Why We Hire Talent with “No DJ Experience”

As I state in the beginning of my book, Running Your Multi-Op, I often feel like I am defending the concept of having a Multi-Op and building depth. On the chat boards and at DJ Conferences, it’s often a common theme to bash the big boys. Apparently our size makes us easy targets.

But as often as I’ve defended some of our practices, it still took me by surprise at this year’s Mobile Beat DJ Show and Conference when Mark Ferrell (in his day one seminar “Getting What You’re Worth 2.0”) showed some help wanted ads from various DJ companies (including one of my own) seeking people with “No DJ Experience.” Indeed, I’ve promoted this practice so much at my seminars and in my articles in The Disc Jockey News that I felt all eyes at the seminar turned to me when he was making his point (in fact two attendees have told me they did seek me out to see what my reaction was, which makes me happy to say I showed no outward emotion). Mr. Ferrell harped on this “no experience” fact long enough, (with the condescending disdain that he usually reserves for “bottom feeders”) that it was clear to me he doesn’t understand the process that we go through.

So for Mr. Ferrell, anyone who may have been in attendance at his seminar in Las Vegas, and any other DJs who may have seen a help wanted ad like this and not understood what I (and so many other DJ companies) are looking for, please allow me to explain:

We are seeking individuals who have a lot of the innate talents that will make them a good DJ and MC (out-going personality, well-spoken, good looking etc) but have never DJed before. What we aim to do, is hire individuals like this and then thoroughly train them to become MCs. This is a process that is not unique to our industry. When you think about it, anyone in their jobs, even someone who has reached the very peak of their chosen profession, started at some point with “no experience.” We don’t come out of the womb with the skills to be a great surgeon, computer programmer, or MC. Someone eventually has to teach you all the things that will prepare you to be successful.

This practice is much more time consuming than simply finding some DJs in your market who have some dates available in their calendars and booking them. But if you are interested in building a company that has consistent talent from top to bottom, and unique DJs who work exclusively for you, it is simply the only way to do it. I, and so many of the Multi-Op companies I network with, have intense, codified training programs that will take this “non-experienced” talent and turn them into awesome MCs. I’ve seen it happen time and again on my own staff as well as on the staffs of so many DJ companies.

But the thing that really boggles my mind about Mr. Ferrell’s consistent harping on the fact that we hire people with “no experience,” is that I know he loves this industry (he says so often in his seminars). And I know he wants to see this industry continue to grow and evolve and become respected (a task, by the way, that Mr. Ferrell said he has “failed miserably at” — personally I think he’s being too hard on himself. I’ve seen this industry grow leaps and bounds in the past decade and his “Worth Movement” can take a lot of credit for that). I share these traits with Mr. Ferrell and I’d argue that Multi-Ops like my own, who train and develop talent, are sowing the seeds of the next generation in this industry. Would Mr. Ferrell prefer that new DJs teach themselves how to MC, using the trial and error method that so many veteran DJs say they went through? Isn’t the next generation of DJs going to be better off having gone through proper training and education, just as a surgeon or computer programmer receives before they begin their own careers?

I have great respect for Mark Ferrell and I’ve told him before that he was instrumental in helping me get over the “thousand dollar hump” so many years ago. I have often sat in his seminars and felt the passion for his message like few other speakers can convey. This is precisely why this one topic confused me so much and why I felt the need to reply. He stated publicly in his seminar that he was bound to “piss-off” some Multi-Op owners. I can’t say he got me angry, just simply that he left me wondering if such a smart man could really have missed such an obvious point. No Multi-Op I know of looks for people with “no experience” and then sends them out into the field doing their own events right away. We all train and educate our newbies until they are truly ready to graduate to their own events. It’s a fact that Mr. Ferrell should be aware of. And if I may be so bold, a fact that he should even endorse. Where else is the next generation of Mobile DJ going to come from?

49 Responses to Why We Hire Talent with “No DJ Experience”

  1. As a completely neutral party in attendance, I didn’t see it as two adversarial messages, although Ferrell could’ve have done some more clarifying to ensure that.

    I DO know multi-ops that send people out with little/no regard to the experience level. Ones that do next to no training, and poison this profession. They give all of us a black eye. The no-shows, the brides horrible experiences, etc. It does happen.

