First of all let me say to all of you that not every DJ belongs in an Association. It's not because they aren't qualified or professional enough. It's in the nature of the beast to just want to be independent and do everything for themselves and do a Doug Scott, CDJA great job at what they do, their way. I concede this point right off the bat. There are some excellent DJ Companies out there who are making a lot of money by making their clients happy and building up wonderful business reputations as they grow better and stronger. You all agree with that I'm sure.
But knowing this should not delude us of the fact that most of our industry is really a hodge-podge of isolated and unregulated (uncertified) enterprises that really have no "whollop" when it comes to the things that can make US (our industry) stronger and effective in the eyes of the public, our trade supporters and the hospitality industry. To many of these outside interests, WE are nothing more than a choice of entertainment. (Notice the small letters?) Speaking in large spatial terms: Can one (Quality) Company change the views of the people who deal with US? Can a handful of independents change perspectives and benefits for themselves or their small group of comrades in a big way? Can a 100? A 1000? NO, it will take a large block of determined DJ companies who have one chartered set of principles and directives that have numbers, commitment, money and team effort poised for action that will have the greatest positive effect on making our Industry (US) recognized for professionalism, service and ethics to the interested population.
Assuming that Canada has (say) 15000 DJs of different "pedigrees," it would take 10,000 of us to make a significant mark on the viewpoint of the populace who relate to US as being something to take serious. In Canada right now, in the various big and small Associations, we might have 1000 to 1500 actually signed up as followers (not counting the related employees). That's a mere 10% of what's available out there to the Associations! Of the 1500 who have signed on to an Association, we might have 10% of that number (10% of 10%) committed to working on advancing our cause and trying to change things in a positive way for the other 99%. That's (fictionally 1%) 150 DJs in Canada who are actually (physically and mentally) involved in the drive to make a real difference for our WHOLE INDUSTRY! Is it any wonder why we have not improved our status, recognition or relevance to ANYBODY in more than only a few isolated (or insignificant) ways to help all of USbecome better and more professionally accepted?
Every Association that I know has the same, conventional list of goals for its membership. We differ very little in this intent. I don't care if it's a local, regional or national body; they all care about improving/promoting their members' businesses and their public recognition in some form or another. Search this out on the web and see for yourself; it's a wash! All associations run on crystal balls - trying to forecast the needs and whims of DJs everywhere. They just don't know what's around the corner. It's a leap of faith. Here's a good conundrum (to state it more deceptively) but very powerfully:
"The really interesting thing about gazing into the future is to imagine that there are things we can't even imagine imagining, because we don't know what it is we don't know and therefore can't possibly know what there is to know or not know, without knowing what can be known or unknown, even when we know what we know and don't know what we know we don't know. This can lead to some confusion."
(Attributed to Michael Kerr, Speaking of Impact Magazine, Summer 2006, page 38)
NOW, here's something we do know - IMPACT!
IMPACT does not come by swinging a hammer at the Berlin Wall. IMPACT comes when you tackle the Berlin Wall with great big BALLS of swinging steel! It's the MASS of the object that determines the results and this is no different when you want to make an IMPACT on your public or your co-operators-in-arms inside our trade! The MASS behind the Associations can wield more clout and attention when they've got certain size and substance in their hands. Associations need members! Not to survive - but to grow stronger and become more influential wherever they IMPACT society. Yes, the money helps, because big bank accounts proactively affect greater spending opportunities like advertising, community efforts, promotional events, training programs, benefit acquisitions, education, discounts and so on for the group. An Association that has "the bucks" to take on the concerns of an industry as delegated by a formal, single (representative) voice can actually commit these funds to attack the problems over a much shorter span of time than what is happening right now.
To those who do not join an Association for whatever reason, really don't understand the significance of their reticence. If you love your business and you love the people you serve and you want to improve your circumstances, the Associations are the best way to help YOURSELF while you help all of your PEERS at the same time. Those of you who say, "I want ..." or "What's in it for me ..." I can only say that you are still missing the point.
If you want more benefits and perks, then you know that Associations can only get MORE of these specialties by having larger and larger numbers of members. (That's IMPACT.) If you want to be treated like true professionals as a viable part of the Entertainment World, then an Association is the best way to promote, and provide that concept to those who would listen and learn. If you want to change your business acumen, your local or regional context or your investment in a real "cause," you'll have to change your isolationist, "who cares" attitude and take a stand for the only option that stands a chance to make it happen - an Association.
