party will be dancing throughout the night to brand new sound and lighting equipment and, of course, a multi-million pound fully controlled laser show which will project stunning and realistic moving pictures of all the guests on the ceiling!
Now there is a place for both of my imaginary DJs in the world. Not all of us have an unlimited supply of money and, when talking about wedding receptions, there are those people who would rather spend money on a luxu-ry honeymoon or a deposit for their first home, rather than loads of cash on a great party. Meanwhile, there are certainly people out there for whom money is no object and only the best will do.
Pro Mobile equipment reviews are sponsored by insure4music.
The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 72, Pages 64-66.