The 1% Solution: It’s Not Talent—It’s Training! [DJ Expo Panel Preview]

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For the better part of a decade, Randy Bartlett—owner of Premier Entertainment and Video in Sacramento, Calif.—has been producing a series of videos based around the premise that small adjustments applied to many aspects of a DJ’s performance can yield better results than one major adjustment.
He’s called this approach “The 1% Solution,” and he’ll be providing DJ Expo attendees the latest version of the seminar in August. We recently spoke to Bartlett and he offered some great takeaways.

Tell us about what inspired “The 1% Solution.”

In our training workshops for our DJs, we spent a lot of time making small tweaks in performance to get a better result. One day, I said, “I don’t want to change anything you’re doing by 100-percent; I just want to change 100 things by 1-percent.”

That’s how we came up with the name. I began giving seminars on performance, and, for me, it was always much easier to understand the concept with a video, rather than just talking about it. It was hard to discuss the little things that made the difference without being able to show it.

At my seminars, I would show video samples of both good and bad examples, and afterwards, I would be deluged with requests from DJs for copies of the videos. I realized that there was nothing on the market that combined great content with great production value, so we set out to fill that niche with “The 1% Solution” DVD. The success was beyond what we imagined, with tons of requests for more and so began the series.

What changes have seen in the industry, performance-wise, since that DVD debuted?

The DJ business will always be, like all entertainment, mostly made up of part-time hobbyists, just like musicians, magicians, singers and so on. There is still a large contingent of DJs out there who try to improve their service by adding new gear, with little thought to changing their performance. But I’ve heard from countless DJs over the years about how they’ve been able to double or triple their rates by using the ideas in “The 1% Solution,” by creating more direct referrals from guests at events.

For years, the only real difference between DJs was between the competent professionals and the incompetent hobbyist, but now we’re seeing another level—the competent professional and trained DJ, who knows how to create applause without yelling, “Make some noise!” or is able to create excitement and energy, to naturally transition the moments of an event to keep the guests completely engaged.

Can you give us a snapshot of how DJs can use wording changes to improve their performance?

Here’s a simple example: Applause is important, but if it’s forced, it can actually take away from the moment, instead of adding to it. Think about a Broadway play—as the scene ends, as the lights fade, as that last note is hit by the actor, as a member of the audience, you have goose bumps, you’re totally in the moment and without any prompting, you will spontaneously begin to clap.

But if, at that moment, a voice came through the sound system saying, “How about a nice round of applause for the actors—that was awesome,” then it would take you out of the moment and you wouldn’t feel the emotion.

It’s the same at a wedding. We want to learn to deliver applause lines, so it’s about the wording, the inflection and the timing, which is why “The 1%” DVDs are so helpful. You don’t read about it, you see and hear it. One common mistake DJs make is in the opening, when they welcome the guests to the venue, rather than to the event. They will say, “Good evening and welcome to the Sheraton Grand. My name is Jim Jackson from Jackson Entertainment and I will be your host for the evening. I want to let you know about, blah, blah, blah.” There’s no applause line in there. An audience needs a reason and an opportunity to applaud and they will, every time.

So with a small change, they can engage that audience quickly: “Good evening.” (Pause slightly to give the guests a moment to disconnect from the conversation and to engage you.) “Welcome to Steve and Sarah’s wedding reception!” This line must be delivered correctly, with the proper up-tempo ending, but without going over the top. If delivered with the right inflection, timing and body language, the guests will respond with a big, natural cheer and applause every single time. If they didn’t, it means you didn’t deliver it correctly.
Now, within the first three seconds of being on the microphone and without you telling them to do so, they have enthusiastically cheered and clapped all on their own. You now own the room. The difference between “Welcome to the Sheraton Grand,” and “Welcome to Steve and Sarah’s wedding reception” is very minor, but the results are completely different.  That’s not talent—that’s training.

What will Expo attendees see that’s updated?

Although a lot of what I teach is timeless, because it’s more about technique, everything changes with time. The styles of wedding-party introductions have changed a lot, the styles of interaction have changed and we concentrate a lot more now on transitions—those moments between every event, every announcement, every song that tie everything together.

Have you received feedback from DJs that made you want to add to “The 1% Solution”—and what was it?

One of the biggest changes from when we began is YouTube. I get people sending me links all the time to both good and bad performances. As a performance coach, I almost always see things that can be improved, even in the good ones.

Our next DVD, “Transitions,” out in the fall of 2014, is one that we’ve wanted to do for a long time, because we’ve had so many requests from DJs to see that, but it’s been the toughest one to do, because most videographers don’t shoot the transitions, and if they do and have it in the video, it’s usually only the good ones that make it in. But I think DJs need to see bad examples to relate to in order to really understand the difference.

The other request we get a lot is for “Grand Entrances” and we’re working on that as well, but that won’t happen until 2015 at least.

How is establishing “The 1% Solution” brand different from establishing the Premier Entertainment brand?

“The 1% Solution” is about how we do what we do. Premier Entertainment is about what we do.

I’ve made the mistake too often with my Premier Entertainment clients of getting into the “how” instead of the results. Nobody wants to hear about the labor pains—they just want to see the baby. But that doctor better know about how to handle the delivery.

“The 1% Solution” is “How to Deliver a Healthy Baby.” Premier Entertainment is “Isn’t this the cutest baby you’ve ever seen?”

Are you still learning things that you can add to “The 1% Solution” brand? What are they?

The teacher learns the most. As I’ve been working on the “Transitions” DVD, I’ve really come to focus on them, and while I’ve always prided myself on being good at transitions, now that it’s my focus, I see lots of room for improvement.

It’s really fun when you take something that you’re pretty good at, and then give it “The 1% Solution” treatment and see that little tweak get you a great big better result than ever.  For me, learning has always been fun.

As I’ve begun the preparations on my “Grand Entrances” DVD, I’ve been looking at a lot of different styles and I’m realizing that there’s so much more that can be added.
One of the coolest things about the workshops I do now is watching other DJs perform on the mic. I’ve gotten some great ideas from them as well. In a workshop I did last year, I heard the greatest line from one of the attendees, one I’ve integrated into my own opening and the reaction from the guests has been awesome: The teacher learns the most!
DJ Expo will run Aug. 11-14 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J. For the latest info, please visit


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