Archive for the Professionalism Category

Everybody Thinks He’s a DJ These Days!

Posted in Professionalism on August 2, 2010 by djscottshirley

Everybody knows someone who “is a DJ.” This is a frequent topic among professional entertainers, and has been discussed in this Blog before.

We even used a photo of a chimpanzee DJ once:

Never let an amateur monkey with your special event!

But I found a new one on vacation, when we toured the Texas State Aquarium:

DJ the Dolphin!

My new favorite marine mammal!

I’ll bet he likes better music than the Chimp.

How To Search For Professional DJ Entertainment

Posted in DJ Stuff, Professionalism, Weddings! on July 8, 2010 by djscottshirley

On Google:

Finding experienced, professional DJ entertainment is as easy as calling the Party Machine at 817-294-9539.

The Party Machine is a full-service entertainment company providing sound systems, lighting design and decor, DJ and MC services, video production and event planning and coordination.

Tips for Toasting

Posted in Professionalism, Weddings! on July 8, 2010 by djscottshirley

Psychologists tell us that speaking in public is one of our biggest fears, second only to visiting the dentist.

But it doesn’t have to be. While it’s natural to be nervous about speaking before a group of people, a few simple tips can make it much easier.

Incredibly obvious Rule # 1: Don’t Get Drunk

This advice seems like it should be unnecessary, but the worst toasts at events seem to be alcohol induced. If you need a drink to calm your nerves, save it for afterward.

Second: Use the microphone properly.

People unaccustomed to microphones will often speak into the mic, and get scared by the sound of their own voice over the PA system – so they hold it farther away so they don’t hear their amplified voice. Unfortunately, neither can anyone else, and making your voice louder is sort of the whole point.

Here is a list of simple tips from our Party Machine Entertainment Facebook page, followed by a few comments:

Using a Microphone is easy.

Third: Plan what you will say.

This is one of the Microphone rules above, but bears repeating. There is nothing wrong with having notes to refer to. 3″ x 5″ cards are perfect. A recent Best Man at a wedding had his toast on his iPhone:

It's OK to use notes on your phone!

And finally: Brief is best.

Long toasts are boring, no matter how eloquent. Get ‘er done, while their drinks are still cold!

For more information on how to write a good toast, call me at Party Machine Celebrations at 817-294-9539. Much has been written about toasting and public speaking, and we have an extensive library.

Cattle Call At The BIG Bridal Show!

Posted in Professionalism, Weddings! on March 17, 2010 by djscottshirley

It’s that time of year again, when every weekend someone is hosting “The Biggest, Bestest Bridal Show In The Universe!” At least, until next weekend’s show.

There is no shortage of vendors scrambling for the attention of brides.

All your wedding needs are under one roof: 12 florists, 18 wedding planners, 9 travel agents, 37 caterers, 15 decorators, 8 tuxedo shops, 20 banquet halls, 6 limousine services, 12 hotels, 8 rental companies, 10 country clubs, 9 cake bakeries, 7 photo booths, 12 bridal boutiques, 8 make-up artists, 2 jewelers…and 5,280 photographers.

5,280 Photographers under one roof!

Then there are a handful of rent-a-preachers, a massage therapist, a dentist who does teeth whitening, a tacky lingerie shop, some dance instructors, chocolate fountains, chair cover rentals, a cosmetic surgeon, and the people who do those cool animated “Pic-flip” books.

And there are 8 assorted DJ entertainers, only one or two of which are professionals. The rest are hobby DJs. Many experienced wedding MCs opt out of the big shows.

There are also the perpetual trade show booths, the ones that are not only in Bridal Shows, but also every car show, boat show, home show, travel show and gun show that comes to town. You can sign up to win a Hawaiian vacation, golf clubs, a Jeep Cherokee, or a set of designer kitchenware.

Sign up to WIN! Hint: If the form asks your income, run away. It's a mailing list scam.

These booths are operated by nationwide mailing list sellers, and they do award prizes – one person in America will win a Jeep Cherokee this year – but all of the 4.6 million people who sign up get their names and addresses sold to telemarketers.

Experienced wedding professionals call these shows “cattle calls.” And brides often tell us they feel like livestock when they attend. Many shows have them wear a button or a sticker declaring “Bride-To-Be” to the world, sort of like branding the herd on a cattle drive. I have witnessed brides in the crowded aisles of such a show actually “Moo!”

Brides should not be treated like cattle!

And they all stampede to the Fashion Show, where runway models parade the latest styles. This year’s hot trend: white bridal gowns! Who would have guessed?

White bridal gowns are a hot trend!

