Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Remembering Michael Jackson

Yesterday, August 29th, Michael Jackson would have celebrated his 53rd birthday.  It has been over two years since the "King of Pop" passed away on June 25, 2009.

My favorite memories of the music of Michael Jackson are from my childhood years of the early 1980s.  Wall Township, NJ, my hometown, had a roller-skating rink called the "Rollerdrome."  A cool guy named Mike with dark, bushy hair ran the place, served as both DJ and referee!  Some of my favorite tunes to skate to were from Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" album, released in 1979.  In particular, the tracks "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough," "Rock With You," and "Off the Wall."  While Thriller (1982) is Michael Jackson's most successful album, Off the Wall will always be my sentimental favorite.

I strongly recommend the Special Edition of Off the Wall that contains bonus footage with interviews with Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton, and the wonderful original demo version of "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" with its driving rhythm section complete with a cowbell and glass bottles.  

A lesser known, but one of my favorite tracks from Off the Wall is "I Can't Help It" (written by Stevie Wonder and Susaye Green of the Supremes):

Enjoy these tracks as you remember the King of Pop on his birthday!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review of 2011 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs)

The MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) show is typically a highly entertaining production.   With its carnival atmosphere, there is always a level of unpredictability.  What will Lady Gaga wear?  Will Kanye West "act out"?

My favorite moments of 2011's show:

1) Bruno Mar's performance of "Valerie" in the Amy Winehouse tribute.  Mars delivered an upbeat, energetic and moving performance.  Click on this link to see the performance!

2) Video footage of Amy Winehouse's last recording with Tony Bennett of "Body and Soul"- Amy looked and sounded great!  The track will be featured on the September release of Bennett's album "Duets II."

3) Adele's soulful performance of "Someone Like You" in a no-frills performance with just her and a pianist.

4) Beyonce and Jay-Z revealing that they are pregnant!  I have always been impressed by both Jay and Beyonce's longevity and success in the entertainment business.

Lady Gaga's shock value ploy was to cross-dress as a character named "Joe Calderone."  I remained unsettled by her appearance throughout the show!  She looked like a demonic version of Ralph Macchio or perhaps Al Pacino.

Lady Gaga in character as "Joe Calderone" 
My least favorite moment of the show was Tyler the Creator's profanity-laced acceptance speech for "Best New Artist".... his award-winning music video "Yonkers" features Tyler sitting in a chair with a giant cockroach crawling on his hand over a tattoo that says "Kill."  Not a fan!

Below are some of the Award Categories with my picks, followed by the actual winner.  My picks considered both the quality of the song and the music video:


"Firework" - Katy Perry was my pick, and also the winner.  This video has an inspirational message, showing a child cancer patient rise above a tough situation like a firework.


Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" was my favorite, but unfortunately the crass Tyler the Creator won for "Yonkers"


"Rolling in the Deep" by Adele is an artistic and wonderful song and music video.  Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" took the prize.  While I am a Lady Gaga fan, I'm not so fond of this song, as it sounds like a blatant rip off of Madonna's "Express Yourself."


I would have liked to see Bruno Mars win for "Grenade," but unfortunately Justin Bieber won for "U Smile."  Bieber looked like a skinny version of Sir Elton John!  While I respect Bieber's talent, "U Smile" is a disposable pop song that will never stand the test of time.


My pick was Lupe Fiasco's "The Show Goes On."  Nicki Minaj, an original in her own right, took the prize for "Super Bass."  Super Bass, while a cute pink-themed video, progresses into a soft pornographic film with Minaj clones grinding out lap dances.

The Art of the Video Disc Jockey (VJ)

I currently have a Wednesday night residency at Brewsters Pub in East Windsor (529 Route 130 North, East Windsor), spinning music videos spanning from the 70s to the present.  I am also available to VJ private events - bring your party to life with the additional sensory element of video!  To learn more about our disc jockey services, visit us on the web at http://www.ambientdj.com.  

Wedding Reception at Brooklake Country Club

On August 19, 2011, Ambient DJ had the pleasure of performing at the wedding reception of Stephanie and Sebastian held at the Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, NJ.  Stephanie and Sebastian  were introduced to Ambient DJ Service at the wedding reception of their good friends Eric and Ji-May last November.  

The Brooklake Country Club features beautiful views of a golf course.  While setting up, the skies darkened, and a spectacular lightning storm ensued.  The power went out momentarily, but then kicked back in with the venue's backup generator.  My laptop computer and CD players were acting strangely after the power issue, but fortunately there would be no technical issues this evening.

Our DJ package included a two person DJ-MC team, fourteen uplights, and presentation of two video slideshows on a large screen.  The first slideshow, running on a loop as guests entered the ballroom, was of Stephanie and Sebastian's engagement photo shoot - a grueling nine hour shoot with many wardrobe changes that was held in Taiwan.  The second slideshow was set to music and featured childhood photos and images from the couple's travels around the world.

Engagement Photo Shoot in Taiwan
Each table was named with a male and female name... such as "Lucy and Ricky" or "Adrienne and Rocky," based off a popular movie or television show.  The groom designed a table game played after dinner where tables had about 3 minutes to guess the show for each table name.  With the reception filled with brainiacs, there were numerous perfect scores, and a tiebreaker question was asked.  Guests at the winning table all took home gift cards.  The game was fast-paced, interactive and fun!

