A seminar is usually a taster. It is an introduction or an overview of an idea, a technique, a system, a service or a product The seminar is often given in the form of a lecture and will include the opportunity for questions to be asked of the presenter either during the event or as it is drawing to a close.This structure enables a large number of people to attend and evaluate whether the topic is worth pursuing or not as the case may be. Most seminars are of a duration of an hour or two or less.
Workshops are more interactive and practical. The presenter needs to engage with the delegates as individuals. Therefore usually the number of attendees is strictly limited. Much of the content is designed to be one on one or delivered to small “breakout” groups. People who attend workshops should be prepared to get involved. Delegates will be expected to do some practical stuff related to the workshop theme. A workshop will also include some style of critique. The presenter and the other attendees will be expected to pass opinion on exercises undertaken by the group. A workshop can often be a half day or full day duration.
Conferences can take many forms. Some will consist entirely of seminars while others are a mixture of seminars and workshops. In order for a conference to be viable they tend to be held on a much larger scale. In many instances conferences take place in dedicated venues which are equipped to handle large numbers of people. The venue will also be equipped with state of the art audio and visual equipment and have catering facilities on hand to feed the visitors. conferences can be a one day event or anything up to a week.
Why should I attend?
People learn and evaluate new ideas in different ways. Some people can read an article on-line or in a book and translate the written word into a process. Others are not so fortunate. They need to be shown how something works. Many of us need to be “Hands On” in order to comprehend an idea or method. Seminars, workshops and conferences gives the attendee a chance to ask questions, see for him or her self and seek clarification and support from presenters and fellow delegates. Often other people in the room will share their experiences and knowledge of the subject so that others can reason and evaluate the topic under discussion “in the moment” rather than having to reflect or review what had been presented at a later date.
Cost verses value.
Generally the cost of attending an event is considered to be a legitimate business expense and is therefore a tax-deductible investment in your business. So one way of looking at it is that such education is free and that the real cost to a business owner is his time. Time invested in a business is precious so one would expect an educational event to result in added value to your knowledge and skills. Attending a seminar, workshop or conference will not in its self improve what you do in your business. Implementing new ideas, methods and systems will!
Networking – the added bonus.
A spin-off from attending educational events is the networking. Meeting and talking to people in your profession can be very therapeutic. You will be surprised at how many others are in a similar situation or who have similar issues and challenges in their line of work. Often solutions are shared in an informal environment over a cup of coffee or a drink in the bar. Simply knowing that you are not alone and that others are facing the same situations can be inspirational and will prompt you to see things in a new light.
Education can be fun.Take off your blinkers, step out of your comfort zone and S-T-R-E-T-C-H. You’ll be glad you did.
Many independent mobile disco operators & DJs aspire to landing a residency but is this really a good thing for the client?
[This refers to private parties and not bars or night clubs]
Traditionally the very term “mobile disco” relates to a DJ who transports himself and his equipment to a venue where he recreates the discotheque atmosphere in a room which would otherwise be devoid of professional sound systems, flashing lights and non-stop dance music. He or she delivers everything needed, including an extensive music library, and the ability to read an audience while keeping the dance floor packed all night long. In return he receives a fee which reflects the fact that this is no easy feat, one which few people can achieve and is therefore financially rewarding.
The mobile DJ needs to find his own work. He is independent and therefore seeks out his clients by marketing his services via word of mouth, flyers, business cards and web sites as well as referrals from satisfied clients. Very often third parties such as venues are impressed with the standard of performance and they offer to take contact details and pass them on to people interested in hiring their venue for a party. This is good news. Venues are keen to recommend service providers who do a good job. They are also happy to refer DJs who work well with the staff and “fit in” with the logistics involved in hosting a party for their mutual customer.
Some venues go one step further and are happy to offer a single DJ to become their “Resident DJ / Disco”. The venue knows who will be playing the music and the customer gets an entertainer who is recommended and is guaranteed to do a good job [theoretically]. The mobile DJ likes the idea of regular work at the venue which means he or she will not need to spend as much time and money on advertising his DJ service and finding his own clients. It looks like an ideal partnership. A win-win situation – but is it?
In an ideal world it probably is but this is not an ideal world. Firstly we need to consider the end-user by which I mean the person whose party it is. Is it possible for one DJ to be sufficiently talented, skilled and experienced enough to cover every type of party offered to him? Is it conceivable that he can deliver the same standards night in night out to the diverse eclectic clientele offered by the venue. Is it likely that the resident DJ would ever refuse to host a party because he admits he is not proficient with a music genre or a type of client?