    Now, it’s obvious in watching your seminar you are a true professional. And you actually changed my thinking on how I will handle ‘spillover’ from extra inquiries on dates I’m booked going forward. I don’t plan to be a 20 person multi, but I do plan to find two other DJ/MCs, and I will employ your methods (because quite frankly, you know your stuff).

    I can’t speak for Ferrell, I met him for the first time this trip. But as someone who was soaking in all the information, I didn’t see it as two diametrically opposed views.

    This is an industry of strong personalities. Hopefully, the two of you have a chance to have a chat. I know both of you have done much (so much) for this industry, and the new players in the industry have an incredible amount to learn from the both of you.

    • Thanks for your comments Rod. If Mark had offered a simple caveat that he was aware that some Multi-Ops train their DJs (I’d argue most but we can settle on some) then I and so many others in attendance would not have had the same confusion.

  2. Well said and articulated Mike. After listening to you and others I took the plunge into the multi op world this past year. We brought on two, “no experience required” DJ’s and PROUD to say they are working out beyond my expectations. We have created staff meetings, training sessions, networking meetings and ultimately have created 2 well rounded NEW emcees to our Talent Depth List. Finally, in my interview process I did a mock experiment to see the results. I had two online ads, one looking for DJ experience and one looking for no experience. The most pro active and eager group of candidates came from the no experience ad. I too appreciate what Mark has to say about our industry we love; however please do not mistake your (Mark) stage as a place to point a finger at others who are carving out new paths.

    • Thank you Brian. Great to hear the progress you are making. Please keep me in the loop and let me know how the training is going. I love to hear this stuff!

  3. Just curious, what was the context of showing these Help Wanted ads at the presentation? Mike, in reading your latest book, if anything I was impressed by the heavy dues that your DJ trainees must pay to learn the craft and the significant time before they get a shot to Emcee weddings.

    • Gregg the only context I really recall was that Mr Ferrell had turned his attention towards Multi-Ops. His point that so many of us ask each other “how many systems do you have” was actually funny and poignant all at once. I’ve made the same mistake from time to time although I think more often than not I talk about “talent” or “DJs”. So I’m not opposed to criticism. This just seemed misguided or uninformed

  4. Mike,

    I have upmost respect for both you and Mark. But what I think here is a misunderstanding and point taken personally.

    First, I’m sorry to tell you this, but there ARE multi-ops out there that DO hire anyone that walks in the door and can fog up a mirror, trains them for a week, IF THAT, and then sends them out to do weddings.

    His issue was that it takes TALENT AND TRAINING to be able to effectively perform for an event. If you take their talent and nurture and grow it through training BEFORE they’re sent out, that’s a far cry from hiring someone and sending them out within weeks or even days.

    I talked with him today, and he talked about cosmetology school where you can go and get your hair cut for cheap – by a student. But there are multi-ops who send their students out unprepared and untrained claiming them to be just as trained as ‘anyone else’ at the company.

    He also made a point of a ‘livable wage’ for DJ’s that work for multi-ops. There are multiops that pay their DJ’s as contractors – $25/hour as a subcontractor but only for performance. Which means the DJ will come to the multi-ops office, pick up gear, drive up to 45 minutes, set up, perform, tear down, drive 45 minutes back, and then unload equipment. A 4 hour wedding means the DJ gets paid $100 – basically on a 1099.

    Another pays them as employees a low hourly rate. How low? I’m not sure but they’re STILL doing wedding show specials of $295 for a wedding.

    You see Mike, there ARE DJ’s that don’t run their business the way you do. There ARE DJ’s doing EXACTLY what you’re saying YOU don’t do.

    And might I suggest something? Why not talk with Mark about his comments? Ask him what he means… I suspect you took offense at something that you shouldn’t have…


    • You’re missing the point. Mike is fully aware that some multi’s dont train, but there is no evidence to support the logic that single ops can do a better job with zero training.

      Mark may be clueless to the fact that planking is not a current fad, but he knew he was stirring the pot. Do you really think he just happened to search for a Craigslist listing in New Jersey because he was listening to Bon Jovi while working on his presentation?

      Mark’s folly was to confuse experience and talent. Someone can have both (Kobe Bryant) but you aren’t going to trade me Derik Rose for Manu Ginobli because Manu has more experience dribbling a basketball. I have a DJ with a year of training and a ton of talent wo makes more than 80% of the Dallas DJs.

