Fail to prepare, prepare to...
Not fail necessarily but not have the best possible experience.
Ever realised you don't have wellies when you're packing your festival kit 2 hours before the bus leaves? I have.
Ever spent the night sleeping in a foreign bus stop because you didn't bother booking a hotel beforehand only to realise on arrival that there's a massive local event going on and nowhere (that man nor beast would lie) has any beds? I have
Ever cooked an amazing Christmas dinner and had the resounding feedback of: "You forgot the chipolatas!" I have
Failing to prepare might not lead to a catastrophic disaster but it definitely heightens the chances of something going wrong or your experience not being as good as it could (and should) have been.
This blog comes off the heels of a week where I've done another very successful wedding where the clients were dealing with me from a completely different continent never mind postcode. It's also a week where I gave a seminar to scores of colleagues who belong to Scotland's biggest DJ association.
There are scores of DJs from every part of the industry in the association and by far the biggest request I had for my seminar topic was "How to be a successful wedding DJ." I opted against this for various reasons. 1. I'm not going to give away all the trade secrets to guys who can't be bothered to work at it and find out for themselves. 2. I've hand countless parts of what I do stolen from me over the years from things I say during gigs to parts of my e-mail responses and website so I'm not falling over myself to give the underhanded DJs of the world more ammo. Lastly, but probably most importantly is that I don't really need to do a seminar on how to be a successful wedding DJ.
I'll say it all day long to my clients and venues - what I do isn't rocket science but there's no silver bullet to get good at it - it takes years of learning and it also takes a lot of effort and gumption which, if you don't have it, you'll never be as good for your clients as you can be.
I got thinking about a conversation I had a while back with another DJ who basically alluded to the fact that I'm stupid for investing 20-30 hours on each wedding I do and he was essentially better than me. His basic argument was: I can turn up to a venue 15 minutes before the first dance, ask the bride and grooms name, ask for their first dance song and get on with it - why can't you?
Well I could, and I'd still do good gigs (remember, it's not rocket science) but could I do the absolute best for my clients in that situation? Not a chance and I defy anyone who thinks that they can do as good a job as me just "turning up" (i.e. what I do for school discos...) at a wedding compared to months of planning and prep.
I had a client meeting last week. It lasted about 45 minutes and in that time I learned so much about their wedding as a whole that I was able to bring parts of that into my first dance intro. We chatted about their music choices for the parent dances - on the spot I was able to slow one tune down to a tempo that the groom was happy with and I did a quick edit to shorten the bride's parent song - got the green light from her and was able to go home and record a version that she was ecstatic with that night.
Could DJ "ummm where's the bride and whatshisface?" Not a chance. Does he know who their important family members are or picked up a funny story in passing about the stag do and made a mental note about the "TUNE" that provided the backdrop to it and then drop it as a surprise in the middle of the night? Nope.
Taking things even further - is someone who is content to turn up not even sure if he's going to have the first dance likely to be very conscientious in the rest of his life as a DJ? I spend roughly an hour checking every bit of gear before each gig just to make sure I have everything. In all the years of doing this and hundreds of gigs I've forgot a charger for my Mac once. I had a backup so it wasn't a problem but week in week out on the above mentioned associations Facebook page you have folk posting in a panic from gigs: My speaker has blown can anyone help out? Argh, I've left my clothes in the house, can someone bring me a shirt? One guy even drove 2 hours to a gig only to find that his HDD cable was snapped - he needed someone to bring him a spare cable which costs less than a quid... so failure to prepare very easily can result in a disaster too.
If you want a truly bespoke service and one where you won't have to worry about your DJ being really cheesy or not having the music you like or even turning up in the first place - make sure you've got the measure of them and what they can do for you - ask questions, don't base your decision on price alone and don't assume that we all do the same thing because apart from pressing buttons to play tunes (back to the non-rocket-science thingy again!) we all conduct and run our businesses in completely different manners.
Have a great weekend.