My P.O.V. on Connect Music Licensing (formerly the AVLA)

Ladies & Gentlemen, I seldom wade into the topic of the AVLA (now Connect Music Licensing). This will be the most you’ll ever get from me on the topic. Take what you will, leave the rest. Just know that my points of view on this matter have been essential in allowing me to focus my time and energy where my business needs it most.

Many… many… MANY… people waste far to much breathe on the matter of what is now known as Connect Music Licensing. I say this, because I sincerely value your time. Maybe more then you do. I believe your time is far to valuable to write thoughts all day long (although some have been writing about it for years!) on something that, if most people stop and take the time to really think about, they *might* actually support (and if not, can at least be indifferent about).

As someone that I hope carries some respect with a few of you, please humour me as I share a few thoughts on the matter.

I make my living, in MASSIVE part, because of someone else’s incredible creativity & talents. Specific creativity & talents that I don’t have. Without them, I AM NOTHING (and neither are you for that matter). I’m ok paying a little extra for my music because of that. How little exactly? The fees I pay (2 computers = 2 licenses) are about 0.21% of what will be my gross revenue this year. For something that I couldn’t exist without, that seems to be a pretty decent return on investment. Argue that, and respectfully, you’re a fool.

I don’t care if they enforce it. Honestly. Because I’m ok with paying the fee as noted in the above paragraph for the above reasons. Get over it (0.21%… remember?!). The true cost of proper enforcement would be in the millions upon millions of dollars for which absolutely none of you wants to pay for. Really? Do you?

We’re currently getting about a $25,000 renovation done to our house. When I called a guy I knew and asked him about getting it done, he came over to my house. We talked about what needed to be done, he offered us some really great design ideas, showed us some photos of his past work and then we hired him. As he drove away in his truck, I noticed he didn’t have a Makita logo on his truck. I immediately called him and said that unfortunately, we weren’t going to be able to work together after all, due to his lack of being Makita certified.

With potential clients that I’m fortunate enough to sit down with, I sell them on the results of what they’re wedding can be like. When I’ve done a good job communicating that, then they agree to pay me a liveable wage to help them produce the results they’re after. My having a license to legally operate my music library — for the purpose of deriving substantial personal income — has no bearing on the results that I will help them create. ZERO. For that reason it is seldom, if ever brought up. And no, I’ve never had anyone ask me about it. The only reason someone might is if another DJ told them to.

The story about the Makita guy is false (the renovations are happening though, tile goes into the porch today!). I made that part of the story up. I did so because it’s preposterous to think I would have based my decision to hire a contractor on the basic tools he uses to get the job done (next time you’re in to your dentist, ask him what brand of teeth hacking equipment he uses, some is better then others you know). 😉 (please note the sarcastic winky eye)

Remember when 20/20 did the wedding expenses exposé about a year(ish) ago? DJs slammed ABC for producing such garbage. Many cried foul… “How dare they expose a DJ industry that un-professional in North America?” Well, with the onslaught of negative messages they received from DJs all across the country, I daresay their image of DJs may have only been re-enforced.

There was so much bad blood associated with the AVLA, I’m glad they re-branded. If I was in charge of their PR department, I would have done the same. What saddens me though, was some of the comments and negativity that were poured onto their Facebook page earlier. In case we’ve forgotten how to have a meaningful conversation with someone, it helps to start off positively (which didn’t happen with the 20/20 situation as mentioned earlier either).

A lot of the messages to them on their FB page have been really great, so let’s continue to do so, but keeping a balanced tone (as many did) with constructive criticism will go a long way VS the knee-jerk reaction that has been much of the tone. Much of their responses have been decently well written though. They’re certainly trying very hard on that, let’s try equally as hard to listen.

Now before anyone jumps all over me for being an AVLA/Connect Music Licensing lover, know these things.

– YES, they could maybe have communicated this a little better (as some that posted to their page could have also). But it is their business, and we’re only a small (and sometimes not a very co-operative) part of it, so it’s entirely up to them what to call themselves and when to do it.

– I’m truly sorry that many of you have AVLA branding all over your printed materials/vehicles/etc. Leave those materials alone though, they’re still as good as new. Serious. Simply do this: talk about RESULTS with your clients, not the generic tools that you’ll use to create those results (the exemption being whatever processes that are unique to you that WILL directly impact the results you can help them create). Very few clients will, but IF they ask about, tell them there was a recent name change but nothing to do with that will effect their cost with you or the success of their event. Easy.

