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Mobile disc jockeys (or mobile DJs), also known in the United Kingdom as mobile discos, are disc jockeys that travel or tour with portable sound systems and play from an extensive collection of pre-recorded music for a targeted audience. There are a variety of mobile disc jockey business models, including full-time, part-time, multi-operator, and single-operator companies.
In the past, mobile DJ utilized formats such as vinyl albums (records), cassettes, or compact disks (CD). The craze originally started in the UK in 1966 when a young man named Roger Squire started an entertainment service in North London and coined the trading name "Roger Squire's Mobile Discotheques". (NB: the word "discotheque" means "record library" in French). He is credited as the very first person to coin the term "Mobile Discotheque." Within just two years, he had fifteen mobile discothèques performing at around sixty functions every week. His mobile discos entertained events attended by film stars and royalty as well as performing at countless numbers of college dances, wedding receptions and other social events. Over the next few years, huge numbers of copycat "Mobile Discos" then started up to emulate Roger Squire's successful formula. This was the swinging sixties dancing to the beat of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. It was the decade when London got its "Swinging London" reputation. Squire later set up a disco equipment supply service and sold disco sound and lighting systems to literally thousands of budding DJ s, both in the UK and abroad.
During the disco era of the 1970s, demand for mobile DJ soared. Top disc hockey in this era would play hundreds of vinyl records and 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 hockey still use vinyl, most mobile DJ s 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 Doing has allowed for faster set-up and break-down, as well as improved quality of performance.
Mobile DJs typically perform at various types of events including wedding receptions, bars, Bar Mitzvah receptions, company parties, school dances, anniversaries and birthday parties. Mobile DJs also perform in public at taverns, nightclubs and block parties.
In the 1980s and 1990s, mobile DJ's began to form and expand associations and create professional business networks, which now include annual trade shows and internet discussion forums. Today, many mobile DJ's also promote themselves as event planners, organizers and MCs (Master of Ceremonies). Working closely with their customers,guests and other vendors (such as venue staff and photographers/video graphs). Today's professional mobile DJs strive to provide quality entertainment that fits the event in question in terms of style and performance.
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 typical customer expectations when purchasing mobile DJ services.
Since the early 1990s, mobile DJs have raised the bar with organised professional trade shows such as the Mobile Beat Show in Vegas, NV and DJ Times Expo in Atlantic City, NJ. Seminars by numerous respected DJ's such as John Rozz, Ray "Ray Mar" Martinez, Stacy Zemon, Mark Ferrell, Peter Merry, Randy Bartlett, Steve Mood and many more have helped DJs to better understand their profession as well as running their businesses more professionally rather than treating it as a hobby.
By furthering their education at these trade shows combined with a number of books that have been written about this legitimate trade, the poor perception that mobile DJs have had by their clientele has dramatically improved. Mobile DJs who once were averaging $350–500 per four hour event in the 1970s, now on a national average for a wedding can command anywhere from $1,200-2,500 per four hour event. With the average being around $800.
The last decade ushered in an explosion of over the top Sweet Sixteen's’. With the MTV’s reality show My Super Sweet 16 as a catalyst. Halls across the US are filled every weekend with Big Sound , Interactive Mc’s and Light Shows that rival the most popular discos. Today’s Mobile Dj’s are called to task to put together major productions that require customization in every element of “her big night”. Teen brother Curtis and Christopher Panzitta ( www.MySuperSweet16.biz ) know firsthand the demand this has brought to the Northeast. As huge as the demand for qualified teen event dj’s is, the equipment list to bring a full production on the road to create a successful event, is more that most offer. From Large Screen Video, Fog , Light up Dance Floors, Glow Lights, Lasers, High End Dance Lighting, Custom Gobo’s, and Booming Sound. Today’s Sweet 16’s are setting the bar high for future generations.
The American Disc Jockey Awards Show was established and held in Las Vegas; since then, thirteen mobile DJs have been elected to the American Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. The thirteen members include: John Rozz, Al Lampkin, Joe Martin, Robert A. Lindquist, Jon Michaels, Mike Buonaccorso, Sid Vanderpool, Bobby Morganstein, John Roberts, Ken Knotts, Ray "Ray Mar" Martinez, Cesar Cosio and Bernie Howard-Fryman.
The 'DJ of the Year' winners at the DJ Times Expo include three-time winner Marcello Pedalino, Roxanne Greene, K.C. KoKoruz, Shawn "Big Daddy" McKee, Marz Lawhorn, Gerry Siracusa, Adam Weitz and Steve Moody. First Canadian take part of the competition in 2013. Pascal Levesque from Quebec, Canada was named 'DJ of the Year Runner-Up' and win 'Best Dance' award.
"A Different Spin", a riveting, behind the scenes exploration of the history of the Mobile DJ industry was released in September 2011. The author, Michael Buonaccorso, co-founded Mobile Beat Magazine in 1991, and created the Mobile Beat DJ Show and Conferences in 1997. The info and ideas presented in the book are the result of the author's day by day, year by year hammering away at making a career in the DJ world, first as DJ himself, then as a media and trade show professional with a higher vantage point than most on an entire industry.
With the advance of in-home sound systems, the expectation level of sound and lighting shows for concert, conventions and weddings has grown. L.E.D. Technology is the most recent light show technology that is available when hiring a DJ. Suggestions for hiring Mobile Disc Jockeys include request for referrals, approximate age of equipment, level of insurance, agreed upon and written contract with fees and agreement of electrical source. "The best DJ provides a seamless musical experience that is memorable and danceable" Steve Dodd
The best DJ also mixes music from one song to the next. This is done by beat matching, key mixing, and volume control. There may also be effects used in creating a transition from on song to the next. Many software products include a beat matching button, which requires no mixing skills needed for the DJ. These software products include Virtual DJ, Traktor, and Engine. There are also products that do not offer this "beat match" button, one of these products is Serato Scratch Live. Serato is an industry standard in both the club and mobile DJ level. Others are mentioned earlier like Virtual DJ, Traktor, and Engine. Ken Murphy