An Open Letter to Aspiring Female DJs

Dear Aspiring Female DJ,

You may have heard that the DJ industry is a male-dominated field, and that your chances for success are slim to none.  Well I’m here to advise you otherwise.

Who am I?  I am a DJ company owner based in Central New Jersey and a former President of the New Jersey Disc Jockey Network (2013-2015), our state’s professional disc jockey association.  As an active participant at national DJ conventions, I am familiar with many of the DJ industry’s success stories – both male and female.

I’ve always been vexed by the scarcity of female DJs. Perhaps just 5% of DJs are female.  While the job is mildly physically demanding and you may need to lift up to 75 pounds or so – I don’t think this should be a deterrent for most of you. If physical strength is a concern, today’s DJ equipment is more lightweight and compact than ever.   Worst case, you can utilize an assistant for load-in and set-up.

One complaint that I’ve heard voiced by female DJs is that club owners and companies are mostly interested in hiring based on looks and sex appeal.  In fact, at this past week’s DJ Expo in Atlantic City,  a female disc jockey by the name of “DJ Unladylike” voiced just that concern.

While it’s true that a small percentage of clubs and companies hire on looks and sex appeal, most hire based on skills and talent.  In other words, can you rock a party?  Also realize that females are not alone as victims of discrimination in the DJ industry.  Through the years, I’ve observed many decision makers draw false conclusions about DJ performers based on the factors of age, race and physical appearance.  I had a past prospective client request “a hunky younger DJ” for their 55+ retirement community.  I’ve spoken with prospective clients who requested that their DJ entertainer NOT be of a particular race.  I’ve personally been rejected for jobs because the prospect thought that I looked like an accountant and not like a DJ.  The most outrageous sexist request that I’ve ever received was from a mother who specifically requested a large-breasted female dancer for her son’s Bar Mitzvah!

I’ve always stated that our company is a talent-based service, not a modeling agency.    In hiring, I’m looking for individuals who are exceptional entertainers – be that exceptional music mixers, exceptional emcees, or both.  So long as they are well-groomed and physically able to meet the requirements of the job, their gender, sexual orientation or skin color is of no concern to me. This philosophy is evident in our company staff photo which resembles the United Nations with all of its diversity.

Our company has employed several female DJs through the years who put in quality work during their time with us.  We’re proud to currently offer an emcee named Jamie Herman – Jamie is an exceptional interactive entertainer.  The truth be told, skilled female DJs and emcees are in short supply.  Thus, if you are a female DJ with a passion for music and entertainment and the skills to back it up, I’m certain that many DJ company owners (myself included) would love to hear from you!

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Emcee Jamie Herman always brings the party!

You – as a female DJ – are relatively rare, and thus possess unique niche marketing opportunities.  For example, as a wedding DJ, you could appeal to brides who feel more comfortable working with a DJ who can relate to their feminine side. Spin your female DJ status any way you wish if it can help you to book more gigs!

So whether you choose to work for a DJ company, spin at a bar/club, or blaze your own path with a DJ service of your very own…. ladies – I’m here to tell you that you can be successful!

Female DJ Success Stories

If much of my letter has sounded theoretical to this point, I would like to cite a few real life case studies to hopefully inspire you.

Betsy Fischer  – Betsy is a colleague from New Jersey who was crowned “DJ of the Year” at the 2015 DJ Times DJ Expo in Atlantic City. She is the owner and lead performer at “Betsy Fischer’s Groove Lounge” based in southern NJ.  To learn more about Betsy’s story, visit http://www.groovelounge.net/

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DJ Betsy Fischer

Ali Gruber – Ali’s skills came to my attention via a Photo Booth operator colleague who saw her spinning on real vinyl at a wedding in Asbury Park NJ.  To learn more about Ali’s unique success story based on a passion for music, read my interview with her at http://ambientdj.com/ambience-a-nj-dj-blog/308-interview-with-dj-ali-gruber-a-unique-all-vinyl-wedding-dj.html

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DJ Ali Gruber

Jodi Duston – this New Hampshire-based DJ evolved her traditional DJ service into a niche service catering to the LGBT market.  Read about Jodi’s niche marketing success story at http://promobiledj.com/2015/07/how-to-book-more-same-sex-weddings-an-interview-with-dj-jodi-duston/

DJ Jodi

DJ Jodi Duston

Michelle Lee (aka DJ Shelly) – I had the pleasure of working an event with Philadelphia-based Michelle Lee of Sounds by Shelly (http://michelleleeentertainment.com/sounds-by-shelly/).  I was in a support role providing karaoke services, and had the opportunity to observe Michelle emcee and spin at a high degree of difficulty corporate event.  Shelly was featured in the Mobile DJ Success Stories column in the most recent issue of DJ Times Magazine.  Importantly, Michelle is an advocate for females in the DJ industry.  For example, she filmed a video of herself performing the “two speaker carry” and has requested equipment manufacturers to offer female-friendly gear.