– EMBRACE the fact that Connect Music Licensing has taken the first step to more public dialogue with the world via Facebook. Don’t destroy it before it gets the chance to come alive.

Donny Lovering, Rob Kalmar, Dave Hastings & Norm Shaw all shared some very insightful thoughts that many of the commentators writing here today can learn from. To those with more negative points of view then positive (many of you are my friends, please don’t take offence, I say this because I love you), please for the sake of your business, use your time in a more valuable fashion. Hating on something you A) can’t control B) won’t change C) has so little effect on your DJ business it’s crazy! won’t do you a lick of good. In fact, the emotions we feed off of when discussing this might be costing us more money then we know (that’s a full topic for another day though).

WELCOME to Connect Music Licensing. Time to turn over a new leaf. Here’s to hoping that both sides (us AND them) will be mature enough to realize that in the big picture, we all mean relatively little to each other… and that it makes zero sense to expel more energy on this topic then you do on honing your talents as DJs & MCs for yourself and your company (unless you could give a damn about putting your time & energy into positive growth). 🙂

Remember, for 0.21% of total revenue (your % may vary), in order to exploit someone else’s incredible creativity & talents for your benefit?! That’s a big win for us, no matter how you slice it.

From a respectful colleague, thank you for reading.

Written as originally posted to the CPDJA online Facebook group on March 7, 2014.

Event execution is only part of the equation

How can we, as mobile DJs, stay relevant in today’s society of “I don’t need you, I, or my friend, can do it”?

There are already more than 1 billion smartphone users in the world, out of which, well over 95 million are from North America. Nearly over night, this gave each and every person on this planet the entitlement to call themselves a lot of new things because of what they can now “do”. 

If you own a smart phone, you can be a photographer (and in some cases, rightly so). 
If you own a smart phone, you can be a DJ (and again, in some cases, rightly so). 
I’m sure you can think of many other examples.

What makes us of any value anymore? Sure we can read a crowd, but that other person might get lucky and also play music that’s just right. Sure we’ve got tens of thousands of songs, but that other person might have access to iTunes (over 26 million songs).

One of the reasons I’m attending The Business of Weddings conference in Toronto next month is because of the continued inspiration I receive from Sean Low (through his blog) who will be one of the keynote speakers. In response to a question from an interview with Sean (just recently posted on the Business of Weddings website) he states:

“Execution is inevitable and therefore worthless as a differentiator. The only thing that matters today is what happens in between engagement and execution.”

There are many things that matter, but that statement in large part, reflects why some DJs book full calendars, on average, 5 – 6 times the average price of what they’re told “the market can bear”. Those DJs don’t likely sell their entire services, based on what will inevitably be, execution of the event itself. In large part, the reason they’re getting paid more, is because of the service they’re providing from the moment a prospective client initiates contact with them, right up until the start of the event.

I have been surprised by clients twice in the last 14 months, particularly due to the size of wedding fee I already command as a DJ/MC, by getting tipped 3 – 4 weeks before the wedding date itself. I don’t believe there can be any further proof to the statement that Sean Low makes above, than that very fact.

How can we, as mobile DJs, stay relevant in today’s society of “I don’t need you, I, or my friend, can do it”?

Written as originally posted to the CPDJA online Facebook group on October 2, 2013.

The pleasure of working with you (the DJ)

This isn’t exactly playing “hard to get”. The delicate balance, if you can find it, is that setting up specific guidelines for working with you, can lead to increased desire on the part of prospective clients to hire your services. You’re sending a message that people need to do certain things in order to have the pleasure of working with you.

One of my policies, is that I won’t share my price with a prospective client until I know they’ve got all of the information they need to properly make the right decision for themselves (which isn’t always to hire me). If I was to provide price first and allow a prospective client to make up their mind before they had enough information of what my service is about, then I’ve just done them a great dis-service (see Seth Godin’s post here for more info on this). The most effective way for me to provide them with that information, is to meet them in person. Face to face is my greatest method of communication.

I know many DJs insist on a meeting (consultation) ahead of sharing their price if they get the chance. I don’t leave that to chance. I require a face to face meeting with prospective clients before I’ll take them on.

Hiring my services is actually more work for wedding couples then if they would have simply hired the average DJ from down the street. That would in fact, be far easier for them. I’m not looking for couples who just want it easy.

The request, to have them to follow the path you’ve found to work best for your and your clients, needs to be carefully framed of course. This post isn’t about how to do that, but I will briefly provide an example from a recent interaction.

