A Day In The Life of a Chief Music Curator and Hospitality Management Professor

Amani Roberts- Experience A Day In The Life Podcast

Amani Roberts

Chief Music Curator
The Amani Experience

Amani (00:01):

Once a record label opens up a specific single for and music contest that gives us permission to get their stems. And when I say stems, that means they’ll cut up the song. The original part of the song? They’ll give you the drum.

Krista (00:40):

People go to work every single day. There’s the nine to fivers, the work from homers, the doers, the dreamers. The list goes on. But what does it take day in and day out to succeed in these careers? This is the experience a day in the life podcast. We’re your hosts, Krista Bo.

Mat (00:56):

And Mat Po. The concept is simple. Each episode we take you through a day in the life of a different job, hour by hour. We call this an ADITL, spelled A-D-I-T-L which stands for a day in the life.

Krista (01:15):

So today on this episode you’re going to experience a day in the life of Amani Roberts. He is the chief musical curator at the Amani experience and he’s also an adjunct professor at Cal state university in Fullerton, California.

Mat (01:28):

If you look up Jack of all trades in the dictionary, you might find a Amani’s face.

Krista (01:32):

Definitely. And you’ll notice that there at his day because he’s switching back and forth from his duties at the Amani experience. He’s working on music, he’s writing lyrics, he’s working on his lesson plan for the next day at Cal state university, Fullerton, and.

Mat (01:47):

He’s a podcast host himself.

Krista (01:49):

So he’s researching his podcast Guests you’ll see,

Mat (01:52):

And as someone who takes a lot of time to get into a focus, I Marvel at this guy to be able to bounce back and forth from so many different things all in one day. It’s insane.

Krista (02:02):

You’re in for a treat for this episode. Let’s jump right into the day.

Speaker 3 (02:05):

Beep beep, Beep beep, Beep beep Beep beep.

Mat (02:13):

It’s 7:30 AM in Redondo beach in Los Angeles, California. And we find a Mani and his dog NILAH taking a nice neighborhood stroll. Afterwards. He heads upstairs to his home office slash music studio to write his morning pages. This is a concept from the book, the artist’s way by Julia Cameron.

Krista (02:35):

The idea is to write whatever comes to mind and try to fill up three pages of the journals. So one of the first things you do in your day is creative. You could write about your dreams you had the night before, fears or goals that you have for the day ahead or the future ahead to do lists. Really anything eight 30 on this day. Like most, he’s practicing the piano for 30 minutes an instrument. He’s picking up to improve his music theory and production. Let’s meet Amani and learn more about what he does and how we got to where he is today.

Amani (03:05):

My name is Amani Roberts. I am the chief musical curator at the money experience, which is my business, my company and what we do is we do entertainment events all across the world. I do that, I teach people how to DJ and we also produce music as well. What that is is I like to pride myself on curating the most memorable musical experiences and that’s through deejaying events. You know, taking a crowd through a journey of different songs that maybe they have heard or they have not heard. Sparking up

Amani (03:41):

Some nostalgia and just really the combination of me picking what songs to play for, how long to play them and in what order is I’m curating experiences in addition to being a musical curator, being able to see what songs work well, what songs a crowd will respond to positively. So all that makes up my position of being a chief musical curator instead of just a traditional CEO and I’m sure we’ll talk about it but then like deejaying and try to do it full time. You know, it can be a little tricky because I don’t want to be put in a position where I have to just take any and every gig cause that’s how you get burned out very quickly. So I was very fortunate enough to also in the last year, year and a half become a professor at a college down here in California and that’s really kind of helped me transform my business as well. I’m sure we’ll talk about that later, but that’s the commission. These two has really kind of allowed me to hit my groove, so to speak.

Mat (04:35):

So I want to ask a about the company, how it stands today. I know you have a few DJs underneath you and you’re constantly teaching new people how to DJ. Could you just describe for us the team and what services specifically you guys offer?

Amani (04:52):

Definitely. We have a group of probably about five to six DJs that will travel to any type of party, whether it be a social party, could be like a birthday party, a wedding, a corporate event, whether it be like your company’s having a holiday party or they’re doing a grand opening or they’re just doing a celebration. And so those are the kind of events we focus on. In addition, we also do a really unique team building activity or a team enrichment activity around a DJ lesson. And so I’ll travel all over the world to do that. Where instead of your traditional team building where it might be a ropes course or you’re getting in a circle, we focus on building, you know, team and getting the team to grow and get to know each other better through music. And it’s through a DJ lesson. That’s something exciting that we do as well. And so with the team that I have, I’m always training and teaching people. So I have some people that will come on, some people that you know, get maybe signed to tour with artists or whatever. So it’s always a fluctuating group of about five to six DJs at one time. That makes up the team, diverse group, male, female, everything. So we can meet pretty much any knee that a client would have.

