DJ Mark Battle, Luxury Event Entertainment Specialist, One Sound and Entertainment.
We paint pictures with music.
Mark Battle is the owner of One Sound and Entertainment, an all-encompassing company that provided DJs and professional audio visual equipment. To date Mark has DJ’d in Ghana, Nigeria, St. Kitts, Dubai, Australia and many other places across the globe. I was thrilled to be able to sit down with Mark on a beautiful Friday afternoon in June to pick his brains about his background, his evolution and his views on the millennial bride.
Raised in New York, Mark started DJing in 1989 when he was 12. By the time he was 15 he was working and attending school as a Co-op student. After his shift ended at the World Trade Center he would spin records at local after-work hot spots. Mark moved to Atlanta after graduating high school and his love & passion for music moved with him. He worked as a party promoter while spinning in places like the world famous Magic City. In the late 90’s Mark made his mark (no pun intended) and was known in the entertainment industry for producing some of the biggest parties and events in Atlanta.
Mark opened a lucrative restaurant when he was only 21 years old but due to unforeseen circumstances, Mark lost everything that he invested into the restaurant and more. This caused him to fall into a depression which led to him losing his passion for music. He pawned most of his music equipment that he’d purchased over the years. This was around the time that music was evolving. Vinyl was going out and CD and computer generated music was taking over.
Mark ended up getting a job that afforded him the opportunity to get an overload of overtime. He was not fulfilled with a 9 to 5 so one day he sat down and wrote a list of the equipment and things that he would need to replenish his DJ equipment and start a business. The total cost of the items on his list came out to approximately $12,000. With this total in mind he focused on putting in the overtime to reach his goal.
A week after he wrote the list, Mark was driving to work and someone crashed into the back of his car. The settlement on the accident came out to the exact dollar figure that he had on his list.
He ordered the equipment that he needed and was sent an extra turntable in error. He called the company and instructed them to come and pick up the turntable because in his words, he did not want to “Mess up my blessings”. He felt that it was a test to see if he was deserving. The company retrieved the extra turntable and gave Mark a T-Shirt as thanks.
Mark was ready for business. He sent out a mass text message to everyone in his contact list providing the details on his website and letting them know that he was back! One of his old coworkers replied letting Mark know that the bail bondsmen association in a nearby county was having a Christmas party and was in need of a DJ. Mark obliged and the rest, as they say, is history.
When one of Mark’s great friends in New York got married and Mark attended the wedding as a guest. Mark always had preconceived notions about “Wedding DJs” and they were not good. As a guest at his friend’s wedding Mark saw a void in the wedding industry that needed to be filled; a DJ at weddings that gave guests an experience. Around 13 years ago, he decided to do it his way and over the next few years, One Sound and Entertainment emerged and a luxury event entertainment specialist was born.
What are your some of your all-time favorite wedding related songs?
Most of the time I do custom songs. I remember doing an intro first dance song that was a combination of “She’s Your Queen” from Coming to America that transitioned into The Lion King. It was amazing and so well received. I really love the classics for first dance songs. They don’t make slow jams like they used to! I like real classics like Always and Forever by Heat Wave and Latest Greatest Inspiration by Teddy Pendergrass. A Song for You by Donny Hathaway; this song gives me chills and every time we do it as a first dance song the guests end up crying. Boohooing like snotty boohooing. Usually the classic ones are the best ones.
I advise my couples to forego the cake cutting. It takes away from your party. I would prefer that my couples take whatever pictures they need to take of them cutting their cake but they shouldn’t make a huge announcement and have their guests stop partying.
Father Daughter dance songs are usually personal to my clients. They sometimes choose songs that I’ve never heard before and that’s okay. It’s all about the bond between my bride and her father.
How do you feel about clients sending you playlists?
