Christmas bookings

Audio, Lifestyle

Well it’s Christmas party booking season again. I love this time of year. The nights are drawing in and the heatwave is finally over. The rain is pouring down…Hey wait a minute! When the hell is this rain going to stop! This is highly irregular…. It’s supposed to be chilly and crisp and dry! I never signed up for a flood….

Anyway, I have a load of bookings for December, But I still have a few spots to fill if your a late comer to the party. And then of course there’s next year..and halloween too. Still empty booking slots for that weekend….

Take care and have a great week. Pray the rain will stop soon!

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New Website for 2019

Audio

Hi everybody. Here I am in my 19th year of business with a brand new website. So that being said, Please forgive me that it’s quite basic at the moment. there should be lots more content as time goes on. But for now, as ever, if there’s anything you need to ask about hiring me, Please call any time on: 07976 409 141

Thanks and have a great week!

Mike

(more…)
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All inclusive wedding packages

Audio, Lifestyle

Hi all. I’m getting some worrying news these days about hotels supplying dj’s as part of the package. particularly for wedding receptions at budget prices. This isn’t anything new, but it’s on the increase if all the blogs are to be believed. Well, Just in case you’re thinking of going down that route (and who could blame you?) I’ve heard a lot of complaints are being received from customers about what transpires on the actual night. I guess it stands to reason that if the hotel is paying the DJ a pittance, then a few things will be inevitable: 1. He/she won’t know or be particularly interested in the customers individual needs. 2 He/she won’t have the budget to invest in decent equipment. you may not think this is important, but believe me I went to a gig the other week and the sound system was so badly set up that the sound output was practically cutting my head in half. I finished my one beer and promptly left the building. 3. The hotel or venue will try and lock you into this deal with some extra charge for not agreeing to the whole sad business. Try to remember that as Paddy Mc Guinness says: Now the power is in your hands. And as businesses compete for your attention, if you stick to your guns and threaten to walk if you don’t get the choice, then you will retain that power no matter what happens after. If they’re smart, they’ll capitulate; if they’re stupid, they’ll lose your business and somewhere down the line probably will go out of business. I’ve seen a lot of businesses where I’ve wondered how they survive and sure enough, many a time I’ve seen them predictably die.

I hardly need mention this, but if you’re a couple in love and want to make your wedding reception the party of a lifetime, then don’t let some banqueting manager dictate that you have to have a poor quality, under invested  DJ/entertainer to underwhealm both yourselves and your closest friends and family. By the way, I’m not saying that if the hotel recommends a good DJ who you have chance to talk to before hand and isn’t tied into some kind of crippling deal with them won’t be rewarding. That isn’t the point. I know DJ’s who do this and it’s all good. If you do meet them and like them, then no problem.

Book someone who is independant and cares what happens at the venue and on the dance floor through the night. I have many competitors in this field, but few of them if any are actually the same guy you talk to beforehand like my self.

I used to employ other dj’s when I started out and could still make a lot of money out of doing so if I wanted. However, I rarely do these days as I had some close calls on reliability and decided that ethics and 100% peace of mind- ie: knowing that you can look after the customer and never let them down (short of dying on the way to the gig) with the resulting good reputation was far more important than outsource income. Something that all inclusive package hotels could do well to learn now and not sometime in the future when all the good guys have been priced out of a living.

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Start of February blog – How boring is that for a title?

Audio

Hi All.

Well here we go. 2013 is well and truly under way. The diary is starting to fill up steadily now that folks have gotten over Christmas so the paperwork is moving again. Ive been updating my listings so it should be even easier to find me now.

I’m living right in the middle of Littlehampton so it feels like I’m really working away alongside every other business in town. A strange sense of camaraderie with poeple I don’t really know.. A bit different to sitting at the desk in a flat in a residential street somewhere. Seems like I’ve got the best of both worlds now. It’s a long time since I’ve been able to pop outside the front door and be right in the town centre. Run out of staples? No problem. Need a pasty?/toilet cleaner? (those two aren’t connected) Don’t even need to turn off the TV. Ive got Sainsburies and Waitrose within 100 yards! I’m starting to go all cosmopolitan, buying only what I need to eat for a day or two. Safe in the knowledge that I’ll just miss supermarket closing time by one last minute for that all important dinner food purchase. Oh well never mind. there’s still the fish and chip shop 50 yards away for dire emergencies..

The only trouble with this time of year is it’s so quiet. I can’t wait to get down and dirty on the decks and get those asses shaking again! Worse than usual since I took my “sabatical” last year. I should have more going on now in your usual year. Aaah well. that’s what you get for helping others for four months. Can’t say I regret that part. But I’m back for good as Gary barlow would say.