Lightscaping at the Brooklake Country Club
Stephanie and Sebastian have an inner circle of friends who know each other well and have a great time celebrating.  They love to dance and party!  After clearing the hurdles of the various formalities, the reception transitioned into a high-energy dance club environment.  Perhaps one of the greatest compliments to a DJ is when guests opt to continue dancing when the dessert is served.   The dance floor action was outstanding and this party is a shoe-in for Ambient DJs' annual list of "Top Ten Parties of the Year"!

Key songs for the evening included:

Back to the Future Theme - Entrance of Grandparents
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance) - C&C Music Factory (entrance of parents of bride)
I Like it Like That - Tito Nieves (entrance of parents of the groom)
Izzo/In the End - Jay-Z versus Linkin Park (bridal party entrance)
Fancy Footwork - Chromeo (entrance of bride and groom)
You are the Best Thing - Ray LaMontagne (First Dance)
Suavemente - Elvis Crespo (party starter)
Daddy's Angel - T. Carter (Father-Daughter Dance)
You're the Inspiration - Chicago (Mother-Son Dance)
Fooling Mode (from Naruto) - Cakecutting
Shots Through the Heart - Bon Jovi vs. LMFAO
Together Forever - Rick Astley (closing song)

Thanks Stephanie and Sebastian for entrusting us to perform at your special day!

For more information about Ambient DJ Service and its award-winning wedding DJ services, please visit us on the web at http://www.ambientdj.com 

Ambient DJ Weathers Hurricane Irene

The final week of August and first week of September have historically been bad weather weeks.  Tropical storms and hurricanes form a virtual "Conga Line" deep in the Atlantic, working their way through the Caribbean and up the East Coast.   We were chagrined to learn that Hurricane Irene was projected to make a direct hit on New Jersey late Saturday night. The timing couldn't be worse, as Saturday nights are a DJ company's busiest night.

I was actually scheduled to provide karaoke DJ services at the home of Buddy Valastro, aka the "Cake Boss," celebrating the 50th birthday of one of the bakers, Danny Dragone.  As of Friday afternoon, the party was a green light, but mid-afternoon on Saturday, I received the call canceling the party.  Hopefully it will be re-scheduled, as this was a party that I had very much been looking forward to.

DJ Spinz's services for a 30th birthday party at the Forge in Woodbridge were canceled, postponed until September 10, 2011 - a date that we are sold out for.

DJ Larry's surprise 50th party at Amalfi's in Lawrenceville proceeded as planned.  Congratulations Masako!  The party did however finish 45 minutes prematurely so that guests could get home safely.  Larry dodged some fallen trees on the drive home, but got home safely at around 10 PM.

DJ Iron Mike performed a private event at Tavern on the Lake in downtown Hightstown.  At about 11 PM, an employee of the Tavern frantically informed guests that a tornado had been reported in the Six Flags Great Adventure area.  Mike grabbed his laptop and left, but got stalled out in the floods on his way back home to Plainsboro (fortunately, he made it home safely in the early morning hours). Later that night, the storm overwhelmed the lake, badly flooding downtown Hightstown.

Welcome to My Hood, Tavern on the Lake, Sunday Morning
I ended up accompanying DJ Austin to a high school graduation party in Marlboro, NJ.  The family has a beautiful backyard and had hoped to celebrate outdoors, but they judiciously decided to move the party indoors and fast forward the party to a 5 PM start time. The event took on a cool house party vibe, as Garrett and his brother added additional lighting effects to the show, also introducing us to their fog machine (which was pushed to the brink by Nicholas!).  Garrett and his buddy "Matty Swizzle" later performed a guest DJ set with upbeat fare by the likes of Steve Aoki, the Swedish House Mafia and Laidback Luke.  Driving home to East Windsor, we encountered sloppy driving conditions, but beat the treacherous Hightstown flood by hours.

Nicholas, fog technician
(L to R) Matty Swizzle, Garrett B., DJ Austin
It was a tough week, but we are grateful that everybody is safe and that none of us incurred any property damage.  Many in Irene's path were not so fortunate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist

A wedding cocktail hour is a time to set the mood.  A wedding cocktail hour is a transition point between the serene ceremony, and the convivial wedding reception party that is to follow.  Ingredients for a great cocktail hour mix include:  1) atmospheric selections that put guests in a good mood,  2) a mix of current and classic music, 3) an increasing energy level as the cocktail hour progresses (and the drinks kick in!);  and 4) intelligent song selections that include re-inventions of classics and some international spice.

At Ambient DJ, we do not use stock cocktail hour mixes, but rather custom program each set to reflect the unique style of the event.

Listed below are 50 of our favorites:

1) The Girl From Ipanema - Stan Getz (jazz/international)
2) Quando, Quando - Michael Buble w/Nelly Furtado (standards)
3) Besame Mucho - Diana Krall (standards)
4) Sem Contencao (Truby Trio Remix) - Bebel Gilberto (electronica/international)
5) Look to the Rainbow - Astrud Gilberto (international)
6) So Come Voce - Thievery Corporation (lounge)
7) We Have All the Time in the World - Louis Armstrong (standards)
8) Fever - Peggy Lee (jazz)
9) Here Comes the Sun (Francois K. remix) - Nina Simone (standard/electronica)
10) Whatever Lola Wants (Verve Remixed) - Sara Vaughan (standard/electronica)
11) I Only Have Eyes for You - Jamie Cullum (electronic)
12) Space Maker - Air (electronica)
13) The Scientist - Coldplay (alternative)
14) Bittersweet Symphony (alternative)
15) Thank You Too - My Morning Jacket (alternative)
16) 5:55 - Charlotte Gainsbourg (international)
17) Lovesong - Adele (Retro Soul)
18) Valerie - Amy Winehouse (Retro Soul)
19) For Once in My Life - Stevie Wonder (Soul)
20) More Today Than Yesterday - Spiral Starecase (60s)
21) Be My Baby - The Ronettes (soul)
22) Paradise - Sade (jazz)
23) I Can't Help It - Michael Jackson (R&B)
24) Giving You the Best That I Got - Anita Baker (R&B)
25) Sweet Seasons - Carole King (70s)
26) Marry Me - Train (acoustic/modern)
27) The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson (acoustic/modern)
28) I’m Yours - Jason Mraz (acoustic/modern)
29) Awake My Soul - Mumford and Sons (acoustic/modern)
30) Far, Far Away - Wilco (alternative)
31) First Day of My Life - Bright Eyes (acoustic/modern)
32) The Best of My Love - The Eagles 
33) The Blower’s Daughter - Damien Rice (acoustic)
34) Bellissimio - Ilya (New Age)
35) Only Time - Enya (New Age)
36) Thank You - Dido (vocalists)
37) Don’t Look Any Further - Dennis Edwards (soul)
38) Is It Love - Bob Marley (reggae)
39) I Belong to You - Lenny Kravitz (modern)
40) Bamako - Youssou N’Dour (international)
41) Santa Maria (Del Buen Ayre) - Gotan Project (electronica/international)
42) It Could Be Sweet - Portishead (trip hop)
43) Take Five - Dave Brubeck (jazz)
44) Rise - Herb Alpert (jazz)
45) Stella by Starlight - Miles Davis (jazz)
46) Breezin' - George Benson (jazz)
47) Just the Two of Us - Grover Washington, Jr. (jazz)
48) Chameleon - Herbie Hancock (jazz/funk)
49) You are the Best Thing - Ray LaMontagne (alternative)
50) Crazy Love - Van Morrison (vocalists)

A Word About Kenny G

Kenny G?  Kenny, who is an excellent player, received a bad rap due to his own success.  Some disc jockeys overplayed Mr. Gorelick, resulting in a backlash! Two of my favorite Kenny G. tracks that occasionally make it into the mix are "Brazil" and "The Girl from Ipanema" (w/Bebel Gilberto)

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ service based in Central New Jersey.  Our company prides itself on its deep musical knowledge and programming skills.  To learn more about our wedding, corporate and private party services, visit us on the web at http://www.ambientdj.com or become our   Facebook Fan at http://www.facebook.com/ambientdj

Monday, August 22, 2011

1980s Music Playlist

Some have confused me as "the Eighties DJ."  That's a compliment, as I spent my formative years of  middle school and high school during the 1980s!  The Eighties was a fertile decade for music with the launch of MTV in 1981.  Here's 100 of Ambient DJs' top picks for your Eighties playlist.  Please comment with your own favorites!

1) How Soon is Now - The Smiths
2) If You Leave - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
3) Don’t You Forget About Me - Simple Minds
4) Lips Like Sugar - Echo and the Bunnymen
5) Mesopotamia - The B-52s
6) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
7) Material Girl - Madonna
8) P.Y.T. - Michael Jackson
9) I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) - Hall & Oates
10) Don’t You Want Me Baby - Human League
11) Need You Tonight - INXS
12) Take on Me - A-ha!
13) Electric Avenue - Eddie Grant
14) Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode
15) Sign Your Name - Terence Trent D’Arby
16) Push It - Salt n' Pepa
17) I Can't Wait - Nu-Shooz
18) Puttin' on the Ritz - Taco
19) Der Kommissar - Falco (or After the Fire)
20) Tainted Love - Soft Cell
21) I Melt With You - Modern English
22) Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics
23) Miami Vice Theme Song - Jan Hammer
24) The Pump - Jeff Beck
25) Pass the Dutchie - Musical Youth
26) Karma Chameleon - Culture Club
27) Too Shy - Kajagoogoo
28) Rapture - Blondie
29) Escape (the Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes (1979, rounded up!)
30) Another One Bites the Dust - Queen
31) Rise - Herb Alpert (1979, rounded up!)
32) The Glamorous Life - Sheila E.
33) When Doves Cry - Prince
34) You Belong to the City - Glen Frey
35) Harden My Heart - Quarterflash
36) Maneater - Hall & Oates
37) One Night in Bangkok - Murray Head
38) West End Girls - Pet Shop Boys
39) I Love Rock n' Roll - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
40) Cars - Gary Numan
41) Pac-Man Fever - Buckner and Garcia
42) Send Me an Angel - Real Life
43) Love is a Battlefield - Pat Benatar
44) Sara - Starship
45) Ghostbusters - Ray Parker, Jr.
46) Head to Toe - Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
47) Rio - Duran Duran
48) Last Night a DJ Saved My Life - Indeep
49) White Lines - Grandmaster Flash
50) Oh Sheila - Ready for the World
51) Let the Music Play - Shannon
52) Diamond Girl - Nice n' Wild
53) Rhythm of the Night - El DeBarge
54) Get Into the Groove - Madonna
55) Wanna Be Rich - Calloway
56) Tarzan Boy - Baltimora
57) Steppin' Out - Joe Jackson
58) Who Can It Be Now?  Men at Work
59) Stroke It - Billy Squier
60) Freeze Frame - J. Geils Band
61) Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
62) Video Killed the Radio Star - The Buggles
63) Let's Dance - David Bowie
64) China Girl - David Bowie
65) Rebel Yell - Billy Idol
66) We Got the Beat - The Go-Gos
67) Venus - Bananarama
68) Mickey - Tony Basil
69) 867-5309 (Jenny) - Tommy Tutone
70) Twilight Zone - Golden Earring
71) Hearts - Marty Balin
72) Don't Stop Til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson (1979, rounded up!)
73) Thriller - Michael Jackson
74) Genius of Love - The Tom Tom Club
75) Love Shack - the B-52s
76) Some Like it Hot - The Power Station
77) Let's Go All the Way - Sly Fox
78) I Just Died in Your Arms - The Cutting Crew
79) Funkytown - Pseudo-Echo
80) Dance Hall Days - Wang Chung
81) Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield
82) Like a Virgin - Madonna
83) Part-time Lover - Stevie Wonder
84) Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell
85) Footloose - Kenny Loggins
86) Maniac - Michael Sembello
87) Word Up - Cameo
88) Walk the Dinosaur - Was (Not Was)
89) Bette Davis Eyes - Kim Carnes
90) Only the Lonely - The Motels
91) Missing You - John Waite
92) I Want a New Drug - Huey Lewis & the News
93) Your Love - The Outfield
94) Mercedes Boy - Pebbles
95) My Prerogative - Bobby Brown
96) Looking for a New Love - Jody Watley
97) Cool it Now - New Edition
98) True - Spandau Ballet
99) Take My Breath Away - Berlin
100) She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ service based in Central NJ and servicing all of New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and Manhattan.  Contact us today at http://www.ambientdj.com for a no-obligation consultation and quote.