The following is from an email I sent off a few days ago. We’ve spoken once on the phone already, this was her reply, with mine following it. Will I let this prospective go if they aren’t available to meet me by one of the two methods I’ve suggested? Absolutely.

“Hi Dave,

I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you! Unfortunately my fiancee and I are both back in Winnipeg for the school year, is there anyway to tell me about your rates and services via e-mail??

Thanks so much, BRIDE”

My reply to her:


Thanks so much for getting back to me.  Really appreciate it!  We do need to meet, even if it’s just on Skype.  As odd as it sounds, I won’t actually consider taking on clients until we’ve had a chance to meet.  🙂  Just part of what I do.

Would you be available any evening to Skype?  Another option would also be that I’ll actually be in Winnipeg on Saturday, September 21st for a wedding that I’m working with.  I’ll be staying overnight in the city and could possibly meet with you the Sunday morning before I leave.  I’m awaiting confirmation on one other possible appointment that morning, but would that work for you?

Let me know, thanks BRIDE!  :-)”

This isn’t exactly playing “hard to get”. The delicate balance, if you can find it, is that setting up specific guidelines for working with you, can lead to increased desire on the part of prospective clients to hire your services. You’re sending a message that people need to do certain things in order to have the pleasure of working with you.

Written as originally posted to the CPDJA online Facebook group on September 11, 2013.

Be social, reach out

Be social. Reach out. Network. Be a great guy/gal to everyone you speak with.

A conversation I had with a wedding planner yesterday was propped up in a great way because of a name I shared of a fellow wedding professional out in Toronto. She knew of him. That prompted the conversation to move along really positively.

When they say it’s “who you know”, that can sometimes be true. Another interpretation to that statement though is, if you know “them” on some level or another then a person can assume certain things about you. This can be good or bad, depending on that person’s view of “them”.

As is also sometimes said, “If you want to be a millionaire, surround yourself with millionaires.” That statement too, has a lot more depth to it then it displays on the surface.

Be social. Reach out. Network. Be a great guy/gal. That’s my thought for the day.

Written as originally posted to the CPDJA online Facebook group on August 9, 2013.

The biggest influences in 3 (short) years of my life.

This was originally written November 27, 2013 on my Facebook page.  I share it here as a resource to those that might want to know who’ve been the greatest influences to me. Those who’ve taught & inspired me so much. They are many… get ready…

Yesterday excitedly marked the turning of another new page for my adventures with Special Request Weddings.

When I first attended the Mobile Beat DJ Show in Las Vegas back in February 2011, I found myself sitting in an “open house” for the WED Guild®. Not having any idea what it was about, I arrived with an open mind and listened to this guy named Peter Merry talk about… I honestly can’t remember what. What I do remember though, was looking at this “application” that was required if you wanted to earn the title Wedding Entertainment Director®. I felt like a complete rookie. I didn’t manage my business or events with anywhere near the detail or talent level they required. This was going to be a challenge.

After spending an incredible amount of time asking people for reference letters, writing essays, preparing agendas, preparing video footage, fine tuning direction checklists, etc, etc, etc, etc… I am proud to announce, that I now join the amazing family of talented and unique individuals that make up the Wedding Entertainment Directors Guild®! There are now two of us in Canada (Alex in Victoria, myself here in Manitoba), one amazingly talented individual in Australia and the remainder are in the United States.

This is my “Academy Awards” speech because there are some really amazing people out there who’ve given much of their time, talents, patience and determination to me in accomplishing this goal. This is something that can not be attained without a proper support network. Many people played a part, but these are who I’d like to highlight today. And don’t bother cueing up the “walk off music”… you’re going to be here for a while (if for some reason you choose to read right to the end!).

#1… My wife. God only knows that Kathryn is one of the most patient people in this world. I spend far to much time working, in part, because it is also my hobby and something that gives me so much joy. She understands what my goals are and that I am getting closer and closer to reaching them every day. I can not thank her enough.

Kathryn, the beautiful little ladies that we’re raising under our roof together are evidence enough, even though some days it might appear otherwise, that we’re doing something right. Thank you for making the decisions that have brought us to where we are in life. I love you so much dear.

Peter Merry is the founder of the WED Guild® and I think it goes without saying that were it not for what this man has given up in life to make this happen, I might not have ever pushed my work to these new heights. This work that my wedding couples now get to experience the benefit of. Thank you Peter for your insights and knowledge throughout the time we’ve gotten to know each other. I sincerely appreciate our friendship.