Secondly we need to appreciate the venue’s position. They are looking to please as many people as possible. If they perceive the entertainment as “Music and Lights” and are looking for a predetermined level of service from their DJ it may well be the case that a “Jack of all trades and Master of Non” is what they value.
In other words the whole idea of resident DJs in venues works for the venue more so than the DJ or their client for that matter.
As in all walks of life there are exceptions to the rule. There are I’m sure Resident DJs who have the wealth of knowledge, skill, talent and experience to provide excellent performances for varied clients. Unfortunately they are difficult to find and their residencies are under threat. They are under pressure from venues and accountants who are keen to take advantage of the DJ’s vulnerability.
Venues are being constantly approached by DJs who want a slice of the action. You can guarantee that a venue will receive requests for meetings or offers of low-priced fees for regular work from dozens of DJs each and every month. These DJs are eager to get regular work, many have full-time day jobs and are therefore not able to spend time seeking work from individual clients. A residency is seen as easy money and they will be happy to undercut the existing fees attributed to the current resident.
All too often the accountants rule the roost and the pressure to reduce costs is too great to ignore. Quality is subjective and as long as none of the end-user clients complain then where is the harm in opting for a more competitive price? Unfortunately once a venue takes this stance the whole situation becomes desperate. More mobile DJs are keen to offer their services and the price keeps being driven down as is the standard of service offered. So what started out as a good idea quickly becomes a bad idea especially for the DJs and the end-user clients. The venues are left with mediocre talent and parties which at best may only be described as average.
Ironically the mobile DJ has become his own worst enemy. In chasing what seemed a pot of gold he has helped devalue the pricing structure and played into the hands of the accountants. Clients are suffering as standards fall and all DJs are being tarred with the same brush.
Good news. All is not lost. There is an emerging breed of DJ who is carving a new path through the doom and gloom. The new thinking is based on individual personalised marketing. Some DJs are now opting to offer their services as preferred suppliers to a venue. They are looking for referrals based on a client’s needs. They are prepared to offer their services directly to the end-user client but not to be held to ransom by the venue. Developing this relationship also means that the venue would be encouraged to offer a selection of preferred supplier DJs to their clients. This would create competition based on talent, service and professionalism. It means customers have a choice. They can make an informed decision based on their needs and not the needs of the venue.
Overcoming the accountants may well be a stumbling block. In order to become a preferred supplier the DJ may well have to offer a commission or finders fee to the venue. This is not uncommon in the industry and if all is above-board and transparent then it is an acceptable cost of doing business.
If I were planning a birthday party, corporate event or a wedding I’d be suspicious of a venue offering me a resident DJ. Who are they to tell me who will entertain at my party. They don’t know me or have any idea what my tastes are. Choice is what I want. Let the venue recommend by all means but please leave the final decision to me.
Let me apologise in advance if this blog has offended any of my fellow DJs. It was not my intention to offend anyone. My aim is for all of us to reflect on the state of the market as it is today. We need to be honest with ourselves. We need to know our limitations. I write from experience.
Think of me as poacher turned gamekeeper. I have held residencies in venues. I admit to becoming complacent. It’s so easy to think I can play the same music on Saturday for a wedding that I played on Friday for a birthday party, How difficult can it be – play the current chart music and throw in a few requests if I happen to have them, right?
I have been a multi-operator / agent. I’ve been shafted by DJs who worked for me and screwed by venues who wanted to reduce my fees.I’ve booked DJs who have proved inconsistent and unreliable. I’ve worked with some fantastic talented DJs who are much better than I could ever hope to be.
The debate will continue of that I am certain. However the question still remains. Are residencies all they are cracked up to be. Whose interests do they best serve – the DJ, the client or the venue?
Answers on a postcard please – or you can leave your comment below.
New image – new skills – new focus – new ideas – new clients.
There is a very quiet revolution taking place across the United Kingdom.
Mobile DJs are shedding their dated images. Gone are the huge speaker systems which deafened audiences. Gone are the banks of flashing lights and strobes which dazzled and bemused your guests. Gone are the egotistical “all about me” DJs who are only interested in playing their music and consider the party to be a huge success when the dance floor is “rammed”. [Even though you can only get twenty people on the dance floor and there are 200 people at the party]
If you look in the right places you will find a new breed of wedding DJ. One who has embraced new technology and invested in a compact sound system which still delivers great digital sound but does not need to be the size of a wardrobe. The lighting has also been reduced to create a more sophisticated, soft and atmospheric effect. “Mood lighting” can now illuminate the venue walls as well as the dance floor.