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Michelle Lee, aka DJ Shelly

Randi Rae (aka The Mitzvah Maven) – a mobile DJ industry icon and former Star DJ performer, Randi Rae is particularly well-known for her contributions in the bar/bat mitzvah scene, both as a performer and educator. I am one of Randi’s grateful students.  Decades later, Randi has transferred her enthusiasm for entertainment to senior citizens at assisted living facilities and nursing homes.  While I’m not certain of the exact figure, it’s safe to say that Randi is personally performs at hundred of these events per year – sometimes logging 3 or 4 parties in a single day!  She stays mobile by using a very portable Alesis PA system that she wheels around like a piece of luggage. It was a touching moment at this past week’s DJ Expo to see Randi receive a plaque of appreciation from peers and a standing ovation.  For more information about the Mitzvah Maven, visit www.djrandirae.com

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DJ Randi Rae, aka the Mitzvah Maven accepts a Plaque from her grateful industry peers

Linda Leigh –  Linda Leigh is a former rave DJ  based in the Philadelphia area who specializes in underground dance music and is also well-versed in a wide range of eclectic musical genres.  Linda chaired two successful seminars at the recent 2016 DJ Expo in Atlantic City.  She is the consummate hustler, working her way into bars, clubs and lounges – and building up followings.  Her DJ sets are always creative and impeccably mixed!   You can catch Linda every Sunday night at Trenton Social or every week on Burst Radio!

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DJ Linda Leigh

Shani Barnett –  Shani, aka DJ Chitown Shani, is a Chicago-based DJ and Emcee.  While I don’t know Shani well, I’ve seen her speak and perform numerous times and have great respect for her abilities.  She is a quadruple threat as a skilled club-style DJ who can definitely hold her ground against the boys, a fantastic emcee, a great dancer, and a savvy business person. To hear Shani’s advice to aspiring female DJs, listen to Jay Brannan’s interview with her below.

Stacy Zemon –  Stacy Zemon is a former Mobile and Radio DJ who evolved her career into the DJ education market.  She is the Publisher, Editor and Chief Scribe at www.ProMobileDJ.com and the author of several highly regarded educational books that have assisted thousands of upcoming DJs (including me!) to improve their businesses.  These books include The Mobile DJ Handbook, The DJ Sales and Marketing Handbook, The Mobile DJ MBA and The Mobile DJ Entrepreneur.   I’m proud to be a monthly contributor at ProMobileDJ joining Stacy in her labor of love for educating the DJ industry.  Thank you Stacy for all that you do for our industry!

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Stacy Zemon

In Summary

These success stories above are just the tip of the iceberg.  The point is to illustrate that it is possible for female DJs to survive and thrive!  Other female success stories who I’d like to shout out are: Jodi Harris (aka the CEO of Fun, Las Vegas), Tara Feeley (Tara fuses traditional DJing with her gift of singing, New Jersey), and DJ Dayna (based in Ohio, but known for performing on cruise ships).

Will it be easy?  Of course not.  Creating a successful business requires an immense effort, and females may need to work even harder to gain acceptance in this male-dominated field.  As previously mentioned, sexism and discrimination do exist in pockets of the marketplace, but they can be overcome with determination.  If you do encounter sexism, try not to take it personally.  You need to have really thick skin in the entertainment field regardless.  Doing sales work?  Add an extra few layers of skin for the rejection that you will inevitably face.

Ladies, if you are committed to becoming a successful DJ, focus on developing your skills.   Talent and skill trumps all, and just like the lyrics from Fat Joe’s new song go, you’ll go “all the way up, nothing can stop you!”

