After being hired to work a wedding reception for one of his wife’s co-workers, Indiana mobile jock Chad Hough was surprised to learn that his services had been suddenly replaced by a family member—who had offered to entertain the reception free-of-charge.
And throughout the course of the event, “DJ Chaddy Chaz” could not help but just roll his eyes.
“This other DJ’s setup was a 6-foot folding table with a 21-inch monitor keyboard, mouse and PC tower on the floor,” says the Fort Wayne-based Hough. “At the end of table, he had a 2-by-4 taped on top of his two speakers, which held a banner that hung down between them. And he sat down all night long, with no lights whatsoever. For the grand entrance, each of the 12 members of the wedding party had a different song that they walked in to—with dead air until he found the right song to be played.
“It took about 45 minutes to get everyone in the bridal party inside. And after that he didn’t even play any background music during the dinner hour.”
Needless to say, the logistics of the entire reception were a headache for DJ Chaddy Chaz to even stay and watch. So, with that in mind, we asked mobiles to point out the most glaring failures of their competitors. The most curious, screwed up, antiquated, low-rent thing they’ve ever seen or heard a competitor do — no names, of course!
What outlandish things have those other mobile DJs resorted to, and how would they have handled the situation differently? Basically, when have they found themselves face-to-face with a face-palm moment?
For the ridiculous reception Hough attended, everything seemed to just get worse.
“After this DJ’s third plate of food and no background music, he played the wrong song for the first dance and then took almost 20 minutes to locate the correct tune,” he recalls. “Then, this DJ was playing all his music off iTunes, with dead air between each song. The bride was getting pissed.
“She’d go up and ask for a certain song and he’d spend another 20 minutes searching for it. Then, when it came for the next song, we’d have to listen to another 10 minutes of dead air.”
Hough says many of the guests that night left right after the first dance because it was too boring, but he and his wife had to stay because it was her co-worker. And all night long, the co-worker kept telling Hough she wished she’d kept him as the DJ.
“That’s what you get for free,” he says with understatement.
To reassure his own brides that their receptions will not be a royal fiasco, Hough says he meets with each of them at least three times, in person, in addition to the emails and phone calls he makes to ensure that each client gets exactly what they want and how they want it done.
“Even back when I started DJing in 1983, I never had dead air,” says Hough. “I didn’t sit – I stood. I condensed the grand entrance down to where it’s not so stretched-out, and I involved the guests in the party as much as I could.
“Lights jazz up the atmosphere when the party gets going – so, of course, I’ve now switched to LED lights. I keep receptions flowing on time by always letting the wedding party know what’s happening next. Read the crowd and know what music you have and, as a result, your guests will be talking about the reception for years to come.”
Of course, it’s not just on the East Coast where mobile jocks have wacky competitors. The first face-palm DJ that comes to mind for Mark Haggerty of Denon & Doyle Entertainment was when another multi-op DJ company in the San Francisco Bay Area invited prospective brides to view their hired DJs performing at a “Cosmic Bowling” function at a local bowling center.
“I seriously don’t think that’s the best venue for someone planning a wedding,” says Haggerty with a chuckle.
But Haggerty does admit that inviting potential clients to observe him at other gigs can be a good thing.
“We’ve sometimes asked clients to ‘crash’ one of our wedding receptions just to watch us in action,” he explains. “We point out that they need to see the entire body of work performed by one of our MCs. If they come in during dinner, they’ll hear dinner music and possibly some mic work. If they get there early and see the grand entrance, they can get a good feel for the DJ’s mic presence, even if they don’t like the actual song being used.
“And the same thing with the style of songs played at the reception they’re visiting.”
Back on the East Coast, in Ithaca, N.Y., over the course of his career DJ Mike Melice has seen plenty of examples of DJs dropping the ball. Oftentimes that includes another DJ not being able to fulfill a gig commitment, leaving the client having to pay the consequences.
“Just a few days ago,” says Melice, “I received a panic call from the manager of a local Sky Resort, informing me that the DJ company they hired called two hours before a big event to say he wouldn’t be able to perform because he couldn’t find a babysitter.”
