From the Ground Up: The Re-Invention of a DJ Business

July 22, 2014 by Stu Chisholm

reinventionSince I started my mobile DJ business in the late ‘70s, it had been on a continual growth track, setting higher and higher records in events performed and income, while staying current with the latest technology. Then it happened: the recession.

For me, a “perfect storm” took place when the recession collided with my own efforts to reduce my workload. I never anticipated the full impact of the recession or how long it would last. Also, the DJs in my area almost universally lowered their rates and never sent me the memo. After a long, hard battle, implementing some hard cost-cutting measures and following a whole lot of advice from the “gurus” of the DJ world, I was forced to lower my rates for the first time ever.

I finally realized that I had to identify my main strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly: to perform a tactical, global business make-over. This blog and accompanying magazine column will be an ongoing overview of my efforts, with the hope that some of the ideas I try out will also benefit you.

Three main things demand my attention:

1. Marketing!
2. Transportation.
3. Equipment upgrades.


Let’s take these in reverse order. Ever since my changeover to MP3, (featured in detail in the Mobile Beat, March 2007), I’ve been using the Cortex HDC-1000, a dedicated MP3 playback system. Sadly, in that brief seven-year span, the company has stopped supporting these units; it’s time to upgrade to something new.
Although, as I said back in ’06, I’m loathe to adopt a computer as my playback system, the DJ equipment market has kicked the self-contained media player/controller aside in favor of laptop-based playback. Reluctantly, I’m forced to consider this option.

I do have a few requirements. First, I demand SMALL. I’d like a console that I can carry like an attaché case; something a bit more cutting edge. Secondly, any screens will need to be rugged and viewable in direct sunlight — a tall order, I know. Lastly, they will need to operate over a ridiculous temperature range. So as I build my new playback systems, I’ll be focused on these parameters above all else.


The main delivery system for my DJ service for the past 18 years has been my Ford E-350 commercial cube truck. Overall it is also in good shape, but has some things that need attention, the most obvious being a wooden rear roll-up door that needs replacement. Secondly, the fiberglass body badly needs to be gel-coated and refreshed with new graphics. Lastly, there are minor mechanical details to attend to, such as a rusted out oil pan, a little brake work and some other upgrades.



The most urgent need is to bring in more work. Rather than simply “plugging the holes” in my marketing scheme, I plan on scrapping it altogether and starting from scratch. My goal is to completely replace my aging website, equipping it with the latest features, plugins and search engine optimization. I will also be pumping-up other online marketing, as well as offline marketing, networking and allied vendor outreach.

Yes, I’ll also touch on my performance, music, appearance and “showbiz” factors, but these need much less attention. But hey, why not be comprehensive? So I’ll be doing it anyway.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey, both via my articles and the blog. And whether you’re doing your own minor upgrades or a total overhaul, I’d love to hear your stories, advice, comments and constructive criticisms as well! Feel free to e-mail them to me at: with the subject, “DJ makeover.” Until next time, safe spinnin’!

Filed Under: Mobile DJ Business