smash_computerWhile marketing my DJ company to prospective clients, one thing I have strongly emphasized is to “Hire a Professional” – don’t trust your important day to an amateur. This is a true statement and applies to things other than hiring a Wedding DJ as I have recently learned.
I had adopted a do-it-yourself approach on building and maintaining my web site. Sure, I’ve had help with things like special codes and flash scripts, but by and large, most of my web site has been a do-it-yourself project. I’ve been doing this for a number of years, launching jackbrowndj.com in 2003. The problem is that I am a Wedding entertainer – not a web designer. Why do it myself? For fun, sense of accomplishment and that it allowed me to make any changes I wanted whenever I wanted to make them, plus it didn’t cost me anything. I managed to get a decent site online but not a great site. A real web designer works on these things every day and all of the nuances of web design and file management becomes second nature. In my case, I only worked sporadically on mine, often not touching it for months at a time. I would have to learn how to do things all over again. As I would soon find out, this was a recipe for disaster.
After an extended time of not making any changes myself, I decided that I needed some revisions and went into my design software (Microsoft Frontpage – now obsolete) to make them. All was fine until I went to upload the pages to the server. You see, I had someone else make some more complicated changes a while back, adding some of the really nice flash photo montages to my wedding site and a few other things. He also made some needed changes to the file structure, which I had not done correctly. These changes were not on my computer, but that thought never occurred to me. . When I went to upload my pages, the server flashed a message asking if I wanted to delete the files that didn’t exist on my server. I clicked the yes button (oops) because this was what I had always done in the past without any problem, but then again, I always had the files. To make a long story short, my action resulted in having most of my website erased into internet oblivion – gone forever with NO BACK UP (another major screw-up)! Whose fault? MINE. Would a professional web guy who does this work professionally have allowed this to happen? Not a chance. Afterall… He’s a professional.

There is the difference between an amateur and a professional, only this time, I am the amatuer. I have spent most of the last four days rebuilding my site, reconstructing much of it from memory but some of it is gone forever. It is nowhere as nice as it was before. Lots of mistakes and hundreds of little corrections that need to be done. It is going to take months before it will be 100% finished at this rate. Once I get the basic site back in operation, you can bet that I’ll be looking for a pro to hand this over to.

I’ll be taking my own advise from now on. Sometimes you (I) have to learn the hard way. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL!

So Jack, tell me, what do you do? I reply, “I am a DJ”. What does the other person think when they hear that response. Do they have a vision of a kid with 100 tattoos wearing his hat backwards spinning vinyl on his turntables? No, that’s not me…

Do they envision a guy sitting in a dark, smoke filled room talking on the radio at 3:00 AM?  That’s not me either.

Am I the guy working karaoke at the local corner bar? Nope, that isn’t me either. So, who am I… What am I?

“I am a Wedding DJ”, I explain…

Oh, You’re like that Saturday Night Live Wedding DJ who plays “Sister Christian” as the priest is giving the Blessing and “Who Let the Dogs Out” for the Bride & Groom’s First Dance (He didn’t have the Norah Jones song)…  Well, that may indeed be the environment where I work, but that’s definetely NOT what I do!

Now that I think about it… the term “DJ” really isn’t a good term to describe my job at all!

So what exactly is it that I do? Good question… glad that I asked… Let’s look at one “typical” wedding and see what it is that I actually do…

It begins with a phone call or email followed by a face to face meeting. The Bride & Groom-to-be and I meet for the first time where we get to know one another and determine whether I am the correct “DJ” for them and if they are the right clients for me… I guess that I am a Salesman or maybe Consultant.

The couple likes and trusts me and books me for their wedding and we begin the reception planning process. I am now a Planner. I provide ideas and give advise. I am an Advisor too.

I gather information of all kinds about the clients, their families and Wedding party. I am a Researcher.

I begin to write scripts for various parts of the reception. I am a Writer.

I begin to put all of the various elements together of what will be the Wedding reception. I am a Producer and a Programmer.

