Versatility and Flexibility (November 26, 2014)
Many DJs will place the quality of their DJ services on an ability to mix songs, and turntable scratching. These are important skills to practice and learn, and anyone that calls him or herself a DJ should be able to mix with turntables. I’m always practicing with turntables, and other midi controllers in order to keep sharp. Most of the time you will find these types of DJs at nightclubs and bars; I was also a nightclub DJ as well. But, that ability doesn’t mean that a turntable DJ will be able to provide what you are looking for in the mobile DJ production realm.
Say for instance your big wedding day has arrived, and all your vendors are set to arrive at a particular time. Everything looks nice, and people are in high spirits. Suddenly your venue manager informs you that the live music group you hired for your ceremony hasn’t arrived yet, and it’s only 30 minutes from the ceremony start time.
Or, what if the ceremony musician cancelled on you three days before the wedding date, which I’ve personally seen happen. You’ve called around, and no one is available to do music. And, because you went with a one-trick-pony DJ company, they don’t have a separate ceremony system that can be used to play ceremony music. Or, if they do, the DJ company owner sees that you are in a pinch, and wants to charge you an obscene amount for that option. Believe me, there are DJs who do stuff like this.
Because I have a standardized DJ brochure, you get to see the products and prices on everything I provide, so there’s no chance of price gouging. I bring doubles of everything, and always bring all my gear for any options that the client decides they want. This means that I can step-in to make sure everything runs according to plan.
Let’s say that you are a month out from your event, and you decide you want video projection because you want to pay tribute to your family. Or, that you now have your heart set on video recording your ceremony. These are options that we can provide at anytime. Versatility is a key attribute that your mobile DJ should have.
Before you hire a multi-op company with an owner who is going to stick you with someone they pulled off the street to do your event, first ask yourself if this DJ is versatile enough to provide what I need in case something changes, or what if an emergency occurs. It’s the smart thing to hire a DJ that has a number of skills and tools they can employ if needed. It may be as simple as a DJ who owns a nice wedding canopy that he can use for outdoor ceremonies or receptions for protection from rain or sunlight. In the end, the ability to mix with turntables is nice (and is something I do), but not as important as having the versatility to produce an event with many facets.
You have the best idea as to who will be attending your event, and also what your tastes are in music. I always sit down with you or talk over the phone to discuss what your music flavors will be for your event. There are DJs that will tell a client, “Oh, we don’t play that type of music,” or, “I don’t grant requests because we are only allowed to play certain songs.” These are often excuses for the fact that they have prerecorded sets! Yes, you’d be surprised how many times a DJ company will send out an employee with a mp3 file of a mix that was previously mixed on the company computer system. Can anyone say Paris Hilton? It’s also an excuse used if the DJ has no idea what good songs come from that genre of music, and they eventually close their minds on the genre.
I am proud to say that I have one of the most eclectic libraries of music in Albuquerque. I am constantly getting exposed to new music that I wouldn’t know about if I acted like a inflexible DJ that only played the conventional stuff. You want your event to have a unique sound that’s different from every other generic wedding that season. This gives your event a more tailored sound that people actually remember. I’ve played everything from northern NM music to Brazilian Samba, and everything in between.
I recently had a client meeting with a future bride who told me that another DJ they were interviewing told her straight out that he doesn’t play country music. What?? How can you call yourself a DJ in Albuquerque, and you don’t know any good country songs to play? Now that is a close-minded DJ.
The main point is to be careful with DJs that have enormous egos because they are the least flexible. They are easily spotted by their desire to tell you what you want, or they throw a list of fake reviews at you to inflate their self-worth, and seem like an authority figure. At a wedding, you are seeking to bring your guests into your world, and give them a distinctive experience. Music is a large part of that process. Flexibility is an important quality because it allows for a free discussion of ideas, and seeks to involve all parties in the process of achieving your vision. Don’t let an arrogant DJ control your event; it’s your vision, and it should remain so.
Thanks for reading.
The Intelligent Client (October 8, 2014)
I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing clients on all levels. Over the many years that I’ve been a DJ, I’ve noticed a particular tendency, being that my clients come from astute backgrounds. Many are doctors, radiologists, dentists, optomitrists, business leaders, lawyers, accountants, military leaders, and major corporations. When I do events for younger folks they often are leaders in their own schools such as student organization presidents, or ROTC leaders.
This tendency leans toward a more mature group of clients. With maturity comes experience, and folks with experience have seen a number of things in their lives that have an effect on their decision making, and in particular their ability to prepare for the future. A number of my clients have hired DJs in the past, and have decided on a different strategy for planning their current event. Many have stories of DJs that charged them a boatload of money, and didn’t deliver proper entertainment. In some cases, the assigned DJ from the multi-dj company didn’t even show up, and they don’t want to experience the same thing again. Or, the DJ didn't follow the client's wishes, and played electro music all night instead of a balanced mix of genres.
Close to 85% of my clients come from friends and family of prior clients that I’ve worked with. Or, they come from people that have seen me DJing an event, and come up to ask for a card. I will often get a call or email a few days after that, and most of my new clients come from that transaction. The potential client sees what I do in person, and they decide they want their night to flow like that.
Having established that my clients come from experienced and perceptive backgrounds, I don’t often get calls from the less perceptive clients. These clients don’t understand that throwing money at an issue doesn’t solve something they need to devote time to. They are often less experienced than the clients who consider all angles. They are not bad people by any means, but are more prone to make decisions in the heat of the moment based on slick and desperate sales tactics. This client will often end up overpaying for a DJ service because they think price if the only factor in making a decision. Meanwhile, the expensive DJ is not thinking about how smart the client is, but how easy it was to trick them into paying an inflated price for an inferior service.
