Don’t worry, Joe Chera from Big Town Productions doesn’t bite hard!

Q: Please state your name, location and occupation?

A: My name is Joe Chera from New York, NY and I am the owner and operator of Big Town Productions.

Q: So what exactly does the Big Town Productions umbrella include?

A: We offer mobile entertainment specific to DJs, lighting and sound rentals, photo booths, and live acts. Our motto is “DJs For All Occasions”.  

Q: How did you get into the industry?

A: After working in NYC radio for a while, I came to really love the events side of things. The glitz and the glamour of the show is what most people noticed, but the logistics of how it all comes together for the audience, and how it had to be top tier was what got me. The “biz” aspect of “show biz” if you will. I loved the energy and once I really knew how to bring it all together, I decided to go into business for myself, bringing that same energy, albeit to much smaller audiences. 

One of the previous perks of being a DJ was snagging a dance with the bride!

Q: How many people are on your team and what do they do?

A: All told, we’re 22 pro guys and girls strong. Because our business offers everything from weekly trivia, jukebox bingo, karaoke, and bar DJ services, to weddings, corporate parties, and other banquet events, we have some pretty talented people who specialize in different things. One person may be really good at spinning tunes during trivia, playing songs that match questions and reading the crowd, but they might not be comfortable on the mic, while their coworker might be a natural host but doesn’t know their way around a controller. Someone might have years of experience DJing weddings but isn’t familiar with lighting for a corporate client and yet someone else might be a technical guru but would play nothing but Metallica if given the controls. The beauty is, our team works together for a lot of these different events and everyone is always learning from each other. 

Q: How did you expand to virtual gaming services?

A: It was through sheer necessity. Like almost everyone else, overnight our previously booked private events and our weekly public events either postponed indefinitely or cancelled outright. The harsh reality is that every position at Big Town Productions relies on these events to take place. Unfortunately, like so many people worldwide, a lot of us had to find other means to get by. One of our team members had asked if we were able to keep some of our weekly gaming events online. We had a decent following across NYC that would come out each week to various venues however, now everyone was stuck at home not knowing what to do with themselves. The answer was an instant “yes”. I wasn’t sure how at the time, but I knew we had to figure it out. Both to remain relevant, and to keep as many people working as possible. Step by step, it fell into place and thankfully the market responded favorably to these new virtual services.    

Packed wedding dance floors are hopefully not a thing of the past!

Q: When were you able to make a profit off of your small business?

A: I’m not sure when exactly what year it was but as Big Town grew from just myself and a couple of friends working the bar scene into something with a little more legitimacy, the business model has evolved. With our weekly venues, we’re able to make pricing competitive by keeping our profit margin on the low end. And we could only do that with volume. Our teammates are able to work a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening to supplement their earnings. With our private events, our pricing is competitive. We try to offer a little more every single time we go out. I always look back to my radio events and how we always had to be at the top of our game. And with that, over time, we’ve been able to build a solid reputation enough so that, before COVID, there was enough work for all of us.    

Q: What can you tell others who are just starting out in the middle of a pandemic?

A: It’s a tough game but like anything, stay the course, make decisions for the long term and remember that this is a business AND a passion. Sometimes you might do something that doesn’t make financial sense, but it makes you happy. Sometimes you’ll be downright miserable, but it’ll put food on the table. If you can balance those two extremes for you and your team, you’ll be successful. Also, another huge thing to keep in mind for the newbies: Don’t get caught up in having the best high end system out there, or the newest lights. Nine out of 10 people won’t know whether you’re using Serato, Virtual DJ, or RedBox, but they will all notice your professionalism. The way you present yourself speaks volumes. Learn how to manage your customers. Take the extra time to clean up your presentation. Get a façade. Knock out those dents in your speaker grills and paint them. It doesn’t have to be expensive to run a good event, but make it look as good as it sounds and people will feel comfortable referring business to you. 

It’s never too young to start chasing your dreams like Big Town Productions!

Q: How can you make yourself stand out against so many competitors?

A: It’s tough. There are so many talented people and organizations out there. Someone once told me, you can try to be the best but chances are you’ll run across someone that’s better at some point. Just be the best you can be and you’ll do better than most. Solid advice, thanks Dad.  

Q: When and how did you hear about NAME Entertainers?

A: A lot of good information comes from others in the game. That’s kind of what NAME is all about right? I had gotten the tip to look into NAME when I was shopping for universally accepted insurance. What I found with NAME wasn’t just a better way of insuring our events and equipment, but a collaborative platform to help us better our game. In all aspects it seems like NAME is an organization that really wants to better our industry, not just turn a profit.      

Q: Why should someone have professional DJ & event insurance?

A: Well in our market, you can’t do business without it. Any reputable establishment requires it before you set foot on the premises. But it’s also a good idea. Insurance is one of those things that people gamble on when money is tight, but it’s also something that can save your entire livelihood when needed. And besides the peace of mind you get by knowing you’re covered, it gives your customers comfort knowing that their event is insured with a policy that is recognized and accepted everywhere. You can learn more and sign up online here.

There can still be a happily ever after!

Q: If you could travel back in time, what would you tell yourself?

A: Throw all of your money in Zoom stock… game over and then retirement. 

Q: How can people get in touch with you?

A: Dial 1-900-ASK-4-JOE ($39.95 a minute)… Just kidding! The best way to get in touch with us is to visit our website www.BigTownProductions.com or send us an email DJs@BigTownProductions.com also like and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

You can still DJ and party safely with social distancing for micro weddings and more this holiday season!

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