Here’s an interesting and quick observation as I sit here at my keyboard:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23p-_BfzPLI

 

And here’s some traditional comedy as is the tradition here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/OptimumReleasing?v=vuggaNcccvI

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New year, new lighting control

Audio

Hi all,

Been a while since the last blog eh? Well I’m sure you’re not holding your breaths, you know with billions of nuggets of information streaming at you non-stop from Facebook etc.

Had a great Christmas season. Better than I expected.

Had a gig in January where the new lighting software failed to launch. we discovered that this was because “Good old” Microsoft had put out a major update to windows 10 and it rendered the driver useless….Man! Don’t tell me I should have Apple instead. I’ve heard too many bad stories about that company from many sources and besides, I don’t have a spare grand and a half to spend on one laptop with the same hardware inside as a £300.00 Windows version.

Anyhoo, we sorted it out in the end and with a recent School disco I got to try it out. Wow! I wish I’d done this earlier! And I would have, but I needed a guiding hand/Guru to show me what the hell I needed to do. My friend Stuart from After Dark discos stepped in after seeing me at a gig with sound-to-light effects going a little bit too quickly to match the mood of the music some of the time. Liike I say, I was aware of this after updating all my lighting – I used to have more control before, but I needed someone who knew the subtle art of DMX (digital multiplex) ie: how to program your entire disco lighting rig from a software program on your laptop.

It’s a bit like when I was working out how to run a digital music studio and how to get it to communicate with my keyboards and other modules (Back in the nineties – Aah, the memories!), but not quite as complicated. It’s all based on channels and which ones to assign to your equipment. Once you’ve worked that out, the rest isn’t too bad. It’s mainly about writing new lighting sequences and how long each light flash/effect will last for in the sequence. A bit time consuming setting it all up, but worth it for the after effect.

So I’m looking forward to an even greater lightshow this year with the new set up – More intelligent you might say.

 

200w2001w2002w

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Eurovision

Audio, Reviews

Last night I didn’t have a gig, so I decided to brave Eurovision. This is the first time I’ve done this since 2009 when I was with my then German girlfriend Becky at her Mother’s lovely house in a village near Bremen and it was mandatory viewing.

First of all top marks to the company that provided the staging graphics. I’ve never seen anything quite so awsome even at a U2 concert. (Credit to U2, this was the Orange tour I’m refering to and that was some years ago). They were simply cutting-edge wonderful. I suspect it might have been G-force, who have come a long way since creating amazing desktop PC music visualisation effects and have formed the backdrop to at least one George Michael tour amongst other artists. I’m only guessing though. I could be wrong.

The juxtoposition of these amazing stage graphics to an almost completely dire set of songs was something to behold. Not one decent song in 26, oh well, apart from our entry. I didn’t think it was a masterpiece, but it remains a melodic, well put together song none the less.

And now I hear today (Sunday) that it came third from the bottom in the voting. The favourite was Russia. Great graphics and great performance around them, but crap song again.

The winner was Ukraine. A well depressing bunch of garbage. The theme was political and personal to the performer, but again contained no decent orchestration, melody or correct use of chords etc. to back up the emotion of it. Result – Rubbish. Brutal? Perhaps. True? Definitely.

In my humble opinion, though I only saw bits of it, The cypriot entry wasn’t quite as bad as the others, but scored really quite badly. Austria was melodic, but a bit lame and came 13th.

It seems to me that in order to succeed at Eurovision these days, you have to drop any notion of musical knowledge of using the right chords for the mood, proper musical arangment and any hint of a melody, not to mention actually singing in tune on the night. This despite the only live element being the vocals. – Try and find any instrument with a lead attached to it – Too time consuming sound checking all those artists I guess. Easier to put on their studio track – Top Of The Pops style. Thus a rock band come on and sound as dry as a desert rat’s testicles. (For anybody under 30 reading this TOTP was a music show on BBC1 on a Thursday night which was axed on the premise that we’d all prefer watching MTV or music video channels than watching chart acts “perform” their latest offerings to lip sync). Just how wrong can you be? Well I don’t get MTV because I hate sky and Rupert “Media fascist” Murdock and I can’t stand music videos going round and round on a loop, never relating to any notion of performance; just a fast cut (epileptic caution) montage of unrelated and irelevant film clips pasted together over a song. That’s why.  Top of the Pops was a legend that I’m afraid you’ll only get to see at Christmas for some bizarre reason.

However, I digress….