Sincerely,

Gregg Hollmann (aka DJ Gregg Ambient)

President

Ambient DJ Service

www.ambientdj.com

Top 100 Dance Floor Movers of 2015 by DJ Iron Mike

Michael Bacon, aka “DJ Iron Mike” is a talented and hard-working mobile DJ based in New Jersey.  Spinning for Ambient DJ Service since 2007, we’ve dubbed him “the hardest working DJ in New Jersey.”  Mike also serves as our Head of Musical Programming given his deep musical knowledge across numerous genres – old and new.
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When asked to compile his top songs of 2015, Mike got ambitious and submitted the following list titled “Top 100 100 Dance Floor Movers of 2015.”  Mike deliberately omitted slow dances like “Thinking Out Loud” and “Earned It” – instead focusing on well… songs that actually make guests dance around and move!  Mike’s picks are listed in countdown fashion, and based on actual crowd reactions from some of his regular haunts like The Golden Rail Pub, Pure Lounge and Perle – plus, from his experiences on the wedding DJ circuit.  While a small amount of personal taste was applied, Mike states that his picks were mostly based on live experiences with these tracks.
Enough banter… behold DJ Iron Mike’s Top 100 Dance Floor Movers of 2015.  Drumroll please….!

The Top 100 Dance Floor Movers of 2015 (Listed in Countdown Fashion)

100. Bills – Lunchmoney Lewis
99. Love Myself – Haliee Steinfeld
98. Fun – Pitbull f/ Chris Brown
97. Downtown – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis f/ Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee & Grandmaster Caz
96. Blessings – Big Sean f/ Drake
95. Waiting for Love – Avicii
94. I Don’t Like It, I Love It – Flo-Rida f/ Robin Thicke & Verdine White
93. Ginza – J. Balvin
92. One More Time – Ariana Grande
91. Automatic – ZHU f/ Aluna DeGeorge
90. All Eyes On You – Meek Mill f/ Nicki Minaj
89. S.A.X. – Laidback Luke & Tujamo
88. Sun Goes Down – David Guetta & Showtek f/ Sonny Wilson
87. Save Dat Money – Lil’ Dicky f/ Fetty Wap & Rich Homie Quan
86. Where Ya At – Drake & Future
85. Dear Future Husband – Meghan Trainor
84. Tonight Belongs to U – Jeremih f/ Flo-Rida
83. El Perdon – Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias
82. We Are – Justin Bieber f/ Nas
81. Hold My Hand – Jess Glynne
80. Levels – Nick Jonas
79. Lay It All On Me – Rudimental f/ Ed Sheeran
78. Satisfied – Showtek f/ Vassy
77. Betta Have My Money – Rihanna
76. Antidote – Travis Scott
75. Body On Me (remix) – Rita Ora f/ Chris Brown & Fetty Wap
74. Jungle Bae – Skrillex & Diplo f/ Bunji Garlin
73. Sledgehammer – Fifth Harmony
72. Holding On – Disclosure f/ Gregory Porter
71. Ex’s & Oh’s – Elle King
70. Nasty Freestyle – T-Wayne
69. Light it Up – Major Lazer f/ Nyla & ODG
68. Summerthing! – Afrojack f/ Mike Taylor
67. My Way – Fetty Wap
66. Five More Hours – Deorro f/ Chris Brown
65. Cool for the Summer – Demi Lovato
64. Right Hand – Drake
63. IDFWU – Big Sean f/ E-40
62. I Don’t Mind – Usher f/ Juicy J
61. Be Real – Kid Ink f/ Dej Loaf
60. House Every Weekend – David Zowie
59. Four Five Seconds (DJ Mustard remix) – Kanye West f/ Rihanna & Paul McCartney
58. House Party – Sam Hunt
57. Feelin’ Myself – Nicki Minaj f/ Beyonce
56. Cake by The Ocean – DNCE
55. Good For You – Selena Gomez f/ A$AP Rocky
54. Ayo – Chris Brown f/ Tyga
53. Cool – Alesso f/ Roy English
52. The Fix – Nelly f/ Jeremih
51. Intoxicated – Martin Solveig & GTA
50. Roses – Chainsmokers f/ Rozes
49. Hit The Quan – iHeartMemphis
48. You Know You Like It – DJ Snake f/ Aluna Degeorge
47. Commas – Future
46. Blind Heart – Cazette f/ Terri B.
45. Not Letting Go – Tinie Tempah f/ Jess Glynne
44. Want to Want Me – Jason Derulo
43. Talking Body – Tove Lo
42. Love Yourself – Justin Bieber
41. The Water Dance (remix) – Chris Porter f/ Pitbull
40. How Deep Is Your Love – Calvin Harris f/ Disciples
39. Classic (remix) – The Knocks f/ Powers & Fetty Wap
38. Locked Away – R. City f/ Adam Levine
37. Flex (Ooh Ooh Ooo) – Rich Homie Quan
36. Where Are You Now – Skrillex & Diplo f/ Justin Bieber
35. Jumpman – Drake & Future
34. Wildest Dreams – Taylor Swift
33. Again – Fetty Wap
32. GDFR – Flo-Rida f/ Sage The Gemini
31. Classic Man – Jidanna f/ Roman Gianarthur
30. Worth It – Fifth Harmony f/ Kid Ink
29. 7-11 – Beyonce
28. Hey Mama – David Guetta f/ Afrojack & Nicki Minaj
27. Uma Thurman – Fall Out Boy
26. She Knows – Ne-Yo f/ Juicy J
25. Post to Be – Omarion f/ Chris Brown & Jhene Aiko
24. Jealous (remix) Nick Jonas f/ Tinashe
23. Tuesday – iLoveMakonnen f/ Drake
22. What Do You Mean? – Justin Bieber
21. Honey I’m Good – Andy Grammer
20. The Hills – The Weeknd
19. Bad Blood – Taylor Swift f/ Kendrick Lamar
18. Omen – Disclosure f/ Sam Smith
17. Truffle Butter – Nicki Minaj f/ Drake & Lil’ Wayne
16. Habibi (I Need Your Love) – Shaggy f/ Mohombi, Faydee, Costi
15. Somebody – Natalie La Rose f/ Jeremih
14. Sugar  – Maroon Five
13. Hotline Bling – Drake
12. Style – Taylor Swift
11. Sorry – Justin Bieber
10. Watch Me – Silento
9. Cheerleader – OMI
8. Blank Space – Taylor Swift
7. Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
6. 679 – Fetty Wap f/ Remy Boyz
5. Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
4. Time of Our Lives – Pitbull f/ Ne-Yo
3. Trap Queen – Fetty Wap
2. Lean On – Major Lazer f/ DJ Snake & Mo
1. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson f/ Bruno Mars