I ask my clients questions like, “What do you listen to in the car”? I try to implement the songs into the event. Personally, I feel like if they have to provide me with a playlist then they are not paying me for what my gift is. If they are giving me a playlist, what do they need me for? They could just play something from iTunes. Give me songs to work off. Tell me what you like and what you don’t like and I’ll take it from there.
I don’t think it’s a good idea for couples to ask their guests what they want to hear via wedding websites and wedding invitations. I’ve seen some of the songs and some guests choose songs forgetting that the event is a wedding. People just ask for songs that they want to hear – nothing that anyone will dance to or that is appropriate for a wedding. I remember one guest asked to hear “Sorry” by Beyonce. Nope! Not on my watch. Have you listed to the lyrics? Think about the words of that song, lol. It’s just really not a good idea.
What’s the best part of your job?
Meeting new friends because my clients do become friends.
What should couples do in preparation for the wedding day to make your job easier?
Actually just relax. Get some rest and trust their vendors. Hopefully these are people that you’ve done your research on. Trust your vendors and let them do their jobs. Some couples want to control everything. But you have to let people do what they are hired to do and things will flow a lot easier. This might be your first or maybe even your second wedding but your vendors do it on a weekly basis. Get some rest – that’s very important, trust your vendors and enjoy yourself.
What is your routine when prepping for a wedding?
I usually make a list of songs that I intend to play. However, the songs that I actually play will be dependent on the crowd and what’s going on at the time. I would have the required music queued and ready to go in order; processional, recessional, candle lighting, introductions, first dance, parents, etc.
How do you handle on demand requests during the wedding reception?
Requests from my couples are okay. Guests however, I hear what they say but I usually only listen to the couple. There was one time I had about 300 people jamming on the dance floor and my bride asked me to play slow jams. lol.
Is social media a gift or a curse for brides?
I have a private Facebook Group with my prior brides and my prospective brides. They are able to converse freely to ensure that they do their research. In this way, social media is a gift. However, everything that vendors post on social media should be taken at face value. Bride’s still need to do their research like reach out to prior clients. You have to dig deep, especially when your spending your hard earned money. For vendors, I don’t think that all of the images that you post on your social media should be staged. Brides want to see the behind the scenes. They want to see you at work. Post a picture that you took with your camera phone. Let them know that you put in the work. Unfortunately, Instagram is a lot of fluff. It makes it harder for people that are actually doing the work because we have to prove ourselves.
A bride that booked me contacted another DJ and then came back to me to match the price. She said the other vendor had competitive in pricing. I replied that he wasn’t me and that I was giving her an immediate refund. She was not my bride. My bride doesn’t ask me to price match. I’m not Walmart. It’s not about the money, I just know my value.
All of my couples receive an experience. For example, my headphones have become part of that experience. My brides all take a picture with my headphones. I have brides coming up to me at the beginning of the reception wanting to take the picture before they start dancing because they want to be a #battlebride and capture the memory before they sweat out their hair and makeup.
Whose had the most influence on you and your business?
My Dad. I get entrepreneurship from my dad because he was an entrepreneur. He taught me that anything you need to facilitate your business you need to own it. As far as professional, one of my mentors is DJ Brandt Bester. He let me touch his turntable when I was 5 years old!! I’ve watched him use his money from DJ’ing to open a rim shop, then he opened a Metro PCS shop and then 7 more shops. Now he owns a restaurant. Being a DJ can open so many different doors for you. Look at DJ Khalid! He has an endorsement to sell Soy Milk! Soy Milk! DJing can be a stepping stone for so many different things. You can use it to go in any direction that you want to go.
Anything additional that you want to add?
Just how important it is to trust in your vendors. And your DJ is not an iPod. You hired a professional, let the professionals do their job.
Special thanks to Mark for chatting with me. At the time of our talk he was in New York on a Thursday and back in Atlanta on the Friday for a wedding on Saturday! His drive and motivation is inspiring and I am honored to call him a friend. Be sure to add him on all of the social media channels below and book him for your wedding and events!
Mark, continue to paint pictures with music!
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