How to Win: 10 Ways to Earn the “Entertainer of the Year” Title in Atlantic City from 3-time Champion, Marcello Pedalino

Recently, I’ve been asked by a few of the finalists in this year’s Entertainer of the Year Competition, “What does it take to win one of the Mobile DJ industry’s most coveted titles?”

In the interest of full disclosure and fairness to all of the competitors, I thought it might be best to share my insights with everyone.

Based on my experience of being on both sides of the score card, (I’ve won 3 times, been runner-up twice, and have been a judge for about 10 years) I’ve got a pretty good idea of how you can make the most of this awesome and rewarding experience.

Here we go…

1) Nail your introduction. This is the only element of the evening that you can actually control. There is no excuse for not having it mastered by competition night. It counts for a big chunk of your overall score. Is it scary to perform in front of your peers? Yes. Are fellow entertainers a tough crowd to please? Yes. Will everyone notice if you flub a single word or pause unnecessarily for 2 seconds and then try desperately to cover it up during your delivery? Yes. Will any of that be different this year? No. Tough noogies. Practice your intro until you are dreaming about it at night and thinking about it when you wake up… then, practice it some more.  Record it and listen to it while you workout, clean the house, and drive to your appointments. Then, perform it live in front of your family, friends, or anyone else who will be kind enough to watch and listen and give brutally honest feedback.  *Delivering your intro in front of a mirror is nothing like delivering it in front of critical eyes attached to faces that don’t hide expression when you mess up.  If you get anything less than a perfect score for your intro, there is no one to blame but yourself.  The winner of the competition will be someone who delivered a prepared and polished introduction.


2) See #1.  Seriously, nail your introduction.  If you can’t memorize and successfully deliver a 55 second monologue that you wrote yourself, then you need to go to one of Mark Ferrell’s next workshops and discover how much better of an entertainer, communicator, and story teller you can be.


3) Win the crowd over like Pascal. You don’t have to be well-known or a previous winner to do well at the competition. Heck, you don’t even have to be from this country. Bring the goods and a positive attitude and perform your heart out. The crowd and the judges will feel it if you make a genuine connection with the audience versus you trying to sell a forced routine with an obnoxious vibe.



4) Choose the right soundtrack like Vinny. In addition to the talent and the likability factor, the music you choose as your background track or performance edit is paramount.  If you’re going to be talking and giving out instructions, don’t do it over a vocal track.  Duh.  (If you are yelling over a track while trying to explain something, you’re going to unnecessarily lose points.)


5) Be creative like Adam. You will not find words like ‘predictable’, ‘boring’, or ‘standard’ in his vocabulary. Let your imagination go and your artistic flair shine. Don’t let what everyone else has done in the past dictate what you are going to do. If you are memorable (for the right reasons), you will leave a lasting impression on your colleagues that will be far more meaningful in the long run… far more than the plaques and awards that are given out that night.  

Here’s an update and some very cool news…  After Eric Whinnery blew everyone away at last year’s competition with his electric guitar and WOW factor (but didn’t win because of some category confusion), the show’s producer, Jake Jacobsen, adapted without hesitation and created the TEV (Total Entertainment Value) category for this year’s score card.  This way, just because a routine can’t be easily duplicated (efficacy), it won’t mean that it will potentially get penalized to the point of affecting who wins the title.

Now, there is a fine line here.  You can go for the America’s Got Talent angle and bring the WOW, but remember, just because you bring some aerial contortionists from Cirque du Soleil  with you, it doesn’t guarantee a win.  If you get upstaged by your own bells and whistles, that’s just as bad as being upstaged by your dancers.  (See # 9) The Entertainer of the Year should be able to facilitate and deliver a great experience without being over-shadowed during the performance or soon thereafter.


6) Be thoughtful like Steve. Bring something to the table that has elements of personalization and distinction.   The best part is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  (Just build a better one.)   Don’t stress yourself out by over-thinking things too much and over-complicating things.  Mix up some simple props like hoola hoops with your custom audio and most importantly, sprinkle in some serious mic flair if you want to rule the night.  And, if you can be humble at the same time like Mr. Moody, you’ll also learn that nice guys can finish first.


7) Be a polished Master of Ceremonies like Jack and don’t scream into the mic. I’m shocked how many seasoned entertainers still do this. The judges want to see you be in the moment, but stay in control like Mr. Bermeo. If you swallow the mic, hold it like a wannabe hip hop star from 1997, or yell so loud that the house system sound distorted a few times during your performance, … it’s over.  I know you’re excited, but a true pro knows how to monitor the levels of their own vocals (as well the audio mix) and find that magical balance of hype, enthusiasm, and professionalism.   



8) If you are performing with a team, execute your routine flawlessly like Jazmine. If your dancers are better than you are and they are just up there for eye candy, it’s going to work against you. Entertainer of the Year winners are typically those who fire on all cylinders from every aspect from start to finish.  Jazmine, like her Chi-town colleague and fellow rock star performer, Marz, are triple threats.  They are strong on the mic, really impressive on the dance floor, and incredible performers who light up the stage when they are on it.  They are complemented by their teams and they are always in perfect sync during a performance, but, if you stripped away everything and everyone else on stage, they would still shine brightly.



9) Know your audience like Jake. Give the crowd something awesome and useful that they can use to wow their clients at their next event. And, if you do well at the competition, be generous like Mr. Jacobsen and share your ideas with those who contact you afterwards.  Then, if you are super generous, create and organize your own interactive seminar at DJ Times or even become president of your local DJ association and share your ideas with the entire industry.  See also Mike Walter (current EOTY judge, former veteran producer of The DJ Of The Year competition, and well-respected keynote speaker ), Mark Brenneisen, (see #10) and Mike Weider from the NJDJN)  Between these 3 guys, whom I’m happy to call friends, they’ve consistently introduced me to new material for upcoming events.


10) Be a real competitor, like Mark.  I give a lot of credit to anyone who has the guts to throw their hat in the ring the first time, (which is more than 99.98% of the other tough talkin’ critics who are watching from the sidelines), but if you lose, come back the next year and try harder. You’ll learn a lot from your freshman debut on stage and get exponentially better each year you take the stage like Mr. Brenneisen. 


If you win, come back the next year and defend your title.  Listen, anyone can do anything once.

If a winner happens to be victorious one year but then never comes back on stage again to give the next winner a chance to be the best–by beating the best, then it’s just not the same from a credibility standpoint.  

Everyone mentioned in this article has won, lost, and competed their hearts out on multiple occasions.  They are the real winners in my opinion. However, I know quite a few really talented performers who never competed once, or again, because they were afraid to lose.  That’s not how life works, folks.  

If you have any more questions or if I can help you in any way, please feel free to reach out.

Have fun and good luck, everyone!


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