No matter the season, the party never stops in Chi-Town. While many mobile DJs find their businesses handling typical high-end wedding receptions, there are plenty more events that’ll last (as Kid Rock would sing) all summer long.
“We do camp dance parties every summer, where we bring a DJ, an interactive MC, dancers and even some mobile music swag—t-shirts, sports bags and other promotional materials—about three or four weeks into every camp,” reports Shani Barnett in Northbrook, Ill.
“We do these two-hour dance parties to get our company and talent known to mitzvah-age kids at the whole camp, which could be 100 to 200 kids, so they see us in action and want to book us for their upcoming bar or bat mitzvahs.
“We also do last-day camp parties for other camps like sports camps and other groups, where each counselor rotates activities the camp puts together every 20-30 minutes,” says the owner of Shani Barnett Productions. “These camps parties are so much fun. The kids love a break from camp, the counselors join in, and everyone looks forward to the next dance party.”
For Artem Lomez of NinetyThree Entertainment over in Roxbury, N.J., the typical summertime consists of a graduation party here, a wedding reception there, a referral from a rabbi here, and another wedding reception there.
“It’s all from word-of-mouth,” Lomaz says, “so we take whatever comes down the pike.”
What kinds of gigs are mobile DJs around the country booking this summer? What’s the appetite among our clients? Who’s doing something different this year, and what are we doing to generate additional summertime gigs?
In the Detroit area, wedding receptions are basically all held between May and October, so Corey Rusch with Rusch Entertainment attempts to simply focus on them.
“We try really hard to focus mainly on the receptions,” Rusch says. “We have the occasional graduation party that calls in, and we try to help with those, but they are usually the two- or three-hour open-house and they don’t have a wedding budget.
“During the summer, there aren’t school events during the week to pick up a few extra bucks on, but our corporate work is pretty strong during the week.”
But for Rusch, as with most of us all around the country, wedding receptions are the bread and butter. “They account for a large percentage of our events,” he says. “After all, we don’t really do anything special to generate these events—they either call or not. Most of the time it’s the word-of-mouth and connection to the area since the ’70s that has people calling us.
“In fact, I just had a bride say this to me in an email today: ‘My family has used Rusch Entertainment in the past and would love to continue to give you our business.’ That’s how we get our work—word-of-mouth is key. We’ve gotta always put on our best presentation at every event.”
Over the northwest corner of the nation, Andrew Tiegs of Adam’s DJ Service in Seattle, Wash., says he’s seeing more and more summertime corporate picnics being booked.
“The increase is largely in part to teaming up with other entertainment companies who do everything from bouncy houses to large format games,” he explains. “They get asked a lot about music, sound systems and DJs for events, so we’ve started partnering up and offering packages that include my services.
“It’s more laid back and less stressful than serious events like weddings, but the price-point is typically lower. Still, for four out of five events we’re able to work a fair rate, so it works out for everyone.”
For Tiegs, having relationships with other vendors has made this extra summertime line of work possible. “I met the owner of this company a while back and have worked with a few event managers there, but their new event manager really likes me and has just recently inquired or booked me for four events. He’s a member of NACE, of which I’ve been a part for eight years.
“I guess that, along with the great relationships I’ve had with venues and caterers, puts me on top-of-mind for these folks.”
Over in the northeast, Scott Goldoor of Signature DJs in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., says they find that a nice amount of company picnics, pool parties and apartment complex resident appreciation picnics help fill in their summertime schedule.
“We also have a few house birthday parties and backyard pig roasts,” says Goldoor, “and then at least half a dozen of our normal country club or golf club accounts will normally contact us for member events. Some of those are adult-only parties, while others are family-oriented with games and entertainment for the kids.”
Goldoor says many of the pool parties are structured similarly—designed to be entertaining for both adults and kids alike. “We do an assortment of pool games—like a splash contest for the kids, diving contest, hula hoop contests and such—and then also TV- or movie-themed trivia to mix things up for the adults, while they’re lounging around the pool or eating.”
Goldoor says that so far this year he’s noticed a slight decrease in some of his country clubs and golf club parties. “I’m not sure if they’re not having events due to poor turnout in years past, limited budget or using another form of entertainment, such as a band or photo booth instead of DJ—though most know we also offer a photo booth, too.”
Meanwhile, back over in Chicago, Barnett says her summertime camp gigs are just part of her extra summertime bookings. “Over the summer, we also typically do corporate picnics every weekend—sometimes two or three on a Saturday afternoon, which keeps our talent very busy—where we provide a DJ and we also have two people running picnic games for two hours for kids and adults,” she says. “We also do camp parties and community pool parties every month . . . and, of course, the birthday parties for kids and adults in backyards or houses.”
As for anything new these days, Barnett admits that (as usual) most of her events are returning clients or word-of-mouth referrals.
“Budgets went down a little this summer, so instead of a five-hour event, maybe it’s a four-hour event,” she says. “But on the whole, our summer events haven’t really changed that much.
“I’m just hoping for some warm sunny weather this summer in Chicago.”