Mat (06:01):

What’s your favorite type of event though to do?

Amani (06:04):

I love the corporate events. Personally. I love the corporate events and the team building events. Those are my two favorite.

Mat (06:08):

All right, well Hey kind of makes sense based on your past career.

Krista (06:13):

Yes. So we just talked about the the present of your business. Let’s go in the past you’ve had 25 years in corporate hospitality experience before this sort of second life, if you will. Can we start with how your career goals have changed over time?

Amani (06:33):

I think when I was younger I started working in the hotel business. My first job ever and they don’t really have this job anymore, but if you would go to a really big banquet and there would be the bar there, there would be a bartender and there’d be someone there selling you tickets to get your drinks on the bar and I was the person that would sell you your tickets to get your drinks at the bar. I was 17 years old, so I couldn’t be the bartender, but that was my first job. And then I went to be a bellman at Marriott international, downtown Washington DC. And from there my career just grew. I had a wide variety of jobs, whether it be a general manager of a hotel, director of marketing of three hotels, regional director of sales and marketing, and all along the way, in the back of my mind I had wanted to be a DJ, but I was incorrect in my assumption that DJs were not a legitimate career.

Amani (07:25):

I was really stuck on what they kind of teach you when you’re growing up that you have to kind of go work your way up the corporate ladder, get your 2.5 kids house with a white picket fence. And so that’s what I was going for. I was doing very well at Marriott making lots of strides. I was a general manager at 23 years old, which was super young, but I was able to, I was able to do it and just continue to, you know, Excel. But I really got to a point where it just wasn’t really fulfilled anymore, wasn’t really happy. And the job continued to be more about meetings and spreadsheets and less about people. And if you can’t tell, I love to work with people, I love people. So I decided to take a risk and make a change and retired from my career with Marriott, even though I was very young and decided to go full time with the DJ life.

Mat (08:26):

I do want to just take a step really quick back and if you could put yourself back in like that phase where you were right before you were contemplating taking the jump of retiring and going into deejaying full time, like what were your emotions, how did you handle that and I guess what ultimately pulled the trigger for you?

Amani (08:49):

I think what was going through my head was definitely a good amount of fear. You know, worries about money as I had a pretty good amount of savings but just like worried about money, you know? And honestly, which was, you know, very not mature of me. I was kind of worried about what people would think, what my identity would be outside of Mariak cause people were so used to me working for Marriott, you know, just, I just didn’t really know and I was kind of a little bit to worry too much about what people thought and just I maybe should have really giving myself more credit that I had some really strong business experience. I knew how to run a business. I’ve been running, you know, businesses, different businesses from Merritt for many years. And I think I underestimated myself if I’m being honest. I kind of understand that my skills and I didn’t think big enough. And if I’m looking back I should have, well I’m glad I did it when I did it. What I should have maybe been a little bit even more confident. Cause you know, I’m very creative and we’re creative people in and because of the fact that I was open to more opportunities, more different revenue streams would come. So when I’m looking back to when I made that decision, I was super scared, not very confident. I was worried about the wrong things. And so when I look back, that’s what I think of.

Krista (10:03):

So I kind of want to talk a little bit about the beginning stages of the Amani experience. Can you reflect back on what the beginning stages were like and how it’s evolved into what it is today?

Amani (10:15):

Yes. The beginning stages were, I had a podcast called Mirth: Nadir you can still find it on the interwebs, Mirthnadir.com Where I would have people call in and make dedications, love song dedications if there was any dream job that I would want to do even now is to be the late night DJ from like 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM playing a lot of slow gyms for the people and I would do that. So I, I duplicated that on the podcast, which then kind of grew to interviewing musicians and artists and talking about their career. I had a chance to interview several musicians who kind of blew up after I interviewed them, which was really nice. And then at the same time I would gig at this bar close to where I live in Hermosa beach is called Chelsea barn grew. I’d be there once a month and I would go there on Fridays or Saturdays and there’s this one DJ, DJ Tetris who would kind of show me things, what he was doing on the decks.

Amani (11:07):

He might let me stand there while he’s taking his bathroom break and make me mix through a song and I’ll never forget that because if you can find people like you, he gave me a chance. He showed me different tricks. Then I got to DJ at this one bar in Santa Monica, California called West fourth Jane. I was there for maybe three months every Friday, which was like my first residency. Remember at the same time I was still working for Marriott, so I was still working for Marin at this time and then I just kept doing that and that was pretty much the beginning of the podcast and deejaying a little bars and grills. I might get a small little social event, someone’s house, but I was, it was so different from what I’m doing now. It was so small. So that was how we started humble beginning.

Krista (11:46):

I love that.

Mat (11:47):

I love how you were starting while you were still at Marriott. Did you find that balancing to be difficult?

