For NYC’s Most Talented DJs, It’s Always 4AM
4 AM is a way of life for thousands of people in nightlife. It is the traditional time that liquor-hawking establishments in NY state must stop selling the booze. Some places have been restricted lately to 2 AM licenses. I wonder if a place that has a 2 AM license could ring up sales on a customer’s card and his liquor could be served and enjoyed until 4:30? I’m going to find out. Although nothing can be sold after 4 AM in our clubs, bottle service has allowed the party to go on for at least another half hour. This means the service employees who make everything possible still need to hang around. One person who can’t go home is the DJ. At this time of the night it’s his job to wind things down so that the patrons can leave quietly. Adam Alpert, Jon Lennon and Jus-Ske have formed a DJ management company, the aptly titled “4am.” I met up with Adam and Jon while we connected with the touring DJ Jus-Ske via the wonders of modern technology. I’ll continue with Jus tomorrow, today Alpert and Lennon have the floor.
Give me and overview. Adam Alpert: 4AM is “4 Artist Management”. That’s what time NYC closes, as opposed to Philly, DC, Boston, LA which close at 2. The partners are myself, Jon Lennon, and Jus-Ske. DJ management is a recent trend.
But Judy Weinstein and tons of others have been doing DJ management since back in the day. AA: Back in the days of Spa and Life, Steve, you usually called a DJ directly.
This is true it was only the large floor or really famous guys who had a manager. Social/Mashup DJs generally don’t have management—outside of Yoni Goldberg’s stable. He handles a number of the best DJ’s around. AA: there are VERY talented people working the best events/clubs in NYC but are not getting marketed on a national/international level. Jon Lennon: Adam and I have been building the careers of DJ simply based on need, bringing them to events in Philly, LA, SF and thus making them irreplaceable to us.
Jon, you are the face of GoldBar and Adam you are the promotional director of 1Oak. You have been hiring many DJ’s in these high profile places, sometimes breaking their careers in NY and then you have booking them in other cities as well. Am I right that, up until now, there hasn’t been a cohesive plan in terms of their careers. AA: Yes, that’s our company’s purpose. This talented family of DJs are all friends, even though they are competitors they like working together. We wanted to take the help we’ve been giving them and organize it, turn it into a movement. We are a family.
So there is a group of DJs without management who have reached premium level, like DJ Sinatra who has paid his dues, but isn’t getting his due. AA: Young DJs have to be out there grinding for themselves, promoting themselves, calling owners. With our friends and relations around the world it was a win-win situation. It makes sense to secure our best DJs with gigs and fame. JL: I was working for Deckstar and Adam and Jus wanted to start an agency. I was the NY exec of Deckstar, a company that also wanted to open a NY agency. The two would’ve been in direct competition, but now we have a bridge to LA and they have one to NY.
So you are partners with NY Deckstar? AA: I like to say we have a strategic alliance.
Tell me the names of some of the DJ’s in 4am’s roster. JL: Ani Quinn, DJ Vitale, DJ Price, DJ Phresh, DJ Sal Marole, DJ Orazio Rispo, Jus-Ske, Suss One, DJ Theory. They are all of the ‘open format’ style, except Orazio, he’s House. AA: In NY there have grown to be a lot of DJ—based nights Sunday at Goldbar, Tuesday at 1Oak—where you’ll have 5 DJs in the booth and 25 more in the crowd. Its’ a culture of camaraderie, and we wanted to organize these guys together.
When does an agency become a union? Because right now a DJ has to pay you a percentage. Your stated goal is to make DJs money, raising fees. Why wouldn’t a club go out, like I did, to find the next young stud? AA: Cause they aren’t good enough and don’t bring people.
Many DJs, basically all of them— Frankie Knuckles, David Morales—all started out as no-names at clubs that were known as venues with good music. Everyone gets there first gig. I started countless DJs, developed them, gave them higher profile spots, until the whole world clamored for them. JL: I’m from that school. My two biggest DJs were Jesse Marco and Cassidy, who I took a risk on when they had no name.
If the prices become too high, the owner will go back to the old way. However, this current crop of owners are more administrative, not from the streets and wouldn’t necessarily recognize a good new DJ. AA: Any kid can get a laptop and Serrato can call themself a DJ. It’s not like the old days where you had to buy vinyl. Being the new young kid DJ is like being a starving artist. You have to grind, call owners, promote. So every young DJ in NYC has emailed me saying “Will you rep me?” Because we have those connections. JL: On my Facebook, all day its DJs from around the world.
In the old days it was harder, Record Pool, Judy Weinstein’s management company, would distribute new tracks to 200 DJs nationally. Those DJs would have the latest greatest version. So other DJs who didn’t have the latest greatest, newest mix were considered second class. Now, with the internet, you can’t control who gets that kind of access as easily. Everybody gets everything. AA: Correct
You two work at specific clubs. Why would a rival club use you guys? AA: Because we have 12 DJs and we’re friendly with everyone in this industry. Outside of OAK, I work with Satsky in the Hamptons, Noah in Miami on New Years. These guys at other clubs are some of my best friends, who would’ve booked these DJs anyway. This has got nothing to do with 1Oak. We’re friends with everybody, every owner, every promoter. Mark Birnbaum and Eugene as well. Everyone has a different clientele. There are enough clubs and gigs and nights to go around.
How about out of state gigs? AA: Another thing I’d like to mention are the secondary, or nontraditional markets. Butter in North Carolina has the “I Heart NY DJ” series. Every Thurs a 4AM DJ flies down to Charlotte to DJ there. Now people are going out on Thursday nights there.The people in Charlotte haven’t heard anything like this before, its like night and day. Charlotte is the 25th biggest city in the US. JL: 10 of 12 of the 4AM Djs work at 1Oak and 8 of 12 work at Goldbar. We’ve sent DJs to Miami and they stop in Charlotte. Bring an LA DJ to New York City and he flops, but bring a NY DJ to LA and they’re calling him back for double.
Aspiring 4AM DJs and clubs can find out more about the talent pool at 4am.tv.