The way this works is pretty self-explanatory. I make up some questions, and the person being interviewed answers them.
No, I don’t edit their responses, and no, I am not twisting this around to make people look bad. I’m your host, I want people to want to be interviewed, and contrary to popular opinion, I’m not that much of a bastard.
So, here goes!
“Gary, you are a recently retired Disc Jockey in the Tampa Bay Area, and in the business for a long time. I have some questions for you that will be posted verbatim on www.brianized.com. Please feel free to speak your mind.”
How long were you a DJ and what other career did you have before that?
“I began my professional DJ career back in the early-mid 80’s with records and tapes. Before that time I was in the Advertising/Publsihing/Graphic Arts Industry in several capacities.
DJ’ing was a natural fit for me as music has always been a big part of my life as I played instruments and sang. At house parties I was usually put in charge of music selection – which thrilled me as well.”
If you had it to do all over again, would you be a DJ still or would you choose something else, and why?
“Yes I would do it all over again but of course like everyone else there are somethings I would go back and do differently.
Fortunately, there were very few times that I dreaded “going to work” and there’s probably not many people that can say that about their jobs/career. I have a very outgoing personality and love to make people laugh and lead them to fun so this DJ’s was a good fit for me although there were times that could be very stressful.. There were many times I couldn’t actually believe I was getting paid to be doing what I was doing!
I believe DJ’ing now is easier now than it’s ever been. The music needed is all available and in an easy to use format. You can download songs while you’re at the event. I use to have to spend a great amount of time finding, buying and gathering up the songs a bride and groom requested. I have a good stock now one-hit wonders that cost me $15 a c.d. that I bought for one song and never played again.”
What advice would you give a DJ just starting out today in the Tampa Bay Area or any area for that matter?
“I think the most important advice I would offer up and coming DJ’s is to be professional in all ways. Take the position of DJ’ing seriously! Be on time, do what you’re say you’re going to do, listen to your clients – really listen and give them what they want. Give them excellent service!
Have the right equipment (and back up equipment), address everyone with respect from the customer to the other vendors you work with etc,. Spend time on your own personal appearance (dress nicely, stay in shape), and And network – get involved with others in the industry and volunteer your services from time.”
Do you feel the Tampa Wedding Market is flooded? With vendors I mean.
“Yes, I do feel this market is flooded with those serving the wedding industry. Unfortunately many of the those who are in involved shouldn’t be involved as they don’t have the knowledge or experience to do just service to their clients and that gives the industry a bad name.
I remember starting out and anyone with a home stereo system (a cousin), was a DJ and and anyone with a camera (an Uncle) was a photographer. That trend has seemed to explode even more over the years with the advancements of equipment that’s easily used and since the Wedding Industry has grown to be so substantial.
The industry has grown so much offer the last 20 years or so and some folks saw it as a gold rush and just jumped in with little or no experience. That hasn’t helped. Competition in the market is good but the quality of vendors has to maintain a high level.
Sadly many clients are unaware that there are skills that need to be learned to offer them the best result and that takes time, experience and education.”
If you could use three words to describe the Wedding Industry, what would they be? Elaborate?
“My three words to describe the Wedding Industry would probably be; Thriving, Helpful and Mostly Professional.
As I mentioned this industry has grown so much. I don’t believe there were any type of Wedding Industry Organizations or things along that line in my local market when I was first getting involved. Now the bride and grooms are can locate services and professionals who can guide and service them from the day they get engaged till they return from their honeymoon and it seems to expand year with new ideas and trends.
Of course, like any sector, there are some people that are in the industry just to make the cash but I think overall the goal of most people in the industry is to help create an everlasting memory for those they serve and help eliminate a lot of the unknowns and relieve the stress that Weddings can help create. They are there to serve.”
If you could give one piece of advice to couples getting married, what would it be?
“If I could give one piece of advice to couples to couples getting married it would actually have to be a few things. Mostly, enjoy the process. Don’t let it all the planning etc., stress you out so much that it hinders your relationship with each other. Let the professionals help. Take advantage of their experience. And don’t let little things ruin your experience. Some of your expectations may not come out exactly as planned so learn to go with the flow and see the overall picture.”
What is the craziest story you have (no names please) from a wedding?
“As you can imagine I’ve seen some crazy things at weddings from groom’s jumping in the pool in their tuxes, brides and groom becoming so inebriated they have to be held up to cut their cake, nakedness, family traditions (some of these are strange, but fun).
That’s another reason why I loved DJ’ing as you never knew what to expect when the guests and family showed up. I’ve done events for high up elected government officials, sport stars, local celeb’s etc. It’s all been very interesting! I have a lot of great memories.”
Name something you learned from all your years as a DJ that you didn’t expect. Some wisdom of the ages or whatnot.
“One thing I’ve learned from DJ’ing that has helped me throughout my life is to listen to people. Really listen. So many of us are so busy thinking about what we’re going to say that we neglect to really listen and understand what others are telling us. There’s a big difference between “hearing’ and “listening”. If you don’t listen to your clients how can best possibly serve them? That’s helped me in all my relationships.”
What’s it like to have your weekends back?
“It was a joke around my home that my wife for many years was a “weekend widow”. When you’re in this biz the majority of the events are on the weekends and to a DJ that means you’re going to be missing out on a good amount of your own social life. Now that I’m retired I can actually go away for a weekend, attend shows, concerts, go out to eat on Saturday night (I never knew restaurants got so crowded!).
Sometimes now I just put on my tuxedo and walk around the house on the weekends just to reminisce. 😉
Being a major player of a couple’s big day as their DJ is very stressful and there are somethings you’ can’t control. I’ve had well maintained new vehicles break down on the way to events (called a cab), last minute changes of receptions or special requests, etc. Those are the things I don’t miss at all!!!”
What part of being a DJ do you miss the most now that you’ve retired?
“The things I seem to miss the most are connecting with people and seeing groups having a good time and celebrating with the newlyweds and all the joy that brings. I also miss working with and being in contact with other vendors and being at the venues themselves. I travelled around to places quite a bit so that was interesting as well.”
Gary, thanks so much for your time and responses! It was a pleasure.