Amani (11:55):

I just couldn’t do as much as I probably wanted to do. I probably couldn’t practice as much as I wanted to, but it was good to start while I still had something stable just to make sure I was serious about it and I wasn’t getting too much, you know, in over my head too much. And then it got to a point where the combination of me just seeing the potential for the DJ business and just things with Marriott, just kind of, you know, it was time for me to make a change both personally because you know, mentally I just wasn’t really there and just wasn’t enjoying anymore. So I just, that’s when I got time to, it was time to retire and try to go full time

Mat (12:30):

Back to the day it’s 9:30 AM and Amani is working on some freelance social media projects from his home studio. This is where he gets most of the work done. So before moving forward, let’s set the scene.

Amani (12:41):

Sure, sure. So it’s like it’s in one of my second bedrooms in my home. And so when you first walk in right ahead to the left of you will be where my turntables are up. So you have like two turntables, a mixer right there underneath the turntables and mixer. It’s like got a bunch of different compartments. There are tons of records there as well. If you’re at the turntable and the mix you turn around, I have a bunch of like record covers on the back wall just to kind of set the mood and then if you walk ahead of the, so that’s kind of in the middle of the room and if you walk to the far wall is where I have like another desk there where I have like my computer and a stool and I worked there and that’s kind of, you don’t have like the bookshelf there, a TV on the wall in the back corner, close to the bathroom and the bedroom. I have like a calendar where I put kind of earnings and stuff on that and so I have lots of pictures around and that’s pretty much gives you a good idea of of the the studio. Definitely the focus is the turntables and the mixer and then you have the TV and the workspace. I have to work as well. That kind of sets the mood.

Krista (13:45):

So like we said, he was working on freelance projects at nine 30 on this day. The reason you took that on was because he found when he decided to teach full time, instead of trying to fill up his free time with only DJ gigs for additional income, he wanted to add other ways to earn revenue so he could keep his creativity as sacred as possible.

Mat (14:04):

Basically for Amani, the mornings are his creative time. He could be doing anything from freelance, social media writing or writing in general to working on his own projects. His most recent project is a book titled DJs mean business. How one night behind the turntables can spin your company’s success.

Amani (14:23):

The book will will take you through the time slots of a DJ set, 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM and it will relate each kind of section into what it’s like growing a business. So for example, if we take 10:00 PM the 10:15 PM that’s when you’re first starting our business. When we’re first starting our DJ set, we’re building rapport, getting to know who’s in the crowd. Same thing in business. You’re getting to know your clients kind of what their needs are. You fast forward to 11:00 PM and something always goes wrong in a DJ, whether it be dusty needles where the computer’s crashing speaker goes out. But the rule is you can’t stop the music. The music can’t stop. Same thing in business. Something will go wrong, whether it be shipment doesn’t come in, there’s you know, a bug in your app or something, but you can’t close down and start again.

Amani (15:05):

You have to keep going and just adjust on the fly. And then we get to like midnight prime time for a DJ. How do you, you know, get hit after hit after hit, keep people on the dance floor. Same thing in business. How do you just keep the business rolling in without stopping? Keep the momentum going for as long as possible. I’m skipping some sections as to just giving you a couple of highlights and then I have a couple other chapters. One of the chapter after the night is over about self care, which is really important. So I talk about that. Yeah, and that’s the book.

Mat (15:40):

It’s now 11:00 AM and the researching potential guests for his podcast called the Amani experience. The Amani experience podcast is for anyone who’s currently in the corporate world, but wanting to a pivot to something more creative or be reinspire themselves with fellow creative people. It’s also for people who already took that leap out of their corporate jobs and are looking for tips and tricks on how to move forward with their creative endeavors. Therefore, an ideal guest would be someone who’s successfully made the switch from corporate to creative like Amani has done.

Amani (16:13):

So at that time period, like 11/1130 I’m usually following up on referrals I’ve gotten from past guests who said, you should interview this person. I’ll research them, reach out to them, try to contact them on social media, the email.

Mat (16:26):

Very cool. And how did the Amani experience podcast come to fruition? How did, how did that come to where? It is

Amani (16:35):

About two and a half years ago. I was in, in like a with a business coach and one of her classes and sessions and we were trying to figure out different ways that the group of us in there could become thought leaders in our space. And she mentioned you could, you know, blog every day. You could video blog, you could start a podcast, you could do a couple other things write a book and you could do some other things. And I’ve kind of, my ears perked up so well I can podcast because I create music second, use that music and I think I can interview people and do well. And so I said that’s going to be my thing

Krista (17:10):

At noon. Amani had his first meal of the day. So he likes to follow intermittent fasting where he’ll eat for eight hours, typically from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM and then fast for the remaining 16 hours. And he also just likes to read during this time so that he can pause and sort of collect himself because next he’s moving on to professorial duties. What are you currently reading? And what type of books do you typically read?