Thanking people like Mark & Rebecca Ferrell in a Facebook post just doesn’t seem to be the right thing to do. No one on this earth has had a more positive impact on DJs (and subsequently the people who employ those DJs) then these two people. The passion that lives within the Dreamer (and now also a condo somewhere in the mountains of California) never lets up. It is infectious. It is contagious. It is life giving. Thank you both so very much. You mean so incredibly much to me.

The two people who’ve pushed, prodded, kicked (that one was probably actually Glenn’s wife Miranda), encouraged and never let me rest when it came to putting together my application are Wedding Entertainment Directors®, Jeremy Brech & Glenn Mackay. Jeremy was my official mentor through this application process and was invaluable when it came to my making the most of my final submission. Glenn as well, a colleague who became Australia’s first Wedding Entertainment Director® earlier this year, has become an outstanding friend over the last year and a half and shared insight into the application process was extremely beneficial. Thank you gentlemen. Your wedding couples are very fortunate to be working with you both.

Those who know me in the wedding MC & DJ world will know that I am unrelenting when it comes to encouraging others to attend training and the value of networking. Needless to say, I walk the walk in that regard. Many thanks to Bill HermannJason A. JonesElisabeth Scott Daley and of course, Mark, Rebecca & Peter who’ve helped to inspire me along the way (although I do have sooooooooo much further to go!). There are many others as well, that have impacted what I do in ways they might not quite fully understand. A few of those people would be JimMarie-Louise Ternier (my amazing parents), Erik & Margareth Gommers (an Aunt & Uncle from the Netherlands/Portugal who are 100% responsible for my getting started in this business), Jesh De RoxDavid LouisEd Spencer, and fellow Wedding Entertainment Directors®, Alex Tamas, Mitch TaylorJim Cerone & Randy Bartlett.

The support I also received from some of the amazing wedding vendors I’ve worked with was quite honestly overwhelming. As I called each of these people, telling them about the WED Guild®, what it was about and what was required of me, they were ALL in. Each and every one of them. Without question. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. Your letters of reference each played an important part in this application. These are the companies and/or the people who answered my call and wrote letters of support, based on the experience we’ve had working together: Party Professionals, Studio 78, Sterling Images, It’s A Love Thing Photography, A Moving Pictures Studio, Amanda Hayward-Draper, Thelma Quinn & Pam Moffat.

Then there are the wedding couples that gave up serious time and put in a lot of effort to write detailed letters of reference that at times, took my breathe away. Alyssa & Kyle, Ashley & Jon, Brittany & Kyle, Cathy & Scott, Jenna & Brad, Jillian & Mike, Kim & Laurie and Mike & Ashleigh… I’m so grateful that somehow our paths decided to cross each others and that you decided to each include me in your amazingly beautiful wedding celebrations. I can’t wait to thank each of you personally for the assistance your letters gave to my application. Special mention was made by my membership committee on the quality of letters that you submitted. Thank you!

If you’ve seriously come this far into this speech… you also deserve a special thanks. For taking the time out of your day, this November 27th or 28th or whenever you read this down the road. I know you could have spent your time far more productively, but it makes me smile to know you cared enough to read this much of what I wrote.

Then there is Bryan Podworny. The man who gives so much. Loves so much. Works so hard. I will never have the ability (but I’m certainly going to be doubling my efforts) to repay him for the impact he’s had on me, my business and my family. It’s entirely because of him, at a DJ meeting in Winnipeg where we first met, that my mind was opened up to the possibility of a DJ caring more then to simply show up, play music and go home. The many hours (quite often late at night, thanks to our patient wives) we’ve spent working together either in person or over the phone in our respective offices have flown by. Time disappears so rapidly when we’re working together. New projects, how we’re each doing things, brainstorming ideas for our couple’s weddings, fine tuning details for a Groom’s Workshop, etc. It’s because of him, that I was introduced to so many things that ended up being the seeds for some of the biggest changes in my life. Thank you my friend, for everything. You are a gift to the wedding couples who choose to work with you. They’re lucky, but not quite as lucky as I’ve been.  Upward and onward… looking forward to the many adventures that lie ahead of us. I know there will be many.

Cheers to everyone who got this far into my text! Put a (smiley face) or “I’m tired now, but congrats!” in the comments below if you actually read this!

You rock.


Thanks for being a friend!

– Dave Ternier :: Master of Ceremonies :: Disc Jockey
– Wedding Entertainment Director®
– Special Request Weddings

— feeling accomplished.