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Mobile Disc Jockey

If someone has ever said to you, "You can't make a living partying every night," you may prove him wrong. Mobile disc jockeys do just that. They get paid to show everyone a good time.

You've danced to their music before. Mobile disc jockeys provide the entertainment at various parties, celebrations and weddings. Their job description includes playing just the right music, hosting karaoke or even dazzling party-goers with light shows and bubble and smoke machines.

Yet, as many mobile DJs will tell you, there is a very important business side to their profession.

Mike Shell is owner of Shell Entertainment in Hueytown, Alabama. He could be considered the "granddaddy" (experience-wise) of the entertainment business.

"I played around the country with different groups for 23 years [with] Hank Jr., Billy Jo Royal and my own bands," says Shell.

"When I hit 40, I got tired of the road and started looking for something more stable. I came in the back door with karaoke and then started my DJ business in '94."

He now has an extremely successful business, two full-time employees and five part-time employees. And the family man is proud to say that his business partner is also his wife.

"Every day, I'm at a different function, and all of them are different and they're all exciting. I've done the Bob Dole campaign. I've done the Mensa National Convention -- that's the smartest people in the world. And then I've done NASCAR....

"So I've done the gauntlet and every day is something different. And I just get up every morning and look forward to what's going to happen that night."

Because the big party nights are on the weekends, Shell prefers to keep busy during the workweek by hosting karaoke. He goes to a different club every night.

Shell takes pride in his work. "I have the biggest karaoke rig in the state of Alabama. I carry about 10,000 songs around with me."

Shell believes that experience is the key. "Everybody in this business is an ex-radio DJ or television personality, or record producer or musician. It's something you have to be in for a long time, especially to make the big bucks," he says.

"You have to be able to do everything from a college rave to a classy wedding reception. You have to know what's happening in each of those events."

Shirley Sick is the owner of Celebrated Sound Music Services Inc. She can set the mood at parties with polkas, waltzes, pop, rock and country. "I got started over 19 years ago by simply trying to fill a need to provide more quality music and entertainment," she says.

Sick realizes that the job isn't all fun and games. "DJing is often perceived by students as a fun party time, spinning tunes. It is also important to realize that it is also a business, and the more business skills you can accumulate is a key factor to the success of your business.

"DJing is an art -- built on talents and pleasing people."

Russell Sheehan works with Get Down Tonight Entertainment in Salem, New Hampshire. The company has numerous DJs and solo artists.

Sheehan became interested in the mobile disc jockey business years ago when he saw "single operators make $250 for four hours. I was in a band that was going nowhere, so I decided to give it a try."

Sheehan recognizes that DJs need to be in tune with not only their songs, but also their customers. "There will be parties where the people will dance to anything that you play. And then there will be crowds where nothing seems to be working. This is where a professional knows what to do," he says.

"You also need to be a good master of ceremonies because it is your job to coordinate the whole evening."

So how do you get started? "Talk to a few DJs in the area and see them in action," says Sheehan. "Being a DJ today is much more than just pressing a button. You can't be shy and you have to have an outgoing and bubbly personality, because you are dealing with people constantly."


Mobile Beat
The DJ magazine

Get Down Tonight Entertainment
About 15 disc jockeys work here

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