Category Archives: Gig Rewind

When In Doubt, Hire An Assistant

Last week I had a corporate holiday party at the aquarium in town. I’ve been there before so I was familiar with the load in/load out and setup space. There’s a long hallway to trek gear back and forth but there are no stairs so hand trucks and rollers make it bearable.

In any event, the client wanted an extra setup for cocktail hour in a separate room, three wireless mics, and uplighting. To make matters more difficult the venue no longer allowed subs in the main room on account of the nearby seals. I had to bring my massive three-way JBLs instead of the more portable eVox 8’s. It would be a more involved setup but I figured 90 minutes would be fine.

The night before the party however I remembered how miserable I was during a holiday party two years prior. I was about 5 minutes late in setting up and loadout took almost 90 minutes… the venue was not happy. Granted it was on the 50th floor of the Ritz so the elevator didn’t help things, but I was alone and did have two setups to break down. Remembering this, I immediately shot a text to a friend of mine to see if he was free to help with setup for the event. He DJ’s fulltime so it happened that he was free. Perfect.

We got there early, around 4:15, but the venue would not let us so much as roll in our gear until 5 pm. To the minute. The best we could negotiate was to unload my gear into the alcove right inside the door at the end of the loooong hallway. Then, we sat. At 4:59 we begin rolling down the hall. They were so strict and overbearing that my friend noticed a staff member look at their watch as I walked by with a load of speakers. If it were not 5:01 by the time I did so, I wouldn’t put it past them to send me back to the end of the hall. Seriously.

If I had not hired my assistant that night there’s no way I would have been able to set everything up in 75 minutes. And it’s a good thing I did. Because at the end of the night I got an amazing 50% tip with exultations that they would certainly be using me again. With that tip? Please do!

If I was behind in my setup, I doubt I get that tip. They would not have become repeat clients. That $50 investment for an hour of help turned into $500 and a long-term relationship.

Business Review Pt 1: How I Doubled Revenue Six Years Straight (and counting)

We’re just crossing mid-year and I hit a major milestone: I have as much on the books halfway through this year compared to ALL of last year!

I’m keeping up with my targetted revenue growth of doubling each and every year. I hit $25k last year so basic math would tell us that I’m looking at $50k for 2018.

It’s also looking like I’ll be able to keep expenses flat despite the massive uptick in revenue.

Gross Rev Expenses Total Gigs Private Gigs Private Rev Bars/Clubs Bar Rev
2012 $100 $234 3 3 $100 0 $0
2013 $1,510 $625 5 5 $1,510 0 $0
2014 $1,841 $2,022 7 7 $1,841 0 $0
2015 $5,128 $3,399 15 13 $4,478 2 $650
2016 $12,840 $11,010 24 16 $10,790 8 $2,050
2017 $25,175 $13,916 67 14 $11,975 53 $14,250
2018 $25,945 $7,168 46 21 $19,795 25 $6,150

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings

So what can we glean from all these fancy numbers? The big thing sticking out is the explosion in Private Gig Revenue. Weddings have accounted for the big growth here.

I had five weddings in 2016 and unfortunately followed that up with absolutely zero in 2017. That changed in a big way this year, as I played five weddings over a four week period in May ALONE. So far I have 11 on the year with another already booked for 2019.

Bar revenue has fallen off a bit but that was to be expected. I stopped spending any and all energy working into the bar scene to focus exclusively on weddings and clearly it’s been paying off. I even began turning away bar gigs to double down on growing the most valuable part of my business.

As you can see below, I’ve done fewer gigs and my revenue has grown. Bar gigs pull in $200-250 not including tax or expenses. My average weddings have been priced at $1500 depending on the package. This is exactly what I planned on.

From Whence They Came

Below I break down percentages of where my revenue has been coming from.

Since a large portion of my income last year were bar gigs, Industry Connects & Multi-ops contributed to half of my revenue. Now that I’m turning away from bar gigs they’ve contributed to only a quarter of my revenue with Paid sources picking up the slack.

Paid sources include sites like Gigmasters and WeddingWire. A big reason why they’ve spiked up is because of the testimonials I’ve gathered.

