Why Bring Your Crew to a Conference

September 25, 2007 by Mike Walter

So I just back from the International DJ Expo in Atlantic City and, as usual, following an industry convention I am fired up and recharged. But instead of talking about how I feel, I’d like to focus this article on my staff and how attending these Expos together are beneficial for us as a group.First of all, the sense that we are a “family” is always strengthened when we go to a convention. At my advanced age (41 … ack!) I don’t often go out and party with my crew, certainly not as much as I used to ten years ago. But at a convention, even when I have a seminar to deliver the next day, there’s too much going on for me to be in my room by 10pm. So what happens, and what happened last week specifically, is I get to hang with my DJs. Last week we were at Jay Z’s 40/40 club one night, partying at the Casbah in Trump’s Taj Mahal another night. Then, on the last night, jumping from one party to the next. Those nights are fun but they are also important for maintaining the bond we all have.

Another reason I think bringing your crew to a DJ convention is essential from time to time is the feeling that what we do is an industry. This is something you as a business owner or manager may take for granted. Of course it’s an industry, right? I mean it’s my full-time career, it better be an industry. But for your part-time DJs, especially the new ones, showing them that the DJ Industry is a legitimate career, even if part-time, can help solidify their commitment to what you want them to do. And how does this happen at a convention? Just let them walk the showroom floor and see all the new electronics that are on display, or belly up to the ADJA booth and have a five-minute conversation with Dr Drax, or even sit in on some of the seminars and listen to the kind of experiences that veterans are sharing with everyone. These are tangible moments that will make your staff (again especially the new ones) nod their heads and realize that this can be a long term, satisfying career.

Finally, I want to address one of the concerns I hear from time to time from Multi-Op owners. It usually goes a little something like this: “If I bring my DJs to a convention they are going to discover all the secrets of marketing and selling and also find out where to buy the gear and then they’ll realize they don’t need me.”

I’ll break my argument down into two phases. First, your crew is only going to attend the seminars you want them to attend. And even then, good luck getting them there bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. What I do before a convention that I am bringing my crew to is hand out a list of the seminars and have them circle the few I think they’ll benefit from, like a “Games Seminar” lead by Scott Favor or Randi Rae, or a Performance focused seminar like Randy Bartlett’s “1% Solution.” I don’t highlight the “marketing” or “sales” seminars and you know what? They don’t show for those. Like I said, they barely drag themselves to the ones I ask them to attend and even then they are probably working on 3 hours of alcohol-soaked sleep. As far as gear goes, if the only tie that binds your staff to your company is access to equipment, you better start training new DJs pretty quickly because like the Pharaoh Ramsey, I see an Exodus in your future.

In today’s day and age of Internet technology, guys can investigate and even purchase equipment with no problem. Instead of fearing that, I welcome it. I tell my new DJs before they get started to look into their own equipment, go to Guitar Center and sample different pieces even, and then let me know what you want. The days of “my DJ’s won’t leave because where would they get the gear” is over folks! I’d rather have my DJ’s committed to working for me because Elite Entertainment is a great place to work and I get them a fair amount of gigs and pay them generously. Those are concrete reasons to work for me and I don’t have to worry that one of my DJs might stumble onto the Musicians Friend web site and discover where he can buy his own Mixer and CD Players.

So with the Mobile Beat show still months and months away, let me recommend that you start making plans, not only to attend this great convention but to bring some of your crew. Maybe make it an incentive thing like the DJ with the most referrals get to go, or something like that. But bringing a few (or all) of your staff can be a big boost to your company morale.

Hope to see you there!

Mike Walter’s emceeing career began in his hometown of Queens, New York in 1984. With an eye towards radio, Mike attended Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 1988 where he was chosen from his class of 25 as “Most Likely to Succeed.” After school, Mike helped to develop a staff of DJs from 12 to over 50 by training new recruits and handling an increasingly complex schedule. In early 1993, Mike felt an increasing desire to venture out on his own and by March of that year he became a partner in a much smaller Mobile DJ company, Elite Entertainment. He quickly had an impact on the Elite staff, imposing his high standards of emceeing and DJing. Mike bought out his partner in 1998 and Elite Entertainment has continued its growth (21 emcees in 2006) and sets the standard for excellence in New Jersey. Mike has always believed in training talent from within and his message has helped show hundreds of DJs from across the country that it is possible to grow their companies without sacrificing quality.

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