Retiring The Business

bill_smith

MobileBeat Moderator
Staff member
#1
I’d like to thank everyone who has wished me a happy birthday on the occasion of my 61st revolution around the sun in this wonderful life of mine. It means more than I can adequately express in terms of thank you.

Today is a special day for me, as I have decided to give myself a gift. I am retiring my DJ business effective August the 7th. Thats when my website goes down. I am referring any inquiries to other DJ's. I do so not with sadness, despair, or bitterness, but with a great deal of joy and satisfaction. I am beginning a new venture in which I will travel to senior citizen assisted living homes and do short one hour vocal performances. This is a very long post, so I hope you will read it all the way through. (Brian Pate, this is my ONLY retirement, LOL)

There were two cathartic experiences that I recently had that have pointed me into this direction. I was Dj’ing a wedding and ceremony. All went well, with my usual amount of detail and coordination. The guests danced, and the bride and groom were very happy. After the event was concluded, I was packing up, and as usual, the last one besides the cleaning crew to leave. The skies opened up, lightning stated to sizzle, and the rain and wind ensued at a torrential pace. My load out was in the front of the venue down three steps. My vehicle was in the parking lot about 30 feet away. I dashed to the car, got it backed up to the steps, and opened the back lift and side doors to allow me to load in. I swung my speakers into the van, smashing not one, but both knees. The Rock and Roller slid sideways, and I had to prevent it from falling sideways, spilling my CD players. Almost threw my back out. Then, I threw in my table and top, and finally the lights. I nearly slipped and fell on the steps. I got into the car, and was breathing about as hard as I ever did, and placed the AC into overdrive to cool off and dry out, bleeding from both knees, and with a throbbing in both at the impact points. At that moment, a surreal feeling of peace, calmness, and finality over came me. I was not sad, upset, or in anyway disturbed. I felt free. I am not even sure how to explain it. And so I called up Sandra K. Smith, my lovely wife, and told her that this was my last show. I had accomplished everything I wanted to as a DJ. My DJ business had one major goal as it’s business plan: Provide the funds needed to get my two children through college, with no student loan debt. Mission accomplished. I continued to review my accomplishments as she listened, and as I did, the finality of how I felt simply shook me to my core, and I was happy about it. I did not wake up with any reservations or change of heart. The second cathartic event occurred at Golden Corrals veterans appreciation day, an event that I have assisted or hosted with Skid Rowe’s spotlight karaoke for going on 15 years. Basically, it’s super karaoke with veteran performers doing vocals, and no DJ work at all. One of my dearest friends, Ricky Edwards, who is also a DJ and vocal performer asked me to sing one of my favorite songs, I can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash. Well, when another performer makes a request, how can you not honor that? It is the highest compliment that can be paid to a performer. At that point, I was not sure I still had the chops to pull it off. So I sang a few other songs to warm up. And then it came on, and I launched into it. There was quite a lot of muscle memory involved, and I recalled while singing just how good it felt to sing. And as I held out that 4 bar note, hoping I had enough breath left to finish it, I heard the familiar sounds of appreciation, and when I finished, I knew that all I ever wanted to do ever after was return to my first love as an entertainer, singing. And so the idea to entertain seniors.

I think that my new venture will be a Win Win Win for all involved. First, a segment of our population gets to hear oldies from the 40’s to the 70’s, and get live entertainment. I’m going to use my karaoke library as the basis for this, and do a sing along with Mitch style show. Secondly, I get to share their time and my love for music and singing. Thirdly, I get to audition potential places to stay when I get really old.. Everyone wins.

Now to the thank you’s. My life has been divided into eras (Not Epochs or Eons lol), and so my thank you’s are time based.

First, my amazingly talented family, William H Smith, Joan G Smith, my brother Robert Smith, and sister Carol Emerson. Many of our nights were spent at home singing as Dad played guitar. As Bob and I grew older, I became more influenced by his love of the 70’s progressive bands like Yes, CSNY, and ELP. We sang while he played, and could switch in and out of harmony at will. My Dad taught me harmony, and often, my Mom would maki suggestions about songs to try. The greatest moment we shared was at a Catholic Youth Organization fund raiser where I was president of a CYO(all without being Catholic, but that is a story for another day). Carol, Bob and I covered America’s song Horse with No Name. We had parciticed for weeks, and we killed it, and got a standing O. My first song as a soloist at that same show was Elvis’s Can’t Help Falling in Love, and I got some awesome applause as well, and I was hooked. My parents were watching their kids perform in public, and until I had my own kids that sang, didn’t know that feeling. Thank you all for the music, camaraderie, and support.