      How do DJ rates go up to $2,000 for average talent? More real talent entering the industry. Subtract some egos and add some talent and watch the prices paid rise above broccoli.

      Mike didn’t say he got his feelings hurt or was mad. He was simply giving his perspective to a hot topic at MBLV, and really he was correcting a misconception that occurs when painting with a broad brush.

    • Ed thanks for your comments. I can’t really say I took offense as much as I felt the need to clarify. I am well aware that some Multi-Ops are gig whores and will send anyone with a pulse out to do events. I am also aware of single-ops who go out for next to nothing, don’t maintain their equipment because they only do a handful of gigs a year and this is more of a hobby and who tell prospective clients they are just as good as we are at half the price. But when I talk publicly about these folks I am clear that they are the exception and not the rule.

      As far as reaching out to Mr Ferrell, if his comments were of a private nature to me then I would have handled it privately. But they were made in a public forum to a room full of DJs and so I felt the need to respond in kind. I don’t think either Mark or I are personally offended but his comments or my reply. It’s simply a matter of a public disagreement that if anything, I hope shines a light on the fact that Multi-Ops (on a whole) are not the big bad boogie man that we were painted as during Mr Ferrell’s seminar

  5. Mike,

    As always, you make great points.

    Unfortunately, I did not attend this year’s conference in Las Vegas, so I can only respond to your comments.

    For the past 23 years, I’ve watched our profession, and while Mark may have a valid point about SOME multi-ops, he’s painting with too wide a brush and I would argue, as you did, but even stronger, that most single ops receive NO training, while most multi-talent company employees receive at least some training.

    I do have one bone to pick with you…

    This sentence, “Would Mr. Ferrell prefer that new DJs teach themselves how to MC…” is, in my opinion a major obstacle to our ongoing training. One does not either learn nor teach themselves “to MC.”

    As you know, MC is short for Master Of Ceremonies, and is a noun, not a verb. There is so much more to being an outstanding MC than speaking on a microphone, and therefore, at this time, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to ask for an ongoing push for industry leaders like yourself to use the correct terminology. You can learn microphone skills without ever learning the first thing about being a Master Of Ceremonies, but once you learn the skills required to be an MC, the rewards will follow, no matter how those skills are learned.

    Thanks for continuing to lead and raise the bar!

  6. Personally, I don’t feel that Mark was in any way directing his comments toward you, your company or any other multi op that follows your style of operations. I have also said, that I think that poorly run multi ops are one of the biggest problems in our industry. However, I ALWAYS follow that comment with a statement that businesses that follow Mike Walter’s materials and business models are not included in that opinion.

    The way I took the point in Mark’s presentation was that people outside our industry that are not interested in becoming trained DJ’s read an ad like that and wrongly think that DJ’s need no experience to work as a DJ.

    I also think you should speak to Mark directly about how this was taken by some people at MBLV.

    Thank you for all you do to constantly improve the quality of DJ’s everywhere.


    • Thank you Alan. I certainly don’t expect to be singled out individually when people are talking about unprofessional Multi-ops because I am by far not the only one. I’ve had the opportunity to consult with many Multi-Ops through the years who run incredibly professional organizations and who care not just for their own companies but for the industry as a whole. As I’ve stated before, a simple caveat by Mr Ferrell would have cleared up the confusion. But without it, he was left looking either uninformed or inflammatory, take your pick.

  7. Mike, I didn’t get the impression that Mark was attacking you personally. I actually saw your showcased ad and gave a personal applause. It’s hard to teach someone people skills, or the natural instinct of being able to lead a conversation based on the other persons reaction. DJ skills can be taught. so the fact you take those with natural people ability and teach them to MC/DJ should receive applause. It develops and grows this industry while creating jobs in a good way. Kuddos!

  8. Mike, I thought your reply is totally justified and nesesary to set the record straight.

    Totally agree with Randy that Marks statement was too sweeping. Although still hold Mark in high regard.

    You made a point about our industry and where new blood is coming from. I totally agree, out industry is getting old. A glance round MBLV this year and it was easy to see the average age is worryingly old.

    Keep up the good work and look forward to learning more from the Yoda of Multi Op

  9. Playing Devils Advocate. We all know Mike runs a fabulous company and has raised the bar. I did not attend the seminar, but if he mentioned Mike by name I think that was a poor example especially for people that know Mike.

