(Image by Callaway Gable)
The Ebell of Los Angeles is a social and philanthropic jewel in Los Angeles’ crown. The Ebell is host to Special Events, Weddings, theatrical productions, concerts, red carpet premiers and film productions. The complex has been owned and operated since 1927 by the Ebell of Los Angeles women’s club, which was formed in Los Angeles in 1894. Since 1927, the Wilshire Ebell Theatre has hosted musical performances and lectures by world leaders and top artists. It is the place where Judy Garland was discovered while performing as Baby Frances Gumm in the 1930s.The Glamour, The Elegance, The Legacy…The Ebell
How do you choose the DJs you use?
As a private events venue, we typically have event producers that orchestrate all the design and entertainment aspects of the event for the client, so we don’t often have opportunity to choose the DJs. We may have some opportunity to recommend event professionals (including DJs and entertainment) for wedding clients, though if they come to our venue already working with an event producer or wedding planner, we defer to the suggestions of their planner.
On that rare occasion when we are selecting the entertainment for a client’s event, the three main factors we weigh are style, purpose and budget. Does the style of the DJ (their presentation, their vibe, their professionalism) align well with the client? What is the purpose of the event? And of course, what is budgeted for entertainment? It may not make sense to hire a hot Hollywood club DJ whose killer at packing a dance floor for a corporate networking mixer of senior management on a Thursday night. Unless, of course, the client specifically states that the group loves to let loose on a dance floor and there is an expectation of that nightclub vibe. When reviewing budget, in every aspect of event planning, there is always the top question: what is the priority of the client? Whatever it is that is most prominent in their mind is where the top dollars get spent. If they express their vision with words that evoke mood (sexy, intimate, vibrant, happy, bright, refined…) then the top budget categories are likely to be lighting, décor and entertainment. Sometimes all the client can talk about is the menu and the bar options. Then the décor, lighting and entertainment have to enhance that priority, which may mean a lesser budget spent in a more encompassing way. There truly is an art to budgeting and guiding a client through that process. It all leads back to the client and their purpose for the event.
What is the most important factor for a DJ to get booked?
At the Ebell of LA, its required that the DJ has liability insurance. We love to work with event professionals that see the event as a team effort and are responsive to other’s aspects and needs so everyone has a successful event. Key example: decibel levels. Our clubhouse is situated in a neighborhood and though sound is contained well within our walls, once we pass 85 dB, we run the risk of intruding on our neighbors. We’ve had a fair share of DJs who will turn up the volume seconds after we’ve asked the sound to come down, in blatant disregard to the request. These tend to be newer DJs who haven’t yet expanded their professionalism to a strong degree, and some who have been in the industry for years and their healthy egos offer some shortsightedness of the big picture. Hey, we all want to perform to the best of our abilities, and some define that with their volume levels. The DJs we love having back again and again are the ones that ‘get it’ – they get that the request is valid even if they don’t know the specifics behind it. It could be the venue got a complaint from the neighbors, it could be that the bride’s grandparents are overwhelmed with the sound, it could be that the client’s boss is complaining that people can’t talk over the music – whatever the reason, respect the request. If it doesn’t make sense, ask questions and offer solutions.
Would you hire a DJ you didn’t know?
Possibly. We know so many really talented and gracious professionals, that it’s hard to imagine booking someone we didn’t already have some relationship with (even if it’s strictly from networking.) We have new DJs on property all the time having been hired by the client or event producer. It’s a great opportunity for us to see talent in action and collect information for future opportunities.
How should a DJ make initial contact with a potential client?
If you are defining “potential client” as a venue manager or events director, I would say the most effective way to make in-roads is to attend (and showcase) at networking events. We won’t recommend someone we can’t speak about, so even if all we can say was “they were awesome at this networking event we attended” that’s something. Another tool I find enjoyable and effective is to send mixes – either a CD or a link to a posted mix – and invite us to enjoy some music. I still play a poolside remix sent to me last year by a favorite DJ (and I blogged about, too – instant exposure to an even wider audience.)
How Important is Social Media in hiring?
I think it depends on the client and the goal of their event. If the event is supposed to drum up attention, then social media is a huge element for hiring. If it’s a private event, then not so much. Beyond the client’s needs and expectations and considering social media from a venue point of view – any opportunity to have photos or videos or mentions posted on social channels is free advertising, boosted SEO, and wider audience exposure. That’s always a consideration and reciprocated; we make efforts to do the same with tags and links to the participating vendors.
What tips do you have for DJs improve their chances of bookings?
Be helpful and be patient. As a venue director, each day is packed with to dos, meetings and requests from various clients, co-workers and management. If there is anything that can be done to help, offer. Just the offer will garner a lot of gratitude from the venue manager. In working out the details of a wedding ceremony, I had asked a DJ for his patience in the room changeover as our housemen would have to move the ceremony sound system at the same time they were flipping tables. He immediately offered to bring the ceremony sound at no charge so we could save the setup and teardown. Tremendously helpful and never forgotten; he earned my trust before he ever stepped foot on property and he remains high on my list of professionals to recommend.
(Image from AICP)
I hope this is helpful. Though it’s just my opinion, the key to any professional growth is the quality of the relationships we build. The better those connections, the more we want to help, and the more we enjoy our work; the more we give, the more we receive. Setting an intention of doing our best and being the best team member as possible goes tremendously far in our professional growth and the success of our businesses. We are in this together!
Melissa Kay Allen is Director of Marketing and Social Media at the historic Ebell of Los Angeles, a premier events venue and non-profit women’s organization in Los Angeles, California. After nearly a decade as the Ebell’s Special Events Director, Melissa shifted her passion for creating remarkable events into a focus on sharing the stories and moments that transpire within the Ebell: the celebrations, the membership, the philanthropic endeavors, and the preservation of this designated National Treasure. Melissa is a mother to two vibrant boys and is “Co-Pilot” of RocketStyle Creative, a social media marketing company launching this fall.