Some of the more creative shows provide an activity for the grooms who tag along, like a cake decorating contest. One show featured a “man cave” with beer, cigars and ESPN Sports on the big screen, and even a putting green.

Party Machine Celebrations has exhibited in our share of these “Cattle Call” shows.

We have chosen not to exhibit at the big arena shows this year.

Brides tell us that these shows make them feel overwhelmed.

It’s “input overload,” too much information to be useful or helpful. They want a choice, but 5,280 photographers makes it harder, not easier – even for the photographers.

This year, Party Machine Celebrations will be appearing frequently at small boutique shows and venues, with participation limited to preferred vendors.

Brides have more time to talk with individual vendors, gather useful information, and get good answers.

The smaller displays are less crowded, less noisy, and parking is not a problem. Many of them do not charge admission, and have free food tasting. And the vendors are top professionals chosen for their consistent reputation for quality and reliability. Unlike the big “Cattle Call” shows, only experienced vendors participate.

We have recently done such shows for Al’s Formal Wear, Best In Bridal, Alfred Angelo, Fort Worth Community Arts Center, the Granbury Bridal Circle, and David’s Bridal.

We are listening to what our Brides want – and we are hearing that you want to meet vendors of quality, in a place where it’s quiet enough to listen.

And I am always available by appointment, day or evening, to listen to your wedding ideas. 817-294-9539.

“Hey, Did Somebody Lose Fifty Bucks?”

Posted in Professionalism, Weddings!, Weird Things at Parties with tags , , , , on February 22, 2010 by djscottshirley

You never know what might happen at a Party Machine celebration.

We were doing a wedding at the beautiful Granbury Resort Conference Center. It was a great, fun event, everyone was dancing, laughing and having a great time, just as it should be.

Then I looked down at the floor and saw Ulysses S Grant staring back at me.

President Grant, my old friend!

That’s right, I found fifty bucks, literally at my feet!

Well, that could only mean someone else had dropped it, as it certainly wasn’t mine. And I knew that it was enough that they were going to miss it.

People lose things at parties all the time, and I am accustomed to being the “Lost and Found” department. As the man with the microphone, I frequently announce that we have found an earring or a cellphone, and it can be claimed at the DJ booth.

But fifty dollars in cash? There would be a stampede of liars, all claiming they had dropped it!

So what to do? I placed it in the drawer of my DJ booth, and figured either A) the money-loser would appear at some point, or B) I would give it to the host, who could return it later.

After two hours, event A happened. A young man who had been up earlier to make a request asked me, in a rather panicked voice, if I had found a fifty dollar bill. He was quite nervous.

I answered, “YES, I have! This is your lucky day,” and handed him the bill. His expression changed from fear and panic to joy, and he thanked me profusely!

About two minutes later I was cueing a song and felt a tug on my arm. I turned around, and a pretty young girl hugged me, thanking me for finding her lost birthday money, and returning it to her boyfriend.

It would have been worth giving them $50 of my own for that, even if I hadn’t found it!

Maybe someday after I earn my second million, I can do that sort of thing.

The Biggest Mistake Brides Make

Posted in Professionalism, Weddings! with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2010 by djscottshirley

We are a nation of shoppers. We are bombarded by advertising wherever we look, and are always hunting for the bigger and better deal. Entire TV networks exist just for shopping, along with eBay, Amazon, and a jillion other online shopping sites.

Technology allows us to shop 24/7 if we want to!

Most of us have gotten burned a time or two, by a product that did not live up to expectations, mis-representation, poor customer service, or even outright fraud.

In recent years it seems the laws against false advertising have been relaxed, along with other consumer protections. Caveat emptor applies more than ever.

So we are on guard, and tend to be a bit apprehensive as consumers; distrustful, even.

Planning your wedding, even under the best conditions, is stressful. For most brides, it is the biggest event you will ever plan, with the biggest budget.

So price matters.

The biggest mistake brides make is to ask about only price when choosing vendors. Party Machine Celebrations gets requests by e-mail daily, asking for prices, but without needed information such as the date, time, place, number of guests, or even the services wanted – and they don’t provide a callback phone number.

It’s as though they view DJ and MC service as a generic product where all providers are the same, and the only difference is price. Marketers call this a parity product. But nothing could be further from the truth! It is a talent-based service, and the talent and the services provided vary widely – and that is what brides need to know in order to compare value.

Some brides shop for Entertainment like they shop for milk!

It seems some brides are collecting a list of prices, and will only call to talk to the cheapest vendors.

This is a HUGE mistake, especially where talent is a factor. Such brides limit their choices to the vendors with the least experience by doing this, and experience is everything where weddings are concerned.

