DJ Expo ’14—Business All-Stars Advice

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The DJ industry flocks to the seminar halls of the DJ Expo each August to broaden their knowledge, make connections and take ideas home to their market. Just learning one dance, game or marketing idea can make a difference to any DJ’s bottom line, and they often do.
This year’s edition did not disappoint, as it offered an exceptional selection of seminars. Two of them, “Business All Stars” and “The CSI of Customers,” I cover here.

Business All-Stars
This information-packed seminar highlighted business diversification, and was chaired by “Money Man” Jerry Bazata of DJ Jaz Entertainment.


Gregg Hollmann of Ambient DJ Service (that’s me!) encouraged DJs to identify their individual strengths—from a superior fashion sense, to a great sense of humor, to web-design skills, to good looks, to video-editing skills—and then leverage these strengths to achieve superior results. As an example, I discussed how my love of writing has enabled me to book more events using blogs, playlists and a published book. I also encouraged DJs to share online mixes with clients and networking partners using sites like Mixcloud and Soundcloud.

The premise of “The C.S.I. of Customers” seminar was that just as every student is not educated the same way, not every individual is entertained the same way.

In addition, for a personal touch, I suggested passing mix-CDs hand-to-hand in order to attempt to “get inside somebody’s head.” Finally, I described my success in introducing a twist on karaoke called “Video Fusion Karaoke” to the nightlife and corporate markets. Video Fusion Karaoke is a flexible format that offers guests a mix of singing, music videos and traditional DJ-dance sets.

Shani Barnett of Carey Smolensky Productions in Chicago described how her group provides sound, video, lighting and DJ entertainment services to big-budget conferences held across the United States. For example, guests pay $10,000 a ticket to attend an Anthony Robbins training seminar. These conferences are big business and include formidable budgets for sound and lighting. According to Barnett, she is able to utilize reliable local A/V companies across the country to provide the equipment. She flies with just a laptop. Those DJs who target this segment should prepare to work long and hard hours.

Rob Peters (aka “The Bubble Man”) is the owner of Rob Peters Entertainment in Braintree, Mass. His “bubble parties” are targeted to children aged 3 to 6 years old and generate powerful mid-week cash flow to supplement his weekend wedding work. To be a successful children’s entertainer, Rob recommends:

  • Having a “kid-friendly personality.”
  • Dressing the part.
  • Using appropriate kid-friendly colors in marketing pieces.
  • Being personable with the kids; that is, talking to kids, not at kids.

Just as 75-percent of Disney visitors return the following year after a visit, so, too, do 75-percent of Peters’ clients return the following year.

Jodi Duston of DJ Jodi Entertainment in Portsmouth, N.H., specializes in same-sex weddings and celebrations. Some years ago, Duston discovered a knack for programming music for same-sex events. While Duston may know the same-sex demographic better than most as a lesbian DJ, she asserts that any DJ can book more same-sex events by following these tips:

  • Don’t use the term “commitment ceremony” in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
  • Incorporate photos and service descriptions related to same-sex events on your website.
  • Change paperwork from “bride and groom” to “bride and bride” or “groom and groom.”
  • Modify wedding traditions for gay and lesbian couples.
  • Advertise on websites geared towards LGBT couples. Duston specifically mentioned the Pink Pages (pinkweb.com), gayweddings.com and samelovesamerights.com.

Steve Moody of Steve Moody’s Entertainment Connection in Ridgely, Md., encouraged to DJs to seek out work in local senior centers. These jobs can be special events (dances) or regular dance instruction classes. Most senior centers have budgets for entertainment and some even receive grants. In other words, there is budgeted money waiting to be spent. Moody recounted a story of booking an event at a senior center during which only seven guests attended. Yet, Moody was still compensated $1,300 for the session.

The C.S.I. of Customers: Customer. Service. Intelligence.
Mike Kindlick of Jam on Sound Productions in Reading, Pa., has a Masters Degree in Education and taught school for 10 years before transitioning to DJ entertainment full-time. In the education world, students are assessed individually. Based on the assessment, the teacher develops an individual education program (“IEP”). The premise of Kindlick’s seminar was that just as every student is not educated the same way, not every individual is entertained the same way.

At sales consultations, using a mixture of personal and event-specific questions, Kindlick is able to “profile” and then present an individualized entertainment program (i.e., DJ package) to the prospective client. Kindlick is able to maximize his company’s revenue-generating power by presenting a wide array of packages and options.

Kindlick emphasized:

  • The importance of developing “rapport” with prospective clients to gain their trust.
  • Using questionnaires that help to identify inconsistencies between a client’s perception of the importance of DJ entertainment and their allocated budget thereto.

Stay tuned next issue as I continue to offer more takeaways from the 2014 DJ Expo.

Gregg Hollmann is the owner of Ambient DJ Service in East Windsor, N.J.