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Beat Scene

Equal parts underground icon and mainstream phenomenon, today's deejay has the best of both worlds.
September 1, 2000
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/31444

Without skipping a beat, deejaying has not only become a revered enterprise, but also a full-blown lifestyle/industry.

The ballistic beats and brain-thumping drive of electronic dance music have risen from the inner sanctum of the underground into the main-stream. Such illuminated focus has knighted the modern deejay with rock star status (e.g., Moby) and generated a lifestyle that kids are embracing worldwide.

With this rising popularity, the role of dee-jay has evolved from the once faceless record spinner or the geeky guy at graduation parties and weddings to a rather musically impressive guru, whose mixing and matching of vinyl-elicited beats has brought forth a slew of profitable opportunities, spawning lifestyle-specific lines of clothing, gear and accessories.

Music equipment manufacturers have taken the reins as well, creating deejay kits for anxious neophytes and advanced, upgraded devices for seasoned pros.

Spinning records since 1985, Ron Dedmon (aka Ron D. Core), 33, has seen his scratching and spinning of records for enthusiastic crowds go from part-time hobby to full-fledged business. In 1994, Dedmon and his wife, Helen Liang, 29, opened Costa Mesa, California-based electronic dance music resource, Dr. Freecloud's Mixing Lab (DFML), with then-partner Jeff Adachi.

DFML offers mass collections of vinyl and mixed CDs that run the gamut of dance music genres as well as accessories and gear ranging from clothing and hats to record needles and bags. The scene has become so huge that Dedmon hopes to eventually open a chain of stores and expand his line of logo-laden accessories featuring his signature design, a demented, bulbous-headed doctor. Not only that, this enterprising company has evoked three in-house record labels, and Dedmon still does gigs as well as mixes his own records and CDs. Last year, DFML raked in $500,000 in sales, further convincing Dedmon that the mass interest in the industry won't likely fade.

"This music will always be innovative and changing," Dedmon explains. "Equipment is more durable, recording gear has been upgraded and there's just a lot more variety in design. Equalizers are much better now and cross-faders have become looser-deejays' needs have been met."

But, fortunately for entrepreneurs, they haven't been satiated. "When I first started out, I always said 'keep your day job,' but today there are more and more avenues for profit," says Dedmon. "Clothing design, graphic design, promotions, start-up record labels, record stores. It has just mutated."


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