DJ LIFE sat down with mobile DJ Xavier Powell to discuss how the Jersey DJ masters customer service, wedding DJing, and more.
Hillsborough, N.J. – You might know Xavier J. Powell from his appearances at DJX — he’s spoken at DJ LIFE’s Atlantic City show the last two years about brand-building and sponsorships.
If you’ve missed his seminars, we talked to the owner of Sounds of Jersey and asked him about his journey, his customer service, and how to keep people from scrolling their phones at gigs due to boredom.
DJ LIFE: When did you start DJing?
Xavier Powell: In January 2012. However, I’ve worked in the music business since I was 16 years old. I’m talking about working at record labels, as an artist manager. I’ve done every aspect of the music business and DJing is my last hurrah per se in the industry. I’m having a ball out here. And so I still get to enjoy music without having to deal with the politics of the music business.
DJ LIFE: Tell me about the transition. When did you start realizing you could DJ and make some money?
Powell: Well, what happened was, a young lady saw me on the train heading from New Jersey into New York. And she remembered me when I was a radio personality – I hosted a party. She told me her daughter was getting married and looking for a DJ. I used to be a radio person, like almost the same thing as a DJ, but definitely not the same thing. But, it really intrigued me, so I bought equipment and I started watching DJs, going out listening to them. And not only that, but I’d listen to what music people responded to, what kind of drinks they were drinking… like what made them dance, what made them go on the dancefloor. I looked and just picked apart every aspect of the business part of it, and the psychological. So the transition was actually pretty easy because I’ve always been into music. That’s always been the passion for me.
DJ LIFE: First off, how did you get gigs?
Powell: Well, this is what I started noticing. One common thing about DJs is that as somebody would come up to a DJ booth at an event and say, “You’re a pretty good DJ – can I have your business card?” The DJ will say, “Oh, yeah, here’s my card, give me a call when you’re ready.” I’m not sure if it was just DJs being lazy, or this is what they were taught, or this is what they saw other DJs do so they decided to follow suit. But, to me, from a customer-service aspect, that’s terrible. And I looked at it like, “OK, I can do this much better.” So, somebody comes over to me and says, “Hey, listen, I’m about to have a party and I need a DJ – do you have a business card?” I would go on a hunt like I was a lion attacking a deer. I’d say, “What’s the date? Can you give me your email address?” And follow up from there. I’ve even taken deposits that way.
DJ LIFE: So tell me how are you generating gigs?
Powell: I’m gonna tell you a secret. One of the biggest ways that I generated gigs was going to open houses for catering companies. These some catering companies in Jersey will own or manage different venues. So, when they have an open house, I will go to the open house and set up lights. So, the people come in there and see the lights and come over after talking to the person about the food and the venue and be like, “Hey, you do lights? Do you DJ, too?”
DJ LIFE: What’s the sort of set-up of your company? Do you sub gigs to other DJs?
Powell: I do sub out to other DJs. I hire other DJs as well. A lot of times I’ll provide the service, the customer-service part and the DJ shows up with their laptop, and we make sure wires are not showing and the set-up is clean and precise. So, the client gets the best of both worlds — great customer-service to great sound, great-looking lights and everything in the DJ that they want. So, it doesn’t necessarily have to be me, as long as my company makes money. I’m happy for each of the company. Even though it’s my company, you know, the employee always makes less money. I don’t care, as long as the company makes money.
DJ LIFE: You do mostly weddings?
Powell: I do a lot of weddings. My weddings are probably my bread-and-butter because of how I do my weddings. Let me give you an example. I have a customer-service rep that’s in the parking lot that guides the guests for the reception. That’s the first thing they see coming into the parking lot. That’s where the customer experience begins. We tell them where to park, where the door is, etc.
DJ LIFE: What other add-ons do you do?
Powell: We also do how-we-met video. So, I interview the bride and groom separately and together and put together a video of funny stories of how they met. During the reception, it’s interesting. Nowadays people go to a wedding and lot of times they’re not a part of a couple — there’s more single folks, and they’re sitting at tables and really don’t know the other person’s family. Usually, they only know one side. But this video changes that. Now the guests are getting to know the other side a little bit better, and vice versa, all through the video. And so now people are not scrolling on their phones. They’re entertained. They got something to watch, something to do.
DJ LIFE: Anything else?
Powell: I also record their wedding vows and then add it to the music. When the best man does toasts and bridesmaids do their toasts, those are added to the music, and I put everything on a USB or CD or whatever they want – so, they’ll have a keepsake. There’s a lot of things like that. That’s what I do. And that’s what I give and I give it for free — although I’m expensive.
DJ LIFE: What do you use at gigs?
Powell: For me, I have a Denon MCX8000 controller with Serato DJ Pro software. I also have a Pioneer DJ RMX-1000 effects unit.
DJ LIFE: You’re doing corporate events?
Powell: Yes, but what I found now is that corporate has scaled back a little bit. However, there are things other than holiday parties, because most of time when people think of corporate, they only think about the holidays. But I tap them for when they need a DJ when they’re going on their retreat. So, now I get to travel. Everybody’s going for the holiday. So, when everybody else goes right, I go left.