Sources 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Word of Mouth 100% 100% 100% 70% 41% 31% 33%
Multi-ops 0% 0% 0% 18% 10% 30% 15%
Paid 0% 0% 0% 0% 26% 19% 39%
Industry Connects 0% 0% 0% 0% 2% 20% 7%
Barter 0% 0% 0% 13% 21% 0% 5%

Revenue by Source YoY

More Reviews = More Leads (& Gigs)

In August of 2017 I signed up for a Wedding Wire Pro account and through January 2018 I only had two reviews. By June I got that up to TWELVE, with every single wedding client writing me a testimonial.

Industry average is 20%, 30% at best if you follow-up four times. Once you break double digit testimonials Wedding Wire’s traffic DOUBLES. Anyone can tell you that doubling your ROI is huge, because now you’ve got twice the bang for buck. And Wedding Wire is not cheap.

I’m getting more and more qualified cold leads from clients who are willing and able to pay for quality service. If you don’t have the reviews or marketing assets (like a great website and professional photos), you’re just not going to make the sale outside of budget shoppers.

How Did I Get Reviews from 100% Of My Clients?

It all boils down to doing the unexpected. Spending just 2% of my gig revenue  on a gift, my clients were jumping up and down to write me a glowing review!

Look out for the next the article or sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know when it’s posted!

Shadow Report: 5 Wedding Gems From A 30-Year Pro

More Wedding Gems!

Shadowed another wedding this past weekend. This DJ has 30 years of experience and has grown his multi-op to half a dozen DJs averaging 300 events a year between mitzvahs & weddings alone. His mixing skills were even more questionable than the DJ I shadowed in DC, but he was a solid programmer and his MCing was 99/100 (he could have spoken a little slower). With so much experience, I took away five more wedding gems to immediately employ in my business.

1) Musical Glow-sticks

Give each table a glow-stick. Tell them to start passing it around as music is playing. Keep passing it until the music stops. Kill the music.

“Ok stop! Who’s holding your glow-stick? You’re now the table captain. And as captain the table has to do what you say. Now the first captain to get their entire table to the dance-floor wins! Ready? Go!”

*Drop upbeat dance music*

He says it works 99% of the time. It was so ninja, dance-floor immediately full.

2) Slow-Dances

I realized that I really under-utilize slow-dances.

After everyone was seated for the wedding party introduction & dinner orders, he gets on the mic and announces:

“Alright we’re going to get some dancing going, this one’s for all the wonderful couples out there.”

Unchained Melody beigns playing and like clockwork the dancefloor packs up. After one or two slow-dances he drops into Runaround Sue and bam. Rocking dancefloor.

Perfect Bait & Switch.

3) Freedom Sticks.

A super easy way to really kick up the atmosphere.

They’re wirelessly controlled and battery powered, so setup is crazy easy. You can get a pack of four for $500; not cheap but not ridiculous.

These you can supplement with up-lights or replace them altogether. Many couples don’t want over the top lighting anyway for their wedding, these are a nice classy upsell.

4) Setup Time

Regardless of the rig he needs to setup he gets there at least two hours before the event is scheduled. Not when he is required to begin playing, but when the event starts.

We had a one-room setup with super-easy lighting. With three guys we were done in about an hour.

A guitarist was providing music for the cocktail hour so we could have used that time to tie off odds & ends. No one would have seen us as our section was walled off.

Still, this is a bad look to the venue staff and fellow vendors when you don’t have your shit together once the event has begun. Not to mention anxiety inducing.

Don’t stress, get there early and relax.

5) Backup Laptop For Critical Music

His setup included a backup laptop with a playlist of critical songs (1st dances, introductions, etc) wired into a channel on his mixer.

In the event something happened in those moments, he’d be able to recover in seconds.

Backup Laptop

I bring a second laptop myself to all gigs, but it’s usually packed away. In the event something happens I always have my phone hooked into my mixer, but not usually with critical songs ready at a moments notice. As I don’t bring a facade with me, I might start setting up my laptop underneath my table for instant access.

And all those backpacks on the floor? Photographer crap. Seemingly the ones capturing the event visually care least about how things look *eye-roll*