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Michael Lenstra
Michael Lenstra
Now that most of the sand in the hourglass of my DJ career has shifted to the bottom half, I can look back and appreciate all that has helped me make this a long profession (but I'm not quite done yet). Last week, I touched on the changes in the music formats and the technical advances in equipment that have been most beneficial to me over the years. This week, I'll give kudos to those who have been so inspirational and/or significant to me and our industry.
First, much love and respect to Michael Buonaccorso and Bob Lindquist for giving us Mobile Beat Magazine. They were not the first to produce a publication for the DJ industry – there was already DJ Times that had started three years earlier – but, from my recollection, ‘Times' was geared more towards club DJs than the mobile ones, but that was exactly the market that Mobile Beat was targeting. “Finally, a place where Mobile DJs can partake in a little shop talk,” their first publication touted. That its first publication debuted just six months before I started was pure coincidence and good fortune. It was chock full of A+ content and products of which you could find nowhere else.
“A lot of people have given me credit over the years for being a leader by the very fact that I gave them a vehicle” [the magazine], Michael told me in a 2017 interview, “but I wasn't the driver. I just owned the car.”
I appreciate the fact that Scott Siewert, who was a presenter at my first-ever DJ convention, The Mid-American DJ Show in Louisville, Kentucky, showed us that you can be an entertainer as well as a music programmer. Up until that point, most Mobile DJs I knew were predominantly music programmers who only grabbed the microphone to say pertinent things like “The buffet is now open” or “Let's meet our homecoming court.” Scott was the talk of that show, showcasing some of the different interactivities and routines he does at his events. “Somebody scream!” was his go-to tagline.
Speaking of Scotts and games, there is The Game Master, as he is known, Scott Faver. The title is justifiably applied, but Scott Faver is so much more than just a game creator. I find him the most ingenuitive networker in our industry, and I applaud him for sharing his wealth of ideas on both fronts with our community.
A shout-out has to go to all of those who have put together the conferences and seminars over the years. From Louisville to Minneapolis and Chicago to Las Vegas, I've been to over half a dozen different shows, many of them several times, all produced in an effort to up the standards of our trade.
I appreciate that Mark Ferrell lit a fire under our butts with his “Getting What You're Worth” movement in the early 2000s. I was a denier. “Yeah, have him come to rural America and see how many shows he'll do at that price annually,” was my thought. But my father was a union president, and as I grew up, he often said, “Whether you belong to a union or not, you've benefitted.” In truth, we all benefited from Mark's movement. With that thought, though, I have to include Peter Merry. On the heels of Mark's movement, Peter assumed the presidency of the American Disc Jockey Association and went on tour, visiting over three dozen cities across America within two years, all to organize chapters and educate the mobile DJs of the day. Many in our profession felt, at that time, that Mark came up with the concept of creating value and respect, but Peter educated us on how to do it. “I probably lost $30,000 in bookings during that time.” Peter once told me – and he did it entirely in the hopes of creating a better occupation for us all.
I also have to thank one of Peter's good friends, Ron Ruth, who took me under his wing and introduced me to many of the names in our business. Ron's program “How to Create WOW Customer Experiences” was, I thought, just as valuable as the Worth movement and transcended our industry. It never quite took off, but I found it to be a difference-maker.
Another product that never reached the masses in our circle was an e-book first titled “Eight Degrees of Separation,” then rebranded and re-titled “Getting Unstuck” by Dan Nichols. He was kind enough to let me be a test reader, and I credit him for pushing me over the edge and deciding to pursue my passion full-time, which I have never regretted.
Finally, I am grateful to John Young, who brought me on to the staff of the Disc Jockey Newspaper way back in 2011 and has given me an outlet for my second passion: writing. John began the newspaper in late 2004 as a completely free-of-charge publication for us. “We figured we could reach a bigger audience with a free newspaper,” he explained, “hence we started mailing about 22,000 [monthly],” which was way more than any subscription publication.
The print publication has been another victim of the digital age, but new content can still be discovered daily on the website and the accompanying YouTube channel.
“There are no true solo acts,” says Nashville Entrepreneur Center CEO Sam Davidson. “If someone tells you they got where they are all by themselves, they're lying.”
The names mentioned above are just a few that have helped guide me along my journey. Who has helped you? Let them know.
Until next week
~Michael ~
Michael J. Lenstra is a self-described Wedding DJ and is celebrating over 25 years in the Mobile DJ industry. He is a full-time DJ/Entertainer and is owner of Alexxus Entertainment in Dubuque, Iowa.
His first book, The Way I See It: Stories and Lessons Learned From Over 25 Years Behind the Turntables/Decks/Laptop, is available for purchase exclusively through at