FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM APRIL 2010
I truly was planning on discussing Social Marketing for this article (and I’m going to try to get that article to the editor so it will be in the next issue), but I have lots on my plate and I didn’t want to phone that article in just to meet the deadline.
Instead, I’m going to share a couple of stories that happened to me since the last article that got me thinking about my shelf life as an entertainer.
I was at a local DJ Association meeting supporting my friend and employee Arnoldo Offermann while he gave a great seminar on blogging when a question was asked of me that kind of took me by surprise. I gave a mini-seminar at the Disc Jockey News Conference last year on school dances, and my local association asked me to put together a longer seminar to present for them. I agreed and at our association meeting, it was mentioned that I’d be presenting a school seminar. One of the DJs commented that he was surprised I’d be giving this seminar instead of Arnoldo since he is twenty-something and I’m a late 30 something.
This question took me by surprise because while I’m not blinded by the notion that schools are a younger man's game, I don’t feel like I’m that old! My business plan allows for the fact that eventually, I’ll need to be more on the business side and less on the performance side, but I’m just 39 years old and I’m not even close to being there yet. I consider myself to be a young 39. I keep up with current culture and music, and know my way around cyber space. Then I look around the room and notice that other then Arnoldo, there is only one other DJ in the room that I can tell is younger then I. These guys are putting in the time and effort to improve their craft and business, yet they are also many of the more mature entertainers in my market. Isn’t their experience and talent more important then the fact that their birth certificates have them closer to social security then to being able to purchase their 1st beer?
I remember the 1st time that I realized that I was getting older. I did a sorority dance and the young lady that paid me at the end of the evening called me Sir. Not in the polite way you would say this to a professional, but more like the polite way you’d say something to someone older then you. Not dude, buddy, hey DJ, nope … Sir!
Well, last Sunday I did a bridal show and chatted with one of the DJs. Good guy, young business owner with stars in his eyes. He asks me how long I expect to be still DJing, this after dropping a comment about me being in business for the last 25 years which isn’t true, I’ve only been DJing for 15!
So it got me thinking, is there a definite age bias in our industry? How old is too old? How young is too inexperienced? When does your experience get out weight by your age?
One of the best reasons to consider a multi-op business style is that you can be more versatile. You can have DJs catering to different clients with any number of needs, but what if you love DJing? I don’t want to hang up the headphones any time soon, so is there going to be a time where I’m forced to do so? I can program and mix an incredible evening of music for a high school prom, but if I’m starting with a bias, is my day coming soon where I will need to opt out?
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that there are DJs out there that are older than I, and they are still very busy and successful doing all type of events, schools included. I have read countless posts on DJ networking sites from older DJs that have adapted and countless posts from DJs that couldn’t adapt and eventually found that there wasn’t enough business to justify continuing.
So, how do we adapt? From what I’ve been able to gather, it has lots do to with creating a niche for your service. This can be done with equipment, new technology, and creativity. If you offer a service that isn’t available anywhere else, your age suddenly isn’t that important anymore. If you can spin the perception from age to experience, you can also overcome the bias. Using schools as an example, they care about the ride, not the bus driver. I think having employees like Arnoldo affords me street cred so to speak. When I do meetings for schools, he is there to pimp me (if he isn’t available or if we think the client would be better suited for any reason) and I’m there to give him the credibility of experience. I know this won’t work for everyone unless you are willing to grow beyond being the only entertainer, but it’s one of the ways I’ve overcome the age bias.
I had a bride of maybe 22 sitting before me last week. She could have had any DJ that I have available, but wanted me to be her DJ. She paid much more for me then she could have spent on an excellent younger DJ that I personally trained, but she was adamant that I be her entertainer. Now again, I’m a young 39, but its moments like this that give me hope that maybe I won’t be forced into a home before I’m ready.
FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM APRIL 2010