|Photo by Laura Deas|
It’s literally a drive by interview; he’s got to get going to his next meeting, and so I get half an hour to nail down some specifics to find out what has separated this 25 year old entrepreneur from the rest of us. As the owner and main service provider of Espeute Productions, Daniel is everything from a videographer, photographer, DJ, Emcee, and most importantly the boss of a growing Mobile Entertainment Company. I mean, seriously, how does one come out of high school with a company that is a viable entity where the chief consumer of his service is in fact the high school student?
By accident as it turns out. At the age of fourteen Daniel Espeut began going to camps with his camera and heading back home to edit the stills and motion pictures into films that would evoke emotions out of his audience. What now takes him an hour or so, took him days to complete back then, and he would literally lock himself in his room like a hermit in order to get everything done to his satisfaction. Finding that he could tell a story that brought laughter, tears and thoughtful profiles to the faces of his audience became an addiction that he still holds onto today.
The same can be said of his DJ gigs. These came by coincidence as he would make mix cd’s for his friends for parties they were having, and then was began to get invited to the events in order to keep the music rolling seeing as he knew what he had put on each CD.
From there, the bug bit him again as a friend who was an intern with the Atlanta radio station Q100 introduced him to the world of emceeing and being the DJ of such events as weddings and proms.
“It takes a special kind of person to be a DJ,” says Daniel, “…knowing how to read people[to keep the flow going] and keep rhythm is extremely important. I don’t know a lot who are not musicians or dancers.”
Daniel, who has been trained in tap, salsa, jazz and hip-hop, used his dance skills and his magician skills initially to begin entertaining crowds at parties and such. By the time he graduated from Collins Hill High School, in 2004, he was, in his own words, “the ultimate business owner”, meaning that he was the product, the service and the proprietor of his own business. He gets to make his own schedule up to a point, and can pursue all of his creative outlets.
In fact all emcee’s are self-employed, some are a part of larger Agencies, but none, it seems are not a business in and of themselves.
If there is one thing that can and does get under Daniel’s collar are those that pop up and undercut the professionals. He realizes that in today’s economic climate that this is going to happen, but these guys, who typically do it as a hobby and therefore can do it on the cheap, end up discrediting others by the same name. The biggest difference says Daniel, is that professional DJ’s are licensed and insured.Espuete Productions, for instance is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and is apart of the National Association of Mobile Entertainers.
The feeling that I get about all of this, which Daniel does not say, is that professional DJ’s take a great deal more pride in their services rendered and are more about customer service than the hobby lover. It might be the typical 16 hours worth of work that will go into a single Wedding from inception to the final dance and break down, that gave me this sense of pride. Or, maybe it’s the fact that his website and blog are full of photos of himself interacting with his clients throughout his gigs.
So what exactly takes 16 hours?
Well Daniel sets aside four hours for the actual emceeing and DJ’ing of the event; but before that there’s the consultation with the Wedding Planner, Bride or Groom on the musical wish list, and also on the flow of the wedding as a whole. As THE guy with the microphone, he’s often the announcer throughout the reception. Knowing when things are supposed to happen, or how to create an easy transition when there is a delay in order to make the guests and clients happy is also key.
Moreover, the whole event is a collaborative effort, as the head of his business he is generally the head of the music department at any event he does, but by the pure nature of his job, his clients are his bosses for as long as they are his clients.
For Daniel, this is actually one of the greatest parts about his chosen profession, the fact that every week he gets a different boss.
This is the first part of a two-part discussion with Daniel Espeut, Mobile Entertainer