Beyond BKN: Garry Rothstein’s
Trio DJs has expanded.
Brooklyn, N.Y. – Garry Rothstein started DJing at the ripe old age of 12, when a local Brooklyn entertainment company that was working his junior-high-school dances hired him.
“They were stupid enough to do that,” he jokes.
Originally, Rothstein, who had caught the “performing bug” as a kid, had been going on auditions, for singing, acting, and all-around performing. “But as I got older,” he recalls, “my voice started to change.”
That was 22 years ago. After one voice change and DJ gigs working for Sprint, Pandora, Home Depot, Sports Authority, Taj Mahal and the New York Rangers hockey playoffs at Madison Square Garden, well, let’s just say Rothstein’s not complaining.
He did have plenty of grief, however, when he first started Trio DJs in 1998, from a basement apartment in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, with a desk and a phone.
Before going out on his own, Rothstein had worked for that other DJ company, the one that was “stupid enough to hire him.”
“When I first decided to leave the original company I worked for, due to lack of pay, I was going against a group of adults who were very unhappy,” he says. “Everything was a struggle. They were bad-mouthing about me to clients and family members. It was a nightmare.”
So Rothstein decided to do what he did best: jam. As in teen jam.
“I decided to throw a teen jam at a local night club,” he says. “I invited local teenagers, and I thought I’d try to create a name for myself.”
He promoted the party for two weeks, which yielded 800 people on the line. The party got the “street” seal of approval when it was closed down. “It was closed down by police, who were related to my old boss,” says Rothstein, adding that he continued to deal with competition issues for many years, “until my brand surpassed the competition.”
Still, out of the gate, Rothstein had other problems to deal with, besides a former employer bad-mouthing him—a not uncommon occurrence in an industry where so many DJs eventually strike out on their own.
“My big struggle at first was not being old enough to drive to events,” he says. “But my parents, they saw my passion for the music business, and they would drive me to and from parties.”
We asked Rothstein how he eventually surpassed the former employer, the one who was bad mouthing him. “My philosophy is wake up before the competition, and go to sleep after the competition.”
Rothstein says he’s never looked back—until we asked him about it for this article. He says he benefited by teaming up with a concert promoter, who now is his management company. “They opened my eyes and the door,” he says, “to working concerts, radio promotions, arenas, and corporate events.”
Still operating out of the Brooklyn office, Rothstein decided to spread the company’s wings and opened two more offices—in Red Bank, N.J., and Mineola, N.Y. To make it more affordable, Trio DJs shares space in these offices with other professional services, a photographer, videographer, invitations and décor business.
Currently, Trio DJs’ gigs break down this way: He personally specializes in Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Sweet 16s and corporate events—that’s where the Sports Authority, Sprint, Pandora, etc., comes in. “This makes up about 75-percent of our business,” he says. His wedding team brings in the remaining revenue, booking weddings, engagements and anniversaries.
When asked how he generates most of his gigs, Rothstein says that many of his bookings are referrals from past clients, friends, and industry professionals, such as caterers and party planners. In addition, he says they work many schools, camps, fundraisers, feasts, and festivals. You could say that it’s been a successful approach.
But what most DJs don’t say is that they’ve been on the “New Jersey Housewives” reality TV series. And MTV. And promoted on WKTU-FM, one of the New York metro area’s biggest radio stations. “This helps our brand tremendously,” he says.
To maximize the contacts Trio DJs is making, Rothstein and crew opened up a sister branch, Encore Events, which deals primarily with carnival and amusement-ride rental. He also has a 2,500-square-foot dance school, Elite Dance Complex. “I want to give today’s youth a dance education,” he says.
He also wants to groom the next generation of Trio DJs dancers. He says a tight dance crew is a key to keeping floors filled. “That’s what makes us special,” he says. “The perfect mix of music, enthusiastic entertainers trained monthly at our dance studio, giveaway packages ranging from selfie sticks, to skateboards, and headphones. The experience packs the floor with fun and energy.”
He also credits paying close attention to detail as a way to differentiate himself. “It’s key when hiring entertainers and selecting technology to create an event our guests will never forget,” he says, before launching into a bit of self-promotion, Bensonhurst style. “We are a one-stop, boutique-style, event-planning company, featuring myself—a fire-eating, high-energy MC/DJ that assures a smooth and worry-free experience.”
Rothstein’s not all Brooklyn brio. He tells us of his fondest memory of his DJ career so far. He recently performed at a first birthday party. He had performed at the mother’s Bat Mitzvah, Sweet 16 and her wedding. “That’s a very fond memory,” he says.
When we ask Rothstein where he sees the company in five years, he displays the vision of an expansionist. “I see our company providing cutting-edge entertainment in other states, which we are currently in the process of working, in Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and we’ve done destination events in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Canada.”
That sounds like DJ manifest destiny to us.