    However, there are many poor performing Multi Ops out there. In fact Mike is the exception to the rule. We have thousands of bad Single ops today because of the recruiting that Multi Ops do. People that never would have entered the business are recruited, poorly trained and they eventually go off to start their own really bad company. Companies like the Pros and DJ USA as an example. I have 2 or 3 competitors in my area that came from these companies and they are constantly undercutting my area. One guy in my area offers Uplighting, Plasmas, Text Message Live, DJ SService and Photobooths for $1295.00.

    I know Mike took it personally and I would have too but I think there is some good that can come from this. There is always opportunity if both sides are open minded and let their guard down a bit.

    • Bob
      Thanks for the response but I am BY FAR not the only exception to the rule. Do your homework before you make a statement like that please. I am aware of 50+ Multi-Ops that IMO do things the right way and are furthering the reputation and respect of our industry. And that’s just the ones I’m aware of. Every town has a couple of bad apples (Multi as well as Single Ops). Let’s not make assumptions based on the lowest common denominator.

  10. Mike,
    I am extremely saddened to see this post about Mark Ferrell’s seminar at Mobile Beat. The most obvious reason being, that I have such great respect for Mark Ferrell. Though I have never met him personally, I have seen him speak and so many of my colleagues hold him in such high regard. My first thought is that it is unfortunate that someone with such amazing communication skills was not able to accurately articulate his exact meaning in this situation…especially in such a grand scale of an event (such as Mobile Beat). He, in all honesty, may not have meant for his words to be perceived this way.

    However, if I am wrong, and it was his intention to be so hurtful to multi-ops in general, I am shocked and disappointed. It may be in multi-op owners best interest to contact him and ask him directly. Might be best to hear it “straight from the horse’s mouth”.

    I, for one, owe Mike Walter and his Book, DVD, and seminar education so much. He has given me the ability to take my company to the next level and provide for my family in a way that I thought was never possible. His materials have shown me how to grow my business and train my staff to become the most awarded disc jockey company in our market.

    Yes, I agree 100% that I would rather hire a new staff member with No Experience, and train them to do things the correct way. Training is the KEY! I realize that there are many other large multi-op services that provide little to no training for their staff…but it is just such a general statement to include everyone.

    How wonderful would it have been if Mark would have mentioned that there are exceptions to the rule. That if anyone was interested in growing their muti-op service and training their Disc Jockeys and MCs in a totally professional manner…Mike Walter’s materials are a great place to start the process. It would have been wonderful to recognize that there are some folks within the industry that are an exception. That there is someone in the industry that is doing things the correct way, always sharing their, knowledge and always ready to lend a helping hand to colleagues in need.

    Am I personally responsible for my company’s success because I made the effort to make it happen? Yes, by the Grace of God! However, it has been Mike Walter and several other Multi-Op company owners that have given me the guidance I needed to produce a quality product. Other than being a good friend to them, I wish that there was something on this Earth that I could do to repay them for all that they have given me.

    Again, extremely saddened to hear about this.

    • Thanks for the very kind words Steve. The friendship Kelly and I (and my parents) have developed with you and Lori is something we all cherish.

  11. I respect Mark for his general message. I know his intentions are to raise the bar for the DJ industry and he has done a fabulous job at that. There are BOTH single ops AND multi ops alike that support this movement. At the same time, there are single ops and multi ops that bring the industry down.

    We all must remember not to unintentionally cast either group as the “bad” guy. There are bad apples in each, but there are also great ones in each.

    We, like Mike, are a multi op that does not hire DJs with any experience. We find DJs with “experience” take significantly longer to train to become great MCs and DJs.

    I encourage Mark to be more selective and sensitive when choosing his examples. I know he doesn’t intend to offend or alienate his biggest supporters.

    • Thanks Beau.

      I wouldn’t be so presumptive to say you “know” Mark doesn’t intend to offend. He’s an incredible public speaker and I’ve heard him say in the past how much he prepares for his seminars so it’s not like something he might blurt out without much thought behind it. If he wanted to include a caveat (and again, not about me and my company or my training program but about SO MANY Multi-Ops) then he would have and the whole weirdness of that moment would have passed. But as he said He was expecting to “piss-off” some Multi-Ops as if we’ve somehow become the problem or the blockade keeping DJs from making a livable wage. I find that kind of statement or assumption to be so blatantly inflammatory not to mention so far from the truth.

