Mobile disc jockey
Mobile disc jockeys (or mobile DJs), also known in the United Kingdom as mobile discos, are disc jockeys that travel or tour with portable sound systems and play from an extensive collection of pre-recorded music for a targeted audience. There are a variety of mobile disc jockey business models, including full-time, part-time, multi-operator, and single-operator companies.
In the past, mobile DJs utilized formats such as vinyl records or cassettes. The craze originally started in the UK in 1966 when a young man called Roger Squire started an entertainment service in North London and coined the trading name Roger Squire's "Mobile Discotheques". (NB: the word "discotheque" means in French "record library"). He is credited with being the very first person to invent the term "Mobile Discotheque". Within just two years, he had fifteen mobile discothèques performing at around sixty functions every week. His mobile discos entertained at events attended by film stars and royalty as well as performing at countless numbers of college dances, wedding receptions and other social events. Over the next few years, huge numbers of copycat "Mobile Discos" then started up to emulate Roger Squire's successful formula. This was the swinging sixties dancing to the beat of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. It was the decade when London got its "Swinging London" reputation. Squire later set up a disco equipment supply service and sold disco sound and lighting systems to literally thousands of budding DJs, both in the UK and abroad.
During the disco era of the 1970s, demand for mobile DJs soared. Top disc jockeys in this era would have hundreds of vinyl records and/or cassette tapes. The equipment used in this era was enormous and usually required roadies (similar to those who work for bands) to set up. While many club disc jockeys still use vinyl, most mobile DJs currently use compact discs, computer-based files (such as MP3s), or a combination of sources. In addition, professional-grade equipment created by a variety of companies expressly for mobile DJing has allowed for faster set-up and break-down, as well as improved quality of performance.
Mobile DJs typically perform at various types of events including wedding receptions, bar and bat mitzvah receptions, company parties, school dances, anniversary and birthday parties, etc. Mobile DJs also perform in public at bars, taverns, nightclubs, and block parties.
In the 1980s and 1990s, mobile DJs began to form and expand associations and create professional business networks, which now include annual trade shows and internet discussion forums. Today, many mobile DJs also promote themselves as event planners, organizers, and MCs (Master of Ceremonies). Working closely with their customers, their guests, and other vendors (such as venue staff and photographers/videographers), today's professional mobile DJs strive to provide quality entertainment that fits the event in question in terms of style and performance.
Today, a large selection of music, professional-grade equipment, good organizational skills, vocal talent as an MC, mixing skills, quality lighting, insurance for liability, and on-site back-up equipment are typical customer expectations when purchasing mobile DJ services.
Since the early 1990s, mobile DJs have raised the bar with organized professional trade shows such as the Mobile Beat Show in Las Vegas, NV and DJ Times Expo in Atlantic City, NJ. Seminars by numerous respected DJs such as John Rozz, Ray "Ray Mar" Martinez, Stacy Zemon, Mark Ferrell, Peter Merry, Randy Bartlett, Steve Moody, Mike Walter, and many more have helped DJs to better understand their profession as well as running their businesses more professionally rather than treating it as a hobby.
By furthering their education at these trade shows combined with a number of books that have been written about this legitimate trade, the poor perception that mobile DJs have had by their clientele has dramatically improved. Mobile DJs who once were averaging $350–500 per four hour event in the 1970s, now on a national average for a wedding can command anywhere from $1,200-2,500 per four hour event. With the average being around $800.
The American Disc Jockey Awards Show was established and held in Las Vegas; since then thirteen mobile DJs have been elected to the American Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. The thirteen members include: John Rozz, Al Lampkin, Joe Martin, Robert A. Lindquist, Jon Michaels, Mike Buonaccorso, Sid Vanderpool, Bobby Morganstein, John Roberts, Ken Knotts, Ray "Ray Mar" Martinez, Cesar Cosio and Bernie Howard-Fryman.
The 'DJ of the Year' winners at the DJ Times Expo include three-time winner Marcello Pedalino, Roxanna Greene, K.C. KoKoruz, Shawn "Big Daddy" McKee, Marz Lawhorn, Gerry Siracusa, Adam Weitz and Steve Moody.
"A Different Spin", a riveting, behind the scenes exploration of the history of the Mobile DJ industry was released in September 2011. The author, Michael Buonaccorso, co-founded Mobile Beat Magazine in 1991, and created the Mobile Beat DJ Show and Conferences in 1997. The info and ideas presented in the book are the result of the author's day by day, year by year hammering away at making a career in the DJ world, first as DJ himself, then as a media and trade show professional with a higher vantage point than most on an entire industry.
- Zemon, Stacy. The Mobile DJ Handbook: How to Start & Run a Profitable Mobile Disc Jockey Service, Second Edition. St. Louis: Focal Press, 2002.
- Graudins, Charles A. How to Be a DJ. Boston: Course Technology PTR, 2004.
- I am an active working Wedding DJ in North Carolina, having been in the business for the past 6 years. http://www.wilmington-wedding-dj.com
- "08:30am – A Different Spin: Behind All That Spin – Michael Buonaccorso". Mobile Beat. Retrieved 10 June 2013.