For More Information

To book DJ Iron Mike for your next wedding, teen dance party, family party or bar/club gig, connect with us online at www.ambientdj.com  Ambient DJ Service is a full-service mobile DJ entertainment company based in Central NJ specializing in wedding DJ entertainment , Sweet 16 DJ entertainment and corporate DJ entertainment.

To view DJ Gregg Ambient’s Top 25 Dance Floor Hits of 2015, see https://ambientdj.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/the-top-25-songs-of-2015-by-dj-gregg-ambient/

To view Ambient DJs’ 2016 Wedding Music Master Class, click here

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A Year of Writing and Music

Since 2013, I have been an avid blogger writing for the Ambient DJ Service blog.  More recently, I’ve been a columnist for Stacy Zemon’s ProMobileDJ.com website and the Digital DJ Blog.  Each August, I cover the seminars at the DJ Times International DJ Expo in Atlantic City and write a lengthy review of the seminars that is later published in DJ Times Magazine over multiple issues.

While I enjoy the written word, my favorite mode of artistic expression is music and recording dance mixes.  These projects take longer to create.

This blog lists some of my best articles and mixes of the year. The educational articles will be particularly helpful to a beginner or intermediate level DJ seeking to grow their business.

For 2016, if you have an article that you’d like to see me write or a mix concept that you’d like recorded, please reach out anytime by email to gregg@ambientdj.com

WRITING:

A) The Ambient DJ Blog (Highlights)

The Wedding Music Master Class 2015

New Jersey’s Top Wedding Venues (2015 Edition)

The Seven Deadly Sins of Karaoke

Wedding Trends, Statistics and Marketing Tips from The Knot

64 Themed Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlists

How to Recruit DJ Staff – An Ambient DJ Case Study

B) ProMobileDJ.com

What DJs Can Learn from Car Salespeople

Making a Continuing Education Commitment

10 Lessons that DJs can learn from Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue

7 Tips for a Successful DJ Website

How DJs Can Use The Profit First Financial Management System

How DJs Can Work Together to Share Venue Information

How to Sell Your DJ Business (to a new owner)

How to Book More Same Sex Weddings – An Interview with Jodi Duston

How Mobile DJs Can Use Spotify

Dress for Success

Should DJs Maintain a Full Time Office Space?

How to Create a DJ Business Forecast

How to DJ Kids Parties – a Primer

Growing a DJ Business with Advertising

C) DigitalDJ Blog

5 New Years Resolutions for DJs

5 Tips to Start a Successful Mobile DJ Service

The 10 Best Social Media Marketing Practices for DJs

The Wedding DJ Opportunity – Part 1 (How to DJ a Wedding)

The Wedding DJ Opportunity – Part 2 (How to DJ a Wedding)

D) Reviews of DJ Times DJ Expo Seminars

Reviews of the 2015 Educational Seminars

MUSIC MIXES

A) Soundcloud

B) Mixcloud