About the Author
Jeff Harrison, a Washington, DC native, began his career there in the mid-1980s as an event promoter and disc jockey. Over the course of his career, he has worked for several of the Washington area's major DJ companies, as both a DJ and as a management figure. Jeff's musical knowledge encompasses Big Band (including the Rat Pack sound popularized by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, etc.); Oldies; Urban (including Hip Hop, House, etc.); Disco; Classic and Modern Rock; Top 40/Pop; and some Country, Latin and Reggae.
Jeff's personal DJ experience entails countless private functions, including some high profile events such as a party thrown for Motown-era singing legend, Smokey Robinson; and the official movie wrap parties for "The Pelican Brief" (Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington) and "Guarding Tess" (Shirley MacLaine and Nicholas Cage). He has also been the DJ for numerous Washington area nightclubs, and was an intern for a local radio station prior to graduating from The American University.
Additionally, Jeff worked for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the legal arm of the domestic music industry, where among his other responsibilities, he was frequently consulted on issues concerning the mobile DJ industry. Some of his expertise was put to use in the development of a licensing system that will eventually allow DJs to legally make second-generation compilation recordings. Jeff also worked as a producer/backup announcer for a local cable TV news program. Today, he still works and lives in the Washington, DC area.
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Page 1 of Chapter 1--The Basics: Some Background On DJs
There are primarily two types of DJs: private function and public function.(Radio DJs will addressed later.) Private function DJs, a.k.a. mobile DJs,commonly provide their services to events such as weddings and parties, whereas public function DJs commonly cater to events or venues such as nightclubs and skating rinks. These aren't exclusive definitions because many DJs enjoy the best of both worlds.
Since the primary focus of this book will be on comparisons involving nightclub DJs rather than skating rink DJs, before we continue, I feel that I should clarify the definition of "nightclub" as it applies to this context. This is because mentioning the word "nightclub" often evokes an image comparable to something from "Saturday Night Fever" in which the dance-floor is illuminated, and everyone is pretentious, body-pierced and attired in black. Yes, there are nightclubs like this; however, they're not the standard.
The nightclubs to which I'm referring are best defined as bars. They're often comparable to the set of "Cheers," the popular television series, in terms of atmosphere and decor, and are frequented by regular people who just want to have fun.
To the person unfamiliar with the professional DJ concept, it appears as though DJs set the music format themselves, when it's actually the people hiring them who do. Once the format is established, DJs choose songs from within those parameters. For instance, if a nightclub's format is Modern Rock, then the DJ will only play songs falling within the realm of Modern Rock. If a private function's format is Rap, then the DJ will only play Rap because that's what he or she is hired to play.