Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Learning About Mobile DJ'ing

A lot of potential DJ's have asked me for advice about becoming a Mobile DJ. There are a lot of special events that require DJ's, and new DJ's recognize that this is a market that might let them get established as a DJ more quickly than by trying to get a residency in a club. Also, the wider variety of events and parties that a Mobile DJ can work at makes the job more interesting. However, Mobile DJ'ing is also probably the hardest segment of the DJ industry. Hopefully I can give you more background about the pros and cons of becoming a Mobile DJ.

Mobile DJ'ing 1 of 2: The Industry, and Business Considerations

In this video, I talk about aspects of the industry that you need to think about, such as types of events, vehicles, licensing, insurance, costs, setting prices, accounting, marketing, contracts, deposits, competition, etc. The second video will focus on the gear that I use, which you can use as a model for your own mobile rig.

Mobile DJ'ing 2 of 2: Basic Gear, and a Sample Setup

I go through an explanation of all the gear that I use in my own Mobile Rig. Not everyone will want the same gear, but I'll give you advice on where you can make changes or substitutions. I also have a full list of my own gear inventory available in Excel spreadsheet or PDF format. I'll put the links to those further down in this post.

Before I go any further, I need to point out something that I forgot to talk about in the video: smoke & fog machines!! I don't usually use them, because they can set off the fire suppression system in a venue! If a client specifically asks for one, I recommend that you have them sign a liability waiver so they take responsibility for costs incurred if the fire suppression system is set off! There could be damages to your gear, and a bill from the fire department!!!

As a Mobile DJ, you're going to be playing at a huge variety of events. Some of these potential events will include: weddings, college/university dances, junior high dances, high school dances, proms, class reunions, block parties, street parties, corporate events, business openings, conventions, banquets, fundraisers, singles dances, community hall events, pool parties, house parties, and bar mitzvahs.

You'll need some form of transportation to move all your heavy speakers and other equipment around. The obvious choices are an enclosed truck or a cargo van. Buying one of those new is very expensive. Leasing is expensive. Buying a used vehicle means you have a higher risk that it will break down on the way to a show.

Licensing is something that should not be overlooked. This process will vary from country to country, but in almost everywhere you are required to register as a professional DJ and pay an annual fee to be legally allowed to perform and/or play pre-recorded music in public.

There are two types of insurance that you should consider. First, liability insurance will protect you in case one of your speakers falls over and crushes someone, or in case your equipment catches on fire and burns down a community hall.

There is lots of paperwork to think about if you're running a Mobile DJ business. You'll need to keep track of revenues and expenses for your accountant. You'll also need to ensure that potential clients sign contracts, to protect yourself. With a signed contract, you'll be able to ask for a deposit up front, and enforce cancellation fees.

As a Mobile DJ, you need to look and act respectable and professional. This means dressing appropriately, being diplomatic with guests of your clients, and staying away from alcohol and drugs before and during your events.

As a mobile DJ, you'll need to be familiar with a huge variety of music. You can't just play the types of music that you enjoy personally. You might be asked to play everything including current hits, classic rock, alternative, indie, country, hip hop, dance, EDM, and golden oldies. You'll need to own a large catalog of popular hits in all these genres, and you'll need to be familiar with all of your music.

Getting the right gear is another challenge. First of all, a professional Mobile DJ rig is fairly expensive. You will probably need to budget approximately ten to twenty thousand dollars (USD) for gear, depending on the types of mixers and CD players and speakers and lights that you choose. Although you want a comprehensive set-up that will fill the needs at 90% of the events that you are booked for, you don't want to over-spend and buy gear that is rarely used. For a big event that requires more speakers than you own, you should just rent extra gear for the weekend. My second video covers the gear that I use in detail, so you can decide what similar equipment might be available in your local market, and what will meet your needs.

Here are links to my Gear Inventory spreadsheet:

Here are links to a few books that you may find useful:

I also have quite a few other tutorial videos relating to DJ'ing, audio editing software, and studio equipment. I've got an organized list of those videos in the index of my "videos" page on my main website. If you're interested in any of those topics, you should bookmark this page right now:


Thanks for your interest in this series, and thanks for sharing this post or links to any of the videos.

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