WOMEN AT MBLVX TALK ABOUT THE INDUSTRY GATHERING AND SHARE THEIR VIEWS OF THE FEMALE DJ EXPERIENCE
By DJ DAYna
I think all who were there can agree that the latest Mobile Beat Convention in Las Vegas (Feb. 2010) was another great success this year! Looking back at the show one important trend stands out: Of all the attendees this year, there was clearly an increase in the female population, the majority of them mobile DJ business owners and mobile entertainers. In fact, show statistics indicate that the number of female attendees DOUBLED from the previous year. I chatted with some of the ladies to hear their thoughts, opinions, and feedback about the show.
Some of the woman I talked to had been going to MBLV for years, and for others it was their first time. So, I was curious what they thought of the convention in general.
Monica Hamblin, who works for In The Mix Events based in Ventura, California, benefits from the seminars: “I always try to take something new from every seminar and meeting. Even if I heard it last year, it reiterates what I’ve learned. There’s new technology, there’s new tips, and in talking to the person next to you, as well as meeting other DJs face to face has pulled out a lot of good information year after year.” Tamara Sims, Co-Owner/Director of Sales for Something 2 Dance 2, serving Chicagoland, also enjoys the seminars: “If you take away one little nugget from each seminar you attend, then it’s all worth it. I also think it’s very valuable when you have small groups that get together and exchange knowledge, because every market is so different and it’s very interesting to learn the different ins and outs of weddings from Hawaii to Idaho and anywhere in between.”
Melissa Kramer of Kramer Entertainment is a DJ/MC and also runs the company’s sales office. She enjoys the people she meets. “It gets better every year! We go on the fitness walks in the morning and have made some great friends.” It was the third time attending for Darci Vegas of VIP Party Productions in South Florida, and she says, “I get inspired every time I come. I go home afterwards and I’m like ‘Yeah!’ I’m ready to go.”
“I’ve been to Atlantic City so many times, and I wanted to try this,” says first-time Mobile Beat attendee Shani Barnett, an MC/dancer/choreographer for Mobile Music in Chicago. “I’m glad I came here and will definitely be back next year!”
Jodi Harris, the “CEO of Fun,” who owns and operates Sight & Sound Events in Vegas, has been going to MBLV for many years. “It gets better every year,” says the veteran entertainer. “The seminars are more intense, interactive, and give more information.”
Charlene Mortillo, a long-time entertainer from Popular Party DJ’s based in New Jersey (see her profile in the March 2010 issue of MB) was convinced to try Mobile Beat this year after attending the Atlantic City show for years. She thinks it is a great experience and was pleased with the East Coast representation she saw.
Jean Steinmetz has been running her own digital karaoke and DJ service, C&C Entertainment, in Cincinnati, Ohio for 15 years. This was her second time at MBLV. “I like coming here because I like to set the standard in the industry when I go back home. I always want to stay ahead of everybody, so I’m always looking for the next new thing.”
PERSONAL SHOW HIGHLIGHTS
Here are some of the ladies’ most memorable moments from this year’s show.
For Darci, owner of VIP Party Productions in South Florida, “Networking has been the best. One guy came up to me and thanked me for giving him an idea last year. That made my day!”
“I think some of the best networking happens in the hallways or in the coffee shops,” says Tamara. “My husband and I ran into Andy Ebon (a seminar presenter) at the coffee shop and ended talking to him for an hour…it was fantastic to share knowledge with him and get his perspective on things.”
Shani and Charlene both agree that one of the highlights for them was the “Big Daddy” McKee and Gerry Siracusa seminar on re-igniting passion for performing and building a business.
Jodi says, “I liked the Soul Train performance. And Andy Ebon had some great examples and information in his seminar.”
“I got a picture with Coolio and danced with Sugarhill Gang!” raves Melissa about some fun moments for her. She also enjoyed the seminar with wedding marketing expert Andy Ebon. “Andy Ebon is one of our favorites. His talk this year was amazing! We take away so many nuggets from him.”
