Mobile Disc Jockeys (or Mobile DJs) travel or tour with mobile sound systems and play from an extensive collection of pre-recorded music for a targeted audience.
In the past, Mobile DJs utilized formats such as vinyl records or cassettes. During the Disco era of the 1970s, demand for Mobile DJs soared. Top Disc Jockeys in this era would have hundreds of vinyl records and/or cassette tapes. The equipment used in this era was enormous and usually required roadies (similar to those who work for bands) to set up. While many Club Disc Jockeys still use vinyl, most Mobile DJs currently use Compact Discs, computer-based files (such as MP3s), or a combination of sources. In addition, professional-grade equipment created by a variety of companies expressly for Mobile DJing has allowed for faster set-up and break-down, as well as improved quality of performance.
The audiences Mobile DJs play for may be at one of many different types of events including wedding receptions, bar and bat mitzvah receptions, company parties, school dances, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Mobile DJs also perform in public at bars / taverns, nightclubs, or even at block parties.
Bands had long dominated the wedding entertainment industry, but with the advent of the less expensive and more versatile Mobile DJ, their market share dwindled. Mobile DJs offer the advantage of being able to play music in a wide variety of styles by a wide range of artists, as they use the artists’ own original recordings. In addition, audiences or planners that formerly could not afford music for their event are now able to hire a Mobile DJ while still staying within their budget.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Mobile DJs began to form and expand associations and create professional business networks, which now include annual trade shows and Internet discussion forums. Today, many Mobile DJs also promote themselves as an event’s planner, organizer, and MC (Master of Ceremonies). Working closely with their customers, their guests, and other vendors (such as venue staff and photographers / videographers), today’s professional Mobile DJs strive to provide quality entertainment that fits the event in question in terms of style and performance.
In addition, a good Mobile DJ should be able to play a client’s specific requests by incorporating them into a repertoire of party favorites. This is called “reading” the crowd.
Today, a large selection of music, professional-grade equipment, good organizational skills, vocal talent as an MC, mixing skills, quality lighting, insurance for liability, and on-site back-up equipment are all essential customer expectations when purchasing Mobile DJ services.
Some current topics of debate within the professional Mobile DJ community include moving from CDs to MP3s, full-time vs. part-time DJs, pricing, and multi-ops vs. single-ops. (A multi-operator company offers several difference DJs on staff for an event, while a single-operator company is owned and run by one DJ.) The chief argument between most of these positions in the professional Mobile DJ community is that of quantity vs. quality, but the debate itself indicates a thriving professional business community attempting to continually redefine itself for its customers’ ever-changing needs.