21st-Century Jocks: We Asked Mobile DJs for Their Wish Lists. What They Offered Might Surprise You

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At the top of his DJ wish list, John “DJ Gallifrey” Horne in Huntington, Pa., says he’d forever banish audience members who continually demand that he play their song… next. But, more realistically, he’ll settle for something that’ll spice up his mobile rig.

“I’m always on the look-out for new lights, but nothing is really jumping out at me right now,” says Horne, who’s been professionally entertaining with Jam Machine Productions since 1982. “I always wait to see what’s what at the DJ Expo before I base any decision on purchases.”


Horne’s sentiments are echoed on the other side of the country by Mark Haggerty, who says he’s not against trying new things, although he’s satisfied with the equipment currently used by DJs for his San Francisco Bay Area outfit, Denon & Doyle.

“I have my system dialed in, with a new console, speakers and great mics,” says the Pacheco, Calif.-based Haggerty. “We did try to use an iPad on a pedestal for karaoke requests—that could be used by DJs, too—but guests just didn’t take to the new technology like I thought they would. They still like to interact with the MC and request stuff in-person.”

We polled mobiles from all over the nation, asking them what’s on their wish lists for 2017, either equipment-wise, music-wise or otherwise.

We asked them to stretch their imaginations, to think of things that would actually make their job as a mobile entertainer much easier, to think outside the box, to envision their future. What would they dream of having, if they could snap a finger and make it so?

“I just wish I could find and attract more clients, so I could just do what I love—gig time,” says Michael Grant of Sanford Sound & Light in Sanford, N.C. “I suck at business and selling, but love meeting with and talking to potential clients, to get a feel for each other. So, I guess a middleman would be nice for the sales end.”

Blake “DJ Sticky Boots” Eckelbarger of the Music Place in Sound Bend, Ind., says he has his own wish list — just not from an equipment or business point of view.

“Of course, I always wish for an intelligent, capable and self-motivated unpaid intern that could handle the office’s busy work, or a crew of veteran roadies looking to stay in shape between tours to handle load-in/out or to set up for me at every event.

“But that truly is ‘wishful’ thinking,” he jokes. “Otherwise, I think the thing I’d wish for most is for more potential customers to value the service we provide as mobile entertainers, and to see us as a unique asset worth investing in rather than a commodity.

“Of course, it would also be nice for some clients to be better organized and committed when it comes to the success of their events.”
Back over on the West Coast of the United States, Seattle’s Adam Tiegs of Adam’s DJ Service says his dream would be that manufacturers would tweak some of their equipment features to make them more friendly to mobile DJs.

“For example, if Serato were to incorporate an auto-fade feature—not auto-mix—I would most likely use it exclusively for all of my music prep and organization,” Tiegs explains. “But since that one important feature is missing, as a mobile DJ I still utilize the old Denon Music Manager software, which works great with the DN-HD2500 controllers I use.

“I’m waiting for the manufacturers to step up and make a good standalone product for mobiles, not just club DJs.”

Tiegs is able to quickly run down a list of computer programs or mixer features that would make his job much easier.

“I can’t support [Pioneer DJ’s] rekordbox because I find its foundation and framework too limited,” he says. “[Denon DJ] Engine might be headed back in the right direction, but for some reason Denon’s C-Fade and Relay Play features were left out. [Native Instruments’] Traktor might work, too, but that’s a whole new platform I’d have to learn.

“I’d also like an all-in-one controller and/or mixer that utilizes RF remote-control capabilities to start and stop tracks, and that would adjust mic/track/master volume from the dancefloor.

As an MC, I’d like to be a little more interactive, but feel like I’m stuck behind the decks and mixer because no product exists, to my knowledge, that has this technology incorporated.
“We’re incorporating wireless signals, wireless control of speakers and even wireless control of our lighting, but why not our basic DJ functions, too?”

Tiegs hopes manufacturers are reading this. “I also dream of a DJ product that has mic inputs [on mixers/controllers] to improve the quality and quantity of mic pre-amps on their units,” he says. “Imagine having the line-level mixer tech built into a DJ mixer/controller, without a need for a separate line-level mixer or mic mixer to hook up more than one or two mics—balanced, combo jacks, so no more ¼-inch jacks.

“I know I’m just dreaming, but my No.-1 wish should already be a feature. Serato spent tons of money and time on R&D for Pyro, but if they’d incorporate a simple auto-fade feature, I think they’d own the DJ world—both club and mobile.”

Back over in the center of the nation, K.C. KoKoruz of Chicago’s Keith Christopher Entertainment Group says the mobile DJs of today should simply be thrilled with how our industry has evolved over the past two decades.

“The reality is, compared to the ’80s and the ’90s, DJing today with modern technology is a DJ’s dream come true. Equipment has become smaller, lighter, more efficient—not to mention cheaper.

“Music was always an issue in the old days, but today is available at the click of a mouse, compared to having to drive to a store and buy it. The rock-n-roller cart and the cost reduction of flight cases have made loading in and out of a venue a one-trip situation most of the time.

“Online Customer Relationship Management companies like DJ Event Planner have made keeping our sales leads, clients and planning tools all so convenient that when I look back at the way we used to do it, I just shake my head. Today’s technologies allow us to have a back page with pricing on it, or perhaps a PDF to email so that the days of actually mailing things are long over.
“With everything that’s out there already, I think all that needs to be done is to tweak a few things.”