Amani (17:34):

So during the lunchtime I’ll try to read a business book and so I’m trying to think of the book I’m reading now. It’s by Paul Jarvis, I think it’s the company of one. I think that’s what it called a company of one by Paul Jarvis. I’m reading that now. And then right after that I have a music book by music producer and artists Kashif everything you need to know about the music business. So those are two of them kind of reading right now, playing back and forth for my lunch break.

Mat (17:56):

You weren’t always a big reader. When did that light switch kind of turn on and when did you, I mean you’re reading 45 books a year on average. When did that really start?

Amani (18:06):

So when I was growing up as a kid, I would read a lot. I would read a lot all the way through. Pretty much high school and college. We have to read our textbooks and reading the joy kind of went away. And then I would work and working with so much just in the hotel industry, I didn’t read as much. I think I really kind of rediscovered my passion for reading, I want to say about six or seven years ago. It kind of coincides with when I left and started to left corporate America started doing my own creative thing. I just found that reading for me first was very therapeutic because if you’ll find that when you’re an entrepreneur your mind will wander and run in a bunch of thousand different directions. So it helps me kind of center myself and then learning like we don’t really take a lot of classes, you know when you’re an entrepreneur, so you have to learn somehow. So reading this different books, nonfiction books helped me learn and that’s, that’s what I’ve seen have a positive impact on me and my kind of personal development.

Krista (19:04):

1:00 PM time to put his professor hat on. We’re talking lesson prep, grading, answering questions from students, things of that nature. Entertainment, money management is the course that he teaches at Cal state Fullerton, but how does one become an adjunct professor at an accredited university?

Amani (19:21):

Excellent question. This came, if I’m being honest, this came kind of out of nowhere. It’s very ironic. I grew up, my dad was a college professor at Howard university. He was a chairman of the psychology department, so there’s a pretty prominent position there and that there was no way, I did not go to school to be a teacher. My major was hospitality management with a minor in finance, and I just had no interest. You know, you know how when you’re younger you want to do the exact opposite of what your parents do because you want to be like the most individualistic person. So that was me. So I went into hotels, worked in hotels, and then soon after I retired from Marriott and I started going full time in my business. I did two things. The first thing I did is I went to scratch Academy, which is like a college for DJs.

Amani (20:04):

And then I also joined a professional association called meeting professionals international. It’s the Southern California chapter. They have chapters all over the world, all major cities and regions of the world. And so I joined the Southern California chapter and eventually I started to volunteer more. I was in, you know, given a committee chair position and eventually I got to be on the board and the board has about 13 or 14 positions. So one time after a couple of years being on the board, I was elected to the position of vice president of membership. And part of our responsibility for membership is we had to grow traditional members, professionals such as yourself, myself. But we also had a goal of growing our student membership. So our goal was we were going to go and visit all these talk to them about our careers as well as try to recruit members and spread the word about NPI.

Amani (20:52):

So the California, so we can grow our membership base and just kind of create relationships. So I went to all four schools. I had a team of people, we went, we visited and Fullerton was the first school I went to and I got to meet my colleague, Dr. Kim. I was there for all day. One day I talked to her morning class, stayed on campus and worked and talked to her evening class. I brought people there and it was cool and I loved it. And so I helped Cal state Fullerton plan an event called hello hospitality and it went well. And what happened is that I’ll never forget, I was working volunteering at a DJ camp for kids called campus spinoff and I get this email and it’s like July, late June, early July, 2018 and it’s an email from Dr. Kim.

Amani (21:44):

She says, you know Amani, we had a teacher retire and her class was called entertainment money management. We were evaluating who could come in and teach that class and your name came up because of your experience in the industry. Would you be interested? They’re like, normally you have to have like an MBA to even qualified to teach, but because of your extensive work experience, it’s even more valuable than an MBA. Would you be interested? So I was like, well yeah, I’d be interested that, that’d be pretty cool. I like teaching. I like teaching and sure. So I had an interview and then, so keep in mind this is an interview now. It’s like July, we’re getting closer to August. The semester starts. August 21st had the interview, then I did the background check and it took a while cause I lived in so many States that’s really important for public institutions to have to vet their professors.

Amani (22:33):

And so that finally came back and then they, they said, okay, we’re good to go. Here’s the sample syllabus from the class that was taught the same class. Let’s talk last year here is the syllabus and a couple exams come in on these two days for orientation. Your first day of class will be this, this date, it was like three weeks from now I was like, Oh my gosh, my classes are on Tuesdays. I teach two classes the same class twice. When I first went there, my first class was 1:00 PM to 3:45 PM and then my second class was 4:00 PM to 6:45 PM so it was back to back. It was in the same room, but it was two hours and 45 minutes. So I’ve taught before at different levels, but I’ve never taught at college before. So I had to create a engaging lesson plan on a weekly basis that you know, I can’t talk for two hours and 45 minutes.

