More Money-Making Tips from DJ Expo

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The most recent DJ Expo—presented by DJ Times in Atlantic City, N.J. this past Aug. 14-17—was another triumph for education, as dozens of seminars helped DJs of all stripes improve their marketing, performance and customer service.

Here are highlights from a few of them:


Motion Monograms & 3-D Cake Projections. For the New Jersey Disc Jockey Network’s annual session, presenter Donnie Lewis from Your Event Matters Entertainment of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., offered a glimpse into the future when he discussed using projectors to achieve stunning effects like motion monograms, holograms, and 3-D animated cake projections.

In Lewis’ case, the future is now — his company is currently offering these services. These effects are still very unique in the wedding market and have the potential to become the next hot trend.

At a minimum, Lewis suggests that DJs examine their annual expenditures purchasing custom gobos (typically $60 to $90 per gobo) that are then placed into special lighting fixtures. How much money could be saved annually by transitioning to monogram projection through a projector and designing your own gobos using simple software programs? By using a projector as opposed to a traditional lighting fixture, DJs can also dip their toes into the exciting world of motion monograms.

For motion monograms and 3-D projection cake monogramming, Lewis favors the Optoma 501 projector range (discontinued, but can be purchased off eBay) and the Optoma 515 series. For the Optoma 515, it should be noted that this model does not offer a USB input, which means that media must be run through a laptop. Desirable technical specifications for a projector include high lumens (3,500-plus, 5,000 for bright rooms), a high contrast ratio (10,000:1+), 1080p+ resolution, horizontal keystone correction, four corner correction and built-in WiFi.

To streamline setups, Lewis recommends wireless HDMI.  To calculate any projector’s throw distance for any screen size, users can visit projectorcentral.com. Regarding custom monograms, Lewis offers an exciting collection of customizable templates at myweddingmonogram.com.

To view sample videos and cake mapping tutorials, visit Lewis’ YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/aggreciv. Regarding wedding-cake projections, Lewis’ team favors four-tiered cakes created to their exact specification. This effect can be created using a single projector. The learning curve is substantial, but not insurmountable, particularly if using online resources and Facebook groups.

Lewis is currently offering “wow factor” 3-D projection cake mapping services for between $800 and $1,750.  Hiring an animator for custom video content can drive the cost even higher. Animated 3-D projections allow guests to interact with a cake and be dazzled wondering how the effect was achieved.

Successful Small Business Owners Do These 5 Things. 

Jerry Bazata, a commercial banker in Maine for 30 years by day and a successful wedding DJ by weekend (DJ Jaz Music and Entertainment) speaks annually at the DJ Expo and his no-nonsense presentations are always chock-full of wise advice for DJs of all experience levels.

Bazata’s presentation discussed the five actions necessary for small business success:

  1. Create an annual budget and manage to the bottom line. As per Bazata, “Knowing how much your make is the easy part; not keeping track of what you are spending is what often causes a business to fail.” It’s also important to compute the cost per job of expenses like advertising, insurance and other corporate overheads. This can enable analytic realizations. For example, if hypothetically a DJ realized that his marketing costs represented a fat 25-percent of the average price of a wedding, this could cause the DJ to either raise prices or trim marketing expenses.
  2. Plan for capital expenditures. The proper method to prepare for equipment expenditures is to routinely reserve 5 to 7 cents per dollar of revenue. This allows a DJ to upgrade equipment and grow the business. Too many DJs do not put aside funds for equipment, and end up scrambling when their existing equipment breaks or gets outdated. Reserves also help to shore over seasonal lulls or other unexpected operating expenses.
  3. Discounts should be the exception, not the rule. Pricing for your DJ services should be based upon the annual budget that you’ve created. If a DJ can’t resist the temptation to discount, then expenses should be trimmed by an identical amount in order to maintain the integrity of the estimated net profit. According to Bazata, “While an occasional discount will not have a significant impact, over the long-term, discounting can erode your profits quickly and even result in a negative cash position for the business.”
  4. Avoid financing that sounds too good to be true. There is a new popular method of financing being offered to small-business owners which is tied to credit-card receipts. These short-term loans can end up taking 65-percent of your merchant receipts on a weekly basis with an effective interest rate of 25-percent or more. The better financing alternatives for DJs are bank loans, and credit cards with competitive interest rates. Bazata recommends keeping accurate and timely financial records to facilitate the underwriting process.
  5. Stick to your core business model. Diversification into related service areas is not necessarily bad, but DJs need to be aware of the true costs of running a new business/service that they may not be well-acquainted with. For example, too many DJs get sucked into offering photo-booth service on the promise by manufacturers that each booth will add $10,000 or more to the bottom line. To alleviate the risk of diversification follies, Bazata recommends that DJs thoroughly investigate the capital cost for the new service as well as any additional expenses to deliver the service, both from a fixed and variable cost perspective.

Bazata concluded his presentation by stating that to have a successful career as a DJ, it’s more important to be a good business person than a good DJ. While this advice could be a bitter pill for some to swallow, in my opinion it’s the truth!

Gregg Hollmann is the owner of Ambient DJ Service in East Windsor, N.J.