So much of music now seems to be like the proverbial “empirer’s new clothes”. I feel like the minority who can see that the fraudster isn’t actually wearing any whilst most apparently can’t. Though to be fair, Although I despair at some of the chart acts of today, desperately trying not to write anything with any distinguishable melody (lacking talent or afraid of infringing someone’s copywrite – You decide), I’m actually in awe of everything in the current charts compared to everything (bar the UK entry) I had to endure last night. Which brings me to Justin Timberlake:

I wonder what Justin Timberlake thought last night as he too had to sit through all that crap in the green room before coming on with his kick-ass band of top players and equally kick-ass set. I’ve not liked everything Justin has done by any means but the two numbers last night were top notch. Credit where it’s due. Anyway, how did he feel? Smug, I’m guessing. What do you think?

it’s hard to think that this is the show that brought us Abba. But forget about Abba for a minute, Justin timberlake Started out what 20 years ago? Look how far ability has fallen in just 20 years. Where is the next Prince, Jimmi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Etc.?

Not to leave you on a downer, Consider this as a last thought: What have all the top selling musician’s got in common? Could it be melody? Orchestration? When will record companies get this? Adele, Calvin Harris, Bruno Mars, David Guetta, Galantis, DNC…. They all produce melodic tracks and they are the top sellers of today. How did this get by the Eurovision acts/Jury? Is this a European musical conspiracy to bore us all to death? Is this the real future of remaining in Europe?

I hope we never find out!

Take care and thanks for reading.

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New toys and added enthusiasm

Audio

This year and last I’ve updated the show with some great lighting and speakers. The whole show is lighter and brighter than ever before.

a friend and other local DJ who uses the same software has been on at me for a few years now to get this new controller (digital decks) and I’ve declined due to other upgrade priorities. He showed me one for sale on Ebay recently (Good as new and half the price) and I bit the bullet and went for it .

denon-hc4500 rack-mount-dj-controller-

I’m so glad I did! It controls the main DJ software so well, it’s shortened my job a lot and now I just can’t get enough of it! 

So come on and book me! I’m itching for more action!

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One Shocking Mistake That could Kill Your party

Audio

Hi all, I’ve heard a lot of stories about tin pot mobile discos over the years. I’ve heard it from the guy who repairs my equipment. I’ve heard it from customers and I’ve heard it from other DJ’s.

I’ve had the phone calls that go something like…..Hi, we’ve been let down by our DJ (Great! Opportunity for me) and can you fill in this Saturday/some Saturday etc.

I check the diary and I can do it. “Oh great! How ,much do you charge?” Me: “XYZ…”  Them: “Oh that’s a little bit more than we were hoping to pay” or: “OK, I’ll call you back” – Meaning that I’m never going to hear from them before Earth freezes over… Sometimes if I’m awake enough or get the chance, I ask what price they were quoted from the guy who let them down or what they were hoping to pay. It’s usually somewhere in the region of £100.00 to £150.00 for a five hour gig. Well, let’s see about this. Let’s break it down:

Music

You may think that is a fair price for a DJ. I mean, he only plays a few records/songs for christ’s sake. How hard can it be?

Of course what you don’t see is the time and years spent getting together those tracks. Processing them so that they sound even and don’t jump in volume like your own MP3’s do on your ipod for example. Every track I upload has to be:

1.Volume normalised.

2. analysed for BPM (beats per minute).

3. Analysed for key (Ab, C minor etc.)

4. converted to one other file format as well as MP3 as one of my systems uses it’s own format which has a little extra information added.

5. Renamed from “track 5 (on album) and song title” to “Artist and Title”.

6. Loaded onto 4 seperate hard drives – Two for the road and two for back up back at the “lab”.

When a customer want’s their own song list, this can involve hours of unpaid work and music costs, none of which we usually charge for.

Equipment.

Equipment costs have come down in recent years, but a decent show with yes (i’m always asked whether I bring this) decent lighting will still not leave you much change out of around ten grand. And that’s not counting the back up equipment back at the yard that you collect over the years, which is needed more often than you’d think. For example, you can’t do a massive marquee gig with the standard village hall/hotel set up. You have to load up with those mostly decommissioned extra bass cabs and maybe extra top speakers too.

We all start out with very basic show set ups until we get an idea of what is required. The difference between a professional and a cheap amateur is: Do you build it up as fast as you can or do you continue with what you’ve got whilst undercutting everyone else until you can’t afford to maintain what little you have? I’ve heard stories of “DJ’s” turning up with a laptop and one or two Maplins speakers with maybe 50 MP3’s. Well it hardly makes for what I’d call a “show” does it?

