If someone has ever said to you, "You can't make a living partying
every night," you may prove him wrong. Mobile disc jockeys do just that. They
get paid to show everyone a good time.
You've danced to their music before. Mobile disc jockeys provide the
entertainment at various parties, celebrations and weddings. Their job description
includes playing just the right music, hosting karaoke or even dazzling party-goers
with light shows and bubble and smoke machines.
Yet, as many mobile DJs will tell you, there is a very important business
side to their profession.
Mike Shell is owner of Shell Entertainment in Hueytown, Alabama. He could
be considered the "granddaddy" (experience-wise) of the entertainment business.
"I played around the country with different groups for 23 years [with]
Hank Jr., Billy Jo Royal and my own bands," says Shell.
"When I hit 40, I got tired of the road and started looking for something
more stable. I came in the back door with karaoke and then started my DJ business
He now has an extremely successful business, two full-time employees and
five part-time employees. And the family man is proud to say that his business
partner is also his wife.
"Every day, I'm at a different function, and all of them are different
and they're all exciting. I've done the Bob Dole campaign. I've
done the Mensa National Convention -- that's the smartest
people in the world. And then I've done NASCAR....
"So I've done the gauntlet and every day is something different. And
I just get up every morning and look forward to what's going to happen
Because the big party nights are on the weekends, Shell prefers to keep
busy during the workweek by hosting karaoke. He goes to a different club every
Shell takes pride in his work. "I have the biggest karaoke rig in the state
of Alabama. I carry about 10,000 songs around with me."
Shell believes that experience is the key. "Everybody in this business
is an ex-radio DJ or television personality, or record producer or musician.
It's something you have to be in for a long time, especially to make
the big bucks," he says.
"You have to be able to do everything from a college rave to a classy wedding
reception. You have to know what's happening in each of those events."
Shirley Sick is the owner of Celebrated Sound Music Services Inc. She can
set the mood at parties with polkas, waltzes, pop, rock and country. "I got
started over 19 years ago by simply trying to fill a need to provide more
quality music and entertainment," she says.
Sick realizes that the job isn't all fun and games. "DJing is often
perceived by students as a fun party time, spinning tunes. It is also important
to realize that it is also a business, and the more business skills you can
accumulate is a key factor to the success of your business.
"DJing is an art -- built on talents and pleasing people."
Russell Sheehan works with Get Down Tonight Entertainment in Salem, New
Hampshire. The company has numerous DJs and solo artists.
Sheehan became interested in the mobile disc jockey business years ago
when he saw "single operators make $250 for four hours. I was in a band that
was going nowhere, so I decided to give it a try."
Sheehan recognizes that DJs need to be in tune with not only their songs,
but also their customers. "There will be parties where the people will dance
to anything that you play. And then there will be crowds where nothing seems
to be working. This is where a professional knows what to do," he says.
"You also need to be a good master of ceremonies because it is your job
to coordinate the whole evening."
So how do you get started? "Talk to a few DJs in the area and see them
in action," says Sheehan. "Being a DJ today is much more than just pressing
a button. You can't be shy and you have to have an outgoing and bubbly
personality, because you are dealing with people constantly."
The DJ magazine
Get Down Tonight Entertainment
About 15 disc jockeys work here