Dance floors too are changing. Drab wooden floors are being replaced by stunning sparkly floors which are available in a variety of colours. Available in Black, white and pink [or a combination of the three] as well as floors which can change colour at will thanks to modern LED DMX technology.
More and more brides are concerned about the “Look” of the venue and our new breed of DJs appreciate this and are investing in new equipment which facilitates this new image.
The Specialist wedding DJ is also investing in himself and developing new skills which enable him or her to offer new services which are a natural extension to his existing music and sound knowledge base.
Many DJs now offer a custom music package to enhance and compliment a civil ceremony in a hotel. They will work with a bride to ensure that the selected music is played at the right volume and most importantly is edited to ensure maximum effect especially during the processional and recessional stages of the ceremony.
First impressions count. You DJ has the ability to introduce the bridal party into the room. He can select rousing, dynamic sound beds which will add tension, suspense, emotion and energy into the room. If you want your Wedding Breakfast to “get the party started” you would be well advised to seek out a new breed specialist wedding DJ.
Master of Ceremonies.
If you would rather not have a professional Toastmaster host your wedding reception why not ask your DJ to be the MC. Many DJs have this skill set and the talent to make announcements. Usually this is in a far more relaxed style and one which reflects your personality. Many DJs are now researching the Toasts and traditions associated with weddings and are keen to share and introduce to you little “Spotlight Moments”. They are designed to personalise your wedding and make it be remembered as being different and special. Microphones are also often provided for toasts and speeches should they be required.
Do you know why there is a wedding cake? More importantly why you need to cut it and share it with your guests? Will you pose for the photograph, stick a knife into the cake and have it taken away to be cut or will your DJ / Host do it differently. Will he or she share the history and the full details of the ceremony and invite you to “Spotlight” that moment by doing something your guests have never seen before?
First Dance – Father Daughter Dance – Family dance.
A wedding reception party is like no other party and is a one-off, never to be repeated event. How will your first dance be received by your guests, Will they be involved or will it go unnoticed . Has anyone ever mentioned the idea of the bride dancing with her father to a special tune? How about the idea of a custom song for the bridal party – a family dance. “Spotlight moments” don’t just happen. They need to be organised, produced and directed by an expert. In this case the expert is our new breed of specialist wedding DJ & party host. He or she has the skill and talent to present these dances in such a way as to involve every one of your guests. Photographers and videographers love the way such dances are produced. Your guests will enjoy them too. In fact they will be talking about your wedding reception for weeks, months and years to come – for all of the right reasons.
Enjoy your wedding, relax in the knowledge that the celebrations are in good hands. Seek out a new breed of specialist wedding DJ today and set up a meeting. You will be pleasantly surprised how things have changed.
Where can you find the new breed of wedding specialist DJ?
Organisations like The National Association of Disc Jockeys, or The South Eastern Discotheque Association and The Alliance of Mobile & Party DJs would be a good place to start. There are also a number of groups on Facebook wher you can find like-minded DJs. Mobile DJ Network is one such group.
There has been a great deal of debate regarding mobile DJs who are turning their attention toward expanding their services and presenting an alternative to the current choice of formal toastmaster and hotel duty manager, or family member, acting as a MC. So what is the difference?
Geoffrey Cornwell is a well-respected toastmaster. His website offers this explanation. “A Professional Toastmaster is trained to find out what you want and to then liaise with everyone involved on your day. He will work with all parties concerned and with your guests to ensure that timings and arrangements are complied with as you have requested them. He will work closely with your photographer, caterer and other services to ensure that the day runs smoothly. Your Toastmaster will guide you through your day and look after your guests to ensure that you enjoy a stress-free special day.”
He goes on to explain, “I will be available to advise you in etiquette and protocol from the day that you decide to use my services. I can call on a wealth of experience to help you make decisions about your big day. I will liaise with the other service providers to ensure that we are all working towards the same goal, which is fulfilling your wishes and giving you the best day of your life.”
An M.C. (Master of Ceremonies) generally will make announcements only, which will not necessarily be personal to the bride and groom. According to The Free Dictionary an MC is
As I prepare to embark on my return to the UK, and put the finishing touches to my new workshop for mobile DJ wedding specialists, I am reminded of the objections some people have toward traveling outside of their locality for education and training.
It appears everyone wants a workshop in their town. I understand how convenient this would be however my experience is that generally it’s impractical and almost impossible to accommodate such requests. Unfortunately there are not enough mobile DJs interested in such events at the moment.
