I've been having a discussion with many other companies over whether the art of DJ-ing is now a dying art due to apps and laptops.
Over the years, I have always used CD - I admit the current music for the last two years is now laptop based but I use a digital mixing desk for any laptop based songs - and I will continue to use CDs at every event I work at. My reason is obvious. A CD can skip and you can get away with it, a laptop can crash and that ends your night. However, many are prepared to take this risk.
So I have been discussing whether this phenomenon of 'wannabe' DJs is dragging the industry down.
In truth, the answer is a glaring 'Yes'.
In 2004, I was earning around £600 a night for a top nightclub. Working as a mobile DJ, I don't consider charging that price - but maybe I should!
I was reading about a Children's Entertainer who charges £100.00 for a two hour party during the day. So keeping this figure in mind this is £50.00 per hour in social hours with guests that aren't going to be knocking back as much drink as possible!
This 'entertainer' will come along, wheel in a speaker/iPod combi, put on a High Street standard party light, play a couple of games and maybe sing a song from 'Frozen'.
Now, my small package for a Birthday or Anniversary is only double this price yet I will cover a five or six hour period and take an hour either end setting up and taking down professional equipment - who's got it right and who's got it wrong?!
Not only do I do the eight hour on the night stint, I also ensure I plan every party with the guest of honour or, if it's a surprise, with those close to the people involved.
I speak to many people booking Weddings and there is a 60/40 split in those who quibble on a price yet will then spend £350 on a chocolate fountain for two hours, £1,000 on a band for 90 minutes and even over £300 for a photo-booth for a couple of hours that may or may not be used!
Your DJ does not have the option of 'just a couple of hours' - We're there all night ensuring you and your guests have the music you like to create a perfect atmosphere for your Special Occasion.
So back to my original question, 'Are DJs being devalued?'
I think that many people are underestimating the need for a top quality DJ at an event. They hear a price and find someone cheaper as they don't realise the high standards that true professionals set and believe it is an area where they can save a few quid. "You all just play music", is one quote I've heard, which simply is not the case.
It is this attitude which then sees the next development. I have spoken to people planning their Wedding or Special Occasion and heard the phrase, "We went to a party and the DJ was awful..." on so many occasions it becomes quite hard to win them round to the fact that not all DJs are rip off merchants and for some of us it is our full time job.
I've heard others quotes including, "The DJ was dancing on dance floor with guests at a Wedding..." and "The [male] DJ turned up in a tracksuit and went to get changed and came back in a dress for a 21st party. We all went outside and no-one stayed...".
Unfortunately, until everyone gets fed up of parties where hopeless DJs turn up for a quick buck the industry will continue to struggle and, whilst the top quality DJs continue to bring in work from those who've learnt the hard way, someone will always do the job for £40 - but these are the ones at venues the keep on closing and functions that always fail to meet your expectation.