Being a DJ looks like a lot of fun. If you show me someone who never dreamed of being a DJ, I’ll show you a liar.
Sure, everyone wishes they spending their weekends setting the dance floor on fire with some jams. What you don’t see is the work behind the scenes; all the hours of preparation that make that unforgettable night possible.
Thankfully, I’ve known a successful DJ for a very long time. In fact – he’s my cousin!
Matt Feehan is the owner of GCS Studios, which provides DJ’ing services for weddings and functions in New England. Got some singing talent? There’s a full professional studio for audio production as well.
Matt has built his business on a passion for music, killer customer service, and a lot of sweat equity. I helped him with his gigs for a couple of summers and believe me… there’s plenty of sweat equity involved. Thankfully, the customers always left with a smile.
Have you ever considered being a DJ? Breaking into DJ’ing may be easier than you think. Here’s an inside peek at what it takes to be successful one.
Breaking into DJ’ing
Matt earned a degree in Business Administration at Plymouth State University, planting the seeds for controlling his own destiny in the business world.
“I knew I wanted to own my own business after college,” Matt said. “I wanted to leverage my Business degree and solidify a job in corporate America while also building up my business on the side.”
Having a side business or a “side hustle” is a popular thing to do these days, but how does somebody get into DJ’ing in the first place?
For Matt, it was a natural transition. “My Dad used to DJ gigs on the weekend when I was a teenager and he brought me along for some of them to gauge my interest,” he said. “After tagging along for a couple of events, I knew this was something I could thrive at with patience and practice.”
Being a DJ isn’t your typical profession; you’d be hard pressed to find a (good) DJ that doesn’t love what they do. As Matt will tell you, DJ’ing isn’t about a transaction of a service for a fee – it’s about creating experiences that people will remember.
When asked why he ultimately decided to commit to DJ’ing, he said: “I wanted to share my love and passion for music with people.”
The real life of a DJ
When you think about being a DJ, what do you think about? Let me guess… Dancing, right? How about parties? Thought so.
The real work that DJs do is behind the scenes. Before the lights go on and the music starts bumpin’, DJs are putting in hours of preparation to make the event one to remember. For GCS Studios, this work happens when Matt gets home from his full-time job.
During the week, Matt exchanges emails or conducts in-person meetings with the clients to go over their event details. Communication is crucial for any event, especially weddings. It’s important for the DJ to make sure that nothing goes overlooked and expectations are always aligned.
“You need to make sure you’re asking the right questions beforehand so that you’re setting yourself up for success,” Matt said. “In addition, always arrive early! Giving my clients peace of mind when it comes to the entertainment portion of their event is my number one goal.”
In preparation for his events, Matt:
- Reviews all communication with the client (emails and texts)
- Creates a cheat sheet/timeline for the event
“Preparation is huge in this line of business. If you go into any event with any doubt, you haven’t done your job.”
Depending on how many gigs he has on a particular weekend, Matt can spend anywhere from 5-30 hours working for GCS Studios during any given week. With around 25 weddings and 40 total events per year, that makes for quite the side hustle!
The future of GCS Studios
For countless weddings and events over the years, Matt was a one-man show. For someone with a full-time job, handling every single DJ’ing gig every single year can get tiring.
In order to book more events and grow the business while enjoying life, Matt wants to bring on 2-3 DJs over the next year. “I want to DJ less so I can enjoy more weekends with family and friends and transform into more of a mentor role for my DJs. I’ll train and provide my stamp of approval on all DJs that work for me so my customers know what to expect in terms of quality and brand from GCS Studios, LLC.”
Advice for becoming a successful DJ
Have you ever pictured yourself as a DJ? Are you wondering how you can make it in the DJ’ing business?
For Matt, “the most important lesson that I’ve learned is that being professional and personable goes a long way. You can’t just look at each event and contact as dollar signs to your business; that’s a selfish mindset. You’ve got to develop rapport and relationships with each of your clients before, during, and after your event. If you leave a positive and lasting impression on each of your clients, the chances that they hire you again or refer you to someone else is high.”
What most people don’t understand is that becoming a successful DJ is about more than knowing what to play and when. Although that’s also important, DJ’ing is a relationship business first and foremost.
It’s also not realistic to jump right into doing big events. Start with low-pressure events like birthday parties and work your way up to school dances, going up in age group as your skills progress. Before you know it, you’ll be ready for the big-time.
As Matt will tell you, it’s not easy establishing a DJ business. Would he do it all over again? You bet: “You’ve got one life to live so let this be your best life,” Matt said. “I sacrificed weekends, hangouts and parties early on because I wanted to set myself up for success and start developing good habits. You’ve got to start practicing good habits early on so that these become second nature.”
“This entire experience (owning my own business) has been a learning process. As they say, you live and you learn. It certainly has shaped me into the man I am today through all of the things I have been through, good or bad. You can’t be afraid to fail in life or in business and if you do, learn from it and bounce back (Big Sean voice). Period.”
If you’re planning on becoming the world’s next great DJ, here’s the equipment Matt suggests you get started with:
“This is a basic equipment list that will allow you to get through any type of gig. This may be a heavy chunk of change right off the bat, but with practice, exposure and a good brand, this can easily be made within the first month or two of booked gigs.”
So… are you ready to DJ? Leave any questions or comments below!
If you’re in the New Hampshire, Maine, or Massachusetts area, book GCS Studios for your next wedding/event!
All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.
Author: Josh Ramos
Josh has paid off $130k in student loan debt in 4 years. By founding Home at 30, he wants to help end the student debt crisis by helping students and young professionals make decisions that will reward them for a lifetime.