For 80s aficionados, consider one of our most decadent packages ever, the "Miami Vice Eighties Package" where a two person DJ/VJ team dressed like Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice mix 80s videos on big screens and run an Eighties trivia contest!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

1990s Music Playlist

The 1990s was an interesting decade for music with the ascension of hip hop, the birth of grunge rock, the emergence of 'Boy Bands' and the popularity of European dance music and raves. Several of these tracks were actually produced in the latter years of the eighties, but didn't hit my radar screen until the early nineties when I was a college student.  Call it rounding up!

Dance Music
Boy Bands
Rap/Hip Hop
European Dance Music
Here are 50 of our favorite tracks for your next 90s dance party.  Enjoy!

1) The Bomb (These Sounds Fall in My Mind) - The Bucketheads
2) The Humpty Dance - Digital Underground
3) Return of the Mack - Mark Morrison
4) Back to Life - Soul II Soul
5) Show Me Love - Robin S.
6) Freedom 90 - George Michael
7) Finally -CeCe Peniston
8) Strike it Up - Black Box
9) Poison - Bell Biv Devoe
10) Motown Philly - Boyz II Men
11) This is How We Do It - Montell Jordan
12) Mr. Wendal - Arrested Development
13) No Diggity - Blackstreet
14) Pony - Ginuwine
15) Nuthin' but a "G" Thang - Dr. Dre w/Snoop Dogg
16) One For the Money - Horace Brown
17) Just a Friend - Biz Markie
18) Close To You - Maxi Priest
19) What is Love - Haddaway
20) Connected - Stereo M.C.s
21) This Beat is Technotronic - Technotronic
22) What I Got - Sublime
23) You Get What You Give - New Radicals
24) Hypnotize - Notorious B.I.G.
25) The Choice is Yours - Black Sheep
26) Only You (Remix) - 112
27) It's All About the Benjamins - Puff Daddy (w/Lil Kim and the Lox)
28) 1,2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New) - Coolio
29) Insane in the Brain - Cypress Hill
30) This is Acid - Maurice Joshua
31) I’ll House You - Jungle Brothers
32) Set U Free - Planet Soul
33) Groove is in the Heart - Dee-Lite
34) Higher State of Consciousness - Winx
35) It Takes Two - Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock
36) Keep on Movin' - Soul II Soul
37) Shoop - Salt-n-Pepa
38) In de Ghetto - Crystal Waters
39) Jump Around - Kris Kross
40) O.P.P. - Naughty By Nature
41) Jump Around - House of Pain
42) More and More - Captain Hollywood Project
43) The Sign - Ace of Base
44) What’s Up - 4 Non-Blondes
45) The Power - Snap!
46) Another Night - The Real McCoy
47) Good Vibrations - Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
48) Tearin’ Up My Heart - ‘N Sync
49) As Long as You Love Me - Backstreet Boys
50) Wannabe - The Spice Girls

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ service based in Central New Jersey and specializing in weddings, corporate events and sensational dance parties.  Let us DJ your 90s or 80s dance party.  Take the theme a step further by allowing us to spin the music videos of your chosen era.  To learn more about Ambient DJ, visit us on the web at www.ambientdj.com.

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 DJ Expo Highlights

With great anticipation, Ambient DJ Service returned to its fourth consecutive DJ Times International DJ Expo.  The Expo was held August 8th - 11th at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.  For those unfamiliar with the DJ Expo, it is a gathering of thousands of disc jockeys from across the country (and world) comprised of mobile DJs, club DJs, bedroom DJs, producers and industry vendors.  Attendees flock to Atlantic City to participate in business/performance seminars, check out cutting-edge gear in a massive exhibits hall, attend evening parties with celebrity DJs; and importantly, to network.  Regarding the networking angle, this year I made it a point to chat with disc jockey entertainers from outside of our home base of New Jersey.

