Spring 2016 Playlist – by DJ Gregg Ambient

Spring is officially here!  We kick off our quarterly top songs playlists with a submission by Gregg Hollmann, aka DJ Gregg Ambient.  Gregg’s top twenty selections below reflect a variety of hip hop, R&B, pop,  Latin, reggae and EDM.   Regarding a potential Summer blockbuster, Gregg’s top pick at this juncture is Gwen Stefani’s “Make Me Like You.”

Listen to this playlist on Spotify at:

https://open.spotify.com/user/gregg_ambientdjs/playlist/12eiuvNkn36Y9f09Z5lDBn

Drumroll, please….

DJ Gregg Ambient’s Top 20 Songs of Spring 2016

  1. Work – Rihanna w/ Drake (R&B)
  2. Jumpman – Drake & Future (hip hop)
  3. Sorry – Justin Bieber f/ Skrillex (pop/electronic)
  4. Ginza – J. Balvin (reggaeton)
  5. Cake By the Ocean – DNCE (pop/dance)
  6. My House – Flo Rida (pop)
  7. Make Me Like You – Gwen Stefani (pop)
  8. Formation (John Keenan & Mark Picchio Remix) – Beyonce (R&B/Dance)
  9. El Taxi – Osmani Garcia w/ Pitbull (Latin/Reggae)
  10. Be Right There – Diplo f/ Sleepy Tom (EDM)
  11. Antidote – Travi$ Scott (hip hop)
  12. Trumpets – Sak Noel, Sean Paul & Salvi (Latin/Reggae)
  13. 679 – Fetty Wap (hip hop)
  14. Bang My Head – David Guetta, Sia and Fetty Wap (dance)
  15. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson f/ Bruno Mars (pop/funk)
  16. Company – Justin Bieber (pop)
  17. Easy Love – Sigala (dance)
  18. Sugar (Frey Remix) – Robin Schulz f/ Francesco Yates (house)
  19. Automatic – ZHU and Aluna George (Electronic)
  20. Down in the DM (radio edited version) – Yo Gotti (hip hop)

Throwbacks:

  1. Brazilian Love Affair – George Duke
  2. Walking in Rhythm – Blackbyrds
  3. La Dolce Vita – Donna Summer & Giorgio Moroder

DJ Mix of the Quarter:

Reggae/electronic/Caribbean DJ/producer Ted Ganung recently laid down a proper set at Cielo that we were fortunate to experience live.  For those who missed it, listen here:

 

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5 Book Recommendations for Mobile DJs

(this blog is a re-print of my recent blog on ProMobileDJ.com that can be accessed at http://promobiledj.com/2016/03/five-book-recommendations-for-mobile-djs/ )

I’m a believer in the adage that “readers are leaders.”  As a boy, I loved reading mystery books and biographies about my favorite sports stars.  During summer vacation, I would typically read a book a day.  Fast forwarding to my late twenties when I became interested in the mobile DJ profession, I once again returned to the books to learn about the industry.  Unlike many mobile DJs, I am entirely self-taught and never worked under another DJ company.  Books were immensely helpful in bridging the information gap.

Much of what I learned via books helped me to create a successful small business.  Even so, years later, I continue to read in my spare time.  In the non-fiction realm, I particularly enjoy books about business, music history and the DJ industry.  These days I do most of my reading on a Kindle (love this device!).  By now, I’ve encountered many of the key concepts of the mobile DJ continuing education curriculum.  However, my quest for knowledge remains high and I never mind receiving a refresher course on a particular topic.  Reinforcement of educational material is one way to ensure that it becomes cemented permanently in your knowledge bank.

What types of books should mobile DJs read?  Since most us wear many hats as DJs and business owners, books related to music, technical skills, emceeing, sales skills, finance and management are welcome additions to any DJ’s library!

In this blog, I share five book recommendations that should appeal to you as a DJ or small business owner:

How to DJ Right – The Art and Science of Playing Records, by Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster.

This book explores the power of music and how an adept DJ can get inside the minds of guests and create memories.   How to DJ Right provides instructions and graphical depictions on beatmixing and popular DJ scratches.  The artist interviews are also inspiring.  I provide this book to all of my new hires.  While not specifically geared towards the mobile DJ, this book is a must read for all DJs.

Also recommended by Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster is their beefy history of the DJ and dance music, “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life”.  Learn the stories behind industry pioneers like Alan Freed, Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and David Mancuso.  Explore the birth of various music genres and understand the interrelationships between them.

Running Your Multi-Op, by Michael Walter.

