by Scott Bryant- Owner/Head DJ
Smoky Mountain Entertainment
Did you know 80% of mobile DJs in the industry are part-time?
If you have been shopping around, there is a good chance most of the Wedding DJs you have spoken with, or considered are part-time and hold down a full-time job during the week. Yet all the other vendors you will hire are likely full-time.
Have you ever asked a wedding photographer what he does for a living during the week? Will your caterer be preparing the menu for your wedding during his lunch break from a real estate office? These other vendors may use their skills to earn a living at more than just weddings; but they are still using those skills FULL TIME.
It's been said that there are no waiters in L.A. and New York, only actors who are between acting jobs. But have you ever seen an exceptional movie actor who is still working full-time as a waiter? Only the best performers make it to the top and turn their passion into a full time career.
There is a good chance that the average wedding DJ is also a part-timer whose priorities, loyalties, and time are split between your wedding and their full-time job.
Based on the stats, the average part-time Wedding DJ may not have the time or the skill level to give your reception the full-time attention and preparation your special day deserves.
Part-time is not professional.
One of the reasons given by part-time hobbyist Wedding DJs for not being full-time, professionals, is their belief that they won't be able to replace their income and benefits which are currently provided by their weekday job. So how do full-time wedding photographers do it? How do full-time wedding florists do it?
They charge a professional fee that will provide them with the income and medical benefits they need, in addition to covering their annual business expenses and self-employment taxes. Because such a large percentage of Wedding DJs are part-time hobbyists, it's probably not too surprising to note that their average pricing is typically set too low to provide the necessary income needed to make this their full-time career, let alone purchase and maintain high-end professional quality equipment, buy all the newest hottest music every month, and maintain a LEGAL music archive, or pay to maintain online wedding planning system, client portals, etc.
Another excuse for being part-time is the idea that they just really enjoy being a DJ. It's fun and therefore, they don't care about making it their career or earning a professional income. But most who approach being a Wedding DJ as their full-time profession also enjoy what they do, in fact they are usually very passionate about it. And because it is their full-time career, they have more time to invest in improving their service and their performance. Not only performing at weddings, but also playing clubs and festivals, all the while honing their skills, and gaining experience. They also take time to attend industry trade shows and workshops, answer your calls, rehearse, and practice.
They are available to meet or return your calls during the weekdays. And because being a Wedding DJ is their sole occupation, they have far more pressure to ensure they blow the roof off of every gig they play. Because in the wedding industry, reputation is everything, and as full-time Wedding DJ's we live and die by the quality of our past performances. How well we are reviewed directly affects what we can realistically charge our clients, and by extension, pay ourselves.
As Full-Time DJs, we can't afford bad reviews.
In comparison, a part-time wedding DJ can walk into your reception on Saturday, completely bomb out on his performance, empty the dance floor, announce you by the wrong names during your grand entrance, announce the cake cutting an hour late; then Monday morning walk right back into his Monday through Friday job, and earn a living, completely unaffected. Positive reviews are not nearly as important to a part-timer. Because they don't NEED the income from the weddings they play, and if they get a poor online reputation, maybe they'll leave DJing, and take up a different hobby instead. or just work their 9to5 and the few DJ leads that slowly dribble in, maybe selling themselves well below industry standard pricing, in hopes of eventually bringing their review averages back up. However converting leads into paying clients, into positive reviews, will be a slow painful process as on average it's 10 months between a couple booking their wedding DJ, and the DJ getting a review from that client., and during this period if the part time DJ did not have his day job to support himself , he would be in trouble. This would likely cause a full-time wedding DJ to go out of business. So you can see why we have to do it right, every time.
It isn't always the case, but more often than not, you get what you pay for. You may find the occasional unicorn; The rare part-time wedding DJ who truly delivers exceptional service, has that unforgettable sound and personality on the mic, knows the perfect songs to play at the perfect moment, has top tier equipment, and knows it inside and out; but chances are if they are that good, that invested, they won't remain part-time for very long. You must also keep in mind how much you have riding on your DJ and his performance. Of all of your vendors your DJ has the most control over the success, or failure of the second most important day of your life(to the birth of a child) if he's a flop
your guests may dine and dash at your reception. and there you will be, an empty hall at 7pm, all of the time, blood, sweat, and tears you put into planning the perfect day, and all you spent to keep the venue, bartender, coordinator, photographer, etc, until 10pm is wasted. This leads me to this maxim which I enjoy;
"If you think it's expensive hiring a professional, try hiring an amateur."
We love what we do, and have way too much fun doing it. But DJing is our sole vocation, and we take it no less serious than any other working professional would take theirs.