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I have been a Master of Ceremonies / Disc Jockey now going on 19 years. In that time I have been through a lot of ups and downs. Currently I work with 25 DJs who all are at various stages of show evolution or who are now coming into new revolutions in show mastery.
I have noticed after a DJ’s first full year, many DJ’s had a period of decline in their performance. They may know something is wrong but just can’t put their finger on it. Reviews will drop from outstanding to average, participation in company wide training slacks. A general apathy about music may occur. I found that I have been through this “Sophomore Slump” not once but many times.
So, how about you? Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Your shows just don’t feel fresh anymore? Are you just doing this because this is what you get paid to do? Is your home life creeping into your show life? I have heard yes to all of those questions and on more than a few occasions answered yes myself.
First off, you have to become honest with yourself. A lot of times our egos gets in the way of any clear recognition of where we are at. Benjamin Franklin once said “How few there are who have the courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.” …but what to do about it.
Do you have a mentor? Someone you can call and say this is how I feel. This person should feel free to give you their honest opinion. And you should do what I like to call “listen with grace.” Which just means that you are not allowed a rebuttal; you may only listen and let sink in what they have said. Or only asking questions which might help you better understand where they are coming from.
After you have become honest, I think there are 3 theories that you should understand to the core. First “This Is It!”, Second “The Show Must Go On.”, and the Third is “Make It Feel Like Family”
About four years ago a friend was out on a walk with me. He was concerned about me. He said, “Dean you are missing it.” I of course asked what am I missing? He explained you are missing “this is it.” I still didn’t understand, and he went on to say that I was so busy worrying about my past and investing far too much thought about what hasn’t happed yet, that I was missing some of the most important things in my life. They were happening right this second, and I was making them less by not being ‘in the moment’. For me I began to wonder just how many moments I had missed at my shows by thinking too far ahead, or maybe just being ashamed that I had made a small error somewhere before in my show that it was taking away from “This Is It.” We never have another chance to recapture those moments we miss. Time is one of those constants in life, and it never stops.
Theory Two may seem like a no-brainer. We all know that “The Show Must Go On.” A hard example of this would be that winter weddings in Minnesota are never called off, even if we have 14 inches of snow. But what about the not-so-obvious?
Actors who are in Broadway productions, understand this. Cats ran for 6138 performances. The actors that worked in Cats understood that no matter what was happening in their personal life, “The Show Must Go On.” Sort of like the mailman’s creed, no matter if bills are late, relationships end or the landlord evicts you, they still had to show up and have the energy and positive force to make the show go on.
Secondly about The Show Must Go On, we must understand what we do is a show. There are many parts of my show that stay close to the same every time I perform. The thing that is different is the crowd, and I feed off of that in order to make the show feel different even though it is the same. I am sure that all 6128 audiences of Cats enjoyed themselves, and that show didn’t change, just the audience did.
The last theory is “Make It Feel Like Family.” For me the best show reviews I get say you really felt like part of the family. For family you go the extra mile. It becomes personal. The Perfect Host seminars given by Jim Cerone, really go into great detail on how to make this happen time and time again.
The solution becomes do you really care enough about your clients? Have you spent enough time getting to know your clients? If they want to get to know you better I think that you have really started to get to the goal of the event becoming more about relationships, rather than work.
Sophomore Slumps happen, it is the knowledge that it doesn’t have to stay that way that lifts you back to performing like the professional that we all want from ourselves. Good luck and great performances!
Dean Carlson can be reached at

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