Amani (23:23):

The students, you know, they would fall asleep, had to make it interactive each week I had to, you know, I had to learn a lot like very quickly. So what I did is I plan it out where I started with my strongest kind of subject matter first, which is hotels and hospitality. And then I have to teach them about like hotels, casinos, amusement, gaming, how they all earn money, teach them about how musicians earn money, the all the licensing and then also films and streaming services. So I’ve kind of put my strongest two categories at the front and sort of the back like music and the musicians is strong category and hotels is my strongest. So I started with hotels. We do three exams, two 50 point exams, one final exam, a hundred points. We have two group projects, 50 points each and then we have attendance grade and quizzes. So I came up with all that. That’s the long story short about the journey. There’s so much I could share in there, but that’s kind of a good summary of how it came to be, how fast it happened, how unexpected it was. If you had told me a year and a half ago, let’s say June of 2018 that you know in 18 months you’re going to be a professor at Cal state Fullerton and the co-director of the center. I would have said there’s no way.

Krista (24:35):

I want to talk a little bit about your preparing and researching for these lessons. Cause obviously you know a lot about hospitality. Obviously you know a lot about music, but maybe you’re not as proficient in the gaming industry or any of the other classes. What are the steps you’ve taken to make yourself an expert to teach these subjects?

Amani (25:00):

I have to do a lot of reading, whether it be different textbooks. I do a lot of like listening to interviews. I read a lot of like company, not their P and L statements, but like every, their quarterly updates. That’s where I get a lot of great information on like the streaming services like Netflix that are really, really quality quarterly report where they not only do they show the income statement, but they also talk about their competitors, what they see for the future. And so for me, I use that as part of the lesson because it’s really challenging nowadays for a textbook to stay accurate more than one year. And so if I’m able to get more up to date on like Hulu or like Netflix from their P andL or their quarterly report on clue that in the lesson in addition to their P andL because we have to learn about the income statements and everything like that.

Amani (25:50):

So I, I do a lot of research. I do a lot of listening to podcasts. I do a lot of watching like video interviews, just keeping up with the trends. The perfect example is that last week Disney plus came out and so that’s, that was the time when we started the streaming conversation. So we had a conversation about that. Then this week we’re going to review the results of Disney plus after one week. So I try to do a lot of research and reading to keep it timely. Like tonight when I finish it I have to do a little more researcher worksheets on like films and things cause things change so fast nowadays that every week I have to like update the slides and just make sure it’s timely.

Mat (26:25):

3:30 PM he finalized the lesson plan for his classes the next day and moved onto his music production projects. You always switching gears here all the time in this transition, he was preparing for Wednesday’s three hour remix session with his coach, meaning he was listening to reference tracks, searching for their next remix and doing graphics and video works for their most recent remix Ableton is the editing program of choice. By the way, if you were wondering, what are you working on currently?

Amani (26:54):

So we just finished doing a remix flume with, I believe her name is Vera blue. And so what happens is that it’s ironic that we just finished this mix of them. We do a lot of remakes contests and we viewed it as practice, but also once a record label opens up a specific single for and music contests that gives us permission to get their stems. And when I say stems, that means they’ll cut up the song. The original part it, they’ll give you the drum, the guitar, the singing voice, and they’ll say like wet and dry. Wet is when the singing voice has a lot of reverb on it, so it’s a little bit of echoey dries. It’s pretty much the straight off the microphone and you get to kind of adjust and play with them as much as possible. So it’s a great practice. It’s great training. So we do a lot of that. And so we just finished that last Wednesday’s canal

Mat (28:04):

And stop there and unpack that a little bit because there’s a lot of detail in there. First of all, I love flume, huge flume, huge flume guy over here. Secondly, those, so for younger people or anybody really trying to get into music production or deejaying these music, these remix contest, how do you get involved with those? Do you have to be legitimate already? Do you have to sign up? Do you have to apply? How does that work?

Amani (28:35):

You can go on, there’s three websites I recommend. Metapod.Com you can go to [inaudible], S, K I O music.com and then splice.com those are the three main websites where they advertise different remix contest for specific artists across any genre you could imagine. And so you, you legit, as long as you have a a DAW, which is like a digital audio workstation, like an Ableton live, a pro tools, a GarageBand, any doll you have that you can split up the stems like I spoke about and adjust them and use what you want and maybe add some more elements like a piano to it or saxophone. Since we’re giving love to the saxophone as well, you know, and just other effects and just make the song yours, change up the rhythm, change up the vibe you, you can do it. And so that’s where you find all our remixes and then you have a certain time limit.

