Thursday, August 23, 2012

How Steve Jobs Changed The Mobile DJ Industry

Steve Jobs changed the landscape of the music industry in 2001 by introducing the iPod.  Today, it's old hat to be able to store thousands of songs on a portable digital device that you can fit in your pocket.  But before the laptop and iPod, having such large collections of music was quite a feat left only to music nerds (some of whom are DJ's such as myself) who would proudly fill spare bedrooms, basements, closets and cargo vans in order to have such a collection.

Apple also wanted to dominate the market on how people purchased their music.  No longer was it necessary to buy whole albums (CD's) just to own the two or three great songs that came with the eight or ten mediocre songs you really didn't want.  Consumers, fans of music, could download music one song at a time without even leaving their home.  Toward this end, Apple needed to place a value on just a single song and it would be about a dollar.  Today, it's typically a little more than a dollar but still a pretty reasonable price for a song that you know you'll love before you even buy it.

Some of the information we have about innovators and entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs suggests that they don't much concern themselves with the consequences of their inventions.  Their passion is such that if they believe they can accomplish something extraordinary, they should - just for the sake of doing it.  This idea is debatable.  Probably most innovators at least consider how their work might affect society.  And most probably see their innovations as positive socially as well as profitable economically.

If digital music transformed the music industry (it's still transforming) it most certainly dramatically changed the way mobile DJ's go about their business of delivering entertainment to their many local events.  In the late '80s, when I first began DJ'ing, clients saw the value of their DJ service simply in the fact that one (or two) people alone could transport and deliver thousands of songs to the site of their event.  Whether vinyl, audio cassette or even CD format, carrying thousands of songs was quite a job.   Add to the music the audio equipment that was then large, bulky and quite heavy and you really required a lot of muscle as well as a cargo van or a small truck.

Now, sound equipment is getting smaller and lighter.  Music can be stored on small very portable devices.  As said earlier, many high school kids can now boast thousands of songs kept in a pocket of their backpacks.  Thank you Steve Jobs for your innovation but sir, you also made music a commodity.  And customers value commodity products in a different fashion that is often more difficult to sell.

I fall on the side of innovation more often than not and I'm quite glad that Mr. Jobs made music so readily accessible.  It does, however, change how I must market my DJ service.  Interestingly, when I meet with prospective clients they hardly ever ask about music, storage and playback devices, etc.  They pretty much assume that I either already have or can quickly get any song ever digitally recorded.  So, if music is now a commodity, like bottled water, what really stands one DJ service apart from the rest?

First, I remind prospective clients that we legally purchase our music from reputable vendors.  We are not pirates!  It's easy to gloat over stolen property.  But if we say we own 10,000 songs (and more with each passing day) you can readily do the math to figure out our investment.  Next, we do use professional grade gear and that is still not consistent in the industry.  Some DJ's are bringing sub par devices they used at their college frat parties. So I typically take a moment to reiterate these important considerations.

What really stands a DJ service apart from the rest is the experience they bring to the event and the personal attention they are willing to give their clients.  It's easy to rely too heavily on automated websites, software programs and the like in the effort to seek efficiency.  I must say at this point, that we do offer such conveniences to each client and they are extremely helpful.  We are careful, however, not to use technology to the point that we lose human interaction.  Most people still want to sit down over coffee and get to know the person who will be helping them with their wedding reception, anniversary, fundraiser, birthday party, holiday event or whatever it may be.  We do not use technology as an excuse to ignore human beings.  Our real value is in the PERSON who will bring the laptop, the sound system, the lights, etc. and that PERSON'S unique personal experience as an MC and DJ to make it all work in our client's favor, to make their celebration really fun and memorable.

So to innovation we say, "bring it on".  Thank you Steve Jobs and Apple.  But real value will always be found in the person, the people.  And if this is true, we'll be in great shape for a long time! View Steve Jobs Introducing the iPod in 2001

Click here if you want to learn more about our DJ service or receive a price quote for your upcoming event!