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Alternate Career Titles:
V.J., Vee-jay, Video Jock
Career Overview: Introduces music videos on TV, hosts programs, discusses/reviews videos, promotes Artists.
Career Salary Range: $25,000 to $250,000+
Become a Video Jockey
As the name implies, Video Jockey responsibilities are very similar to those of Radio DJs, with the main difference being that Video Jockeys introduce music videos on TV, as opposed to introducing songs on the radio. These days, it doesn’t take long for songs to become hits, as a video can run on music television, and will then soon be requested a radio stations across the country.
Video Jockeys are those people who announce to the viewing audience which music videos will be airing, upon which they may go on to give more information on the video or the artist/band. The Video Jockey usually adopts a unique style and delivery, which usually determines their popularity among the general public.
Depending on the size of the station and the popularity of the show the Video Jockey is involved with, the Video Jockey will have varied responsibilities. They may work in specific time shifts with live shows, or he or she might tape a number of video shows in a given period of time. Each show may consist of interviewing acts, reviewing and introducing videos, etc. Sometimes, the V.J. may be in charge of choosing which videos will be shown on his or her show, but major music video networks will usually have a Program Director or Station Executive view new videos and decide if they should be included on the playlist.
Even if in a small market, Video Jockeys often become celebrities, and may be expected to make public appearances for station promotions, functions, or charity events. Sometimes, the Video Jockey will work as a Radio DJ on a radio station or at an event. They might also be asked to host concerts and more.
The Video Jockey usually answers to the PD or the General Manager at the station. It may be required of the Video Jockey to work just regular hours, or to tape all his or her shows in a given time period. Usually, in a small market, Video Jockeys do just one or two shows a week for their cable network.
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Depending on the size of the TV station, location, and the specific type of show, Video Jockey salaries will vary greatly. Other variables include prior experiences and popularity of the Video Jockey. With some stations, Video Jockeys are parts of a union that will set minimum earnings paid. Salaries will range from $25,000 to $250,000 depending on the variables previously mentioned. Personal appearances and endorsements give Video Jockeys the ability to earn additional revenue.
It is tough to break in as a Video Jockey because employment prospects are poor. However, odds of landing such a job are increasing thanks to the rise of new local, syndicated and cable television stations around the country.
Likewise, advancement prospects are poor for Video Jockeys as well, but they can climb the career ladder in a number of ways including obtaining employment at a larger, more prestigious station. They also might feels they can find better opportunities as a DJ, or may go into broadcasting outside of the music industry.
Education and Training
A formal education is not required to become a Video Jockey, but due to competition, a college or music college degree in television, broadcasting, or the music business, in general, is extremely helpful. (Get your Film & Television contacts lists here.)
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Experience, Skills, and Personality
To stand out and gain a following, a Video Jockey should have a unique and pleasant personality and appearance. They should be comfortable around TV cameras and studio sets. They should also have a good speaking voice and be very articulate and personable – their personality must be projected over the air.
TV knowledge is very useful, and they should be aware of different camera angles, lighting, directions, etc. They should also be interested in music and should be up to date on current trends, acts, etc. It is imperative the Video Jockey is responsible, punctual, and dependable.
Unions and Associations
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) , the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) are all associations the Video Jockey may be a part of. They can also be an associate member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).
Suggestions for Getting Started
- Attend a college with a television station, and try to get involved in as many facets of its operation as possible – no matter how big or small.
- If no television station, get involved with the school radio station to get on-air experience.
- Work as an intern or secretary at a local station part-time or for the summer to gain hands-on experience.
- Check newspaper classifieds for positions at local TV and radio stations.
- Record a short video demo to showcase your talent, and then send potential station managers.
- Look out for casting calls for Video Jockeys – these are often advertised on music television.