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. Business models for mobile disc jockey include full-time, part-time, multi-operator, and single-operator companies.
In the past, mobile DJs utilized formats such as vinyl records, cassettes, or compact discs. The practice started in the UK in 1966, when a young man named Roger Squire began an entertainment service in North London and coined the trading name "Roger Squire's Mobile Discotheques". The name was influenced by the French word for record library, "discotheque". Within just two years, Squire had fifteen mobile discotheques performing at approximately sixty functions every week. He entertained at events attended by film stars and royalty, as well as 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 Roger Squire's successful formula. During this period, 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.
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.
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, guests and other vendors (such as venue staff and photographers/video graphs). 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 raised the bar with organized professional trade shows such as the Mobile Beat Show in Vegas, NV and the 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 and Steve Moody 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 $800–2,500 per event, with the national average being around $1,038 for a wedding reception.
The last decade ushered in an explosion of over the top sweet sixteens thanks to the MTV reality show, My Super Sweet 16. Today's mobile DJs are called to task to put together major productions 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.
The American Disc Jockey Awards Show was established and its first edition was 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, Roxanne Greene, K.C. KoKoruz, Shawn "Big Daddy" McKee, Marz Lawhorn, Gerry Siracusa, Adam Weitz and Steve Moody, the first Canadian to take part in the competition as of 2013. Pascal Levesque from Quebec, Canada was named 'DJ of the Year Runner-Up' and won 'Best Dance' award.
"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 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 the entire industry.
With the advance of in-home sound systems, the expectation level of sound and lighting shows for concert, conventions and weddings has grown. L.E.D. technology is the most recent light show technology that is available when hiring a 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.
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.
- Zemon, Stacy. The Mobile DJ Handbook: How to Start & Run a Profitable Mobile Disc Jockey Service, Second Edition. St. Louis: Focal Press, 2002.
- Grains, Charles A. How to Be a DJ. Boston: Course Technology PT, 2004.
- 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.