Wedding day is finally here and I arrive at the venue and set up my gear, which may include sound, lighting and video equipment. I am a Technician. I give instructions to my assistant as to what I need him or her to do. I am a Supervisor.

I meet the Banquet manager, the venue staff, the photographer, the videographer, the cake people, etc. and share our timeline – getting everyone together on the same page. I am a Director. I am a Coach, a Referee and sometimes even a Mediator.

I greet the guests as they arrive, serve as the spokesman for the Bride and groom and run the event. I am a Host and Master of Ceremonies.

I deal with any problems as they develop throughout the course of the night – preventing most of them before they ever happen. I am a Troubleshooter and a Problem solver.

Finally dinner is finished, the formal dances are history and the open dancing begins. I become the party doctor, reading the crowd, taking requests, keeping the dance floor full and making sure everyone is having a great time – I am a Motivator and Hey… now I’m a DJ! More importantly, I am an Entertainer. I talk to some people who have had too much to drink. I am a Counsellor and sometimes Security officer and Mind reader (“Do you have that song that goes do da dooo do do”?)

The night ends. It was a huge success. Guests are buzzing about the great time they had. I just got a big hug from a happy new Bride. Mission accomplished! Now it’s time to pack up and go home. I’m exhausted, but I need to load all this heavy equipment back into the dark night air and into my van or trailer. Now I am a Laborer.

What am I? Who am I? Now I’m more confused then ever!

I’m not sure what I am… but I love my job!

Michigan DJ’s Rock!

August 19, 2009

Last weekend, we had a rare opportunity to go outside of the state to do a wedding ceremony and reception. The location was a very unique venue, Barn at the Backwoods in Thornville, Ohio – about 35 miles east of Columbus. We met the owners, a very nice and accomodating couple. We struck up a nice rapport with them as we set up and prepared for the wedding. One unusual thing about this venue was that they had a built-in DJ booth with dance floor lighting. They had a huge and I mean Van Halen concert size HUGE (and expensive) sound system. This system was way more than they needed for this venue and I wondered what they used it for.

As the Reception progressed, things were going perfectly and going exactly to plan… as they almost always do. The owner of the facility eventually came out from the kitchen where he also serves as the head chef (wonderful food!). He had been watching the reception from a distance and wanted a closer look. He checked out my event planner / script, looked at my equipment and was fascinated with my lighting system. He told me “You are the best DJ we have ever had in here”. I said really?… why do you say that? He said first, you’re a professional – you know what you are doing. You have a plan. You are the Master of Ceremonies. Most of the guys who come in here calling themselves DJ’s are an embarrassment – with their “boombox” sound systems and “I don’t give a care” attitudes. That’s why I put in this DJ system and lights – to try and keep those jokers out of here. I have seen Brides in tears because of these lousy DJ’s, so I have my own equipment and hire the DJ’s myself that I want to work here… but I have never seen anyone do what you do. That is some really cool stuff that you do… I can’t find anyone around here who even comes close to what you do.”

Wow, I thought, that was a great compliment. I thought about the Bride in tears because of a bad DJ. Then I thought about the DJs he was talking about . We have bad DJs in our area too, but we also have some great ones. I am proud to call many of them my friends.  These are the DJ’s who raise the bar of excellence in the Detroit area market. Brides here can have a much higher expectation of what kind of performance they will get from their wedding entertainer – that is as long as they have taken time to find a good one… the right one for them.  I took this compliment as one for Michigan DJ’s in general – we all make each other better. Michigan DJ’s Rock — at least a lot of us do!

Hello world!

August 18, 2009

Hello to the Blogging world. It’s about time that I delve into this new medium. There are lot’s of things to talk about and this is a great way to do it.  I’ll be discussing the events where we have performed, The outstanding vendors we have worked with and especially, the wonderful people, our clients whom we have worked with to create special wedding memories. I’ll also be sharing thoughts and ideas about how to make future wedding receptions unique and special. Your comments and questions are always welcomed. Please feel free to forward these posts to anyone who might be interested ( Fellow wedding vendors or perhaps someone planning a future wedding). Afterall, why write if no one reads it?  Have a great day!