From the bottom line to basic liability—a selection of hot DJ topics
Q: What is the average cost of starting a DJ business? –Brad
A: That really depends upon your objectives, ie., the types of events you see yourself doing. If you want to build a business on the best gear, it could easily take you beyond $20K just in sound. Lighting could add another $20K. However, a more reasonable number might be $20K for sound and lights.
One area that I feel is very important for starting a business is the cost of self-improvement. You need to determine objectively whether you need to develop “business skills.” There is so much more to this than merely spinning. If you don’t really understand the sales cycle, you will need to learn. I would suggest that you learn from good trainers, people who are masters at selling the unique services that DJs provide. The best advice I can give you is to learn the business side first, before you buy a lot of capital gear. Seeking a position with a high-quality DJ company in your area would be a good way to learn.
Other costs that are often overlooked are marketing materials, business cards, and lastly, the single most important aspect of starting a business: writing an actual business plan. This should involve a contract attorney, as well as a mentor to help you get it done right.
I cannot stress enough the need to develop the business on paper first, having all the numbers down. Do market research. Find out how many events are held in your market. Find out how many weddings are held.
These are some of the “hidden” costs of starting a DJ business. Spending these first will save you thousands in mistakes later.
Q: While at a gig, my microphones tend to send off more feedback at the end of the gig, than at the beginning. What could be causing this? They don’t send feedback at all for the first two hours, then after that, I have to be careful. Your help is appreciated. –Steve Van Pelt
A: The following assumes that the volume and tonal content of the music is the same later as at the start. (If there was a dramatic difference, this could be a factor.) All things being equal, I have one word. Batteries. Are you using the cheaper ones? Or possibly using them for more than one event? Another problem could be a significant alteration in room acoustics. I highly doubt this, but felt it was worth a mention.
Q: Any new, creative ways to start the dancing portion of a wedding? –JT
A: I find that building the energy of the music during the events prior to this is the best way. As you move through dinner, during the last half hour start picking increasingly more up-tempo material, still dinner music, but more upbeat. Then move over to some instrumental versions of some good pop tunes, things with a good hint of a dance beat. Watch the room as your doing this—you should see the toe tapping start to increase. If this is happening, you’re on your way. The key here is not to let your volume creep up. Keep it at dinner level, then, during the last three tracks, start move slowly up to the point you need. Finally, bring it on strong with the best track you have. Too often people save the best material for later. I feel this is a mistake. Nothing kicks a party off better than starting with a really hot dance track.
Q: What type of insurance is required for a Mobile DJ? –Linda
A: In a broad sense, none is actually required, as of right now. That said, some facilities do require a DJ to carry general liability insurance. This covers damages to the facility that you might cause.
I would suggest that you join a DJ association that offers discounted insurance to its members. You can also check out independent brokers in your area.
You definitely want to have liability insurance. This covers you against slips and falls, fire, gear falling on a guest, and the like. It doesn’t matter if you’re actually at fault—if somebody gets hurt, everybody gets sued. Make sure that you get coverage from a triple A-rated company and that the policy is solid.
Next, I would suggest that you have gear coverage. This is important. Could you replace all your gear and your music library at your own expense if you had to—and stay in business? This is another advantage of DJ associations. They have the coverage you need at a price you can afford.