  12. Mike,

    I was one of those people who turned to look at your reaction when Mark Ferrell put your want ad up on the screen (without naming you of course) along with the other want ads to “prove” his point of “how can we expect the public to respect us if we don’t even respect ourselves?” I was impressed that you kept your cool…but I wasn’t surprised.

    As I told you the next evening, I thought Mark was trying to make a point that was unneccessary to his case and he went about it entirely the wrong way.

    Now…having said all of that…I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he most likely didn’t even know one of the ads was yours and I also think it is highly probable that he was unaware of WHY you prefer to train your new DJs from the ground up rather than try to re-train experienced DJs who will probably need to un-learn some bad habits. The reason I am giving him so much slack is because I cannot remember the last time (dare I say the first time?) I saw him attending one of your seminars.

    I have attended your seminars several times over even though I have NO desire to ever become a multi-op owner. Why? Because I have a huge amount of respect for you as a friend, as a fellow professional, and as a fellow presenter. You are hands down one of the most confident, prepared, and polished presenters the DJ industry has to offer.

    Even if all I learn from watching you is how to present my own seminars more effectively…it is worth my time to attend. But the truth is, I always find my thinking challenged and expanded when I attend one your seminars. Why Mark doesn’t make a habit of being more informed about this industry by actualy attending great seminars like yours is not mine to answer.

    So I’ll simply end with this. I believe Mark was un-informed about that ad being yours and about your policies behind the “no experience needed” portion of the ad.

    There were much better ways to make his points in my opinion…but like the rest of us…he only knows what he knows. We are all unconciously incompetent on some level in our professions and our lives.

    • Peter thanks For weighing in. You know how much I respect your opinions on this and so many other topics.

      Again that fact that one of my Help Wanted ads was used is not really the point. It’s the overall message that we Multi-Ops hire with No Experience and the implication that that is somehow one of the reasons this industry is struggling or that some DJs are struggling to make a livable wage. Those are the dots that I am having a tough time connecting.

      And also Peter, thank you for attending so many of my seminars. I know the material is not very topical for you and I also know you’ve seen a lot of it over and over (although I do my best to freshen it up). I believe if you want to be a leader in this industry your knowledge of all parts of this career should be well-rounded. Obviously you do as well. And it means alot to me when I look out to the audience and see you sitting there. Thanks!

  13. Some great points made on here. Personally, I have no desire to run a multi-op, but if I did, I would want to hire someone with no experience so I could train them they way I wanted them to be. They would also have to be able to lift, because if I am training them, they will be carrying my gear for me! LOL

    I am sure that providing training is why you word your ads the way you do. I also agree with Peter and have said from time to time, that we ALL suck at something to some degree.

  14. I can’t write in depth as the rest of you and perhaps I can later, I’m on my iPhone. The flip side to this is how to be the flagship standard against the companies who do recruit the “no experience” individuals and then they put these innocent misled people out into a market that over time hurts the very industry we’re all trying to improve on so we attract and educate a more premium clientele.

    We have this very problem here in Baltimore with a local large company yet I keep to myself as many of the more premier veterans do and like all of us have revamped a thing here and a thing there. What kills me are the people that don’t follow this simple professional standard, it’s like a cancer amongst what we’re trying to accomplish and for the best of the very people who seek our talents: the would-be client, bride, or party goer.

    • Canaan

      I agree what you talk about is a problem but what I don’t understand is how anyone has a problem selling against these companies esp when it comes to weddings. Any Multi-Op that sends out untrained and inexperienced DJs is going to have to have a low price because they’ll have zero reputation for quality. I can see losing lower end gigs to a company like this (like a backyard graduation party for example where someone wants to spend $300) but a wedding? A wedding where the bride and groom care about quality?

      At Elite when we lose a wedding client 9 times out of 10 it’s to one of my local competitors who are around the same price point and are known for their quality and the couple just connected better with them. The low end Multi Ops or Single Ops rarely even come into the conversation. We compete with them around Communion Party time in May or graduation time in June.

  15. Mike, I feel (felt) your pain. As someone who used to run a mid sized multi-op, how else do you cast a wide net to try to find that diamond in the rough, that one in one hundred personality without saying…. No Experience Required. In my past business, if you have two candidates for a DJ position, both with great personalities, but one has some experience and the other has zero… the one with zero experience would almost always land the job, for reasons you already know. (bad habits)

    I am sure Mark had his reasons and I can only guess that maybe it had something to do with “public perception” or with the idea that our industry lacks some sort of “standards” or “credentials” to be a DJ.

