DJ Expo 2013: 30 Takeaways

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The industry’s sharpest business minds and up-and-coming DJs flocked to the seminar halls of the DJ Expo in Atlantic City, N.J., this past August to broaden their knowledge with actionable ideas.

Kicking off the seminars on Monday was How the DJ Expo Grew My Business—and How It Can Grow Yours, presented by Steve Moody. Steve’s DJ career plodded along with mediocre results before he reluctantly attended his first DJ Expo in 2007. Enlightened by what he learned engaging with the industry, Moody has since doubled his prices and quadrupled bookings. His Expo presentation was multidisciplinary, with segments on marketing, sales, business administration and performance.

The first important takeaway from the seminar was: “If you have phenomenal marketing, everything else will fall into place.” Moody’s marketing program features a modern website, prolific use of Video Logs (“Vlogs”) and a beautiful magazine containing photos and articles with playlists and planning tips. Vlogs, in addition to impressing prospective clients, also serve to charm wedding venues. The strategy is working, with Moody’s company listed on the Recommended List at 17 high-end venues in his home market on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. For those DJs anxious about asking a bride for a video testimonial to include at the end of a Vlog, Moody said that brides who book his services know what they are getting into and are usually eager to participate.

Speaking about the wedding market and Millennial generation, Steve presented a slide showing that Millennials are most Moody in 1) convenience (of planning), 2) style/taste, and 3) peer recommendation. Price was low on the list—the ninth most important factor.

On the administrative side, Moody recommends creating as many templates as possible for e-mail correspondences, and then using automation to communicate with brides and grooms over the life cycle of an engagement.

On the performance side, Moody emphasized the importance of coming out from behind the DJ booth and engaging guests.

He received a well-deserved standing ovation at the conclusion of his terrific seminar. Subsequent to the DJ Expo, Moody announced that his company signed a lease on a full-time office space.

All-Star MC Secrets Revealed. This seminar, in its third annual installment, has become one of the most popular seminars of the Expo. Chaired by Steve Moody, the panelists vary from year to year, and this year’s panel included Jack Bermeo (LJ Productions), Dominic Sestito (Elite Entertainment), Sean “Big Daddy” McKee (James Daniel Entertainment), Jerry Bazata (DJ Jaz Entertainment), Tony Tee Neto (SCE Event Group and Drophouse.com) and Randy Bartlett (1% Solution). A huge takeaway from this seminar is that commanding a room is an acquired skill that requires careful planning, training and practice.

Bermeo, a two-time “DJ of the Year” winner, spoke about the importance of style, both in terms of having a unique personality and a strong sense of fashion. At sales consultations, Bermeo recommends taking more risks and dressing like an entertainer. For him, v-neck sweaters and pocket silks help him to stand out. At weddings, he wears a suit of exceptional quality to stand out from the guests. To further differentiate himself, he also uses his unique sense of humor at sales consultations and performances.

Sestito advised on how to command a room as an MC. He spoke about the importance of being a confident leader who inspires guests. Sincerity, good voice inflection and confidence are critical. He advises MCs to smile, be themselves and to never scream into the microphone to create energy. Commanding a room is a skill that can be acquired with practice and does not require great looks—as the example of Mick Jagger attests.

McKee is an inspirational figure in the entertainment industry who advises DJs to “Smile as Loud as You Can.” McKee reminded attendees that celebrations are not about us, but about our clients and giving them 100-percent! Specific wedding performance techniques used by Big Daddy to create “energy and love” are 1) packing the dancefloor with a high-energy set prior to the grand entrance, and 2) after the first course, having guests at each table stand and join hands, and then mobilizing these guests to the dancefloor.

Bazata also spoke about stage presence and shared a construct he uses called “SPACC” (Speed, Posture, Animation, Connectivity, Confidence). Regarding speed, it’s important to look guests in the eye and speak in a relaxed tone. For posture, an MC should throw his shoulders and look proud. For connectivity, the MC must ensure that he is getting reactions from guests. For confidence, it is critical to project confidence and not show any signs of nervousness. To step up his own confidence, Bazata memorizes the names in his bridal party introductions.

DJ Tony Tee (SCE Event Group and Drophouse.com) is an accomplished voice-over artist and wedding entertainer. To warm up his voice before a wedding, Tony breathes deeply 20 times through his nose and stretches his face and tongue. In addition to wearing a smile on your face, Tony says that it’s critical to put a smile in your voice. When speaking, don’t go too fast and use punctuation to allow guests time to absorb your words. Develop a cadence (rhythm) for your speaking and remember that “physical movement orchestrates vocal expression.” When performing in front of an audience, an MC should focus on connecting with a single guest and the rest will follow. Tony strongly advises wedding MCs to make their bridal party introductions from the other side of the DJ booth in order to connect with guests and gain command of the room.

Bartlett spoke about how important it is for wedding DJs to “slay the beginning and end of a reception.” Bartlett shared his method for quickly gaining the attention of a room of talking guests at the beginning of a wedding reception. He will say “Good Evening,” then wait for the natural dip in the crowd chatter, and then immediately begin his short introductory statement: “Glad you’re all here tonight. My name is Randy. I’m going to be your Master of Ceremonies this evening. Tonight is going to be so much fun!” The grand entrance follows. While Bartlett’s opening remarks are short, he makes it up to guests with an incredible ending.

DJ Expo 2013 offered a wide range of high-quality content across the business and performance spectrum. Seminar attendees return from Atlantic City with notebooks full of tips and ideas. Numerous seminar speakers challenged attendees to put new ideas into practice. Jason Weldon even laid down the gauntlet, stating, “I promise you if you quit your day job and go 100-percent with your DJ business, you’ll be successful.”

Stay tuned for next issue, where I’ll review more of the seminars from DJ Expo 2013

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

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