Entertainment is what “Makes or Breaks” the celebration! For better or worse, 80% of wedding guests say the entertainment is what they remember most.

The low bidder tends to be part-time, un-licensed and uninsured, with old used equipment from a pawn shop. Perhaps worst of all, with their minimal price, they tend to have a minimal approach to everything – no backup gear, no contingency plan for staffing or transportation, and no clue how to coordinate a reception.

But what is ironic about brides not wanting to call on the phone, is that, when hiring a Master of Ceremonies, don’t you want to hear how his voice sounds? This person will be hosting your big celebration – pick up the phone, call him and see how he sounds!

“But we have a tight budget!” I completely understand! Everyone does, and it’s very important to set and follow a realistic budget. (Many brides fail to do this.) Experienced professional wedding vendors will always work with brides to stay within a budget.

But looking for the lowest bidder for wedding services can often lead to disaster. We hear horror stories from brides all the time about bad vendors, and it’s always the low bidder. This is doubly true about entertainment vendors.

There is an old joke about an astronaut returning from space. In his final radio communication from Ground Control before the re-entry blackout, he is told to say a prayer, because he is riding in a tiny vehicle made up of 3 million component parts, “every one of them built by the lowest bidder.”

Early astronauts risked their lives in spacecraft built by the lowest bidder.

The lowest price is only a good deal when the products are the same – comparing apples to apples. I buy gasoline and most grocery items at the lowest cost I can find. For a wedding, perhaps tablecloths might fall into that category, but the reputation for service and reliability of the rental company can be critical.

It is almost always a disaster to choose an entertainer by price!

Brides call my office everyday and ask, “How much is it for ‘just a DJ’?” I have to tell them I really don’t know, because “just a DJ” is not the right thing to have for a wedding, and we never provide “just a DJ.”

Weddings are unique, once-in-your-life events that should be personalized to reflect the style and personality of the bride and groom and their families. An experienced, talented Master of Ceremonies who can direct the timeline and control the flow of events is what brides tell us they really want. And they want a reliable professional who knows what to do if Murphy’s Law attacks and something goes awry, so the reception will proceed smoothly, no matter what.

And they want an entertainer who can create a look and feel in the room, coordinating lighting with the decorations, and often providing sound reinforcement for live talent, and audio-visual support for video or a photo montage.

An amateur hobby DJ simply cannot provide that level of service.

A true professional will never be found on “Craig’s List.”

But the real irony is that professional entertainers don’t cost a lot more than the lowest price being advertised on the Internet, when comparing the same service.

Is it worth it? Well, I have over 2,000 clients who believe it is. I am happy to provide their names, with telephone and e-mail addresses, upon request. (We do not publish them online to protect their privacy.)

So, how does a bride avoid making this mistake? Check reputation and references, and pick up the phone and call! Hear what the voice sounds like, that will represent you and your family at the event. Make an appointment to meet your MC. None of these cost you anything. Then make the choice that you feel best about.

You will be surprised by the way top professionals are happy to work within your budget.

Party Machine Celebrations can be reached at 817-294-9539 to schedule an appointment at your convenience, day or night.

Report From the DJ Conference – ABCs for DJs

Posted in DJ Stuff, Professionalism on February 9, 2010 by djscottshirley

Having a great experience at the Mobile Beat Las Vegas (MBLVX) conference, but having a bit of trouble with abbreviations.

DJA organized our dinner party last night (that’s Disc Jockey America.) It was great.

ADJ is hosting their Customer Appreciation Party tonight (that’s American DJ, who manufactures lighting…in China of course.) Their party is always great, and features big-name entertainment.

And the annual meeting for ADJA (American DJ Association) was today.

My beloved profession is not very original when it comes to names, as though we only know three letters. It sort of reminds me of my father-in-law assigning names to a litter of newborn puppies: “I call the black one Blackie, and the white one Whitie.”

I think we could use a few more letters of the alphabet, and form a few more sorely needed professional associations.

BDJA – Bald DJ Association. One picture says a thousand words. The number of hairless DJs seems to be growing, even if their hair isn’t.

CDJA – Cheesy DJ Association. These are the guys who give the mobile entertainment business a bad image, by dressing badly, getting drunk, flirting with bridesmaids, and making brilliant announcements like, “Alright, now, at this time, ladies and gentlemen, at this time…anyways…hey, listen up, everybody, now, at this time, let’s all give it up for the bride and groom!”

None of the cheesy guys attend conferences, because it’s not a profession to them, and they don’t care that they are cheesy. But don’t they deserve to belong to a club, that would have someone like them as members?