Mike Walter is the owner of Elite Entertainment based in New Jersey.  Many consider Elite to be America’s most successful multi-op DJ business.  In the book, Mike shares in great detail how he recruits and trains DJ talent.  He covers a wealth of topics including non-compete agreements, how to train emcees, the employee versus subcontractor debate, how to “sell down”, how to make winning promo videos and how to create a successful business that can run itself without the constant presence of its owner.  Mike delivers the information in his patented fun and candid style.

Running Your Multi-Op is a beneficial read for any DJ – whether single-op or multi-op.  Furthermore, you will gain many tips on how to become a better emcee.  Running Your Multi-Op is also available as an MP3 audio book.  Mike’s teachings really come to life in the audio book version, read by the author himself!

The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, by Joel Whitburn. In the updated ninth edition of this book, Whitburn’s encyclopedic music guide spans complete chart information about America’s most popular songs and artists from 1955 to 2009. The largest section of the book contains an alphabetical listing of artists where you can read the artist’s bio and see the details about all of their songs that charted.  Want to know what year Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” was released and how many weeks it spent at #1?  Then this book is for you.

The latter section of the book contains the Top 25 songs of each year and also reveals the top-ranking artists by decade.  This book is a must-have for any music lover.  I often use it when researching playlists or preparing for a class reunion or milestone birthday.  A DJ can also use the information in the Billboard Book of Top 40 hits to create fun ‘name that tune’ or musical trivia contests for events.

The Mobile DJ MBA (Business, Sales & Marketing Industry Secrets Revealed), by Stacy Zemon. Stacy is the Editor and Chief Scribe at com.  The Mobile DJ MBA is a collection of articles written for DJ Times Magazine by herself, joined in several articles by co-writers like Jeff Stiles and Cap Capello.  The book begins with an inspiring foreword by Bobby Morganstein who shares his journey from working as a rookie for a company called Fascinating Rhythms, before founding his own company and undergoing a series of expansions and service diversifications that transformed his business into a conglomerate powerhouse.   A common theme of the articles in the book is that it’s seldom the best entertainer who is the most successful in this business.  DJs and DJ business owners need to possess serious marketing and sales chops.  The readings provided by Stacy provide information on advanced strategies that DJs can use to their benefit.  Some of these topics include power partnerships, guerrilla marketing techniques, sales techniques to increase your closing rate, DJ contracts (presented by Cap Capello) and how to keep your DJ staff happy.  More than feel good general information, the articles in the Mobile DJ MBA provide detailed, actionable ideas.

The Mobile DJ MBA is recommended for DJs of all skill levels, but particularly for business-minded DJs seeking to grow their operations.

Profit First: A Simple System to Transform Any Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine, by Mike Michalowicz.  This moderately technical, but well-explained book, presents a methodology that ensures that all of a business owner’s hard work will be rewarded in the form of dividends that do NOT get plowed back into the business, but rather are used to reward you and your family.  Too many event professionals start a business based on passion, but soon find that they are terrible business people. The Profit First system imposes a discipline on an owner that will have the business serving you, not vice-versa.

For those interested in learning more about Profit First within the DJ context, connect with DJ Jason Spencer who is a certified Profit First professional and has received formal training in the program.  Jason has been speaking at national DJ conferences on this topic.  For a quick primer, see my previous article on ProMobileDJ.com “How DJs Can Use the Profit First Financial Management System”.

Those who are contemplating starting their own DJ business are also well-advised to read Michalowicz’s “Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” that provides important training to survive your first years in business.

 Don’t Forget the Periodicals!

Also, you are well-advised to order subscriptions for DJ Times Magazine, Mobile Beat Magazine and Disc Jockey News.  The cumulative cost to subscribe to all three is only $65.  In addition, ProMobileDJ.com publishes articles written by experts on a weekly basis that you can enjoy for free.

In a subsequent ProMobileDJ.com blog, I’ll share another five recommended books for Mobile DJs.  In the meantime, happy reading!

 

Supporting DJs and The Joy of Music

As a mobile DJ, January-March are my slowest months. April through December run hot and heavy. I like to use free time in the Winter to check out DJs in the bar/club/lounge scene.

There are many benefits:

  • It’s important for a DJ to relate to the guest experience from the other side of the DJ booth;
  • To gain exposure to new styles of music;
  • To discover new tracks;
  • To check out how other DJs mix particular styles of music;
  • To support one’s DJ brethren and sistren – it’s a huge compliment when a DJ drops in to check out a fellow DJ;
  • To network and meet new people;
  • To stay inspired; and
  • According to my accountant, attending DJ performances for educational/networking purposes is considered a tax-deductible expense. While I don’t recommend expensing bottle service, you should be fine writing off cover charges and travel expense as legitimate business expenses.

