Keep Your Skills Sharp During Quarantine: Advice From a DJ Celebrating 40 Years in the Industry
On March 11th 2020, I was DJing the Philadelphia 76ers game at the Wells Fargo Center, and felt that something just wasn't quite right, especially since during the past two games, everyone was talking about a virus causing health issues. Eventually a Wells Fargo Center executive walked up to me before the game and said, "We are done after tonight". I have been an entertainer and DJ for 40 years, and never had my stomach drop like that. I woke up the next day and it hit me that the 300 events I do every year are in jeopardy. What to think? What to do? My days were usually spent prepping - not worrying, performing - not sitting. THINK! Should I call people?
My resume as DJ for the last 40 years includes: Resident DJ for the Wells Fargo Center, and DJ for all of the Flyers and Sixers games over the last 10 years. I work with iHeartMedia, AEG and some Live nation events, which totals 80 private events, 80+ sporting events, 45+ concerts, 20+ charity events. 40+ casino events, and more, all in in one year, every year. I'm sponsored by Robert Graham Clothing, where I DJ'd 30 plus in-store events a year for 4 years, and my favorite sponsor, Genos Steaks - the iconic establishment in the heart of South Philadelphia, where I DJ in the heart and pulse of our city.
So, I have been asked over the past three months, “How are you doing?” and to be honest, I am fine, and know I will be back on track soon, as we all will. this is what I am thankful for. First, I am the luckiest man in the world to have accomplished all these things. Second, we have all been touched by these recent events in different ways, but we will hold strong and party again soon! Third, I learned a lot about people and learned a lot about myself. We need to be better and unite.
What do we do to stay on track and keep our mind and body in shape with our talents?
We must adapt with the times, for instance:
Keep up to date with new music
Do live streams to entertain followers
Brand and market with other people outside of your sphere of influence through multiple outlets like: live mixes on different platforms i.e. FB, IG, Twitch & Mixcloud
Be creative by making remixes and making mix tapes (Don't laugh)
Be prepared for when things open, as we must have an arsenal of material to play
Keep followers, clients and potential clients engaged, and give access to your material
All these things could’ve been done without the pandemic, BUT this time of reflection means more time to create, and stand above the rest - if and when we do get back to normalcy. The actual art form of DJing doesn’t change, but we must keep up to date on music, practice at home, watch past videos of yourself performing, yes, performing. You cannot lose what made you successful.
I reached out to my long time coworker with IHeartMedia who gave great advice:
Calling clients every day
Hold team meetings so clients still see me
Come up with solutions for clients, don't sell to them
I also reached out to a famous restaurant owner and entertainer from Philly that says he's been honing his playing skills & writing new music. He's learning more about his craft through instructional videos, & collaborating in pro tools with other musicians online. Then he plans to do live performances when venues open back up.
On my end, I am keeping close to my people. I have reached out to many major artists to see what they are doing. This pandemic has no prejudice and has affected everyone from Bruce Springsteen to the DJ at the corner bar. I will say I am blessed. Most importantly, I miss everyone and especially miss the energy. I'll see you soon, can't wait to make you dance and give you a hug or maybe a fist bump! We'll see. I promise.
My first scheduled event is outside the famous Geno's Steaks on Sunday, July 5th.
Remember, life is about the people around you, that's most important. In this world of so much turmoil and uncertainty, I am blessed to have a career which sees no color, has no bias, makes no judgement, and provides joy to everyone. I count the moments until I can be at it again.