Amani (29:30):

Most of them are like between 21 and 35 days. You create the song, you submit it, the artist will listen to it. You could win. So far we haven’t won yet. We’ve submitted probably 35 36 so we start a lot. But we’ve got good feedback and it helps us build our catalog. So since we just finished this one remix, we’re going to release our third EP. So we have 12 remixes we’ve done in the past year. Since January we’re going to release, release this EP. And it really is just putting on all the songs together on like a CD and like a zip drive. And we just have it as a finished product and then we’ll keep making them. So now, tonight and tomorrow I have to find another remix. Our next few is to work on. And so that’s kind of the music production now lately, what’s been added to it is that for the past two months, two months, we’ll say, okay, I started to write a lot of song lyrics.

Amani (30:20):

So I did like probably like a 30 day challenge where I’d write a lyric a day, which means I’d write either a verse, one verse, one course or another verse of a song. And so I have probably a good five or six songs done of the lyrics. So the next step is we have to write the music for it. I’ve got to figure out, do I want it to be in like E major, C sharp minor, you know, a minor C major. And then write the notes that would coincide with the lyrics as well. And then we can get to play it. And then we’ll find a singer who can sing it for us. And then we have a demo and we have an original track that’s kind of the next step, which we’re kind of gonna do at the same time. So we’re always going to have our remix kind of production and building that catalog because that’s good practice and we’re going to add to it now more original music because then once you do original music, you can get it on Spotify, iTunes, sell it or whatever. It just helps also. So we’re kind of attacking it from both ways.

Krista (31:13):

Amazing. So on this day at 3:30, your remix partner and yourself were spending about three hours on Wednesdays working on your latest remix, which you just talked about. And on Tuesdays on this day you were preparing and researching specific items so that you make sure that you’re maximizing your time together. Can you talk about what you were researching on this specific day?

Amani (31:38):

Exactly. So let’s say on Tuesday my responsibility is to, this is a great example, like I have to find the remix that we want to do. I have to download it, I have to set it up in the doll where I have all the stems, separated, color-coded. Then I have to map the song out. When I say map the song out, it means that I have to write down how long the intro is, how long each verse is, how long each course is, bridge verse outro so that we know what’s part of the song we’re gonna maybe adjust or as well. And then I have to also think about a reference track. What’s track is out there that we want to kind of maybe emulate or maybe there’s two or three tracks out there that we want to kind of, maybe we like the rhythm of this song with their bridge, but we like the how the song starts off or we like how the song ends.

Amani (32:29):

So we get a couple of reference tracks. So I have to get all that prepared so that when I show up on Wednesday, it’s all loaded up in the hard drive. I have my mat, me on paper, everything is color-coded. I have the reference track, the rep, map out the reference track. Then you have to identify, try to hear all the sounds that the reference Trex uses so that we can see if we want to use some of the same songs or not or sounds, excuse me and I have to have all that. So when it comes time for after we’ve gone through our scales and arpeggios and now I’m using the two five one scales. Once we have gone through that, we cop right over to the studio portion of the studio and we get to the remix. So it’s like that’s all the work I have to do and then we can be creative.

Krista (33:12):

4 30 Amani went on a walk with NILAH and by the time he returned to his office after everything he accomplished already on this day, he’s pretty spent mentally. So time for emails and proposal work proposals will be for either DJ work, professor duties, nonprofit requests, book updates, things like that.

Krista (33:30):

What would you say to DJs just starting out or anyone really in the entertainment industry on how they should price their services, especially if they don’t have much to back up on. Yeah,

Amani (33:44):

This is a hot, hot topic. Pricing is a really, really a challenge for people because it’s a combination of self-worth. It’s a combination of where you’re located and what’s the kind of going rate is for the services there and what the client’s budget is. It’s really challenging. So I would say for people starting off, always find out what the client’s budget is and try to use that and then figure out, especially when you’re starting off, you might have to a bunch of gigs for cheaper than you want, but you need to build up the experience and the number of gigs you’ve done. So then you have a little bit of cache and then you know, many times a client might have a budget that’s bigger than you what quotes. So you definitely meet their budget and you just quote what they, what they have. But sometimes you have to figure out if the gig is going to be worth it for you to do it, but the budget is so low and it’s a really, really tough, especially when you’re starting off, it’s really tough to kind of get that locked in.

Amani (34:39):

So I would tell people, get, get a bunch of gigs under your belt first. Try to get paid for each one of them if you can, and then just kind of slowly but surely work your pricing up until you get a point where you know you feel confident enough to walk away. And there could be some nights where you could be at home because you’ve turned on a gig, but you have to realize that you will have opened yourself up for maybe a better gig down the road. Now it’s not going to be linear. It’s not going to be because you turn on a gig on Friday, December 14th you’re going to get another gig for bigger money on December 14th it just doesn’t quite work that way. But what will happen is that you could spend some time doing research or preparing on December 14th instead of, you’re not out there, but you’ll get a bigger gig for January. That’s been a hard concept for me to follow, but I do believe it. It’s just takes a little faith.