My February Road Trip

Stop #1 – DJ Cloak Dagger, The Living Room at The W Hotel

In this blog, I share my recent experiences on the road. The first stop on the tour was to Times Square New York City, to check out a set by Luke Rizzo, aka DJ Cloak Dagger. Luke is currently the artist in residence at the trendy W Hotel, and spins every Friday night from 6 PM – 9 PM in the swank hotel lobby bar known as “The Living Room” spinning primarily sexy house music. The Living Room has a nicely-appointed DJ booth, situated in front of a dazzling kaleidoscope wall of moving lights. Tucked into a corner near the DJ booth is a Photo Booth where guests can be photographed for free and then receive a photo print and/or email copy.

Photo Feb 26, 9 25 09 PM

For an introduction to DJ Cloak Dagger, check out the mix from his Nocturnes series below which I consider to be a masterpiece:

https://soundcloud.com/cloakdaggernyc/nocturnes-podcast-006-cloak

Stop #2 – The Samovar Bar, Manhattan

Following the W Hotel, my wife and I enjoyed dinner then headed over to the Russian Samovar Bar on 256 W. 52nd Street.  I’ve been patronizing the Samovar Bar for years.  They serve up delicious carafes of infused vodkas (the cranberry is my favorite) and there are frequently an interesting assortment of characters for people watching.  Tonight was no different.  With the exception of an unfortunate incident where I was the victim of a “Cougar Attack” – it was a great night at Samovar.  There were three live musicians who performed a fun international repertoire spanning from Russian folk songs, to Egyptian belly dance music (Oojami) to Latin favorites (Juanes).  The vodka was flowing and a nice dance floor developed.

Photo Feb 26, 10 41 11 PM

Stop #3 – Sunday House Social, Philadelphia

After resting my liver on Saturday, it was off to the City of Brotherly Love for the Sunday House Social series and currently led by the team of DJ Linda Leigh and DJ Dre Ovalle.  Linda, who has her roots in the rave culture of the 90s – and Dre who is an upcoming DJ based in the Hamilton/Trenton area, aim to showcase the sounds of underground electronic music.  The Sunday House Social series is based out of the Trenton Social (449 South Broad St., Trenton) every Sunday night from 6 PM until close.  The series has recently expanded to Philly at Lolie’s Ale House – conveniently located right off Route 95 and having free parking.   Future Sunday night dates at Lolie’s will be announced soon.

Photo Feb 28, 11 02 13 PM

Posing with DJ Linda Leigh from Sunday Night Social

 

 

To make the evening as interesting and diverse as possible, several DJs are scheduled.  This past Sunday in Philadelphia it was Linda Leigh, Dre Ovalle (open format with a techno edge this particular evening), DJ Landzi (funky house) and Hoju Pockets (drum n’ bass).  I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

With “the sound of the underground” out of favor in America at the moment and being eclipsed by commercial house music and EDM, I encourage music lovers to support these talented DJs who are carrying the torch.

As an example of what you can expect from the Sunday House Social, check out Hoju Pockets’ Sunday evening set on Mixcloud at:

https://www.mixcloud.com/potatofeen/liquid-vibes-4/

Stop #4 – Cielo (Deep Space Night with DJ Francois K. and Special Guest Ted Ganung)

In all of my years of international travel, I haven’t found a nightclub more special than Cielo in New York City.  So for this Monday night, I conveniently scheduled a client meeting in Manhattan so that I could attend Deep Space at Cielo.  The space is intimate and warm  with cushioned log cabin walls and a huge disco ball.  The star of the show is the incredible Funktion One sound system that delivers warm, punchy bass when needed but never strains the ear.  This particular evening, DJ Ted Ganung opened with a reggae influenced set featuring roots, dancehall, dub, soca/calypso, Drum n’ Bass remixes and a smattering of house music classics. Francois K. took the reigns at midnight and brought the guests to a state of dance nirvana.

Check out DJ Ted Ganung’s Mixcloud set – which is a solid representation of his actual set at Cielo below:

https://www.mixcloud.com/tedganung/deep-space-promo-mix-by-ted-ganung/

In conclusion, there’s a world of music that awaits you. While you may need to travel a bit to find it, it’s worth the journey!

Photo Feb 29, 10 13 05 PM

Ted Ganung, on the set at Cielo NYC – Big ups Ted!