The Eternal Lament of the Mobile DJ
This is a quick look at the life of the modern day mobile DJ with a satirical edge to it. It's in no way meant as a moan but if your thinking of becoming a DJ it may help you to make your mind up. Is it the best job in the world or is it a case of all that glitters is not gold?
We'll start with the obvious. Working average of five hour shifts in music played upward of 90dB can wreak havoc on your hearing. We all know that working in noisy environments requires hearing protection but hearing protection really affects your ability to do the job so your in a catch 22. It goes without saying that in the middle of a disco if your trying to speak to the DJ he is going to be struggling to hear. Loss of hearing, tinnitus, wax issues and migraines are just the start of the issue we suffer.
We then have to load in and out quite a bit of heavy equipment for each gig. A DJ booth kicks in at around 19Kg, 2 Speakers can be nearly 40Kg and heavier lights can be 15Kg each. My small rig takes around 5 trips to load in with about 15g in each hand (I've used the figures of my kit here, some rigs dwarf mine). To put this in context your holiday suitcase is around 22kg. This puts great pressure on your back and knees before you factor in being on your feet for 5 hours (and the dancing that goes on behind the booth).
Work may end at 12am some nights give or take an hour but that is not the end. Some of us find ourselves with an hours drive home and then you have the need to unwind. I simply can't sleep without at least an hour to calm myself so often don't see my bed till 3 or 4am. Then you can bet your life someone will ring at 9am for a job quote and you have to answer the phone all professional and drag yourself to the office. Going back to the drive I had to upgrade the Van lights as some of the venues we find ourselves at are very remote and accessible only via pretty poor roads.
The music we play is often very commercial and aimed at positive feeling and getting people to dance and enjoy themselves. DJs also have musical tastes and they more than often vary from the stuff we play each night. I'd probably get kicked off for playing the songs I like as they are personal to me and don't fit in with the ethos of what a DJ should be playing. Another quick moan is our two busiest months are either boiling hot summer or the dead of winter.
The life of a DJ might look glamorous and well paid but its really not the case. I probably do more unpaid hours each week than I do paid. Office work, repairs, research and growing the business. When we are out there working we seem to rate quite low on when it comes to polite people should be. You wouldn't believe the way we get spoke to by some people, granted probably the more inebriated, but I've had it from venue staff, bands, photographers who have no excuse.
Now of course there are some good points - the buzz of a full dance floor hanging on a drop or the faces of kids screaming at Justin Bieber or One Direction can be very rewarding. I love the expectation of turning up to a new venue or to meet a couple I've got on well with in a client meeting, and of course being my own boss.