Fortunately for Melice, he was at a gym when they called and was able to leave, drive home, pack up his gear and still make it to the newfound event with time to spare. And Melice says that particular Sky Resort was so impressed with the way he handled the situation and with his professionalism that they decided to make him their go-to DJ for all of their future events.
“Unfortunately, technology has made it possible for anyone with a decent music library and a pair of speakers to advertise themselves as a professional DJ,” says Melice. “What really separates a pro from an amateur is moments like this. I have never missed an event in my 15-year career,” he says, adding that he realizes a situation like that could happened to many professionals.
“The other DJ could have easily called someone else to fill in, or asked a DJ friend he trusted to cover this event for him. However, this guy made the decision not to be proactive, which showed lack of care and passion.”
Melice says feels fortunate to live in an area where many of the top-end DJs work together.
“Even though sometimes we compete,” he says, “I know I can trust one of my local DJ friends to help me out if I was in the same situation.”
For other mobiles throughout the country, it’s difficult to pick out a specific time when one of their competitors did something embarrassing, simply because they’re too busy playing their own events to notice what other DJs are doing.
“I really don’t pay too close attention to competitors in my local market,” says Mick Uranko of Uranko Productions in Pottsville, Pa. “I spend a lot of time making sure my brand is staying ahead of trends and making sure I reach my goals each year.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he adds, “there are companies that I may compete with, but we’ve reached an all-star level where ridiculousness is very minimal.”
Instead, DJs like Uranko are quick to point to current industry trends that cause plenty of eye-rolling and face-palms.
“The most ridiculous thing I notice is companies that stop growing and remain extremely complacent with how they perform at their weddings,” explains Uranko. “A lot of these companies are stuck in the past. An easy way to spot this type of company is any time there’s a disagreement on a Facebook group – they always make it known how many years of experience they have.”
Uranko says he’s always open to lending advice and helping others get paid more for their weddings. “However, if you’re not willing to grow, learn new ideas, take chances, step outside of your comfort level, practice, network, and remain determined then yes, you’re, right that you’ll never be able to charge much in your market.”
To counter that type of attitude in his eastern Pennsylvania Coal Region market, Uranko says he simply continues to grow his brand through networking with other award-winning companies to learn the latest trends.
“Each year I set a goal of how many weddings I’d like to book,” he says. “For each wedding I take, rather than just being another reception it’s more of an entire production—with special effects, lighting design, projection images, an integrated video love story—and, last but not least, DJing.
“And how I consistently make improvements each year is by raising my rates. I raise them because I want to challenge myself. The overall experience we provide is the reason why brides book us. I have no choice but to get better, to offer new services and to continue to grow my brand.”
What drives K.C. KoKoruz of The Keith Christopher Entertainment Group in Chicago-town crazy? DJs who are short-sighted and, in the end, lose profit for themselves as well as for everyone else.
“For one of my competitors, during the Midwest’s slow season of January through March, he offered clients a 5-percent discount on their DJ services as long as they paid their entire contract off at the time of the booking,” KoKoruz says. “This may have helped solve their temporary cash-flow problem for those three months, but during the busy season they had already collected and spent the balances from these clients.
“And now their DJs’ checks were all bouncing,” says KoKoruz, who adds that the company was eventually forced to close.
KoKoruz says another of his competitors was too lazy to even write original fake reviews about his own company, so they actually cut and pasted reviews from other DJ companies from around the country that they located online.
“He simply changed out the DJ company’s name and the DJ’s name,” he says, “to make it look like they had earned the positive review and then posted it on The Knot and Wedding Wire.”
Meanwhile, Jason Klock in Harrisburg, Pa., says Klock Entertainment is simply dedicated to staying consistent for all the right reasons—and, of course, that includes not taking face-palm actions.
“In elementary terms, actions speak louder than words,” he says. “When our competitor is speaking ill of us, we simply demonstrate our kind acts by making the right decisions. In the short term, it stinks when you hear your competition is talking poorly. But in the long-term, if you’re making the right decisions, it won’t affect you.
“In fact, it will negatively affect them.”