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So You Wanna Be A Mobile DJ?
By Scott Susor

So Ya Wanna Be A Mobile DJ?

You love music!  You enjoy dancing!  You enjoy partying!  Perhaps you've worked a bit as a club jock, all the while eyeing that "big money" that you've heard mobile jocks get.  You think:  Man!  Joey gets $200 a night working for DJ's-Out-The-Wazoo!  And Tommy has his own company and gets $400 for one night.  And you're thinking:  Jeez!  I can out-mix, out-scratch, and out-dance those guys 10-to-1!  Next comes:  Dang!  All I've gotta do is get some kickin' speakers and a couple of CD players and I'll be runnin' circles around them in no time!  Six months later:  Why won't anybody book me to do their wedding?

Despite the relative plethora of "mobile DJ's" that have flooded the marketplace in the past few years, actually "making it" in this business is not as easy as it seems to appear.  The mistake most often made by those well-meaning souls who jump feet first into mobile DJ'ing is that "it's all about the music!"  Well, to be sure, "the music" is very important.  But so is wood to a lumber yard, money to a bank, and water to a laundromat.  Actually, music is quite INCIDENTAL to what a competent mobile DJ brings to his/her clients.  But going even deeper, you can't GET to those clients unless you think of your enterprise in terms of "doing business" and not in terms of "playing music."

Statistics show that one out of every ten new businesses fail within their first year of operation.  You can rest assured that new mobile DJ businesses fail at a much higher rate.  Why?  Because too many would-be mobile DJ's don't understand the BUSINESS of mobile DJ'ing.  They may be a great mixer, a great scratcher, a great speaker, a great personality, a great dance floor motivator, and a great "entertainer" in terms of "playing music" but what does that have to do with the 100 "other things" that come into play in the BUSINESS of mobile DJ'ing?  Yes, they're important, but so are a few other things, like marketing, accounting, selling, servicing, and satisfying.

Have you ever heard of a "Business Plan?"  How many mobile DJ companies, be they single-op or multi-op, started out with one?  Very few.  Why?  Because the BUSINESS of mobile DJ'ing is a relatively new one, starting approximately in the early 1980's.  Those that have been successful paid an enormous price in terms of "live and learn" - not only as individual businesses but also as a member of an infant industry.  However, today, 72% of brides who have entertainment at their wedding reception choose a mobile DJ.  That alone says that something has gone extremely right in the last 20 years.  Otherwise, bands would still be the dominant choice of brides - not to mention other event planners looking for musical entertainment.

Where does that leave you in terms of starting a career as a mobile DJ?  Well, you really have two viable options:  (1) get a job with a multi-op DJ company, or (2) buy equipment and music and do what you can to attract customers on your own.  Obviously, everybody is different, and how one sees himself/herself in terms of knowledge, experience, and motivation will vary from one person to another.  Maybe you don't WANT to work for a multi-op.  And maybe you have enough money saved to buy yourself some decent equipment and music.  It's your call.  But ask yourself:  How much do I REALLY know about the BUSINESS of mobile DJ'ing?  Do I want to risk spending a lot of money on equipment that will get little (or no) use because I am new at the BUSINESS of mobile DJ'ing?  And most important of all, ask yourself:  Do I feel READY to take 100% of the responsibility for the success of somebody's wedding or other special event?  If you can answer all of these positively, then perhaps you can make it.  If even the slightest bit of hesitancy enters your mind, then you should probably work for a multi-op, get trained properly, and maybe save some extra money to invest in your own business later -- before going solo.

There can be too many mobile DJ's.  In fact, there are.  But there can never be enough COMPETENT and RELIABLE mobile DJ's.  If you don't believe it, ask any multi-op owner how easy it is to find such people to employ as mobile DJ's.  Or ask a bride who's had a horrible wedding day because the DJ didn't show up, was late showing up, or showed up but was terrible.  Yes, it's easy to get some equipment, buy some CD's, and call yourself a mobile DJ.  But please, do yourself a favor.  Do the industry a favor.  Do all those brides out there a favor.  Don't go into the mobile DJ business as a "bottom feeder."  You may hurt many more people than just yourself.  Do it right.  Get trained.  Learn how to perform.  Learn the business of mobile DJ'ing.  THEN, if it's still your dream, be an entrepreneur!  And be a successful one!


Scott & Doreen Susor are the Owners/Operators of "Your DJ" Professional Entertainment Services in Houston, Texas

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