L to R, DJ Iron Mike, DJ Jagged, DJ Greg Nice

DJ Times did an excellent job of offering high quality, relevant content, combining popular presenters such as Mike Walter, along with upcoming talent such as Vinnie and Strato from Hurricane Productions.  I attended nine seminars in all over three days.  Here are the highlights:

Steve Moody's All-Star MCs' Secrets Revealed - 2009 "DJ of the Year" Steve Moody hosted a panel of all-star Emcees that included Mike Wieder, John Rozz, Jay Thomson, Shani Barnett and Marz Lawhorn.   Marz recommended DJs to adopt a human approach to selling, to "step outside yourself, be more your self, and sell more." This personal touch has served Marz well - with the birth of his twin daughters, he received 75 gifts from clients.  Steve Moody, Mike Wieder and John Rozz spoke about the importance of laying the groundwork for a successful party by getting to know your clients and guests in advance.  While I have traditionally preferred to pack dance floors organically, several of the panelists advised staging a packed dance floor - for example, use an opening routine to get all guests on the dance floor; then riding the momentum of this opening routine for the rest of the evening.  Jay Thomson from Elite Entertainment presented a cool sample routine that helps to "show an Emcee's personality" parlaying a centerpiece giveaway into a packed dance floor.  Thomson also advised that "personality is the key to your success."

Jerry Bazata's Business in a Down Economy -  Maine-based finance guru and mobile DJ business owner Jerry Bazata provided a powerful blend of big picture economic insight and specific sales/marketing strategies.  On the big picture side, Bazata explained how the Section 179 deduction is set to expire at the end of 2011 and business owners would be wise to accelerate their equipment purchases to guarantee a tax deduction (the Section 179 deduction allows business owners to expense rather than depreciate equipment purchases up to $500,000).  Jerry also advised attendees not to be afraid of applying for an SBA loan, and said that local community banks might provide a better chance for loan approval.  Importantly, Bazata also cautioned that business owners should fully report their income - non-compliant small business owners have been negatively surprised by the wrath of the IRS that in some cases has included jail time.  On specific sales/marketing strategies, Bazata is fond of email marketing.  Not relying on canned responses, Bazata personalizes his emails and runs multi-touch campaigns.  For email subject lines, he recommended avoiding "salesy" overtures, and instead offered subject lines such as "Establishing a Budget for Your Wedding," "Music Selection for Your Event," "Avoid Embarrassing Songs at Your Event," and "Is Your Do Not Playlist Really a Do Not Playlist?"  Finally, Bazata said that social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blogging) is a supplement to a corporate website, but never a replacement.

Simple Solutions of Being Different, The Power of the Upgrade - PA-based mobile DJ Michael Kindlick from Jam on Sound Productions gave an excellent seminar about the art of the upgrade.  After being introduced to Beyonce's "Let Me Upgrade You," Kindlick expanded on the principles of successful upselling.  Specific tips included 1) make the client want the upgrade and sell themselves, 2) don't copy upgrades, create them.... (or at least adapt them to "make them your own"), and 3) Use the K.I.S.S. Rule (Keep it Simple and Stupid)... upgrades should be easily understood by your clients.  In developing potential upgrade services, Mike recommended that DJs survey past clients to see what might have been missing from their event, and then to fill that void. Some specific upgrades that Kindlick is finding success with in his local market include a concierge service (i.e., an assistant to the bride and groom at their wedding reception), casino nights and trivia.

Kindlick also advised to identify and court your market's best event planner.  If successful in gaining their confidence, then your DJ company will benefit from an amazing deal flow that will fill your calendar!

Keynote Speech and Q&A - DJ Skribble.  Skribble, "America's Hardest Working DJ" discussed his road to success from his humble beginnings in Queens, to playing in the Young Black Teenagers, to reaching middle America during his MTV years.  Some things that I did not know about Skribble - 1) "Skribble" is a reference to his former activities as a graffiti artist, 2) he initially hated electronic dance music and was reluctantly torn from hip hop; now he loves them both, and 3) Skribble has dealt with a large amount of rejection and disappointment, particularly early in his career.   He advised upcoming DJs to rely on fire and passion to drive their career; that building and maintaining relationships is critical in the music business; and that producing tracks can  be helpful in fast-tracking your career.  Three DJs who currently impress Skribble are Skrillex, Erick Morillo and Tiesto.  Skribble also gave a dazzling, high-energy performance at the Wednesday night Pioneer party, performing on pimped out, New York Yankees turntables (Technics 1200s of course!).

Mike Walter's Maximizing Employee Training - Mike Walter, the head honcho at multi-operator Elite Entertainment, provided a fast-paced, multimedia seminar about finding and training DJ talent.  This material was primarily from his 2011 book/audiobook "Running Your Multi-Op." It seems obvious, but Mike is correct in saying that the success of a DJ entertainment company hinges on the quality of its talent!  Mike recommended keeping a list of qualities sought in a new recruit, so that you'll recognize this person when you cross paths with them - quite possibly in the course of your daily life.  

On the performance side, Mike advised that an Emcee use prompts (e.g., "Clap Your Hands," "Raise the Roof") to maximize your dancers' potential, and that a DJ should not be afraid to shine saying that a DJ will never steal the spotlight from the bride and groom. On the business side, Mike advised to "get over yourself," to "delegate or suffocate," and to "ABC - Always Be Closing."

Walter's seminar was a mere executive summary of his new book, and for about $25, I would strongly recommend that DJ company managers and business owners purchase "Running Your Multi-Op" at http://www.djmikewalter.com.  

New Media Marketing:  Control Your Media Message.   Vincent Velasquez and Strato Doumanis from Hurricane Productions are social media pioneers in the mobile DJ industry and shared specific tips and strategies for Facebook, Twitter and blogging.  Impressively, Hurricane Productions does not spend any money on advertising and relies solely on its social media platforms to promote its business.  Based on my read of the room, while most DJs have a basic social media presence, few are practicing it at an advanced level.  This could represent a huge opportunity for those DJ companies who grab the bull by the horns.