    This is still a “people first” business. Our backgrounds, personalities, work ethic, charisma, and style is the foundation of what we do. Who we are as people matter. The people we hire matter. Everything else comes in second.

    Mike, knowing some of the Elite Staff personally and NOT knowing a thing about what they do professionally as a DJ or even the specific training you have put them through, the folks you have working at Elite are truly amazing, interesting, beautiful people.

    If anything else, that speaks volumes on your incredible success.

    • Jamie
      Your point about standards is actually ANOTHER reason someone like Mr Ferrell should endorse what Multi-Ops do with training new DJs. Anyone can buy a sound system, download some music and call themselves a DJ. But in the structure of a Multi-op that’s not the case. My DJs have to go through my training program and I do have standards that have to be met and I don’t graduate everyone. You actually have to pass a few tests along the way and I have held DJs back and forced them to repeat my training till they met my standards. And again I’m not alone so this isn’t a “see how great I am” conversation it’s a “see what Multi-ops do so WHY would you bash us for this” conversation

  16. I’m very glad to see that you took the time to write this article and EXPLAIN the reasoning behind hiring DJs with “No Experience”. My heart stopped for a moment in that seminar as I automatically knew that was your ad that was being put up on the screen as you have shown that ad quite a few times in several of your seminars and even told others that they could use the same verbiage. Just like you – I too stayed cool when I heard this in the seminar BUT it did take me by surprise. I was very confused why so much EMPHASIS was put on this topic without mentioning that there are plenty of exceptions to the rule.

    I have taken Mark’s “MC Workshop” and also heard the GWYW message many times. That message was a big factor in helping us get our (the MULTI-OP that I own) rates up above the $1000 mark just like yourself. The rates that my company commands is 2-3 times the market average (more than the other multi-ops or even single ops in the area). I thank Mark for helping me realize what we are all worth and helping us earn a livable wage. Our rate structure is based on not only creating a livable wage for myself as the owner but also for our MCs so that they can be successful with the amount of money they take home.

    Mark was a big reason why we began to raise our rates but YOU (Mike Walter) have been the MAIN REASON why we now have awesome talent on our team. About half of our MCs had experience before working with us and the other half we hired without any experience and WOW they are doing great. Just because we list “NO Experience” needed in an ad does not mean that they will make it to MC level, it just means that we are willing to find the next superstar out there that has not been given a chance to shine yet. When we hire someone, we do like YOU (Mike Walter) taught. We put them to work as a roadie/assistant. They are NOT allowed to touch the microphone and they are JUST a sidekick and are shadowing our lead MCs. They must do this for 6-12 months and then if they have shown signs of true potential then we invite them into our training course. Once they begin training, NOT EVERYONE PASSES. We are very strict in who we allow to graduate. We don’t pass someone just becuase we want or need extra entertainers. If they don’t make the cut in training then they don’t get booked as an MC. The training takes another 4 months and so by the time they DO become an MC, they DO have experience (from practicing in class every week and shadowing our other lead MCs at every event).

    Heck look at some of the big pop stars out now that made it on American Idol or America’s Got Talent. Should they have not been given a chance?

    – Heck, why even allow newbies to attend the DJ Conventions heck those rookies with “NO EXPERIENCE” will just be in the way of those of us who really have good questions to ask the presenters, so why let those “inexperienced” people even come and share in the knowledge. Hmmmm we also probably shouldn’t let brand new DJs join the DJ Associations as the group should only consist of solid “experienced” entertainers. OHHH that’s righttttt, we allow those with “NO EXPERIENCE” to come and share in the knowledge because that’s the only way they are going to learn. It’s better for them to learn from EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONALS instead of trying to learn on their own and making many mistakes in the process.

    I respect both you and Mark but I do wish he would have included you in his speech and used you as an example of how a Multi Op CAN be a good thing. Instead the message I think the audience got was, that Multi Ops are evil and they all are ruining the Industry by hiring those without experience (even though they could very well be hiring the next superstar in our industry). Heck you didn’t have experience in the Mobile DJ field before you started with Star DJs and look at you…. I think most people would say that you turned out pretty good – so thank goodness Star DJS took a chance on YOU! Without you and your teachings, there are many multi-ops across the country that may just be doing it the way Mark was implying but thanks to you that’s not the case anymore with a number of companies in the USA now. Keep on doing what you do best, thanks for all of your help!!!