Ironically attending a seminar or workshop in your own market could work against you. Very often travelling to another area allows you to meet and share with people who are not your competition, or at least perceived as such.
My workshops held in Birmingham were well supported. DJs from all over the UK came together to learn and share without concern that they would be giving away their secrets to others who may use them to poach potential clients.
It’s refreshing to note that mobile DJs such as Alan Marshall. Mark Walsh, Eddie Short, Brian Mole, Barney Grossman, Martin Keogh, Gary Evans, Gary Jones, Adam Forgie, Clive Hodghton, Simon Fletcher, Sandy Sounds & Paul Smith and many more have all seen value, as I did in 2002, of traveling to the USA in search of knowledge and training.
Thankfully ten years later people like Toby Oakley, Brian Marshall, Mark Walsh, Brian Mole,Ken Savage & Brian Roe as well as Johnathan Lewis are breaking new ground and providing more education and training for mobile DJs.
NADJ, SEDA and AMPDJ are all offering practical support to help DJs benefit from the wealth of expertise which is abundant in the UK today. They regularly organise events throughout the year where members and guests are invited to develop their skills and learn about new products and latest technological developments.
Up and coming opportunities in 2013 begin with my workshops in January followed by MobileBeat Las Vegas in February. March sees the BPM / Pro-Mobile weekend conference in Oxfordshire which features “The Perfect Host” Jim Cerone. April and May sees the return of Mark Ferrell to the UK with a series of workshops teaching and coaching the art of being a professional Master of Ceremonies.
The reality of the situation is that many of the DJs in the room will have travelled anything up to a hundred miles to be there. Most will have travelled around forty miles or so. Yet within an hour or so of the start of the workshop I can guarantee that the idea of protecting their secrets will have melted away.
Attending a workshop will enable you to embrace the notion of fraternity. You are all in business together but you are not in competition with each other. How can you compare another DJ to yourself. He is different. He has different skills, level of expertise and experience. He may do similar things but he will do them differently to you. More importantly the clients he wishes to attract are most certainly different from the ones you may wish to work for.
Another point to remember is that typically in a workshop there are usually a dozen or fewer attendees. In any city on a weekend how many weddings are there likely to be taking place. How many venues are licensed for civil ceremonies? How many churches are there to choose from? There are plenty of opportunities for all, especially for those DJs who wish to specialise and be identified as different from the rest.
So, whilst it may well pay you to get out of your comfort zone and visit another area I understand sometimes this is not possible. If one of my workshops is being attended primarily by “Local” DJs I will go out of my way to put attendees at ease. Nobody need share a “secret”. There will be more than enough ideas and content for you to take away. I will be sharing not only my own content but also I will be showing you where you can get more support from experts in the UK and overseas.
Travelling outside of your locality can be seen as inconvenient however for me this is more than offset by the new, fresh environment which adds to the experience. Meeting new people in the same business and exploring how they deal with situations common to us all is refreshing. Remember too, all travel and costs associated with learning are legitimate business expenses which can be offset against tax.
It’s not very often the Tax Man gets to pay for something of benefit to you
Until next time………….
Little did I know way back in February 2002 as my wife and I boarded a plane heading for Las Vegas, Nevada, USA that my DJ business was about to take off in a whole new direction. We were heading for the MobileBeat DJ show and convention. The idea was to learn how we could expand our business and hire and train more disc jockeys.
I had previously come across the MobileBeat magazine whilst on holiday the previous year. The magazine was full of articles about being a mobile DJ. Each article was written by a working DJ and the topics covered just about every aspect of the business. This was like gold dust to me because there was nothing like it available in the UK at the time. So when I heard about the show I just had to go.
From the moment we set foot in the convention hotel we were given a very warm welcome. The first evening we were sat outside the restaurant in the bar having a drink. It was evident by looking around us and noticing all of the people wearing DJ T-shirts and Branded company logo jackets that we were among fellow convention attendees. Someone overheard our conversation and invited us to join their group. everyone was amazed that we had travelled so far to attend the show and within minutes we were sharing ideas and discussing the differences of DJing around the world.
The following three days were an education in more ways than one. We met dozens of people who all took an interest in us and who wanted to share what ever they believed would help us in our business. Little did Carol I know that this was to be the start of a journey which would see us returning year after year. Each visit produced more insight and knowledge which we used to develop our DJ business. If only we had a show like this one in the UK.
