When Covid hit – DJ Wilco
When COVID hit
Everything was going so well. I was DJ’ing weddings, birthdays, corporate parties. Providing silent discos. Hosts were happy, my calendar was full, and then came March 2020, a 42nd birthday party. The number 42 sets off bells in any nerd’s head. This also applied to the host and to me as a DJ. During the whole party I had a towel around my neck. I stuck a poster saying “Don’t Panic” on my DJ booth. There was one small blot at the party: a few guests from the south of the Netherlands had cancelled at the last minute, because of the new virus that was going around there.
COVID-19 proved to be a keeper, and as a result lots of parties were cancelled or postponed. The parties that did take place took place in the open air. With a limited number of guests, mandatory seating or a combination of these. All these parties were nice, but weird.
As I considered decent, I didn’t charge anyone for parties that couldn’t be held. I think this leniency will pay for itself in the long run. Many parties were postponed, initially to exactly one year later, then out of necessity to another year later. In most cases no changes were made; same location, same schedule. Shortly before their parties, I will ask the hosts whether they want to make any changes to their request list. Fortunately, there is a very convenient online request system to assist me with that.
To stay busy I started playing DJ live streams for friends. Difficult at first, with poor sound quality and my kitchen appliances prominently displayed, but the reactions were very positive from the start. After an experimental time with a lot of trial and error, it now really looks and sounds good. Technical issues were resolved, I have a Zoom Pro subscription with good sound quality and the stream regularly features a VJ that provides beautiful visuals. Many of the listeners also have their webcams turned on and brighten things up with festive clothing and disco lights in their living room. These livestream parties are organized through a Whatsapp group I have where I invite friends to join. Over time, friends of friends and other interested people have joined the group and some DJ friends also use the group to promote their streams.
In the meantime, I also offer private DJ streams for a fee. That has been booked a few times now. These streams have also been successful and they bring in some money. Not nearly as much as pre-COVID, but it is better than nothing. In addition, I receive a temporary social benefit from the Dutch government. They offer this benefit to entrepreneurs who suffer a loss of turnover due to COVID-19. If you have more income than expenses in a month, you have to pay back all or part of the benefit. Because of a temporary relaxation of the COVID measures, I earned enough in September 2020 to be able to pay back the benefit in full. In the other months, this benefit has helped me to avoid digging too deep into my savings.
Until recently, I kept turning down donations for my public DJ streams. I thought it would have felt like begging, for too little profit, but I have started to think differently about that. Recently I ran a stream with a donation option for the first time, as a benefit for someone else. Zoom, unlike some other platforms, does not have a built-in donation module. I used a Dutch app called Tikkie, which is similar to CashApp or Venmo. This app generates a web link with a payment request. By clicking on this link, Dutch donors can easily make a payment through the internet banking app of their own bank. I shared the Tikkie link in advance in the DJ stream Whatsapp group and in the Facebook event of the stream. In addition, I put the link in the Zoom chat every half hour during the stream. This yielded a total of €400,-, much more than I expected. Apparently, I seriously underestimated my listeners’ willingness to donate. I am considering offering a donation option for all my streams from now on.
Preparing to get back
Wherever music is played, I discover interesting songs that I did not know yet. When listening to the radio or a podcast, when going out, in shops and in many more places. I write these discoveries down on a list and when I have time, I listen to songs from this list and buy them if necessary. I used to postpone this work all the time, because there was more urgent stuff to do. Thanks to COVID-19, I now finally have time to go through the entire list.
I am anxiously waiting for the moment when we can party live again, with a crowd of dancing, sweating people. My uneducated guess is September 2021. My calendar for late 2021 and early 2022 is already quite full, especially with parties postponed from one or two years earlier.
I envision a bright future, with many new bookings from people who have postponed their weddings and from people who are going to celebrate their birthday in a bigger way than before, simply because it is possible again.
I am curious how rusty I have become in setting up DJ equipment. For the first party I plan at least half an hour of extra set-up time.