Buffalo, N.Y. — Brian Botens has branded his DJ business Beloved Entertainment, at once acknowledging the role that music can play on the most important days of our lives, while also differentiating himself in a crowded Buffalo market.
We asked Botens to explain how he went from solo op to multi-op and how he succeeds by diversifying his services.
DJ LIFE MAG: Beloved Entertainment…when did you start the company, and how do you differentiate it from your competition in Buffalo?
Brian Botens: I started as a DBA in 2006, but changed over to a corporation in 2012. There are many DJ companies in the Buffalo/Western New York area, so what we do differently than most is full-on event production. So, we’re not just DJ service, photo booth, and a little bit of lighting. We offer that, plus programmed light shows, LED video walls, digital projections, special effects, such as CO2 jets, haze, dry ice, cold sparks and much more.
DJ LIFE MAG: I see you do a lot of rentals – what went into that business decision? Are rentals a big part of your revenue?
Brian Botens: I have always been one to buy top-of-the-line first, so I don’t have to upgrade later. With that being said, over time, I became the one local promoter who you’d come to for DJ equipment for their DJs coming in from out of town. Whether it was a club gig, rave party, or tour date, many travelling DJs have requirements to perform, and I became someone that always had what they needed. In the last five to 10 years, this has become a big part of my business – especially the LED-wall rentals.
DJ LIFE MAG: You specialize in VJing – is that an upsell? How do you sell that?
Brian Botens: Actually, it depends. If you are referring to DJing with music videos, I don’t really use that as an upsell for the service. But I do charge additionally for the video screens, when needed. If the venue I am playing at already has screens and I just have to plug in, then there is no additional charge for it. The fact that I even have the ability to provide that makes me more of a commodity than most of the competition. But it also allows me to show my more creative side in my performances since I do my own custom video edits. It helps me stand out, which in turn helps book more gigs. Plus, I love doing it. So, I don’t feel the need to charge extra for that part.
Now if you are referring to VJing with just visuals for other peoples’ performances, yes, that is an upsell. When I rent out my video displays, most of the time the clients will need a video tech to play specific content. Most of the time, for our business anyways, this tends to be big DJs on tour that want their own visual content played on stage. I actually have built a team of video guys that can even handle doing this for me at the gigs where I cannot be there, as we are now doing multiple events in a day on most weekends.
DJ LIFE MAG: Playing nightclubs and bars – for you, how different is music programming compared to weddings?
Brian Botens: Much different. Weddings have a much more diverse crowd. For the most part, you are required to play a list sent from the bride and groom mixed with all the hits from the last three to five decades. Bars, I find myself playing a lot more hip hop, some old-school, but mostly newer-trending music for college crowds. Nightclubs, for the most part, are a lot of EDM/dance music. When people come to that type of environment in a nightclub, you are expecting they are there to rage.
DJ LIFE MAG: What’s in your gear set-up?
Brian Botens: For software, I use Serato DJ Pro. I use MixEmergency, the Mac app for VJs. I use Resolume Arena VJ software and media server. And I use SoundSwitch lighting-control software. I have a Macbook Pro from 2019. For my PA, I have Pioneer XPRS12 12-inch speakers and QSC KS118 18-inch subwoofers. My lighting lineup includes products from ADJ like the Inno Pocket Wash and the Pocket Pro – both are mini-moving-head fixtures.
DJ LIFE MAG: What’s your No. 1 revenue stream?
Brian Botens: Weddings, by far. They are usually a higher price tag than other events, but also we book a lot more of them. I would say concert production would be next in line, though. Not as many, but they are usually pulling in as much revenue as the higher-end weddings.
DJ LIFE MAG: Are you an entertainer or business owner first?
Brian Botens: That is a really good question, and something I never really asked myself. I have always been the entrepreneur type. I did start DJing as a hobby, just because I love to make people dance, and I love bringing people together through music. It just kind of developed into a business that I did not expect. I would say a couple years ago, I was an entertainer first because I mostly did everything myself, and stayed focused on the art. Now I am juggling a lot more with multiple employees, so I have had to take on more of a role as a business owner. Not sure if that answers the question, though, because I guess I am a lot of both.
DJ LIFE MAG: Where do you see your business in five years?
Brian Botens: I am still growing, and I would love to get a couple more solid wedding DJs on my team. I would like to cap off at five events per date. Any more than that, I feel like you are starting to sacrifice quality for quantity. We have clients raving about how well we operate, and how we are very organized and on-point. I know that the more you take on and the bigger you get, the more mistakes happen, and the more fires you will have to put out. I don’t want that stress for my clients or myself. I never got into this to get rich, so there is no need to get greedy.
DJ LIFE MAG: Any other goals?
Brian Botens: I am also looking to build a sound system that can handle much larger events. We are basically handling video and lighting production for some of the biggest events in town, but we are only equipped for doing sound for smaller events, such as weddings. I think in 2023, we will be looking for a building for office space.