We asked veteran DJs about the changes they’ve seen in the industry and how they’ve made running a business easier or more challenging.
Here’s how they replied:
The Internet has been the biggest factor in changing the industry (website, digital advertising, wedding sites). Where I had to do “on the job training,” there is a plethora of information available (equipment, education, how to) on the Internet. DJ Times and every network, association were not around for me to learn from when I started 38 years ago. Today the new breed of DJ/entertainer has it made. Today’s bride and groom are different, they research the web and would rather communicate by email and avoid speaking by phone, buying by “stuff” and price without concern with being educated and investing in the right entertainment.
— Mike Wieder, Ultimate Sounds DJs, Hightstown, NJ
When I started in 1974, bands were everywhere, but in a few years that all changed. I believe Disco music brought the DJ to the forefront and the bands did nothing to stop it.
Equipment got better and prices came down. And then the mp3 came, and we were able to find and then share music. When we were playing vinyl I started with 45s putting two together to make the song longer to keep the dancefloor. Some DJs joined record pools to get the latest music. I attended the Billboard Disco shows from ’76-78 and learned a lot, and kept that from my competitors. Then I heard about a new show called the DJ Times International DJ Expo in Atlantic City NJ, and have been to all but one. It has given the smarter DJ the opportunity to network with other companies, and people started sharing and competitors became your friends. — Denny McConnell, Denny McConnell’s Music to You Entertainment, Reading, PA
The barriers to entry are lower than ever, attracting a never ending supply of aspiring DJs. While many will never emerge from the hobbyist phase to become professional mobile DJs, I’m always amazed by how many DJs are booking themselves out in New Jersey. — Gregg Hollmann, Ambient Music Service, East Windsor, NJ
Computers and the Internet and clouds have made it a lot easier to run a multi-op. I used to have a giant desk calendar back in the day with all of my shows on it! Now I can run 20 guys a weekend off something like DJ Event Planner. — Joe Bunn, Bunn DJ Company, Raleigh, NC
As a woman, I don’t have to prove myself as much now. It’s better nowadays, but I still encounter a few naysayers that think a female can’t hang with the boys. I don’t take it personal. I let my my success be my noise! I love what I do and it shows when I talk about my job and when I DJ. — Shani Barnett, Shani Barnett Productions (DJing 17 years)
“There’s so much competition today that rates for many industries—including the DJ industry—have seen decreases. I was making much more money 30 years ago because most DJs couldn’t mix. Today, anyone can hit the sync button.
In the future, the music will be transported from Serato and Virtual DJ to a cloud, and the DJ as we know it today will not even exist. If you’re a millennial, I highly recommend you fine-tune your personality and hosting (soft) skills, because just having a photobooth, video, and some uplighting will not cut it in the future. — DJ Carl
As a woman, while our bookings and prices have increased, the public still struggles to comprehend us in the role of DJ/MC. Even after they’ve heard me on mic and have seen me behind the DJ table, guests still mistake me for the wedding planner or venue coordinator. *sigh* — Cindy Ormond, Ormond Entertainment, Syracuse, NY
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