Boston DJ Finds a Diverse Mix
Boston—Rob Peters was attending St. Joseph’s College in Windham, Maine, studying communications and broadcasting when he was introduced to radio. One of his mentors DJed the on-campus events, and Peters would watch and absorb. “Eventually, I was asked to DJ a dance on campus and loved doing it,” he says. “But even then, I was only getting paid a small fee. I think it was around $25. The college owned the gear, so I spent the money I was making on records and 12-inch singles.”
It wasn’t until halfway through his college career when Peters realized that there was money to be made DJing at parties and dances, but it really took off for him after he graduated.
“In the spring of 1992, I was dating a girl who asked me to DJ a party for her sister,” he says. “At the time, I was working as an assistant manager for Strawberries, a regional record-store chain, so I had access to the music I needed—and a great discount, too! I rented speakers and did the party for her. People had fun and were asking for my business card. At the time, I didn’t have any and had to write my contact information on cocktail napkins! It was a great party. The only downside at that time was the girl I was dating dumped me a few weeks later!”
But Peters won out in the end, as the experience encouraged him to pursue DJing part time. His uncle, a musician, helped him find gear and come up with marketing ideas. “I spread my business cards everywhere,” says Peters, who called the company Rob Peters Entertainment, which has grown into a multi-op business. “I even worked with two other agencies in my area to learn and get bookings. I studied what my competition was doing to get work. The internet wasn’t even invented yet, so it was ‘guerilla marketing’ in the most basic form—brochures in bridal and tuxedo shops, word-of-mouth marketing, business cards on bulletin boards, listings in the phone book and bridal shows.”
Plenty of challenges presented themselves, of course, primarily his availability—he was still working at Strawberries. “I was working part-time doing Saturday mornings at a small Boston radio station,” he says. “I arranged my schedule so that I could do my morning shift and work on Saturday evenings at Strawberries—so Saturday nights were tough to book events then.”
Eventually, Peters got a 9-to-5 job that made running his business easier. “I loved running my business so much that I would call prospective clients during my lunch break and on my way home from work and spend another 15 to 20 hours a week working on marketing and sales appointments.”