Did you know that on your business' Facebook Fan Page, there is a tab for administrators called "View Insights" that will show a demographic profile of your Facebook fans by age and geography?  This tab also spits out other graphs and statistics that show how frequently your Fans interact with you. According to Hurricane, having a large number of Facebook fans is not impressive in and of itself.  Rather, it's about engaging your fans and having them interact with your company and sharing content.

Hurricane advises creating high quality content for distribution over social media.  For example, it shoots video in HD and its photos using an SLR camera.  To protect its images and promote its brand, Hurricane watermarks all of its photos.  For its videos, Hurricane uses a "logo sting" (a professional opening scene that promotes branding).  For about $200 per year, Hurricane uses Vimeo Pro to host its videos (importantly, this service allows Hurricane to watermark its videos with the Hurricane logo).

Three specific tips for maximizing the ranking of your content in search engines: 1) create a name for your photo file that is relevant to the subject of the photo.  For example, "Sweet 16 Grand Entrance.jpg" would be better than "IMG0012.jpg," 2) when creating tags for blog entries, use hyphens between words, not spaces.  For example, "NJ-DJ" could rank better than "NJ DJ," and 3) in titling a blog entry, keep it simple and representative of the subject matter.  For example, "Ambient DJ Sweet 16 at Nassau Inn" would be better than "Ambient DJ Raises the Roof at Ashley's Sweet 16 at the Nassau Inn."

Their Perception is Your Reality.  Mike Wieder from Ultimate Sounds DJs based out of my home town of East Windsor, NJ explored how as DJ entertainers we view ourselves, how clients view us, and the relationship between the two.  Mike started with a powerful story of how a prospective client, probably due to his burly weight, asked a question about what happens if Mike kicks the bucket prior to the mitzvah that they were considering him for? Wieder won this job, but the incident was one of the catalysts that motivated him to shed 70 pounds.  Mike correctly stated that "you never get a second chance to make a first impression."  Appearance, demeanor, personality and attitude all play an important part in creating this important first impression.

At a party, a great DJ can be the difference maker by motivating guests who might or might not dance into action.  A lesser DJ would simply blame the crowd for a dance floor that never reached its potential, using an excuse such as 'it was a bad crowd.'  

Wieder advised DJ entertainers to work hard at what we do well, but to work even harder at things that we don't do so well.

Randy Bartlett, the 1% Solution.  Presented by the NJDJN, Randy Bartlett gave two seminars on Wednesday, exploring in detail specific techniques that help to stack the deck towards a successful wedding event.  The idea of the 1% solution is that small measures of improvement in a wedding DJs' preparation and performance can be amplified into highly successful events that result in robust referral streams.  

Bartlett asserts that transitions are critical to the success of the event.  For example, cocktail hour is a transition point from the serious ceremony to the reception party.  The cocktail hour creates expectations, so Bartlett recommends that DJs make it count by programming fun, exciting, upbeat numbers rather than a stale, elevator-music soundtrack.  

At the reception, Bartlett provides coaching and guidance for those delivering toasts, with the end-goal of a natural, heartfelt toast that creates a special moment.  He also cautions that DJs need not tell guests at every step of the way to applaud.  It is actually better for these moments to occur naturally and organically.  

The end result of smooth transitions and heartfelt moments is a crowd that wants to stay and dance.  The final hour of the reception, when the dance floor is either packed or not, is often the culmination of everything that has occurred earlier in the day.  

Exhibits Hall

Admittedly, I spent more time partaking of seminars than in the exhibits hall.  This year's exhibits hall seemed somewhat larger than last year's in terms of the number of exhibitors.  Regarding trends, there was definitely an increase in the number of photo booth providers and in new age DJ frontboards/facades.  The Pioneer Prize Blimp (one of our favorite parts of the Expo!) was grounded this year, but with Pioneer passing out its swag at the Wednesday night party, which included throwing high-end components into the crowd!

I participated in several speaker demos, and was particularly impressed by the Yamaha DSR series.  These speakers provide a warm, high-definition sound that would be perfect for the wedding events that our company specializes in.

On Thursday, Gemini had an exciting round of giveaways, and I was the lucky winner of a pair of Cortex headphones!  Ambient DJs' music mixologists did some shopping, with DJ Spinz acquiring a new E-V powered subwoofer, and myself purchasing an E-V R-300 wireless microphone at a steal!

DJ Spinz (L), DJ Blackjack (R)

The Expo's nightlife activities were enticing as usual.   The highlight of Monday night's Kickoff Party at the Casbah was an opening performance by John Donovan, Party Percussionist.  John has actively networked with the DJ community and was offered this opportunity to showcase his substantial abilities.  

Tuesday night's highly-anticipated Promo Only Party at the House of Blues was a tale of two cities.  The early part of the program was relatively weak with newer artists, many of who missed the mark.  Perhaps we have been spoiled by prior year Promo Only parties who broke new artists like Iyaz and Lady Gaga. Fortunately, the party picked up after midnight when Crystal Waters hit the stage to the upbeat "Party in the Ghetto."  Subsequent performances by Iyaz, Jason Derulo and Jeremih were all outstanding.  Jason Derulo danced his heart out to his new hit "Don't Wanna Go Home."  Not surprisingly, the segue from Jeremih to headliner 50 Cent was their smash hit collaboration "Down On Me."  50 Cent, assisted by Lloyd Banks, closed down the show with his hundred million dollar smile, oozing charisma and stage presence.  To my delight, 50 Cent did not pander to old pop hits such as "In Da Club," but played some of his newer and harder material.

