Category Archives: Bedroom Bootstrapper

Stay Classy & Connected With Written Cards

One way I stay connected with past clients is hand writing cards and sending them in the mail.

  • As soon as I DJ their event, I send a Thank You card.
  • Each December I send out Happy New Year cards.
  • If I did a wedding, I send an anniversary card.

Most people just get bills in the mail. There’s something about a hand written note that will strike a cord with some folks.

A C-level executive took me out to dinner one day to learn about DJing, he grabbed the tab. I sent a hand-written Thank You and dropped it in interoffice mail the next day. I then got an email saying how much he appreciated it, “classy move”. I don’t think he’ll ever forget me.

It might take some time to write out your cards, but for that exact reason they’re appreciated that much more. This year I wrote out fifteen cards for New Year’s. It took me about two hours but I bet I easily get a couple gigs out of that. It’s the cheapest ‘advertising’ I’ll do all year, but also the easiest way to stand out.

PS: A reminder to follow-up with your leads! I just booked a wedding afterparty as a result of my THIRD follow-up email via autoresponder.

Do you really know how to use your mixer?

How To Use A Mixer

For over eight years did I lug around the gear to gigs, primarily using it as a conduit for easy microphone use, but I didn’t really know how to use a mixer.

My Traktor S4 had a mic input, but for the longest time I couldn’t figure out how to adequately use it during gigs. My second use for the standalone 12 channel mixer was enabling greater flexibility of audio connections. Many a time did my mixer get me out of a jam because I didn’t have the requisite adapters to hook into the house sound system. In addition it enabled greater volume control across various zones, where I ran TRS to the house system and RCA to my mixer which powered my own speakers.

Alas, it wasn’t until Rob came along and walked me through the standard options I had available.

Peaking Levels

The first thing he taught me was that you want your levels peaking just above the ‘zero’. That was news to me, as I always pushed my gear until I was flashing yellow. While there is still headroom, you want the flexibility in the event the source signal increases (eg. your song gets louder) or if multiple sources are combining (eg. you’re playing two songs at the same time). Anything above zero or ‘unity’ and your mixer is actually boosting the output, and vice versa for anything below it.

Mixer levels

Worse enough you’ll see guys living in red, clueless or ignorant of the fact they’re likely ruining the quality of sound and potentially damaging equipment. Below is a visual demonstration of what happens to sound when it is boosted too loud. The equipment you’re using literally can’t make it any louder. You lose the peaks, they slam up against the upper limit and flatten out, thus sounding like crap. Stay out of the red folks 🙂

 

Clipping waveform

Setting Your Gains

Now, how to set your gains! You can blast your music all over the venue to see where you start clipping out but this is practical and an amateur move.

To set the gain on your mixer without actually blasting your music there is a feature on most mixers called PFL or Pre-Fade Listen. It allows the signal to pass through and activate the volume meter (those pretty lights) without actually having to hear anything. If you have a Behringer Xenyx mixer like many folks do, activate PFL mode on the upper right of your master fader, then hit the solo button on the channel you need to set your gain on. Now you can adjust your levels without the venue going deaf! Setting PFL

Set your channel fader at zero and adjust the knob up top which you can see in the image below. If you are running into line 5/6 or 7/8 via two TRS cables, you can instead use the button to increase or decrease your level input. I now use these channels and finesse the out from my controller.
Inputs and Gains

Proper Inputs

Now for another rookie mistake: routing your controller or music source into the ‘Mic’ input instead of ‘Line In’. For many mixers the Mic input is the XLR input (the one with three small holes as seen up top). These inputs have greater ‘sensitivity’ to audio signal, meaning that the weaker signals microphones generate are heavily amplified compared to the signal your controller is sending. Your audio will sound much worse by routing your controller into a Mic Input. You want to use the TRS input, preferably ‘balanced’ cables (seen below). TRS Balance vs UnbalancedDon’t have TRS cables? Grab some patch cables!

What Should You Charge? DJ Pricing Template For Weddings

DJ Pricing

Recently on a webinar in Phil Morse’s Mobile DJ Blueprint course the question of DJ pricing came up, as it does often. I mentioned theweddingreport.com as a source for researching prices in your area and using that as a baseline for setting your packages across the board, not just for weddings.

Here’s how I approached the situation when I first began doing weddings, YMMV.

Weddings

The average spend on DJs for weddings in my area was right around $1100. Location: Southwest Connecticut, USA

  • My first wedding I charged $800; I knew the couple through my corporate job I had at the time. I was transparent it was my first wedding, but they had seen me before and were comfortable with that.
  • My second wedding I charged $950; I’m good friends with the groom’s brother which is how I got the lead. They knew it was my second wedding, and I priced accordingly.
  • My third wedding I charged $1290 (my target full price); another contact through my corporate job.
  • My fourth wedding I charged $1740 (a premium as it was on NYE); this was a cold lead that came through Gigmasters.

I knew my services were better than the average DJ’s, so my target was $1250, just above the aforementioned ‘average’ rate of $1100.

I however charged less for my first two gigs because I’ve never done weddings before, I didn’t feel comfortable charging full price when there was a decent probability I’d be rough around the edges. I’ve never done it before, so the clients got a reduced rate for the risk they were taking on.

But I didn’t enter the foray of weddings until I had been Djing for YEARS. IMO weddings should be down the line for all the new DJs. Cut your teeth on less stressful gigs before having someone put their trust in you for such a big day.

Other Gigs

I did some more research and found that DJ pricing for basic corporate gigs float around $800 (70% the wedding rate), and basic Mom n Pop gigs around $550 (50% of the wedding rate). Those ratio’s might be a good place to start in your location once you find out what avg wedding DJs get, as I found that anyone charging less around me wasn’t really worth their salt.

DJ Pricing Calculator

I asked a few friends scattered around the country about their DJ pricing, then compared to the data on the website and ratios I came up with. Using that as a rough framework I created a  DJ pricing tool that will provide estimates on what rates might be in your area. Check it out and let me know how it works for your area!