Mat (35:26):

So let’s pretend this day that you did have a corporate gig or you did have any gig. We’ll say a corporate since that’s one of your favorite ones. What does your planning process look like and preparation process look like before that gig, if it were the same day,

Amani (35:44):

Hopefully they will have a run of show, which is the timeline of the events. So that event starts at five o’clock DJ starts at six o’clock we have announcements at seven anyone else has seven 30 DJ play, some eight to 10 more announcements. If I can get that from them, that’s good. And then if they just give me some ideas of what they want to have play, I have different crates already in my computer. I can just pull songs and just go with it. And that’s usually what happens. The key is to get the time, like the time flow, the run of show. So I know what’s good, what’s happening. And from there I’ve got enough experience where I can pull eighties music or current music or old school funk and just kind of drop it in there to please the crowd. The best thing that they can share with me is really the age demographic of the crowd. Cause if I know the crowd is between 27 and 50, I know what decades and songs I can go through and work as well. Whereas if it’s crowded just 14 to 22, I know I’m going to have to get more current music as well. So that’s probably the biggest key is to know the age demographic of the crowd.

Mat (36:40):

So like a, about like these are obviously you’re, you’re traveling to these events. What is packing up your equipment look like and what are you bringing with you to these events?

Amani (36:54):

So most corporate gigs have to bring all the speakers, the sound. So it’d be the speakers with the subwoofers, bring my turntables or my controller and my computer set it up. So I try to get to most corporate gigs, 90 minutes in advance, it’ll take me, you know, 30 to 45 minutes to kind of load in, set up everything, gets situated and get myself another half hour to 45 minutes to just get situated. That’s generally speaking, sometimes corporate gigs, the sound will already be there. So I just come and plug in, which is amazing. And then that’s a little less time, but I’ll still kind of get there early and if I have a lot of extra time and I’m already sound checked everything, that’s the good thing about reading. I’ll just have my book with me and just read and kind of you know, relax before I start to play.

Mat (37:34):

And then as far as like, you might actually love this question, but like licensing and in terms of music, can you play whatever you want or like what, like how does that work?

Amani (37:45):

Yes, because the licensing comes from the venue. So as long as the venue has the proper license that you know, either be an entertainment license or dance license, they, that’s their responsibility. Most hotels have at bars venues that have some sort of entertainment license that covers them.

Krista (38:02):

I had no idea that venues like this needed to get a license for that.

Amani (38:07):

Needing to and having them as two different stories. But that’s

Krista (38:12):

Right. Right.

Mat (38:13):

So is there any like, so so the liability is completely off your shoulders then?

Amani (38:18):

Yes. You know, I just, yeah, I my only responsibility to make sure I have legit music either bought from like Amazon music or record pools, which, you know, record companies send the music to or iTunes. So as long as I have legit music, I’m fine.

Krista (38:32):

Nice. So that, that’s a great segue into the next question, which is where you get your music and how do you kind of store it and organize it all?

Amani (38:39):

I get my music mostly from record pools and record pools, which had been around for years are when record companies will send specific singles or songs from artists to a record pool, which is like a hub. And then I’ll log on, pay my monthly or quarterly fee. So I pay a fee to have access to the record pools and then I get unlimited downloads of any songs that are there. It’s usually good to have a couple of different record pools, one that focuses on like current music, one that Mo might focus on, like maybe old school music or pop different genre so you can have everything covered. And then the ultimate backup is just to use like iTunes or Amazon and download it from there. The benefit of record pools is up create what’s called intro versions to songs and ultra versions, which means that sometimes songs will start off and the artists will be singing right away.

Amani (39:27):

And for DJs, of course we can mix that and scratch it and drop it. It’s easy, but sometimes we want to keep it smooth and seamless. So what an intro is is they’ll create eight bars where it’s kind of like the instrumental portion of the song, which then allow you to mix in and out of the song seamlessly. So after the eight bars will be when the singing starts, that’s the benefit. That’s the benefit of record. Pools have different versions. They’ll have transition tracks, they’ll say, you know, to get really complex, if you’re mixing and you’re at like 110 beats per minute, which is pretty fast, and you want to play a song that’s like 72 beats per minute, it is a little slower. They’ll have some transition tracks where the song that you’re actually mixing into means as long as you want to play, we’ll start off at 110 BPM so you can mix in and out of the song you’re playing at. And eventually as the intro ends, it will slow down to 72 beats per minute as well. And so that’s just the benefit of the record. They give you lots of different options of the song. They’ll give you a remix of the song you can play. And so that’s where I get most of my music.