Wednesday night's closing party sponsored by Pioneer was held at the Casbah following the crowning of the 2011 DJ of the Year, Jack Bermeo from LJ Productions of Belleville, NJ.  The entertainment card was the equivalent of having Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Chopin on the same stage - only, it was DJ Skribble, DJ Shiftee, Qbert, BT, DVDJ Unique and DJ 2nd Nature. 


This year, four of Ambient DJs' music mixologists participated in the DJ Expo, and I was pleasantly surprised to see an increased interest in attending the seminars.  We enjoyed some great meals and conversations along the way.  On Monday night, I also dined with an awesome group of DJs in an event organized by Hank Degenering, meeting up with colleagues from across the country such as Alan Dodson,  Mike Fernino and Joe and Heather Staniszewski.  On my final night in A.C., with low expectations, I began gambling, and quickly turned $20 into $300.

Thank you DJ Times for a well-organized, informative and inspirational Expo!  This event will be continue to be a cornerstone of our company's continuing education program.  For those who have yet to attend a DJ Expo, we strongly recommend you to join us in 2012!

DJ Jagged wins new pair of headphones at Gemini Booth

About Ambient DJ

Ambient DJ Service an award-winning mobile DJ company based in Central New Jersey.  Connect with us online at http://www.facebook.com/ambientdj , on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AmbientDJs and on WeddingWire at http://www.weddingwire.com/ambientweddingdj

DJs that Play Together Stay Together

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ambient DJs' Bar and Nightclub Division (REG)

Ambient DJ offers cutting-edge musical entertainment for the bar/club scene through its Renaissance Entertainment Group (REG) nightlife division.  Included in our service offerings are club-style DJs (including turntablists), Karaoke Hosts (KJs), Video Disc Jockeys (VJs) and percussionists.  Expect club style performance with mobile DJ polish!

Bar owners realize that an outstanding DJ results in a healthy bottom line to their business.  Guests stay longer, spend more, and return week after week.

Ambient's portfolio of bar/club work includes the 46 Lounge, Brewsters Pub, Tavern on the Lake, TGI Fridays, Kenji Fusion, Alpha I and Alpha II Lounge (Manhattan), the Americana Lounge, Tre Piani and many more!  

In addition to performing at your venue, we promote your event through social media mediums such as Facebook and Twitter.  Contact us today at 609-672-1270 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.  Don't forget to ask about our 80s Themed Music Video Party!

80s Night with DJ Iron Mike (L) and DJ Jagged (R)
DJ Spinz at the 46 Lounge in Totowa
DJ Jagged, Curator of "Video Fusion Karaoke"
DJ Greg Nice (L) and DJ Jagged (R), in the booth at Eve Ultra Lounge
The Result of When Great Party People Encounter a Great DJ!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

2011 International DJ Expo- Sneak Preview

Next week from August 8th - 11th, thousands of disc jockeys from across the country (and world) will descend upon the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City for the DJ Times 2011 International DJ Expo.  Participants will include mobile DJs, club DJs, Video Disc Jockeys (VJs), producers, bedroom DJs, equipment manufacturers and business gurus.

As the owner of a mobile disc jockey service in Central New Jersey and a lover of DJ culture, here are the seminars and parties on my radar screen:


Steve Moody's All-Star MCs' Secrets Revealed - Steve is a leader in the wedding industry, and his seminars are always fast-paced and informative.

Jerry Bazata's Business in a Down Economy - With the U.S. unemployment rate above 9%, there is no denying that we are in a recession.  I look forward to hearing the thoughts of Jerry Bazata, one of the sharpest minds in the business.

Simple Solutions of Being Different, The Power of the Upgrade - PA-based mobile DJ Michael Kindlick will share specific techniques for upselling services.  This is a timely seminar, as clients seem increasingly resistant to upgrades in today's sluggish economy.

Keynote Speech and Q&A - DJ Skribble.  Skribble, "America's Hardest Working DJ" is the real deal, as evidenced by his jaw-dropping, party rocking performance at last year's late night set at the Ego Lounge.  Past years' keynote speeches by the likes of Grandmaster Flash, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Q-Bert have always been inspirational!

DJ Skribble, performing at 2010 DJ Expo in the Ego Lounge
Evening - At 8 PM, it's time for the DJ Expo Kickoff Party, hosted by Mike Walter from Elite Entertainment.  I'm particularly excited to experience a performance by John Donovan, Party Percussionist.


Mike Walter's Maximizing Employee Training - Mike Walter manages the most successful multi-op. company that I know of, and he will explain the science behind training and maintaining employees for maximum efficiency.  Training is one of Mike's fortes.  For those owners and managers of multi-ops who have yet to check out Mike's new book/audio book, "Running Your Multi-Op" we recommend checking it out here.

Randi Rae's All Things Mitzvah - Our company has successfully dipped its toes in the Mitzvah market, educated and inspired by the likes of Randi Rae, Mike Wieder and Mike Lazar.  I look forward to a fresh round of inspiration from the "Mitzvah Maven"!

"Games DJs Play" with Jake Jacobsen - Jake Jacobsen is a high-energy, interactive entertainer who is also is the President of the New Jersey Disc Jockey Network (NJDJN).  We are always looking for new content for our shows, and hopefully Jake will reveal some winners!

New Media Marketing:  Control Your Media Message with Hurricane Productions.  Strato and Vinnie from Hurricane Productions have used new media platforms to great success and will share some of their secrets!

