In the greater Charleston, S.C., DJ/music market, Scott Sain has been a regular presence since 1994 — and that gives him plenty of perspective. We had a conversation with Sain, owner of the Blacktree Music Group, and it went like this:
You’ve been in the DJ industry for 27 years – what are two of the biggest changes you’ve seen?
Scott Sain: I’d say I’ve been in the music industry for 27 years. I had a band to start my musical career and, as the band leader, I quickly realized that when we were setting up or taking a break or breaking down, many venues didn’t have music — or if they did, it was barely audible. I started with portable CD players and eventually graduated to iPods and then controllers. Being able to set the vibe with music has always been important to me, either with the band or recorded music.
One of the two biggest changes I have seen over the last few decades is the swing back to DJs. In the early ’90s, I felt like the swing was to bands. Then, in the last 10 years or so, I saw the swing coming back to DJs. We retired our big party band at the end of 2018. We did thousands of weddings and thousands of private/corporate events over our 22-year career. I built a lot of relationships with wedding planners and venues. I didn’t want to stop doing weddings/corporate events and, since I had been doing both the band and DJ work for years, I was ready to transition and pretty much keep doing the same thing, just as a DJ. Since we chose an end date for the band and had 18 months to prepare for it, I slowly backed off on the bookings, so we didn’t go from six gigs a week to zero. So I was playing more DJ gigs at the end and, when the new year of 2019 started, I was ready with weddings that first weekend.
The other big change is equipment. I love that speakers have gotten smaller and better-sounding. And my Ape Labs lighting is ridiculously small and all battery-powered! No more trusses and DMX cables and stands and power problems. My entire light show fits in a small cooler-size bag!
Tell us about why you’ve been in the DJ industry 27 years?
I accidentally fell into the music industry in college. I found a guitar at my grandmother’s house in my sophomore year of college, learned maybe two chords and next thing you know, I’m in a band. My love of music and seeing people react to it has kept me in the industry. I truly love what I do.
When you first started, what were your ambitions?
My ambitions were probably to just see if I could do it. It certainly was a challenge.
Are you part-time, full-time?
I’m 100-percent full time. I had 29 gigs in April. I probably booked 20 gigs for other DJs, as well, in April alone. My calendar looks the same for the rest of the summer and beyond. I have a hard time stopping when a gig is over. I usually run from one gig to the next, so I have designed all of my rigs to be plug-and-play in minutes. DJ MikeTech was at my gig last night and he told me that he thinks that I am the most efficient DJ he has ever seen. I was honored to hear that from him since he is one of the best in town if not the state.
What’s your gig gear?
It includes a Pioneer DJ DDJ-WeGO4 controller on a Gator guitar-pedal board with a dbx goRack processor and a wireless mic system all mounted and pre-wired. I use a Turbosound iNSPIRE iP2000 active speaker system, a CedarsLink Beast-7 DJ façade and 12 Ape Labs LightCans.
How have you dealt with the pandemic?
Honestly, at first, I was like: “Well, what am I going to do?” Then, I quickly realized that I was going to rest like I had not rested in 27 years. I thoroughly enjoyed the 3-plust months of time off. There is no way I would ever schedule a three-month break – but I was so glad to have it. I finished projects around the house and painted a car and installed a headliner in another and so on. I loved it.
How do you differentiate your service from the competition?
I think I can offer years of picking the right song at the right time and being able to read a crowd. Coming from the band scene over to the DJ side has been beneficial. A band has such a limited number of songs compared to a DJ, who can have almost an unlimited song selection. I have played thousands of weddings and understand the flow, so that is beneficial for my clients. A lot of the time I end up being the coordinator at my events. I also provide high-end equipment with very clean setups. I try to be the consummate professional.
What’s your market like?
In the Charleston market, our wedding scene is probably one of the busiest in the country, as we are one of the top destination areas in the country. I’d say that it is competitive; however, there is more than enough work to go around. We have a great group of DJs that work together and promote each other and pass on gigs to each other when we can’t do them.
Where do you see the business in five years?
I hope it continues to grow and prosper. After such a tough 2020, I think we will be on the rebound for years. I hope to play for 20 more years!
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