Krista (40:22):

So, speaking of that, let’s talk about what you’re doing in the actual corporate event. So what time are you usually starting and can you kind of tell us how the night is progressing?

Amani (40:35):

Most corporate events, you know, start let’s say 7:00 PM, just depending, usually about three hours. You might start off while people are still eating with more laid back kind of lounge style music. And then there’s typically a more energetic frenetic time where there could be dancing, you might play the popular music of today and yesterday throwbacks and most of the time after three hours they pretty much finishes and then you pack up and you go. And so that’s pretty much it. Yeah, corporate events are pretty standard and that’s pretty much what it is. There could be, there could be some announcements, you could have to do some work on the microphone. This past weekend was an interesting event for me. I was actually the auctioneer at his events. I didn’t know de Chang, I was just, you know, trying to raise money for the auction. So that’s a unique one, but that’s fun. It keeps it different. Yeah, that’s pretty much what a corporate event would be.

Krista (41:25):

So what would you say makes a good DJ in your opinion?

Amani (41:31):

A good DJ is someone who knows how to the crowd, be able to play songs that everyone can recognize and feel songs that introduce people to new music that they might like and be able to keep the dance floor cycle through the dance floor. And when I say psycho food dance force, like you want people dancing all the time, but you do want people to kind of maybe take a break, go to the bar so we can give the bartender some love and just make it so that people like, they just don’t understand how this deep that gets the DJs playing all the hits, missing a new songs. It sounds smooth, not choppy, no train wrecks. And people are just just excited and just happy. And that’s a skill. Like it’s hard to read a room. Every room is different. No two rooms are ever the same and just be able to move the crowd. They don’t necessarily need to be on the microphone all the time, but speak through the music and just make it so people have a memorable experience and they don’t notice you’re there, but they know that they had a good DJ experience, if that makes sense.

Mat (42:27):

So then the opposite of that question I would ask is how, what’s your advice on how to salvage a mistake that you made or when you read the room and you realize what you’re playing isn’t really resonating. How do you, what do you advise to fix that? Yeah,

Amani (42:44):

Definitely. Don’t be afraid to switch it up if they’re not feeling what you’re playing. Maybe try different genre, you know, maybe put, just switch things up until you get some positive reinforcements. And some nights that can be tough. There’s some nights where they don’t feel anything you’re playing, but you can’t take it personal. Cause it might not be you. They might not just be wanting to dance. And so if you aren’t reading the room right, switch it up. Try different things, you know, listen to people when they make requests, you don’t necessarily have to play their requests, but if you listen to the requests that, that’ll give you clues as to what they want to hear is what the crowd might be in the mood for. And try to focus on one person. If you see this one person is like top of the head dancing, try to multiply that by two, two people, then four, then eight and then try to build your dance for that way. And I think that that’s, that’s what I found to be most effective. But definitely don’t take it personal because it might not, it could not be used. So just try to do what you can.

Krista (43:39):

If this was a gig day, it would be over probably around 10:00 PM and he’d be in bed shortly after that. But on this day, he mapped out a set amount of time, two to three hours or so from mapping out music for his remixed partner’s session that Wednesday. Otherwise they’ll go down many rabbit holes, which we’re all guilty of. And that means his wind downtime suffers. He likes to plan time at the end of his day to relax, indulge in a good book, and celebrate the progress of the day. Remember he said self care was important, a remedy to prevent burnout.

Amani (44:10):

And I find that to be the most effective and allows me to sleep the best.

Mat (45:11):

I think this one’s going to be interesting because you’ve been through so many changes I guess in your career, but what would you tell your 18 year old self today?

Amani (45:26):

I would tell my 18 year old self to think big to recognize that deejaying is a legitimate career and don’t think otherwise and to make sure to stay in touch and stay tight with people you meet along the way because they’re going to be the ones who are going to support you in the toughest time you have with life and just don’t be afraid to take risks. Like take lots of risks, live anywhere you think you want to live and just go for it. Think big and go for it.

Mat (46:00):

Where can people find you on social media? Where can people find you in general? How do you want to be contacted? If anybody does

Amani (46:09):

All the socials, you could find me at Amani experience a mess where you can find me. And on LinkedIn it’s at Amani Roberts. My podcast is the Amani experience podcast. And then just follow me and I’ll be telling you where you can find a pure of the book very soon. And that’s, that’s where you can find me.

Mat (46:30):

So you just experienced a day in the life of the Amani Roberts. Check out the show notes that has all the pictures and links in everything we discussed in this episode at https://aditl.jobs. If you liked this episode, please take some time to rate, review, subscribe and share with a friend. Also find us on https://instagram.com/acouplewithapodcast and DM us. What job and career you want to experience next.


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