I joined the Air Force in 1978. I served in the worst foreign country on the face of the Earth (at that time), and yes I speak of Biloxi Mississippi. I continued seeking out people that could paly, and joined in singing. One evening at the open mike night in one of the community halls on the base, a quiet gentleman came up to me and asked if I would like to try out for an Air Force Base sponsored talent show called the Keesler Blue Review. So I asked, what do I need to bring? He said, bring your best song and sheet music. Folks, meet Robert Brech, who is totally to blame for inflicting me on the entertainment world. I showed up with Bridge Over Troubled Water, and was picked to perform in Arnold Hall’s Keesler Blue Review. This was a choreographed, dance, sing, and play 3 night stand after a two to three month planning and rehearsing effort, after we finished our Air Force duties. Between 1978 and 1982, we must have performed at least 8 of these. Bob was a director, and quite a talented singer in his own right. I earned a reputation for being able to harmonize, and often helped arrange parts for other singers in production numbers, because I hear 4 part harmony all the time. I also branched out into Musicals and played Arvide in Guys and Dolls. I learned about stage construction, destruction, set striking and setup, and even singed my hair on a spotlight as I operated it. I helped run sound, and volunteered to fix bad wires and mics. I learned about the Air Force’s Tops in Blue Talent show. In 1982, I had the idea to team up with Rea Reynolds Shipman Brech to cover a duet that Barry Manilow and Lily Tomlin did called the last duet. I met her during Guys and Dolls, and was struck by her awesome vocal ability. She was a classically trained singer, and I was a Heinz 57 mutt who love high, hard, and challenging vocals. So we tried it out, and had to bump up the tune 3 steps to accommodate her range, and we honed that act. We entered the base competition, and won. We travelled to Lackland AFB, and won the command level, and advanced to the World Talent competition in Dayton Ohio. To our surprise, someone else entered with the same song, but after watching, I thought we had a good chance to win, which we did, besting out thousands of other acts. We hold 1982’s Vocal Duet first place in the Air Force’s World Wide Talent show!
Rea was my first duet partner, and I’ll always want to thank her for the hours of hard work and vocal coaching. She taught me about practice scales and how to modulate my voice and switch into head voice versus chest voice.

After I left the Air Force, I worked for some years raising a family, and occasionally found people to sing with who played. In 1993, I discovered the word of Karaoke, and boy did I get hooked! Where there was a show, there I was. Back then, if you sang really well, you often got entered into a competition without even knowing it, and I won a few of those. My best moment in karaoke was having my parents, brother and sister and wife watch me sing I Can See Clearly, Crying, and He Ain’t Heavy, and win a regional competition and a Cruise to the Bahamas. I recall the judges asking me why I picked Crying as the first song to sing,,,and I was puzzled, They explained that they considered that tune to be the absolute hardest tune in the book, and that they picked me to win before singing my other two songs, and simply hoped I would not screw it up. I recall telling hem that I felt singing He Ain’t Heavy was more challenging, because of the fact that my brother was in the audience, and that “Crying” would be a good way to break the ice.

