Q: Please state your name, coverage location and job title.
A: My name is Kenny Gilder or DJkennyG and I am the CEO of the KG Entertainment Group serving Northeast Ohio.
Q: How long have you been a DJ?
A: I’ve been in the business for 43 years.
Q: How did you get into the DJ life?
A: I started out as a competition disco dancer and I always had to bring the latest music with me to the spot where I was a regular.
Q: How did you find NAME Entertainers?
A: Gosh, it was so many years ago, it’s hard to remember! But I believe it was at one of the early DJ Times Vegas shows.
Q: How has NAME Entertainers helped your business?
A: Insurance for sure, but just reading and studying others’ business operations and listening to as many sources of information as possible is always a prudent thing to do.
Q: It looks like you do a lot of fun, unusual activities too. What are they exactly?
A: The company has multiple divisions including the DJ company, Tavern Feud, Trivia With A Twist, Giant Games of Cleveland, Music Bingo OhiO and Reverse Raffle Pros. Combined, these create over 700 performances per year for myself and staff. I started out as KG Entertainment in 1976 DJing at nightclubs. I was one of the first local DJs that was a “mixing DJ” from my background as a drummer which gave me many advantages and landed gigs easily. When I wrote the business plan for that company and because my father was a wedding photographer, I approached everything as a full-time business operation not a weekend opportunity to make money. I even included in the draft to operate as a DJ until I was 40 and then moved on because who is going to hire a 40 year old DJ? Within weeks, we were providing DJs at multiple clubs which quickly expanded into mobile DJ work. At one point in the company history, we were providing services for over 600 events per year. Around the year 2000, we started expanding into other areas of entertainment. We started out by adding Reverse Raffle services for fundraising activities. Soon after that we added services for outdoor movie nights. That option quickly brought in adding big games which is where Giant Games of Cleveland got its start. Now we have dozens of GIANT games and interactive options for that division of the company. Trivia With A Twist and Tavern Feud are additions from just the past few years as I was aware that the “club scene”, at least as I knew it when I left that part of the industry in 2001, doesn’t really exist not to mention that I had no desire to work until 2 a.m. any longer. However, taverns, restaurants and pubs had steady business which is when I started to seek out Trivia performances. Tavern Feud is a newer, very successful, project for us. With all the LOVE in the world to Cleveland’s own Steve Harvey for making that show so very popular all over again!
Q: What was the tipping point for your business?
A: The BIGGEST, positive influence on my company though, without a doubt, is my Music Bingo OhiO division. It was an idea that I came up with – without even knowing that there were already similar programs out there. In 2014, I was calling bingo at a local race track by the name of Thistledown. When they contacted me, I said “sure, I can call Bingo for FIVE hours!?!?!” I did say, however, that we needed to have music in the background to help pass the time because after all – FIVE HOURS!!! Right around the third week of providing this service, I said to myself: I wonder if there is a way to add music to the actual game? I did some Google searching and found Rock and Roll Bingo in London, England and Music Bingo in Canada. While I did not really care for either of their processes, it gave me a base to work from and I created Music Bingo OhiO. I can honestly say it is the BEST thing that has ever happened to my business. I perform the Music Bingo OhiO program 2-3 times per day… EVERY DAY! I perform for an audience that is so grateful that I am there and appreciates what I do more than any other services. It is truly rewarding. It’s not a business where one is going to get rich. Depending on the part of the country, the rate of pay is only $75 to $150, but the work is there and it’s only ONE hour at a time. I average 15 shows per week and I have developed this into a program in which I train others to help them grow their business. Yes, there is a fee, however this program provides them this same rare weekday daytime business. It’s found cash flow that simply does not exist in the entertainment business.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a DJ?
A: There are several. I LOVE being an important part of people’s and company’s successful events. A very wise person once said – It’s not work if you love what you do… and I LOVE what I do!
Q: What advice would you give a budding DJ?
A: Do not limit yourself to your own potentially short-sighted views of success. And most importantly, if you are going to be in business, act like it! Avoid working out of your house as quickly as you can. Have things, like a place of business. Have the correct insurance to operate a business. Use legal sources for your music and have the balls to know what you cannot do correctly. Find something you truly love for a potential market that you truly want to service and you will never feel like “I have to work today!” Do not ever think that what someone else is doing, as a professional entertainer, is a dumb idea. It may not be right for you, but as they say “to each his own”. The wedding industry is shrinking – it is not growing. As a population, the number of “marrying age” people shrinks each year. Since there are less people within that group there cannot be more business, it’s simply not possible so be open to other ways to expand your business. Other DJs made fun of me back in the early part of my career because I worked at teeny bopper clubs and not cutting edge clubs. I was business savvy enough to know that clubs on the cutting edge were not going to be around as long as those that served the mainstream. I worked at one club for 17 years and another for 12 years. I’ve had some of my trivia client taverns for 5 years! Think about stability over the long term as opposed to what’s hot, but likely short term.
Q: Any last words of wisdom?
A: It has been an incredible ride. I never considered as an 18 year old DJ that I would still be working at 61 let alone busier than at any point in my career. I knew that by reinventing my business and myself I would remain in business. I now know that I can truly, factually work until I no longer want to work and man is that a load off the shoulders!
Q: How can people find you?
A: You can check out my websites at www.KGEntertainmentGroup.com, www.BigGameFun.com and www.MusicBingoOhio.com Facebook pages include: Kenny djkennyg Gilder, the dj company, Trivia With A Twist, Tavern Feud, Giant Games of Cleveland and KG Entertainment Group.