Having gained 30 years of experience as a mobile DJ, since starting out as a teenager in the late eighties, Joe Bunn is a well-known and well-respected industry leader. He now owns and manages a successful multi-op DJ company, speaks at DJ conventions, writes articles for trade publications, and creates DJ training programs, but on almost every Saturday he can still be found MCing and DJing at a wedding party in his home state of North Carolina.
Growing up in Wilson, a town that is around an hour’s drive from Raleigh, NC, which is where he lives today, Joe started out as a DJ at the age of just 13. Both of his parents have a love for music, which they passed on to their son during his formative years. Starting out playing at teen dances and parties for friends’ parents, by the time he reached college Joe had plenty of DJ experience under his belt.
However, it was during his time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that Joe really began to hone his skills as a DJ. “At college, I played for multiple late night fraternity parties each week,” he told us. “I’m still not sure how I managed to stay in school when often times I wasn’t getting home until 6am!”
Nowadays, Joe considers himself to be a Private Events DJ. Although he occasionally plays at birthday parties, fashion shows, corporate events, and retail promotions, the majority of his work – especially at weekends – is for weddings. This is where he has enjoyed particular success, which he primarily puts down to excellent customer service. “I think what makes my events special is that I listen to my clients and genuinely play what they want to hear,” he explained. “I am also fanatical about getting back to people in a timely manner. I honestly think that’s almost as important as good music!”
On the subject of music, Joe is an unashamed chameleon. When we asked his favorite genre of music to play he told us, “I’m all about playing what the client pays me to play. I don’t take the ‘I’m an artist’ approach. If you like country, well, then I like country (but not really LOL!). If I had to pick, I would probably say ‘90s Hip Hop, if I got to just have free reign over a set.”
Having perfected his craft, and customer service approach, Joe choose to expand his DJ operation to become a multi-op business. Today, Bunn DJ Company has an enviable reputation for customer satisfaction and a large team of DJs/MCs who perform at hundreds of weddings across Eastern North Carolina each year. In fact, the business has proved so successful that in recent years it has expanded, through franchising, into Western North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
In his market, Joe’s company has become so well-known that it is where most couples start in their search for a wedding DJ. “We are really fortunate that most people getting married call us. Do they book us every time? No. For the most part, when we lose a show, it’s due to the price point being too high. I’m OK with that. I want to be the highest in our market, we have earned it. Our online reviews more than prove that. Some folks just don’t have the budget, and I understand that, so I have to let them go.”
Bunn DJ Company's model is based around a minimalistic approach; a one-man deal where the DJ is the MC. Joe and his team don’t go in for large-scale production, but do offer basic add-ons like dancefloor lighting and the occasional monogram projection. However, up-lighting is still proving popular with many of their clients, who appreciate the difference that modern LED pars can make to a room.
Requiring a different skillset to that of a DJ, we asked Joe what it’s like to own a multi-op business. “It’s sometimes like being a zookeeper,” he told us, “in that you have a lot of different types of people and personalities to manage. However, once you find the right team of DJs/MCs, it’s the best job in the world. I wake up every day excited about running Bunn DJ Company. The fact that three of my former DJs have purchased their own company franchise from me gives me great pride. I know that they are going to all have long careers in the DJ industry.”
Outside of his own business, Joe has made many close friends in the DJ industry through attending trade shows; first as a visitor, and more recently as a guest speaker. “I just finished writing a blog post for Mobile Beat about this,” he explained. “I said they could take away all the gear and seminars at MBLV, and I would still go just based on the networking. I’ve made some amazing DJ friends, and gained valuable business mentors, just from attending shows. And I think local networking is equally important; I’m a member of both ILEA and NACE and I always go to the monthly meetings.”
Having DJ’ed at many hundreds of events, for all kinds of parties, and for crowds of all sizes, we were interested to know Joe’s most memorable experience. Despite his success in business, and the many lavish weddings at which he now provides his services, it was one of his earlier DJ experiences that still stands out in his mind. “I was hired to play at a school for hearing impaired kids in my hometown. I remember being so nervous on the way there, as I had just started out DJing. While I was setting up, one of the teachers came over and took my big old speakers and faced them down on the dancefloor and said, ‘Play the most bass heavy music you have’. I did, and the kids went nuts! What a memory!”
During his free time, Joe enjoys keeping fit, something that he thinks is essential for a professional DJ. “I like to work out. I go to a few different group class places like Flywheel (indoor cycling) and Madabolic (interval training). Aside from that, I love to hang out with my family. Most nights you can find me watching a good show on TV and, if I’m ever off on a weekend, my wife and I usually hit a new restaurant or a movie. I still love actually going to the movies!”
When we asked for a word of advice for up-and-coming DJs, it seems we touched a nerve with Joe. “Honestly, I feel like this phase of my career is all about helping other DJs,” he enthused. “I even made a video recently called ‘The Next Chapter’ talking about this. I speak at seminars, write blogs, do live chats, and write articles for DJ magazines, all with the hope that I can help some DJ not make the mistakes I made. I don’t know that I have one ‘word of advice’ for up and comers, I have many! Start slow, practice, get good before you do shows, and have amazing customer service!”
Aside from DJing regularly, and taking care of his business, Joe finds time for lots of other related projects. He seems to always be working on something new, whether it’s creating DJ training programs – his latest is called ‘Selling the Music’ (available at www.djjoebunn.com), building fiberglass DJ booths (www.visiondjdesigns.com), or making podcasts and doing workshops with Mike Walter (www.phdjworkshop.com).
Although he has enjoyed great success in the mobile DJ business, Joe remains humble. His final words to us were: “I appreciate everyone that has supported me, and asked me a question, or answered a question I’ve had! Thank you!”
With an attitude like that – combined with an unmistakable flair both for entertaining a crowd and running a business – we’re sure that the best is still yet to come for Joe Bunn!
For more information on Joe Bunn and Bunn DJ company, or to connect with him on social media, follow the links below.