Back in the 80s, a clever catch phrase took the business world by storm and, as often is the case with such things, it gets so overused that it loses its meaning and becomes a punchline. The phrase was about “thinking outside of the box.” We tend to think inside of boxes because that’s the way our mammas presented the world to us. “Would you like to wear your red jammies or your blue jammies?” It sets up a scenario where you must choose from the choices presented. Your mamma was pretty sneaky huh? A smart kid would counter with, “Well, I don’t want to go to bed. I want to be naked. I want to wear sweats.” There are almost always more choices than the ones presented.
In my past life in heavy construction in Los Angeles, I would always welcome employees who wanted to suggest new ways of doing things. Perhaps from their vantage point they could see something that I couldn’t or they have brought some expertise from a previous employer. If you are open-minded, you don’t have to be afraid of differing opinions. You can still keep your own opinion if you want to. At least you can hear and understand another and maybe you’ll be persuaded or maybe you’ll further confirm your confidence in your own way. I supervised about 15 people in a steel fabrication operation and my office was situated about 5 feet above ground level and from my window, I could see most of the operations and staff that I was to supervise. Sometimes, because of my vantage point, I could detect a mistake being made from 100 yards away. Because of my position as a department head, I also knew about cash flow and of the impact of each department on the others and because of this added knowledge and vision unavailable to workers I supervised, I made decisions accordingly.
Sometimes an employee would come in to complain about something or make a suggestion or ask for help mediating a dispute with a fellow employee. They would present their “side” or their idea and I might say that we do things this way or that way because of an OSHA regulation or a labor board rule. I might point out that the employee that they think is not pulling his weight is less experienced and is also making several dollars/hr less then you. When talking to an employee, I might describe the reasons we do things the way we do. There are circumstances that they may have been unaware of. I might present a couple of other options than the ones they are presenting to me to choose from or I may stroke my chin and think it was a brilliant idea and have it implemented and put a few hundred extra dollars in that employees paycheck that week if the idea had merit.
I might point out to them that there is more to the whole operation than their single operation. Often a single worker might forget what the end goal is. A truck driver might start to have tunnel vision and think that we are a trucking company. A steel bender operator might begin to think that we are a steel bending company. We made our money by installing reinforcing steel in concrete construction. We had trucks to help us place rebar, we had benders to help us install rebar, we had an office and all of its functions, to help us install rebar. Even the crews that actually install the rebar could become self important and forget that they would have no rebar to install if there weren’t others making cut lists, placing drawings, purchasing the steel, cutting and bending it, loading it and shipping it. There may have been operations that could have been done differently to the advantage of that single operation but to the detriment of the end goal which was to install rebar safely, correctly and quickly. All of the departments and operations should come together at a time and a place where rebar gets installed on a construction site and when that was done, the customer handed us some money.
What in the world does all of this have to do with a blog about the adventures of a travelling DJ entertainer? It’s about thinking outside of the box. Where does it say in the rulebook that the “uniform” of a DJ is an ill-fitting, tuxedo from the 80s with thread-bare and yellowed collar and cuffs? I say, “What rule book?” If somebody is doing things a certain way than for no other reason than “that’s the way we always do it” or “that’s the way it has always been done” Then you are doing it wrong. From a business standpoint, consumer tastes change, technology advances, government regulations require adjustments, expertise of the craftsman/artist advances, new methods or processes develop. If you don’t get with such advances, you get out of business.
I have several photographer friends who struggle with the fact that because of technology, lots of non-artists can enter thier craft/marketplace and call themselves photographers. It used to be that the price of a professional camera and the related equipment was a barrier to entry. That reality applies to DJs as well. It used to be that the guy that could afford the big sound system and the related equipment could be a DJ. Just about anybody can get a laptop or an ipod, steal music from the internet or a friend and call themselves a DJ now. There is brilliant software available to both photographers and DJs that make our jobs so much easier and such software is fairly inexpensive. I bring this up because for the last decade, I continue to hear passionate and sustained whining about it. One photographer continually drops names of mentor photographers or schools that they were trained at and dammit, they shouldn’t have to compete with soccer mom struggling with debt or husband’s loss of job etc. who decides that because she takes good snapshots, she can be a photographer.
Inexpensive and powerful tools and software are available photographers and musicians now- AND to the general public. It’s a market reality. Complaining about it won’t fix it. Song-writer, Tommy Shaw, from Styx, a favorite of mine says, “There ain’t no putting the smoke back in the fire.”
File sharing (pronounced “stealing”) services appeared in the 1990s and the recording industry was nearly decimated by it. They spent that decade fighting and threatening and alienating teenagers that should have become life-long customers of the recording industry. There is a whole generation of people that now think that music is free.
Another favorite artist of mine, Gary Numan, who was a big seller 30 years ago but sells just enough to make a decent living now notes that his releases are stolen 5 times to each 1 legal purchase. It saddens him philosophically and personally, but he realizes that it is a market reality. Rather than threatening his fans, he does his best to create value in a legal purchase. His last album was released in about 5 formats. A digital download, a traditional CD with a basic printed insert with a few liner notes and lyrics and photos, a deluxe version with some DJ remixes, a super deluxe with the CD, a code for a digital download of some exclusive songs alternate alternate versions, 12″ vinyl remixes, DVD of interviews and promotional videos, and a high quality coffee table book with photos and commentary and each super deluxe was hand numbered and autographed. He created value that couldn’t really be stolen digitally. He will often record HD video of his shows with three cameras and sell DVDs of certain shows that are better than bootlegs but not as good as a major video production might be of a live show. He leaves them raw and largely unedited- he’s not afraid to leave the mistakes in there. Most other “live” recordings by other artists are highly produced and edited and corrected and embellished for release.
Complaints about newbies entering… I started out too. I charged what I was worth. I made some mistakes. Had a few equip failures. Dinner first… ceremony after dark… candles etc…
Dont separate DJ from dancefloor- symetry Hard to connect on weekends