    • Brian thanks so much for the thorough response. I am proud to see your evolution and am happy to be one of the factors in your success.

      The only area I disagree with you in is where you say Mr Ferrell should have used me as an example. I wasnt looking for a spotlight and to be held up as an exception. The point is there are TONS of exceptions out there in fact I would guess that the Multi-ops who send out inexperienced and untrained talent are the exceptions.

  17. This is such great dialogue to be having! We need to realize how unproductive arguing single-op vs multi-op is to our cause and move forward. As Beau mentioned, painting one group as the bad guy has zero benefit- you can be a bad DJ on either side.

    Peter’s suggestion that we take a wholistic approach when learning about our industry is spot on! Go learn from people who are successful even if it’s just to learn what makes them successful. Listen to Big Daddy talk about Mitzvahs even if it’s not your thing- his energy is so infectious!

    Once we focus on changing what matters to the client, then everyone (single and multi) will see rates move in a direction that puts our value above broccoli.

  18. Mike,

    You were remarkably gracious in your response.

    I was close enough to the screens to see that at least two of the “no experience” posts explicitly stated that they train.

    For the record, we audition 200 people per year and select about a dozen to go through a two year process that includes 20 weeks of classroom, to net 2-3 actual certified MC’s that we’ll entrust with a client’s event. “no experience needed”, but personality, intelligence, wit, music knowledge and dedication REQUIRED to be DEMONSTRATED.

    It was sad to see Mark blow such an incredible opportunity to inspire such a large captive audience. In my opinion this was not “GWYW 2.0” but rather “GWYW 1.03 – the retread”.

    I am grateful to Mark for his past contributions, but utterly disappointed he brought nothing new to the table this time turned off my staff by “scolding everyone for 90 minutes” (their words, not mine).

    I hoped they would be inspired to participate in whatever training he might have coming up. Needless to say, that ain’t happenin’.

    I went into this seminar telling my guys how eager I was to hear the guy who most publicly began to stretch DJ’s perceptions of themselves. I walked out praying my staff didn’t think this was the best our industry had to offer.

    God bless you, Mike, for proving the next day that YOU are the person we can look to to see where the “bar” is, and what’s possible in this field.

    • Miles,
      Wow thanks man for the incredibly kind words. Your level of professionalism and your standards for your new talent is exactly what I am talking about. This post is not about “why didn’t Mr Ferrell single me and Elite Entertainment out as an exception?” Its about how there are SO MANY exceptions out there that as I’ve said, I think we are the rule and the Multi-Ops who do things wrong are the exception. But either way, I thinks its irresponsible of an industry leader to make such divisive statements especially in the face of a huge amount of evidence to the contrary.

      And thanks for the compliment on my seminar. Ive put a ton of work into this new seminar and it was very rewarding to hear some compliments after I was done. Thanks!


  19. I was not there for the presentaion. I wish I had been. Knowing you as well as I do, You have handled yourself with class. Hearing what was said, It was a widespread sweep of all multi ops. I have watched in amazement at all of your seminars about finding your next GREAT dj. I see the training, I see the results. AMAZING!!! There are so many single ops that have taken your advice and become Multis. While Mark was not singling you out, He did not bring to light the Good side of Multi Ops!!! Keep doing what you do my friend. The DJ world is a much better place with people and TRAINERS like you in it!!! BDLY!!

  20. Mike just to set my record straight, of course there are 50 plus good multi ops, these are the exceptions to the rule. There are far greater number of bad ones out there. In my area here in Rhode Island there are 100s of Multi Op companies, and I can only think of 1 that I’d even chance recommending.

    • Bob
      Again is this perception or have you done market research?

      And even if your numbers are correct, 50+ certainly is enough to deserve a mention during a seminar that is belittling one end of our industry. Something simple like “now I know there are plenty of exceptions to this…”. That’s it. Something that simple and quick. Especially when you claim (as Mr Ferrell does) that he loves this industry and everything he says comes from that love for our industry. Makes me think of the Paul Simon song “Sure Doesn’t Feel Like Love.”