Evening - The Promo Only Party Artist Showcase Party at the House of Blues is a favorite event of many attendees.  Hosted by Kimberley Locke, Blake Lewis and Traci Lords, scheduled performance artists include 50 Cent, Jeremih, Jason Derulo, Crystal Waters, Wynter Gordon and Pete Wentz & the Black Cards.  Additional surprise artists are also possible and probable!  


DJ Business Guru Randy Bartlett will present two seminars.  The first is his famous "One Percent Solution."  The second seminar, "Behind the Scenes," is a new and intriguing seminar that examines the iceberg effect of a DJ's livelihood.

Smart Marketing - Spinning Without Spending - Joe Mollineaux.  Joe will discuss some low and no-cost marketing strategies to increase sales.

Keynote Q&A - Robert Clivilles.  Clivilles, co-founder of C&C Music Factory, is a super producer/DJ  who will tell his life's story, including the loss of his production partner David Cole.

Evening -  the action shifts to the Casbah at the Taj Mahal for the crowning of the 2011 "DJ of the Year" (2010's winner Adam Weitz).  Thereafter, Pioneer will host a talent show of DJ/VJ virtuosos, including BT, QBert, DJ Skribble, DJ Shiftee, DJ 2nd Nature and DVDJ Unique.  Pioneer will be throwing free headphones and gear into the crowd, and the event will culminate with DJ 2nd Nature unhooking his CDJ-2000 and throwing it into the crowd!  (I hope to be in this exciting mosh pit!)


The primary goal of Thursday is to look for last minute deals in the Exhibits Hall, and to attend the "Ultimate DJ System Giveaway " at 2:45 PM


The Ambient DJ crew will be in full effect from Monday through Thursday.  If you'd like to meet up for lunch, email me at gregg@ambientdj.com.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

National Night Out - West Windsor

Ambient DJ was pleased to be participate in this year's National Night Out in West Windsor.  The township event is among several being held in the region during Tuesday’s National Night Out to encourage people to get to know their police departments and to work toward making their communities safe places to live.  For some history on the West Windsor event and how it was revived by two officers, Michael Pitts and Justin Insalaco, see the following article.  

Some specific highlights of the West Windsor event included:  an auto extrication demonstration, bicycle safety information for the youth, a dunk tank, a range of bounce house attractions for the kids, a silent auction benefitting The Special Olympics, a dusty visit by the State Police Helicopter, exhibition of two stretch limousines by A1 Limousine, and a speech by West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh.

Shinn (L) and West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh

State Police Helicopter Stirs Things Up!
I began my set at 7 PM on the main stage, carrying the torch for Shinn and the 94.5 PST team who needed to get back to the office for their on-air show.  I primarily played music in between acts and performed Emcee duties.  The first act was a high-energy martial arts presentation by two star students from the Princeton Academy of Martial Arts located on Farber Road in West Windsor.  

Presentation by Princeton Academy of Martial Arts

DJ Gregg from Ambient DJ Service
Next, pupils of various ages from the Dance Corner (located in the McCaffery's Shopping Center in West Windsor) delighted guests with a range of dance styles, including jazz and ballet.

Dancers from the Dance Corner

A high-energy dance troupe, comprised of residents of one of West Windsor's adult communities, next took the stage.  The "Syncopations" performed three entertaining numbers, with "Splish Splash" being particularly well-received by the crowd.  Check out the Syncopations' awesome blog at http://syncopationstroupe.blogspot.com/

The Syncopations pose with their favorite DJ!

The final performance of the night was by a group of talented high school students going by the name of "LCO" (short for a more elaborate band name that I was unable to catch the name).  This band was wise beyond its years, dropping hot performances of classics by the likes of Van Halen, Journey, Flight of the Concords and MGMT.  The keyboardist was particularly impressive with an intense solo during the song "Karate."

More Cowbell!

"LCO" is a band on the rise!

The event was a success by all accounts and Ambient DJ looks forward to collaborating with the West Windsor community in the future!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ambient DJ Receives Endorsement from Dr. Frantz

I was pleasantly surprised to receive an unsolicited endorsement from Dr. Charles Frantz on Linked-In.   Dr. Frantz is an accomplished musician and teacher who operates his own conservatory, as well as  teaching at Westminster Choir College in Princeton.  Dr. Frantz also operates a business called Elegant Moods, LLC that provides piano and guitar music for private events such as weddings and corporate parties.  Charlie is a fellow member of the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“Gregg Hollmann heads a unique company in a most professional manner. Ambient DJ Service is not just another DJ company. With Gregg's considerable background in music, he and the people working for him tailor the music to fit the occasion. Not only does this require the choice the music, but also the actual blending of sounds (sonority) to create an atmosphere and mood suited to the event. Gregg is a kind and engaging person. I have a great amount of respect for Gregg Hollmann and Ambient DJ Service."


Charles Frantz Elegant Moods, LLC” - July 28, 2011

Thank you Charlie for the endorsement, and we are equally as impressed with the quality of your musical entertainment!  At a networking event last Fall, I had the pleasure of hearing Charlie perform on guitar - his sound was reminiscent of Kenny Burrell and enhanced the ambience of the event.

In a future issue of the Ambient DJ blog, we will be listing some of our favorite ceremony music selections.  This list will include some specific recommendations by Dr. Frantz!

Dr. Charles Frantz of Elegant Moods
To learn more about Charlie Frantz and view a video interview with performance clips, click on the following link http://trentonian.com/articles/2011/05/06/business/doc4dc42af74d000467345040.txt