Sunday, August 22, 2010

DJ Expo 2010 Highlights

Congratulations to DJ Times for organizing a successful 20th annual International DJ Expo this past August 16th-19th at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Attending this year were 3,800 disc jockeys from the mobile, club and karaoke scenes. There were also numerous music producers and bedroom DJs in attendance. This year I stayed from start to finish in order to absorb the full Expo experience, and I'm so happy that I did! Check out the bottom of this blog entry for photo and video highlights from the DJ Expo!

Each year, Ambient DJ Service subsidizes the registration fees and lodging expenses of any DJ staff member who chooses to attend. Staff members are encouraged to attend in order to sharpen their skills and gain inspiration from their fellow industry professionals. The Expo is also a great opportunity to enjoy time together and build camaraderie. Thanks to DJ Iron Mike, DJ Spinz and DJ Jesse Lambros for attending!

Below are some Expo highlights:

Seminars - As a business owner, I am extremely interested in staying fresh and relevant with regards to business and performance trends and techniques. I attended three or four seminars each day. Some of my favorites:

1) The Brand of You - Jason Jani from Sound Connection Entertainment. I have seen the short version of this presentation, but Jason stepped it up for the Expo, adding lots of new content, and revealing very specific ideas to improve one's image in the wedding entertainment industry (and therefore differentiate oneself and improve one's pricing).

2) Mitzvahs - Mike Wieder from Ultimate Sound DJs and Shani Barnett. Presenter Mike Wieder (who could easily work as a standup comic) and the bubbly Chicago-based dancer Barnett did a great job of providing both specific and big-picture ideas for producing successful bar and bat mitzvahs.

3) All-Star Wedding MCs' Secrets Revealed. From prepping a bridal party to how to rock a grand entrance, the all-star panel that included Mike Berrios, Adam Weitz, Johnny K., Elisabeth Daley, Mike Walter, Steve Moody, Jason Jani, and Big Daddy shared some amazing and specific performance techniques. I particularly enjoyed Mike Walter's detailed discussion of his music programming for a wedding and the psychology behind it. As we all know, wedding dancefloors can be very fragile and easy to derail.

4) Tips from the Closer by Jason Canaan of Quality DJ. Canaan boasts a 99%-plus closing rate for those clients who attend one of his in-person consultations. The presentation was light on gimmicks, and re-inforced many of the fundamentals of good salesmanship. In an increasingly competitive market, information from Canaan's presentation will serve us well.

5) Book It Now! 10 Scientific Ways to Persuade Prospects by 2009 Entertainer of the Year, DJ Steve Moody of Steve Moody's Entertainment Connection. Steve Moody is a great person and puts on a fast-paced, information-filled seminar. Moody selected ten techniques from the New York Times best-seller "YES!" and adapted them specifically to the wedding DJ market. While Ambient DJ is already using some of these techniques, I realized from Steve's presentation that we could be doing them better, or on a larger scale.

6) NJDJN Presents Peter Merry. California-based wedding DJ specialist Peter Merry presented an awesome seminar about how to improve the quality of our wedding shows using the play on words "Make it FUN." F- Fast-paced, U- Unexpected, and N- Notable. Peter has implemented these principles and transformed himself into an industry icon, with commensurate fees. Peter will be marketing his updated book "The Best Wedding Reception Ever" this Fall, and is angling to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show. Shout-out to our friend Anthony Ferretti of GSL Entertainment who won a case (16) of Merry's new book. I was proud to see so many of my fellow NJDJN colleagues making presentations at this year's Expo and asserting their leadership.

7) Success With Other People's Money by DJ Mark Brenneisen from Total Entertainment of New York. Brenneisen's presentation was thought-provoking, as he presented a business model with the potential to introduce new and substantial income streams to a mobile system operator, but without a huge investment of time or money. The big question is if this model can be adapted from the relatively insulated Adirondack market to the suburban sprawl of New Jersey and its overlapping geographic markets.

8) Keynote Speech by DJ Jazzy Jeff. While his former partner Will Smith has become a Hollywood star, quite frankly, I'd rather be DJ Jazzy Jeff, touring the world and rocking parties. Jazzy Jeff told stories of the West Philly block party scene. Back in the day, he needed a day job to be able to purchase the equipment and vinyl in order to play parties for FREE! Now that's passion that we can all be inspired by! Iron Mike and I listened to Jazzy Jeff's summer mix CD on the car ride home, and it was soulful, funky and fun!

Evening Parties - Fortunately, the DJ Expo isn't some bland convention where you sit in your hotel room in the evening staring at the walls. In fact, you can literally enjoy live music performances and party until the wee hours of the morning! (just ask Captain Jonathan! ). On Monday night, I attended the Expo's kick-off party held at the Casbah and hosted by Mike Walter. Highlights included Steve Moody's "Mr. Potato Head Game" (I played on a team and it was great fun!), Bobby Morganstein's "Strip Tease" mitzvah game, a live performance by the EDM diva Jes, and Roonie G's high-octane video disc jockey performance shown on the Casbah's twelve or so big-screen televisions.

