It would be after 3 a.m. at the original Light Nightclub at Bellagio most mornings from 2001 to 2007, and Eddie McDonald would play the music he wanted to play.
“If you’re still here, you’re going to hear what I want to hear now,” jokes McDonald. “What I used to have to wait to play until probably 3 a.m. and a bottle of Jäger deep, I am now able to play on the Strip at 11 o’clock, 12 o’clock.” Today, one of the clubs where McDonald spins and programs open format, combining different genres of music, is Houston Hospitality’s On the Record at Park MGM. “It’s one of the most rewarding nightclub openings I’ve been involved with,” he says.
A former New Jersey Turnpike toll collector and Brooklyn’s Pizza manager, McDonald got his break in 1998 at Jet Lounge in New York. He later worked his way to Jet East in the Hamptons under Andrew Sasson, who would later open Light and other lounges on the Las Vegas Strip. McDonald remembers the one call that changed his life. “I got a call on a Friday,” he says. “It was Sasson. He said, ‘Eddie, I need you out here [in Las Vegas]. I need you to DJ for me.’ I said, ‘When?’ He said, ‘Tomorrow.’”
So off he went to Las Vegas, where he later secured DJ opportunities at the newest Light Group property. McDonald would eventually become the head of corporate programs and oversee all music programming at Light Group venues. Fast forward to 2017, he started Music Artist Connection, a full-service entertainment company, where he partners closely with a team of industry experts, uniting with music and media entrepreneur Jonathan Shecter’s company Playback Prodigy; Omar Galeano, former program director for Tao Group; Milo Berger aka DJ Mighty Mi; and other local and international DJs and music producers. In addition to On the Record, MAC Agency programs DJs for JEMAA Pool Party at NoMad, Moorea Beach at Mandalay Bay and many more. “Today the formats and crowds are different,” he says, noting that the predominant sound in the clubs on the Strip has been more commercial—that is, until lately. “We have to pinch ourselves because we have artists like Mark Ronson playing in the main room,” he says. “We’re like, ‘Is this really happening in Vegas on the Strip?’”
Photography by: Photography by Bryan Hainer