In 1994, I moved to North Carolina, and continued to search out karaoke, and met Skid Rowe. He along with Gene Mosher deserve the credit for the inspiration and support in helping me create the nuts and bolts of my karaoke business, which I started in 1996, at the same time I decided to go back to school and finish my degree (Magna Cum Laude!!). But a funny thing happened along the way as I did karaoke gigs. I had bought all this gear, all those CDG’s, and ran a good show, with good sound and a good following. I found out quite quickly, that I hated the smoke, and the drunks absolutely made me want to swing a 2x4 and flatten them all. I cannot explain why it made me feel that way, but it was a primal urge to commit violence that I had never experienced before. I simply did not have the personality to do bar Karaoke. One evening, a young lady approached me and asked about Djing her wedding. I told her that I would try to do it for her. She wanted karaoke, and very little dance music, but I decided to research dance music and be ready just in case. My Day job as a project engineer gave me the ability to see big picture and organize, and I found wedding planners on the Internet. So armed with my mighty Gemini 1545s and a pioneer V10G twin tray player, and a timeline, I did my very first ceremony and wedding ever. This family hired me for the next 8 years to perform a variety of events. So here is some humor: I contracted for a DJ only gig, armed with that Pioneer V10 twin tray player. And I got them dancing. I knew I had a big problem when the song ended, and that 8 seconds between trays ensued…and it was at that point I knew I needed a second player. In 1998, I discovered the world on Online chat rooms. My education as a performed and DJ now became a straight vertical line, as I soaked in concepts, made phone calls, and learned. This culminated in my first DJ teacher Brian Pate meeting me at a Wendy’s after I asked to meet him to learn more about being a DJ. The first words out of his mouth to this 42 year old wannabe was “You are already a an Fing dinosaur, why do you want to do this?” And I told him how I felt. I guess I convinced him, because I got to tag along with him to a lot of shows. I’m 99% sure he tried to scare me off after meeting a bunch of cross dressers for an annual AIDS fundraiser that he used to do, and seeing a man dressed like Dolly Parton, only 6 feet 6 inches tall with correct anatomy! But I persisted, and he can regale you with the events of September 18th, when he trusted me to DJ a reception while he was seeing his first child born. Armed with his planner, and two of his guys, we killed this reception for him, and I knew that I at least had the ability to do this. Thank you Brian Pate, for all you did for me. I do not know if I ever met all of your expectations, but you always exceeded mine. I appreciate all of the networking we did too back in the day. I recall the most important advice and gift you gave me…Don’t be like me. Be yourself. You can’t be Brian Pate, but you can be Bill Smith. If you be someone else, people will see that, and you will fail. And you were right. Half the stuff you did at a gig I would never do, because my personality simply doesn’t fit what I saw. But, I could learn just as much knowing what I COULD do, and not do. Finally, something you should know about me. All my life, people have told me “you can’t do this, or that, or no way that can happen”….and everyone should now be forewarned that saying that to me is like expecting the bull in the ring to not charge the matador with the cape…not gonna happen. I took a perverse joy all of my life defying the odds, and simply proving people wrong. I still do, and it is my largest character flaw.
It was at this point that I found the original PRODJ. I met up with a lot of friendly helpful people, and developed strong relationships conversing on the phone. I decided I needed a website, and the man that built that for me, Kerry McCullough, was also a superb entertainer and salesman, and gave me a lot of advice on how to sell MY particular brand of entertainment, which I decided was going to be a niche of clients that wanted an elegant, meticulously prepared emcee and coordinator. As a DJ starting out at 42, I knew I would always be behind the 8 ball with music programming, no matter what I did. Together with Ryan Burger the now owner of Mobile Beat, Kerry helped me put up what I think is one of North Carolina’s longest running DJ websites, and encouraged me to put my own stamp on it and sell my strengths. I have several online and in person friends for life who ALWAYS had an open ear and heart for anything I needed help with: Mark and Tina Evans, thank you for supporting me during my best and darkest and in between days. Ken Heath, thank you for the musical expertise and the ability to joyfully remind me why the Air Force was the best service for me;). And of course, I cannot forget Bill Goode, my Atlanta buddy with whom I’ve known since 1998, and the days of the DJ3 convention, which I spoke at and also helped provide karaoke entertainment. And we have also spoken at Mobile Beat as well on weddings. You’ve been an awesome friend, confidant, and coach. Professor Jam, thank you for all the quiet words of wisdom over the years. And, Kevin Porter, I’ll never forget meeting you at a DJ convention, then having you guest at a gig of mine, driving all the way from Rock Hill SC to Raleigh, and back again. Thank you for all the many years of camaraderie. Ryan Burger, thank you for all of the support over the decades, both from the personal perspective and from the chatboard perspective, as well as Web site support.

In 2000, I received an award in Las Vegas at the Mobile Beat Convention the 2000 American Disc Jockey Awards Academy at Mobile Beat. It was there that I got to meet for the first time, 4 of my mentors and teachers. Mark Ferrell, I still own the TAPE copy of the getting what you’re worth series. Thank you for the faith in believing in my potential. Peter Merry, thank you for the 6 pillars series, and the best wedding reception ever. It may interest you to know that I compared several of your itineraries in there to those I created prior to the book, and was always gratified to know that we thought a lot alike about event progression. Randy Bartlett, I have your original 1% series, and I appreciate so much our many conversations over the years, and it may be that perhaps you have had the same feeling I alluded to about finality at the beginning. Hugo Drax, thank you for the tips on lighting, and the support you gave me as a fellow moderator. I still recall the day you called me about a post I made in response to someone dinging me right after I lost my day job in 2001. Your support during that time and practical suggestions about picking up AV work helped tide me through. Mike Buonocorso, thanks for letting me do opening night karaoke in 2001 at Mobile Beat. Your trust in me simply blew my mind. I have your book as well. Thank you for the sage advice and insights you gave. ROb Clark, your beatmixing article is till in my road case. Thank YOU for the gift that has lasted me an entire career. And thank you Mad Joe Martin, for all of your advice and friendship over the years. To the late great John Allo, for teaching me about loading in, and touching everything one time only. Thank you to the late great Jolene Anthony for sharing your wedding planner with me back in 1999.