Then there is the guy who maybe has a little more beaten up old equipment (like the guy who did my cousin’s wedding and convinced me that I could easily do better) and who will drop you like a stone at the last-minute if he get’s a more lucrative offer. – No ethics at all.

Talking of ethics, all equipment must be tested every year by a qualified technician. Some DJ’s make this up. I don’t.

Setting up time.

I’m constantly asked if I charge for the whole time I’m at the venue, ie: Setting up time as well as playing time. Well guess what? I don’t charge for that either and neither do most other pros.

So what SHOULD I expect to pay?

What you should expect to pay is what you’d expect to pay any other professional tradesman like a plumber – At this time of writing, around £50-£60 per hour is a good bench mark, I resist the urge to mention garage mechanic, as they can be up to £90.00 per hour. But to be fair to them, they have one hell of a lot of equipment to buy and maintain.

Conclusion

The gist of this blog is that we are no different to any other service in that you really do get what you pay for. The only difference with us is that we are artists and there is an unmeasurable quality to how we feel what we do. How we have to have heightened perception of reading the crowd’s mood at any given time of the night and what track will drop in at just the right time. How to address the crowd with confidence, clarity and engaging friendliness. This requires knowledge, taste and experience, but you have to love it to succeed in the long run.  Particularly when you are humping heavy gear upstairs or hundreds of yards in the rain from/to the van from/to a venue with terrible access!

I hope you found this helpful. I will now meta tag it up so anyone asking “How much to pay for a DJ in the UK” will find it.

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My best Set up Ever

Audio

Well finally after all these years of investment I have the best equipment set up ever.

This year and some of last year I ploughed money into replacing speakers with higher quality ones than ever when I went all out for Electrovoice subs and tops which have the added benefit of being lighter as well as punchier sounding and cleaner then the previous JBLs. Somewhere in amongst these upgrades I bought some Yamaha DXR 15″ tops which make a very nice addition to a bigger set up and so are definately not wasted! I just got new replacement circuit boards for the JBLs which has the effect of stopping all the age crackle that I was getting – You could have them at a steady volume but there was no ajusting mid gig! Now smooth and clean like new again. Recycling at it’s best, as they sit nicely in a six speaker set up as extra top (treble range).

My most exciting puchase of late is the gigbar 2 from Chauvet. It used to take me 20 minutes to set up the lighting rig and to be honest I’d probably still be using that system now if it wern’t for the fact that the special electric mounting bar wasn’t seriously worn out from many years of gigging. Trouble was, they’ve stopped making the damn things and liquid metal (JB coldweld) repairs only hold lighting units up for so long before the weld fails and the units fall off. So the upshot is that I bought this new unit with all the same lighting effects including strobe, ultra violet, Moonflower (floor patterns) , Colourwash (for room colour) AND laser too all in and on the bar in miniture. Permanantly attached and brighter than the previous effects, it all fits into a guitar sized case and can be up and running in five minutes! I This tegether with the lighter speakers and more compact console means set up is much improved to what it was only a year or two ago.

This means I enjoy gigs more than ever now, as there is less hassle getting in and out of venues and less time for staff and customers to wait for me at the end of the gig. Colours are brighter too which gives a different dimension to the performance.

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Holidays R Coming and lots more work with it.

Audio

Hi all, Im enjoying my first day off in about five months. I’ve just had a shower and I really must put some clothes on. Something I’ve been telling myself for a few hours now. I guess this being November and five degrees outside it’s testomony to my insulation. The whole house heats from one radiator downstairs in the living room. I’ll really miss that when I move soon.

Yes folks I’m moving. about 1 mile down the road. That must be the shortest distance yet. I’ve moved about 60 times since I first left home. No not because I’m a criminal! No quite the contrary. I’m one of those geezers who gets on his bike to follow the work/girlfriend/some other ligitimate reason this time like having more room than in my wildest dreams. Yep, I’m finally making that step from living in a flat/ small haunted cottage in the town centre of yee olde Littlehampton highway stop/Globe inn, to a virtual palace of a two bedroomed house (yeehaa!). It’s going to feel weird. That much I do know. Whether also because it too is haunted by it’s former and now deceased occupant I don’t yet know.

Anyway, in true sod’s law fashion, I’ll probably be forced to move just as the christmas season starts in earnest. Never mind; I’m never intending to move again this lifetime so help me. So this will be the last time…As the song goes.

Ok. time to do something else apart from sitting here naked.

 

Bye for now and have a groooovy Christmas!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnpqT8Ux9zk (Children and Christmas from Michael McIntyre)

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