  21. Mike,

    I think you have addressed this with remarkable grace and represent the Multi “Talent” segment of our industry as well as anyone can. I, like so many others, have a great affection and friendship with Mark. He is a great friend and we have had many opportunities to discuss this one vs. one over the years. I’ve been his house guest and we’ve shared long car rides across southern California. So, the discussions have been in depth… It’s long been my believe that there may well be 4 segments to our industry: 1. Single Ops (upscale and talented) 2. Single Ops (talentless and under trained) 3. Multi “System” Operators (talentless and under trained) 4. Multi “Talent” Operators (upscale and talented).

    Mark singled out Multi “System” operators. Elite is NOT among those, but Mark failed to be specific, maybe on purpose to stir the pot… He knows I would take offense too, but he knows what I’ve endeavored to accomplish as a multi…

    I would make a case to Mark the Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic also prefers to hire personnel with little to no experience (like virgins) so that he can mold them and train them the “right” way from their beginning. THAT is what you do and I would say that model works outside the DJ profession, so it will work inside it as well.

    There does have to be an entry level position for DJs. There has to be training; beginner and advanced level training.

    So, this is a great discussion. It’s informative and would’t it be a fun seminar IF staged as a “Great Debate” for the purpose of showing that both ways are good, and both ways can be bad when TRAINING is absent!

    You and Elite are wonderful examples as are many unmentioned multi ops. And I agree that there are a lot more good multi ops now than 10-15 years ago. Mark should be proud of that fact simply because I would say “multis” have a significant influence on our respective markets when WE improve our talent and raise our rates! That puts much desired pressure on those who lack adequate training and furthermore helps DJs like Jim Cerone, Peter Merry, Bill Herman and others raise their rates more easily.

    Nice response, Mike.

    • If “Stirring the pot” and “starting a great discussion” are really the mans goals and he’ll make claims that he knows are patently false or at the very least too broad in their assumptions, then doesn’t that cast everything he says in doubt?

      • I don”t think so. When a ball player strikes out it does’t cancel out all his prior home runs…

        I did not agree with how Mark presented his seminar this time. He could have done it differently and better, but he missed at the level I expected him to perform at. He simply was not “on” as I have grown accustomed.

        If Mark stopped a couple of unqualified and inexperienced single ops from going multi BEFORE learning how to do it right, he may have done more to help promote your brand of training and your model of business that IS successful and reputable.

        Many of us know he simply could have performed better. I really enjoyed your seminar and the timing of it allowed you to respond and I think you did so with class!

  22. Hello Mike,
    I could not attend the MB show this year, so I cannot comment on Mark’s seminar. However, over the years I have become very close to Mark & Rebecca Ferrell and their commitment and passion for the success of the industry cannot be overstated.
    I truly believe he was referring to how some multi-op’s hire DJs and contract them out with no training rather than contrast companies that do. Ie: for you, no fault no penalty. I have also attended several of your equally passionate seminars and even purchased your training program even though I’m NOT a multi-op. I also respect you and your commitment to industry training and admire your conviction to the cause.
    As a teacher, I do agree it is easier to start from scratch when teaching someone rather than repair bad habits burned into their memory.
    Any way you look at it, it is a plus for us even to be discussing this topic because we all agree on one thing… Training is a GOOD thing.

    Jody Litten
    Enchanted Nights Entertainment
    Newark, Oh

    • Thanks Jody for a great response. I agree that if the end result of this is that we can all agree that Training is a good thing, then that too is a good thing. I just think Mr Ferrell could have made that point from the stage instead of making all Multi-Ops look bad. I know plenty of single ops that should up their game considerably and who charge ridiculously low rates and do nothing to stay up to date with their knowledge of the industry etc. They hurt or industry just as much as Multi-Ops who use bad business practices do. But as much as I encourage people to build depth and grow their companies, I would never make blanket statemtents about single ops because I know it would be false.

    • Wonderful response, Jody.

      Training is a GOOD thing. Mike and Mark are both uniquely qualified and skillful at “training.” Mark could have defended or endorsed a few multi ops who are known for their reputable, talent strong performances and training programs, but he didn’t for some (his) reason. Would that have diluted his message? Maybe. The fact that there is some blogging and conversation following his controversial (blanket) statements would lead me to believe he was intentional and has a good intent or purpose for his choice of words!

      I’m pretty sure Mike and/or Elite was not the target, but his ad happened to be. I can see how that makes this a little bit personal for Mike and I appreciate is passionate support of those multi ops who are trying hard to do it well.

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