Mobile disc jockey
Mobile disc jockeys (otherwise known as mobile DJs or, in the United Kingdom, as mobile discos) are disc jockeys that tour with portable sound systems. They play for a targeted audience from an extensive collection of their pre-recorded music, using vinyl records, cassettes, CDs or digital music formats.
Mobile DJs typically perform at various types of events including wedding receptions, bars, Bar Mitzvah receptions, company parties, school dances, anniversaries and birthday parties. They also perform in public at taverns, nightclubs and block parties.
Business models for mobile disc jockey include full-time, part-time, multi-operator, and single-operator companies.
The concept of Mobile Discos started in the UK in 1966, when Roger Squire began an entertainment service in North London named "Roger Squire's Mobile Discotheques". The word, "discotheque" is French for "record library". Within just two years, Squire had fifteen mobile discothèques performing at approximately sixty functions every week. He entertained at events attended by celebrities, including royalty, along with a countless number of college dances, wedding receptions and other social events. Over the next few years, huge numbers of copycat "Mobile Discos" started to emulate his successful formula. During this period, London got its "Swinging London" reputation. Squire later set up a disco equipment supply service that sold disco sound and lighting systems to budding DJs, both in the UK and abroad.
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.
DJs also mix music from one song to the next. This is generally done by beatmatching, key mixing, and volume control. There may also be effects used in creating a transition from one song to the next. Many software products include a beatmatching button, which requires no mixing skills needed for the DJ. These software products include Virtual DJ and Traktor. There are also products that do not offer this "beatmatch" button, one of these products is Serato Scratch Live. Serato is an industry standard in both the club and mobile DJ level.
With the advance of in-home sound systems, the expectation level of sound and lighting shows for concerts, conventions and weddings has grown. L.E.D. technology is the most recent light show technology that is available when hiring a DJ. 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 hiring a mobile DJ. Suggestions for hiring mobile disc jockeys include requests for referrals, approximate age of equipment, level of insurance, agreed upon and written contracts with fees, and agreement of electrical sources.
Many mobile DJs also promote themselves as event planners, organizers and MCs (master of ceremonies), working closely with their customers, guests and the event's other vendors (such as venue staff and photographers/video graphs). They work to provide quality entertainment that fits the event in terms of style and performance.
This increased role in event planning has been facilitated by explosion of over the top sweet sixteens thanks to the MTV reality show, My Super Sweet 16. Today's mobile DJs are tasked with putting together major productions for these event that require customization in every element of “her big night”. As huge as the demand for qualified teen event DJs is, the equipment list to bring a full production on the road to create a successful event is more than most can offer. From large screen video, fog, light up dance floors, glow lights, lasers, high end dance lighting, and booming sound, today's sweet sixteens are setting the bar high for future generations.
Further Suggested Reading
A Different Spin, a behind the scenes the history of the mobile DJ industry, was released in September 2011. The author, Michael Buonaccorso, co-founded Mobile Beat Magazine in 1991, and founded the Mobile Beat DJ Show and Conferences in 1997. The information and ideas presented in the book are the result of the author's career in the DJ world, first as a DJ himself, then as a media and trade show professional with a higher vantage point than most on the 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.
- "08:30am – A Different Spin: Behind All That Spin – Michael Buonaccorso". Mobile Beat. Retrieved 10 June 2013.