On our second visit to the show in 2003 it became evident that the American DJ industry was both driven and supported not only by MobileBeat but by a number of other publications and disc jockey associations. It was also pointed out to me that i had an obligation to share my new-found knowledge with my fellow DJs in the United Kingdom.
National Association of Disc Jockeys
I had to search around to find a disc jockey association in the UK. There were none in the north-west of the country and it transpired that the only two associations I could find were located in Reading and Maidstone. I visited them both. In the end I chose Thames valley DJA over SEDA. Thames valley was nearer and a little more open when it came to membership from outside of their base area. TVDJA already had a couple of members from Wales so the idea of a crazy scouser travelling five hours to join them on a Sunday lunchtime was bemusing but accepted.
Membership of both associations in those days was small by comparison to what it had been in the past. I was frustrated and wanted to make the association available to more DJs around the country. The committee agreed and the following year Thames Valley changed its name to The National Association of Disc Jockeys or NADJ as it has become known. Austin Levitt was the founding chairman however he was soon to step down and I found myself as the Chairman of the organisation. I had a vision and a plan which saw me travelling the length and breadth of the UK over the next three years. Local meetings were arranged and branches were established around the country. The committee evolved and thanks to the help of many people we finally grew the membership and provided a facility for British DJs to exchange ideas and learn new skills.
As word spread some DJs were suspicious of NADJ and me in particular. Why do we need an association they would say. Forums where the place most Djs went to exchange views. The internet was seen as the modern way to communicate. Others decided to do their own thing and within a couple of years there were more than half a dozen DJ associations to choose from in the country. While I was disappointed that NADj would not be the “umbrella” organisation I had hoped for I was delighted that in just a few short years the UK had a network of learning and sharing for DJs to choose from.
Whilst the DJ associations were growing a young man by the name of EDDIE SHORT was developing a magazine for the mobile DJ in the UK. Pro-Mobile Magazine was badly needed and filled a gap in the market perfectly. Together with a small number of like-minded DJs who contributed articles Eddie and his team created a product which spread knowledge far wider than the associations could.
I managed to convince Eddie that he would benefit from a visit to the MobileBeat show in Vegas and eventually he agreed to join me. I knew the owners and introduce him to them. I remember the meeting one evening in their hotel suite where I left Eddie to chat about DJ shows, publishing and all thing technical. Needless to say Eddie was impressed and returned to Vegas on a number of occasions in order to pick up more knowledge both for his magazine and for himself as a working DJ.
I had always wished that we could have a show of our own like MobilBeat in the UK. Eddie also thought it would be a good idea but he also knew it would have to be different in order to appeal to our British way of doing things. Eddie teamed up with Mark Walsh and together they created the blueprint for what would become the BPM show. So you can imagine how delighted I was to be in Las Vegas with both Eddie and Mark and to see the first BPM show take place later that year at Donnington Park.
NADJ had organised their own trade shows and led the way by introducing seminars as well as displaying products from manufacturers and retailers. Paul Arnett’s DJ Show North had also provided an opportunity for DJs to experience the best of what the industry had to offer. PLASA show in London was becoming less and less mobile dj friendly which helped drive more and more visitors to these new DJ events.
Fast forward to today and what do we see. BPM is bigger and better than ever, in fact it is the biggest DJ show in the world. BPM 2012 at the N.E.C. in Birmingham this October is set to break all-time records for visitors to a DJ show. Education will play an important part of the event with three full days of seminars covering all things DJ. The contributors will be assembled from all walks of DJ life providing advice and education for those who want to develop their skills or grow their business.
I have had the pleasure to present many seminars at BPM over the years. These have been well attended and warmly received. Feedback from the seminars indicated that there was a need for a more focused and dedicated method of sharing ideas and experiences. This led me to develop a series of workshops were a small number of djs can relax in an environment where ideas can be examined and refined. Workshops also allow for one on one coaching and development for the attendee. The workshops have been an amazing success. I am humbled when I list the gifted and talented Djs who have attended.
This year I shall be holding a workshop to coincide with BPM.
It will be held at a nearby hotel on Monday October 8th and repeated on Tuesday 9th. For more details please visit the eventbrite web site.
So, looking back if Carol and I had not boarded that plane ten tears ago would there be an NADJ today?
Would Pro-Momile Magazine have developed the way it has?
Would there be the choice of associations for DJs to choose from?
Would BPM have very been created?
Would DJs be able to attend seminars and workshops?
The answer to all of these questions is YES, probably they would, all be it in a different format.
I wonder what the next ten years will have to offer?
Thanks for reading.