Our prices are purposefully made for those clients who earn their own money, and are smart enough to know when they are getting swindled by slick sales talk. These clients are unselfish people who want to provide a wonderful time for their guests. They are responsible, and selective about what they want. When they sit down at a table with others they want to say they had an awesome DJ for their event, and not that hired the most expensive.
I’ve had many clients who are experienced and wise. They know what it feels like to be “tricked by business,” in the famous words of Macklemore. They can identify slick sales tactics such as a DJ waiving a stack of papers in front of them saying that these are clients that didn’t book in time, and we turned them down. That sales tactic, by the way, is called the “Takeaway Close.” If the DJ is so desperate to get you booked for a date, then what motivations does he have? Probably so he can pay his inflated business expenses, or to fill a spot for one of his subordintate DJs. None of this translates to you having a quality DJ, only an expensive one.
Take your time, and don’t feel pressured to sign with a smooth talking salesperson who isn't even DJing your event. If the person you are talking with is pressuring you to sign a contract rather than developing a sense of trust with you, then remember that it is now a buyer’s market; there are probably 70 DJs in Albuquerque that can perform at your event. Look around and find a DJ that suits your approach because it will benefit both you, as well as, the DJ. Be the intelligent consumer; don’t get tricked into paying $100.00 for a McDonald’s cheeseburger, so to speak.
With multi-op companies that send out multiple DJs on a particular night, there are often many problems that arise. A client will call the owner of the company, and the owner will respond with something like, “I will talk with your DJ about the problem, and that will never happen again.” It’s a way of passing the blame off to a subordinate, and often times it never actually gets discussed or fixed. My clients hire me because they understand that through my experience as a DJ over 20 + years, I’ve honed my craft to the point where I’ve seen nearly every situation, and can react properly. They would rather have the owner perform at their event than a subordinate because it cuts out the need to consult with someone else, and the owner actually cares about the event. My clients understand that I can make decisions in real time, and in that regard they receive a more efficient and stable service.
Why Speakers Matter (August 12, 2014)
Although an audio system can be made up of dozens of pieces of equipment from elaborate digital mixers to 250 lbs dual 21 inch subwoofers, one of the most important items in an audio chain, besides microphones, are audio speakers. The reason why speakers and microphones are so important is that they convert physical energy into electrical energy and vice versa.
It’s misleading for a DJ to say that they have the best audio system in Albuquerque, and then follow it up by saying it boasts 6000 watts of power. This is a very tricky statement because most folks think that higher wattage is a sign of better quality sound. Higher wattage can indicate that the system, depending on the configuration, has headroom which is good for making sure that the Continuous Power Handling of the speaker itself can be met and exceeded. This cuts down on amplifier clipping, distortion, and power inefficiency.
But, why is it that audio systems using only 1000 watts can sound so much clearer, and punchier than one that is using 3000 watts? The trick is to not be fooled with large wattage readings; you must determine where that amplified signal is going.
Internally amplified top cabs have become the most effective way of incorporating improved sound into an audio system. In powered speakers such as these, the signal from the mixer or sound processing equipment is sent directly to the speaker’s input. In my particular speakers, the signal is then divided up by an active crossover which sends the high and upper-mid tones to the amplifier driving the tweeter, and the lower midrange and bass tones to the amplifier driving the woofer. This configuration can vary depending on the brand of manufacturer of the powered speaker. However, the above-mentioned configuration is the proper and most effective method of developing sound.
It used to be that to achieve the same or similar audio configuration, one would need to bi-amplify the speakers using separate audio amplifiers. This process is still used in professional audio systems such as those found at large concerts and festivals. However, most sound companies have converted over to powered line array systems based on essentially the same concept as powered speakers except in slightly different configurations designed to produce sound over a wider dispersion.
Subwoofers are a whole other ballgame. Subwoofers are meant to produce sub bass energy that rounds out the bottom end of the sound spectrum. They are specifically designed to take most of the pressure off the speakers producing the higher tones, so that those speakers don’t sound distorted or become overworked.
The subwoofers that I use are made for live concert sound. The design is such that I can be located 10 or 15 feet from the edge of the dance floor, and people are still able to hear and feel the bass. I always have to laugh when I hear a DJ say that they must be right next to the floor for it to sound good. We understand that due to the room configuration, close proximity may not be possible, so we’ve designed our system accordingly.
What does this mean to you, the client? Make sure at the very least that you find a DJ that has active top cabs, and at least one subwoofer. Also, try to have a DJ provide an audio equipment list to you at time of hiring espcially if you are using a company with multiple DJs. A DJ with a good system should be proud of it. You don’t want a DJ to show up at the event with the family’s home theater speakers.
At Red Sapphire DJ Entertainment we take our sound to the next level using specialized equipment that tailors the sound to a particular venue, so it doesn’t matter if the event is outdoors, at a theater, a banquet room, or bar. You will hear sound that is clear and pleasing to the ear, and doesn’t give off that raspy, crackly, and wonky sound. Just to put things into perspective. Mediocre audio systems can be purchased for around 1500 dollars; the audio system featured in our packages costs around 9000 dollars. But, our clients, venue managers, and audioheads understand the difference, capability, and versatility of quality components.
Contact me if you have any questions about our audio system. I’d be happy to meet up, and explain more about the differences involving audio systems.