On Tuesday night, we attended the highly-anticipated Pioneer/Promo Only party at the House of Blues (aka, The House of Booze!). Hosted by Joey Fatone and Lillian Garcia, the night's top performances included The Jumpsmokers, Shaggy, Travie McCoy and my personal favorite - Salt n' Pepa! We ran into several performers in the hallway and got some great celebrity photos, some of which are posted at the bottom of this blog entry.

On Wednesday night, I attended a party at the Ego Lounge at the Taj. 2009 DMC Champion DJ Shiftee (who has a most irreverent sense of humor) started his set with some moderate tempo dubstep, before layering that with R&B by the likes of R. Kelly. From there, he took the BPM's up into brisk dance music, wowing the audience with his very dexterous scratching. DJ Skribble took the stage around midnight, and rocked the crowd hard for a good three hours. Skribble's set was a DJ master class with chapters in stage presence, technical ability, song selection, creativity and outright party rocking! I was so impressed, that I voted Skribble as America's Best DJ for 2010 (www.americasbestdj.net).

Networking - Originally in order to encourage industry networking, I had designed a competition where collecting business cards generated specific point values. The winner would take home an LED lighting fixture. For example, an exhibit hall vendor was worth 1 point; DJ colleague - 2 points; industry VIP such as Ray-Mar worth 3 points, and Donald Trump -10 points. However, we were all too busy, so we opted to meet people more casually and enjoyed some great conversations at the breakfast tables and hallways of the Taj Mahal.

Exhibits Hall - The massive Exhibits Hall could best be described as heaven for DJs. The room was pulsating with energy - lights, sounds and party-rocking DJs around every corner. The Pioneer and Numark booths were outstanding. IDJNOW brought out an amazing assortment of lights and deals as usual. In terms of "Wow Factor," I was truly impressed by the laser light offerings of Maryland-based company "X-Laser." Its multi-colored laser lighting fixtures can project customized images. Ambient DJ would love to acquire some of these units in the near future! New on the Expo floor was Men's Wearhouse, with a large selection of new and gently used formalwear.

Grand Prize Giveaway - At 2:45 PM on Thursday, the remaining Expo attendees gathered around to learn the winner of the $16,000 Ultimate Prize Giveaway. The crown jewels of this package were Pioneer components (mixer, and multi-media CD players). The first selected card was a bust (winner was not present to win). Our hopes soared, only to be crushed when learning that a south Jersey karaoke DJ named Peter Crook was the winner!

As a consolation prize, DJ Iron Mike took home a pair of Pioneer HDJ-2000 headphones. Earlier, he and I had fought hard for prize cards dropped from an erratic-flying Pioneer Prize blimp. During the week, I won a few free CDs and a fashionable black Pioneer Pro DJ tee-shirt.

Conclusion -

My primary conclusions after this four-day intensive experience:

1) the DJ industry is alive and thriving, despite the economy!;

2) there are so many talented and hardworking people in our industry, and this can only be good in elevating the status of the professional DJ;

3) the knowledge and relationships that we gain from the Expo will serve us well against service providers who opt not to partake of the DJ Expo;

4) There are many different ways to be successful in the DJ business. There is no right or wrong way. It is truly hard to be everything to everybody. The key is to find an entertainment style that works for the DJ and where there is customer demand for that style. Ambient DJ Service will continue to focus on its niche, while selectively expanding its service offerings where that gels with our core competencies;

5) It is a blessing to be paid good money to do what we do!

6) We can't wait until the 2011 DJ Times Expo! Thank you DJ Times for producing such a terrific show in 2010!


(L to R) DJ Spinz, DJ Greg Nice, Peter Merry, DJ Iron Mike

DJ Skribble rips it sick at the Ego Lounge!

"Salt n' Pepa Here!"

Photo Opp with the Jump Smoker dancers!

Mike Wieder and Shani Barnett's Mitzvah Masterclass!

DJ Jesse grabs photo opp with Lillian Garcia!

IDJNOW booth and the American DJ Nuclei Lighting Effect

DJ Shiftee live at the Ego Lounge, dropping dubstep and razor-sharp scratches!

Ambient DJ staff poses with the Cold Crush crew in the Taj parking garage

DJ Greg Nice performs Jedi Mind tricks on Iron Mike!



DJ Spinz demos the Numark V7!




Greg Nice scopes out the IDJNOW lights, before dashing off to the Denon booth!




DJ Skribble, "America's Hardest Working DJ"!

1 comment:

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