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FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM DECEMBER 2009
It’s a common phrase in the DJ world. Everybody wants it. And for today’s DJ, it’s everywhere. Jump online and you can find meat. Go to a convention, and you will find more meat. Jump on a chat board, and there is no end to the amount of meat that people will want to share with you. Read this publication and there it is again. Not to mention all the books, DVDs, and Youtube videos.
The problem isnt getting the meat. The problem is that most DJs think that new “meat” will cure what’s ailing their shows. It will somehow make them a better DJ. That it will take the stale and make it fresh again. And to be honest, few DJs will get those desired results this way.
Another problem is that you may not know the difference between a good cut of Sirloin or some crappy scraps. At a glance, have you been trained to know a good cut? They could look close to the same, yet one will rock your world while the other may be a chewy piece of gristle. You may not know if the meat is still good. Maybe it’s become a bit rancid? And finally, even if you get the best hunk of meat available, do you know how to cook it properly?
There is an old saying, give a man a fish and it will cure his hunger right now, teach a man to fish and he will feed his whole family forever. So the question becomes, do you want a temporary patch, or do you want to learn how to use that fishing pole better? For those of you who want a temporary patch, you can stop reading now. As for the rest of you, read on. Let’s learn how to barbecue.
I have 25 DJs every year that work for me and they say the same thing. “We need something new!” And to that, I say “no, you don’t.” Mark Ferrell has a saying “Want to know the difference between a $500 Chicken Dance and a $2500 Chicken Dance? It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.”
Realistically we all do very similar things as DJs for weddings. We do Grand Entrances, Cake Cutting Ceremonies, First Dances, Father-Daughter, Mother-Son, and Wedding Party Dances. We do Money Dances and Garter and Bouquet Toss. Then we can throw in what I like to call minor and major interactions. A major interaction is one that changes the flow of the show, whereas a minor one fits in almost without notice, like teaching the Cupid Shuffle.
Remember the question becomes do you need more meat or do you already have enough meat and you just haven’t pulled the full flavor out of it yet. 6 years ago I did 4 times the amount of “interaction” that I do now. 2009 has been my best year in reviews ever. Less done better is far better than more done average. In fact, more activity done poorly gives people more poor things to remember about you. And what we really want from every show we do is more referrals for future shows. Why not shine at each and every moment.
The first thing you need to do is a massive investigation of your current shows. And this is where you need to be honest with yourself. If you can’t be objective, maybe you need to find a mentor. Invite him or her to shadow your show and review everything you do. From personal experience this may be the toughest, but the most rewarding, the thing you can ever do for yourself, your show, and especially for your future clients.
Bill Hermann of Prior Lake, Minnesota, says it can be tough to get an honest review of your show. Mostly because when you ask someone to ride along, even with the best intentions you know they are there. So you tend to try to put on your best face. He went on to tell me he thought your best bet in getting an honest review of your work is to videotape every show you do, and then randomly pick one out and give it to the person of your choice. This is a trick he picked up in his work on radio. This way you will get a real sample of your work.
If you choose to have someone ride along with you, trust and respect seems to be a common concern among the people I talked to about this. Mitch Taylor out of Escanaba, Michigan tells me that it is easier for him to receive feedback from someone he knows, and he really tries to get someone whom he considers better than himself. Any way you slice it this has to be a person with whom you feel comfortable. Because when the time comes after they have seen your show, then you have to listen to what they say without it putting you on the defensive.
While attending your show, you should really have this person in the background. They are there to observe, and they can’t do that unless that is all they are doing. After your show is when you should go over the night with them, you may even want to wait a day so that your mind is fresh and ready to receive what they have to say.
There are some things you should keep in mind while receiving this feedback. Remember you invited them, and they are not there to trash you but to help you. And let’s face it, after so many years what you think of your show might not be as realistic as it used to be. Our first reaction is defensive. At the first sign of justification, you need to understand that they have their view of your show. Jim Cerone from Indianapolis tells me that even he had feelings of apprehensiveness before and after a ride-along. He also suggests that you don’t make any knee-jerk changes to the information you receive. You still have to see how that fits your personal style.
All of the DJs I interviewed for this told me a similar thing; It is hard for people to be fully honest with them. There was far more praise than suggestions and/or observations that would help. It boils down to, the better you are at this craft we call DJing and the more you want to become better, the harder that is. If you get asked to be that ride-along person, don’t get blinded by thinking just because they are this big DJ or, that those DJs asking you for help can’t handle the truth. We crave it more than the other DJs, so give it to us. Hearing about what went well at a show, although nice, doesn’t help.
On a final note, don’t limit a ride-along to just your performances. Brian Harris from Dayton Ohio had someone observe his sales consultation, which he received a ton of great help from. Good Luck and Great Shows!
Dean Carlson can be reached at email@example.com.