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?