In 2004, I started a friendly networking organization in the north Carolina area. I had already worked extensively with Ross Merle since 2001. The premise was simple. If a client called, and you were booked, refer them to another entertainer, and give them a list. I was able to draw in several talented performers in my area, including Brian Pate, Brian Mcguire, Lenny Fritts and Jim Barbee. For a while, we were the scourge of the DJ universe (LOL) in Raleigh NC. 2004 was also a difficult year for me, as that was the year my first marriage ended, and I experienced a second layoff. That which does not kill you makes you stronger. Jim Barbee and Lenny Fritts, and Ross Merle, I can never thank you all enough for the support and networking you did with me, that actually allowed me to survive until I became employed with the state of North Carolina. In 2006, the Triangle DJ association was born out of this with a set of by laws and the same kind of premise. I networked with the likes of Joe Bunn, helping him do karaoke for some of his gigs, and even surprised him on two occasions, pulling out a tune for a foxtrot, and correctly calling weeks in advance the first karaoke song that his bride and groom would sing (Friends in Low Places). Thank you Joe, for the opportunities, and I am glad I Introduced you to the Rock and Roller, lol. Best thing I ever did for you sir!

In 2007, I decided to propose and marry Sandra K. Smith. The first person I told besides my parents and family was Brian Pate, at a gig we were doing. Sandra shares my love of music, and as a past frequent night club goer, she would often listen into my headsets to see if what I picked was a good song, and she became vital to my many ceremony services and receptions as a coordinator. I even taught her to DJ for a wedding that I was the best man at. She went with me to every show, and talked me through the drives, and made me grilled cheese sandwiches to take off the hunger edges, and supported everything I did.

It was during this time, too, that Brian McGuire and I teamed up to become a 2 man wrecking crew to capitalize on the booming Mitzvah market. Going out on a gig with Brian, like my first teacher Brian Pate, was like getting a masters degree lesson in the art of the spin. I was often amazed at what I saw and heard, and I learned to watch what Brian did, and would mentally file those mixes away for use at other gigs. Those periods of silence when I was watching you Brian(s) all of those years, were not a lack of understanding of what you were doing, it was total awe, and the myriads of possibilities I could think of and employ at my own shows. You both made me a better DJ. For me, Brian Mcguire, it touches me the most that you wanted me there at shows to help you, rather than simply needing someone to help you load in and out. Out of all the talents in the area, you picked me to help you. And we slayed it too. I hope that I met your expectations. By the way, I do not mind continuing to punch that out if you need me to, and at the same time, understand that you probably need an active talent to help you out. So either way, it’s cool.

To my networking partners Barbara Lodge, Kayelilly Middleton, Lynn Loomis and Julie Finnerty Lee, thanks so much for your referrals and faith in my abilities.
So this is part testimony, thank you, and God Bless You (goodbye DJ world) to as many people as I can think of. I am sorry if I missed anyone, but as you see, it took a DJ village to raise this child, wipe him down, pat him on the head and butt, and send him out. I enjoyed every damn minute of it too, even the load in’s and load outs. I will keep you posted on this new venture of mine, and thank you all for reading this post to the end.
 

DJSTEVEZ

DJ Emeritus
#2
Bill, didn't realize your 61st birthday had come and gone, so a belated Happy Birthday.

I identify greatly with what I would call the "Spiritual Awakening" (which doesn't imply that previously you were spiritually asleep) you had. I too had grown tired of the back breaking aspect of the work. As we grow older there is greater risk to our health...not just life & death risks, but quality of life risks as well. You are indeed wise to heed what the experience had to say to you. For me with a young family, it was the time away from home that I could no longer tolerate, not just in regard to the slack my wife picked up and never complained about, but I didn't want to miss my kids growing up. Other business ventures with greater ROI followed, but they were not the primary motivation at the time.

I remember many times through out the years here you saying your primary goal was to have your children attend college and graduate without the burden of student debt. With your primary goal met, and by the virtue of your skills, having made many people happy along the way, you have achieved what you set out to do...with Honors. I think it's awesome that with great dignity, honor and while still at the top of your game, you've decided to hang up the headphones to move onto other things. This is indeed something to celebrate and not mourn. The younger guys here may not understand that. Congratulations! I hope you stop by here every now and again to let us know what kind of mischief you're up to.

