DJ Expo ’15 Takeaways, Pt. 2

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In last month’s issue of DJ Times, Part 1 of my annual DJ Expo Wrap-Up included useful tips from “All-Star MCs” and ways to navigate through same-sex weddings.

Of course, there was plenty more from DJ Expo ’15, held at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J., this past Aug. 10-14. Here are some more highlights:


The Keys: Become a Great Performer

In this tutorial, Mike Walter of Tinton Falls, N.J.-based Elite Entertainment stated emphatically that DJs must stop being afraid of stealing the spotlight, and instead focus on creating great moments. Amazing party outcomes, he said, fuel referrals. Walter then shared this thought-provoking quote, “Advertising is the price a business pays for being boring.”

At weddings, Walter recommends that DJs look to pack the dancefloor early. For example, immediately after the salad course is a great time to open up the dancefloor. MCs should open the dancefloor with complete confidence and not be afraid to fail. Entice guests by stating, “There is plenty of time before dinner is served.” Even if an MC fails in that initial attempt to build a dancefloor, they’ve still won points with guests who realize this is not going to be a dull wedding.

To maximize interactivity and fun, MCs should ask guests to do things that they already want to do (for example, joining a group sing-a-long). MCs should also never ask a guest to do something that they themselves wouldn’t do. For line-dancing and group dances, MCs must know these routines at a high level in order to command the crowd. MCs should compliment those guests who follow prompts like “put your hands in the air” in order to enjoy continued compliance.

The Art of Latin Events

Jack Bermeo of Belleville, N.J.-based LJDJs Productions, joined by Latin percussionist Crystal Vargas and two talented dancers, delivered an information-packed and exciting multi-media seminar. The Latin market is large and growing. For example, Hispanics account for 29-percent of the New Jersey population and 17-percent of the U.S. population. Moreover, Latinos love to throw lavish parties. Bermeo’s premise is that all DJs with proper research and music knowledge can enjoy a piece of the Latin market.

Different cultures equal different music. For example, Dominicans typically favor bachata, merengue tipico and classic merengue. Puerto Ricans, on the other hand, gravitate towards salsa, reggaeton and trio music. Colombians and Ecuadorians prefer cumbia, valienatos and salsa, while Mexicans enjoy rancheros and Spanish rock. Elvis Crespo’s “Suavemente” is viewed by Latinos as cheesy and overplayed similar to the way that “We Are Family” is viewed by Americans.

To successfully cross over into the Latin market, DJs must ask the right questions, be confident and show families that they care. If successful in doing so, premium fees are possible. An $800 quinceanera (typical market average) could easily be upgraded to as much as $8,000 after gaining a family’s trust and offering appropriate upgrades.

Some hype phrases that any DJ can incorporate into a Latin party include:

“Mee hentay” (My people!)

“Agan buya” (Make some noise!)

“Un applauso por favor” (A round of applause, please!)

“Manos Pa’Arriba” (Hands up!)

Increasing Your Revenue with Honeymoons & Weddingmoons

Mark Brenneisen from Total Entertainment in Queensbury, N.Y., discussed an exciting and fun option for DJs to earn extra income. Through the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), a professional association comprised of event planners and offering vendor memberships for DJs, members can become certified Sandals specialists and offer vacation/honeymoon packages to wedding couples, family and friends.

Sandals is a portfolio of all-inclusive resorts focused in the Caribbean and offering brands: 1) Sandals – adults only; 2) Beaches – for families; and 3) the Grand Pineapple luxury brand.

Annual membership dues to the ABC for vendor memberships are $225. In addition to the ability to offer vacation packages through the ABC’s travel-agent number, DJs enjoy two other important benefits. First, the opportunity to benefit from educational content at ABC’s monthly meetings. Second, DJs can meet and network with the ABC’s core of event planners.  Over time, these relationships should result in referrals.

When successful in selling a vacation package, DJs earn a commission (typically about $500) and in the process qualify themselves for additional perks. Brenneisen says that for those DJs performing at over 30 weddings a year, selling vacation packages via the ABC is a no-brainer. In the past year, Brenneisen has sold 13 vacations himself with minimal effort. DJs can take a passive approach to selling vacations; for example, placing a Sandals badge on their website. Or DJs can actively cross-sell honeymoon packages to their clientele.

Party Games with Jake

Darryl “Jake” Jacobsen of Affair 2 Remember Entertainment in Hazlet, N.J., hosted his eighth consecutive games/dance seminar to a packed room of DJs and party motivators eager to learn. A fast-moving carousel of presentations from new and repeat presenters followed.

Two games were particularly noteworthy this year:

Mike Alevras from HVE Associates in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., presented a hit game called “Sit Down If….” The premise is simple but fun: Party guests stand up, and then the MC proceeds to ask a series of questions—many of which are humorous. If the answer is “yes,” guests take their seat.

Questions continue until a winner is determined. For example, the MC might instruct: “Sit down if you still have an active AOL account,” or “Sit down if you ate a hot dog today.” This game is a great ice-breaker for any type of party, and should work particularly well at corporate events.

Jack Bermeo from LJDJ Productions demonstrated a dazzling game using RFID bracelets. These technologically advanced bracelets contain LEDs and were controlled by Bermeo on an iPad to turn different colors and flash/strobe. In the “Snap Attack” game, the lights are turned off and bracelet-wearing guests are given commands by the MC that create an interactive human light show. These specific RFID bracelets are called Xylobands and have been used in live shows by the band Coldplay.

There’s plenty more, of course. Stay tuned for next issue, when the wrap-up of DJ Expo 2015 continues.

Gregg Hollmann owns Ambient DJ Service in East Windsor, N.J.