NUMBERS ATTRACT ATTENTION and LARGE MASSES IMPACT BERLIN WALLS! The trouble is; DJs who look for immediate "rewards" by joining an Association are there for the "taking." They will argue that not everyone has an ultimate goal of making it better for the industry. Their commitment is either non-existent or feeble at least. They will come right out and say, "I just want your insurance and licensing, and that's all!" But the fact of the matter still stands - very little change takes place when there are few numbers, with limited capital and non-committed or restricted energies, spent on issues that make very basic attempts to crunch ANY BIG WALLS OF CONCERN. Don't kid yourself, "taking" is all well and good, but without the "giving" you have served no purpose for the industry as a whole.
ASSOCIATIONS NEED YOU IN A "BAD" (IMPORTANT) WAY! For the cost of less than one gig, your company could save (or grow) on Insurance programs, Licensing, Legal advice, Education, Discounts, Communication/Ideas, friendships, advertising, etc. This is pretty well the cost of a small Tim Horton's coffee every day! And what can you get in return? Several hundred dollars savings for insurance, several hundred dollars savings in licenses, myriad discounts from Allieds and Affiliates, tons of information from newsletters, magazines, Ezines, Chat Boards, Message Boards, and National Communications, networking and training opportunities that can help increase business and profits, and much more!
John Kennedy said it best. "Ask not what your (Association) can do for you - ask what YOU can do for your association!" It is true; the people who get the most out of long term aspirations and incentives are those who put the most into them. If you need proof of this, think about your own business right NOW. Think about what it was like in the beginning. Did you make any changes since then? Probably! And it took how much energy, time and money to get where you are today? By magnifying your potential energy, time and money since then, you have progressed to be what you are NOW. Apply these same options to all the members in an Association, for the Association, and that massive body can quickly affect massive changes within the dynamics of a local, regional or national perspective. Without the WILL OF THE MASSES, the "will" becomes a "maybe" or a "we'll see!" For heaven's sake, please don't call a DJ Association a UNION! A Union is everything that should be avoided and the CDJA will fight this moniker in every breath. Unions are established to shield workers from harm and detrimental employment measures. Fine! These are noteworthy and justified. But Unions also have a negative premise that is the antithesis of what all good Associations stand for. Unions protect the lack-luster, the incompetent, the lazy and the indifferent in their midst. This is our struggle - the ignorant, the indifferent and the indignant need to realize our pressing efforts!
Each of you has the power to make a difference by making an informed choice to belong to an Association or to isolate yourselves from the truth and the reality of our Industry's greatest fault - our own ignorance and indifference! Every single, new member that joins our crusade is a valuable adjunct and challenge to the PLAGUE that defines US (our industry). Do not underestimate your importance in this matter! Your membership is a powerful and important endorsement to be part of a greater good - making our industry a thriving, recognized and professional assembly (MASS) that can change the walls of interference that stand in the way of our good intentions. Which Association should you choose? That's your dilemma to solve. Just remember that the biggest membership fees do not always mean the best Association (just like choosing a DJ by price) or that it is a money-grubbing one that squeezes blood from a stone. A difference in fee structure usually indicates differences in "style" and/or "amenities" that can differentiate between the organizations.
Remember: It is not wrong to belong to two or three associations at once. Because of the fact that there are several to choose from, it gives DJs a choice, a chance at comparative values and competition between the Associations to strive for bigger and better "attract-ables." This is good because it always puts the heat on Associations to improve their window dressings to bring more shoppers into their store. While all Associations have similar intentions, there can be a huge spread in the "value-back" categories that separate real or pronounced advantages from the more general options and perks that are standard fare. It is your job to explore the circumstances that determine whether these variances are suitable to your tastes and commitment. It is the responsibility all Associations to expose all of their benefits and targets to all prospects so that they have a chance for a solid, "relative" chance to compare "apples to apples." If you do go window shopping, make sure that you ask to try on the goods before you buy - and that usually means a full, honest disclosure of the merits of their product. The bottom line, I guess, should be that it really doesn't matter which Association(s) you join, as long as you JOIN ONE and GET INVOLVED! Let's get those numbers up!
Vice President, BobHawkins.com
CDJA National President,