Best, Steve -Z-
 

Mark Evans

Mobile Beat Moderator
Staff member
#3
Congratulations on all you have done Bill. You were one of the 1st people I met on this site and one of the reasons we went to Vegas. Enjoy your time at home :)
 

bb

Well-Known Member
#4
Sounds like signing was always your main passion and Djing was just another source for making some income. Another skill you have is writing, as evident above. Maybe you'll write a book someday? Good luck with your future.
 

Cap

Always At Your Service
#5
Enjoy phase two of your passions, Bill. Be well. Stay well.

Question though. What are you going to do in 20 years when you do get old?
 

bb

Well-Known Member
#6
Sit in a rocking chair at a nursing home watching one of us younger ones entertain him. Then we will get to hear him say, I was once a DJ, singer, etc.
 

Ausumm

Active Member
#7
Glad you are ending your illustrious career on a positive note, with no regrets.
And I am even more happy that you are leaving the biz to pursue something that you love.
(and one that requires less heavy lifting :hp1:)
 

NickyB

Gear and Equipment Moderator
#9
Bill - Its been a real pleasure knowing you and working as a moderator here with you. Sorry to see you retire BUT I fully understand. Being nearly 72 years young myself, I have reduced my DJ/KJ/VJ workload to no more than one gig per month. I too have toyed with the idea of calling it quits but still enjoy working the seniors circuit. Since moving to Ocala, FL in a 55+ community, things have fallen into place quite nicely. I don't make the money I made in the Annapolis-Baltimore-Washington DC area but having a nice retirement nestegg and no mortgage or car payments, I find it quite comfortable still performing occasionally yet enjoying walking, swimming, bicycling and golfing. I wish you all the very best in whatever endeavors you undertake ....... Best of Life to you and yours!
 

Calash

Coastal Music Services
#10
So my friend...you are exiting the biz :hp6:I am so happy for you and can't thank you enough for all of your wonderful/level headed advise. For years I have gone to my colleagues here and needed feedback on MANY things. Your kind, non abashing way was always appreciated. If my husband and I had finished a gig where things did not go so smooth, I would say to him "I wonder how Bill would have handled this". You are a wonderful man, in the words of Red Skelton "God Bless and Goodnight". Nancy Sweeney from Coastal Music Services
 

Bill_Goode

Mobile Beat Moderator
Staff member
#12
Bill,

It's not retirement, it's shifting gears!

You won't get rid of me that easily. I hang on like fungus on a tree. ;)

Seriously, we have talked a lot about this, and you deserve a break. The school of hard knocks has rewarded you with wisdom beyond your years.

You may come back into it one day. If not, you will enjoy singing and having fun with the older folks.

Congratulations!
 

bill_smith

MobileBeat Moderator
Staff member
#14
thanks all. I'm still gonna hang out here, and WAVY DAVY, AWESOME!! great to see you! I'm selling the DJ components, and will use the proceeds to create the perfect retirement singing rig, lightweight but powerful. Robert, wrong as always. What makes you think that I didn't pour my passion into the DJ thing? I Dj'd for nearly 20 years. You can't not have passion and do that. What is it that makes you think that you can only have passion for one thing? In that 20 years or so,
I've presented at 5 DJ conventions, on various topics. As always with you, I consider the source.
 

bb

Well-Known Member
#15
As usual you take things wrong. Your passionate at everything I'm sure. Just sayin' singing is what you may be best at amongst the things you are best at :) But, I've never seen or heard you perform live, so I consider the source and have to have faith in what you stake.
 
#17
As usual you take things wrong. Your passionate at everything I'm sure. Just sayin' singing is what you may be best at amongst the things you are best at :) But, I've never seen or heard you perform live, so I consider the source and have to have faith in what you stake.
He may have taken it wrong, but it's probably because of how you wrote it. When someone says they are retiring a business, telling them it sounds like it was only an income source anyway sounds pretty negative to me.
When someone takes something you wrote the wrong way.... Which can happen to all of us... Consider saying, " I'm sorry, that's not how I meant it to come across", then explain yourself.
Starting with, "As usual, you take things wrong", puts all of the blame for the misunderstanding on the reader and is a pretty negative way to start explaining yourself.
Plus, when I'm misunderstood, I like to try to examine what I said or wrote and look at ways I could have said it better. I also try to proof read things and ask myself how would I feel it I was in their shoes.
Positive communication techniques are much more effective to get your point across. It's also a great way to make friends.

Good luck!
 
#19
Saw this a little late. Have read many of your posts over the years Bill. Congratulations on retirement, good for you. I was right behind you. After 23 years of running my business I retired at the end of 2017.
Anyone have suggestions on selling equipment?
 
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