FROM A FEMALE PERSPECTIVE: THEN AND NOW
I was curious about the overall female perspective of what it’s like being the minority at the show. And for those who have been long-time attendees, I wondered what changes they have observed over the years.
Bonnie Hope, who owns and operates Music by Bonnie in Santa Barbara has been DJing and attending Mobile Beat since 1982, so she has seen a lot of changes. In the past, she remembers, “I felt I was crashing a fraternity party, and it was intimidating, offensive, and uncomfortable. I’m a friendly person and make friends easily, but I felt if I didn’t come dressed scantily then I was ignored.” She adds, “I’d come back with a lot of hesitation and I know that I’d always learn something, but its gotten a lot better over the years and this year feels way better than it did 10 yrs ago. It feels friendlier to woman business owners/DJs.”
“I’ve always been accepted as a female,” says Monica, now on her sixth convention. “I do like meeting with the other females and getting their perspective on things. And not to mention, you definitely feel protected when you go out to the clubs while you’re here, because it’s one girl and 10 guys!”
Tamara, who also has attended Mobile Beat for 6 years feels similarly: “I’ve always felt welcomed coming to Mobile Beat. From the first convention to this very day.”
Jean said she didn’t know what to expect coming to this show as a female. “I did feel intimidated last year being a female because I didn’t know what to expect, but I don’t this year. I actually feel some of the guys are intimidated by me being here!“
Since it was her first time at the convention, Shani has an interesting perspective on being a female in the “boys club.” “Most woman here think that it’s very geared towards men. But I guess being in the market for so long, I don’t see myself as a woman first, I see myself as a DJ/MC first. I see myself as a woman second. Going to the seminars and being around everybody, I’m looking at it how everyone else is looking at it. So, in my opinion, the woman just need to not look at it from their gender, but from their job.”
Jodi believes the female point of view can be an asset. “We all have unique stories as woman on how we got into the business and can learn from each other. Being a girl is an advantage! I feel like they’re all like my brothers when I come here.”
IDEAS FOR NEXT YEAR
Finally, I asked what suggestions the ladies might have to make next year better overall, or to attract more female mobile DJs and business owners. More female-specific presentations were clearly on most of their wish lists.
Shani thinks it would be beneficial to have a woman’s seminar. “I think they should have a seminar geared towards woman to talk to them about how they should sell themselves in the market and put themselves at the top level. I also think they should have a seminar on how to take your company to an interactive company level, which focuses more on incorporating lighting, dancers, video mixing etc.”
Charlene also adds that “a dance seminar talking about and teaching various dances would be neat.”
“I’d love to see more female presenters and panels,” says Bonnie. “And when the men are talking during their presentations, I’d love to hear them stop saying “you guys” every other word. I feel like they are excluding the females. It’s just a little pet peeve of mine.”
“It would nice to have a roundtable discussion with all the female DJs,” says Jean. Jodi and Charlene both agree: “A female panel would be great to have next year.”
“Women control the market in the wedding industry,” states Monica. “It’s all about what the bride wants. What if we had an all-lady panel, where the majority are married woman or have been married and get their perspective on what they were looking for when they wanted to hire everybody, not just DJs. Talk about what the woman want in the market—and have the men listen.” As Tamara puts it, “I speak Bride. I was a bride so I know what they’re going through.”
Melissa shared her thoughts on what would also be helpful to have next year. “I think women learn so differently than men. When it comes to all the audio, gadgets, and mixers, that’s where it takes me a little longer to learn all that stuff where guys pick it up easier. It would be great to have someone do a seminar for females on the basic 101 about equipment/gear.”
They all seem to agree on one thing: It’s fun to be a girl in the boys club!
I enjoyed meeting all these ladies and I thank them for taking the time to sit down with me for some girl talk. I look forward to seeing all of them next year and hope even more women will decide to attend the big show!
Filed Under: Exclusive Online News and Content, Issues from 2010, Profiles
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