Getting Better, a Wedding DJ's Journey | Chattanooga's DJ Mark talks beat-matching
Updated: Sep 29, 2019
Alright friends, here's the thing... DJing weddings has been so much fun and I love it with all my heart. Chattanooga has been good to me and what can I say, I want to reciprocate. I suppose I've DJ over 275 weddings as of September, 2019, and I really am just getting started. I mean, I'm really good at what I do, exceptional most would say. But I want to be better, so much better.
For example, I want to be a better mixer. That's because all these weddings I've performed haven't pushed me to that specific skill level. My skills have blossomed in the areas of entertainment, song knowledge and crowd control. (crowd control meaning: making the crowd do exactly what I want them to do exactly when I want them to do it… effortlessly) It's true that most weddings require a lot less mixing skills and a lot more knowledge. For example, I've been standing there, smiling at a group that absolutely will not get up onto that dance floor, no matter what. And mixing two songs together won't accomplish a darn thing. That's because there needs to be a connection between me and the audience. But how am I to do this, you might ask? Experience has led me to a place of understanding the situation, the circumstances, and the mindset of people attending a wedding… however, I have no idea how to articulate how I do this, LOL! But in coming blogs I will try!
Yes, weddings are very unique. It's not like club DJing, which I've personally never done specifically but understand after DJing many non-wedding parties including proms and sorority / fraternity parties. These “club” events require a super knowledgeable mixing DJ who can put up with a ton of requests and lip, LOL. However, at a wedding most of the requests have been made prior to the day by the bride and groom, and the guests understand this, even as they attempt to make a request. They are prepared to acquiesce to the desires of the Bride.
So at a wedding I suppose DJ's face a dilemma: beat-match from the opening of the Dance Floor to the Last Dance, or play the hottest tracks while reading the crowd no matter what the beat number. I can say it's no dilemma for me, I'm going to play the hottest tracks no matter what the beat is. I spend so much time reading the crowd so that I can keep people on the Dance Floor that I've basically thrown beat-matching out the window. I don't do it on purpose, it's just a byproduct of my focus. But I know it’s still important and that's why I want to get better.
I've literally mastered every aspect of weddings, except beat-matching. Understand the entire purview of a Wedding DJ... This list could be so long but here are just a few of the top of my head… Before we even talk about equipment and skill the wedding DJ has to be responsible, kind, patient, slow to anger... as a matter of fact, I think I'm just going to look up the Biblical traits concerning the Fruit of the Spirit! We can talk about speakers, sound, wiring, sound checks, mixing boards, computers, memory load, processors, hard drive space, song downloads, YouTube, Wi-Fi, self-confidence, visuals, personal hygiene, work ethic, drinking on the job (I prefer vegetables), lights, disco ball, a custom-made DJ booth for those 6’ 7” tall, ceremony sound, ceremony knowledge, wedding etiquette, insane list of do's and don'ts, and the list goes on and on and on. And for every category and every nuance, I've made it a number one priority to master each one. And I have… except beat-matching.
And yes, even without that specific skill it's been very profitable. As a matter of fact, most people have no idea I'm only beat-matching 90 to 95% of the event, and they don't care. I’m known as Chattanooga's number one wedding DJ for a reason, these weddings are off-the-charts five, ten, even one hundred stars rated by the customers; I'm trying to earn them each and every weekend. Yet it's all done with almost zero beat-matching.
But that doesn't mean I don't want to beat-match. I honestly want to be the greatest beat-matching DJ that's ever lived, no joke. It's obviously not an easy thing to master but I want it. I want to be able to have a battle of the DJs and kick some butt, LOL. But as for now I'm just your basic ultimate wedding master, number one in my class.
So much of what I do can’t be explained in this tiny blog (so keep up with my future blog posts for more info). For example, how do you explain, event after event, professional wedding vendor after professional wedding vendor, bridesmaids, groomsmen, brides and grooms, mothers, fathers, party-goers, all, prior to the dancing, stating to me as fact: look at this crowd people, no one's going to dance tonight? How could I explain to them they are wrong, dead wrong? (Sometimes I look at it as a challenge, and sometimes I have to admit, they get me believing it's true, that no-one's going to dance tonight and this one’s going to be a dud.)
They would look at me and laugh, not understanding what I literally cannot articulate. So I just do it, whatever “it” is that I do. I do it to the best of my ability with the most energy you can possibly fathom, and I blow their doors off, we have the party of the week, of the month, of the year, of the decade, one they will never forget for the rest of their lives. I'm not going to lie, I do it to rub it in their face, to show them they don't know what the hell they're talking about. They’ve triggered this strong aggravation within me to destroy their stupid perception of whatever it is they think a DJ is. So how do you explain this talent? I don't know how to but again, I’ll try to explain it in future blogs. I just know that from the outset this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for these people; I stopped giving a crap about anything but total bliss and victory for them, for me, for those people who might work in a factory somewhere putting a bolt on a widget, over and over again, looking at the clock wondering when they will have a break for lunch.
And what have I done? I blown the imagination of those tried-and-true wedding vendors, their jaws have hit the floor in disbelief. I should add one more tiny caveat: I've done it without being the center of attention. I've made the bride and groom the center of attention. I've done as little talking is possible, which has only come from mindful meditation over the years. It's actually been a lot easier than it sounds. Of course I've been in the crowd where someone just won't stop talking, they repeat the same phrases over and over it just turns into sounding like a gong, and I stop listening, most people stop listening. But, when you only talk to say something important, people listen. So just right there, the understanding of crowd communication, how valuable is that?
And still I want to get better. For years I’ve had this idea of not only becoming a beat-matching pro but also a sound effects / music-clip master. I know a lot of this goes hand-in-hand. My life has been really cool in this regard, I categorize everything in my brain, from being the computer guru, to a sound pro, to an entertainment master, to a social media presence, to someone's wedding lifesaver. I've tried to get better at each category, raising my perfection on each category to as close to 100% as possible. And so now I'm identifying my last few columns, the ones I've been putting off for a while now. So I'm going to start with beat-matching and eventually get into sound effects. One thing's for sure, training and practicing at home doesn't mean I'll be implementing these talents until I'm ready, really ready. And as with everything else, it might sound amazing to me all alone in my home but sound completely different live in front of a crowd. Well I can't wait to get started and fill you in on the details.
Until next time,