Tuning the School Dance to Full Effect: DJ Kris and N-Effect productions bring club-cool to school

March 15, 2013 by Megan Fry

At the last Video DJ Conference (VDJC2, Sept. 2012), we came across many DJs who are making exciting visual presentations more and moremb148_074 key parts of their shows, and we thought you would want to check out how they are using video and the whole spectrum of effects to set themselves apart in their markets.
One of these jocks is DJ Kris P of N-Effect Productions in Irvine, CA. After seeing a video of what he and his company are doing at school events during prom and homecoming seasons, it became clear that he is effectively creating a “mobile club” experience that truly wows his crowds. Let’s hear directly from DJ Kris P about how N-Effect has achieved this, er, effect, and how it
comes across in marketing and sales.
Mobile Beat: So, DJ Kris P, tell us a little bit about how you got in the business.
DJ KrisP: Kind of fell into it randomly. I had a job as a DJ at an all-ages nightclub, and people were coming in–obviously people under 21 who were in high school–and saying how awesome the club was. They wished that their school dances were the same. So I kind of took the show on the road and started doing high school dances in 1993.
M B: Where did it all start gearwise?
K P: Yeah, for the most part, like everybody we started with two speakers and a microphone, the basics. But over time, taking my knowledge from the nightclub industry, I was one of the first people to incorporate lasers and video projection and intelligent lighting and things that were very cuttingedge. Nobody had seen things like that in that market. And that obviously evolved into LED walls, CO2, confetti, other special effect, things like that.
M B: How do most of your clients find you? I’m guessing they hear it from the school in the next town how great their prom was…
K P: You know, I’ve been doing this for a long time, doing schools for over 20 years; doing clubs and stuff like that. At this point it’s almost like a built-in market. I’ve got clients that I’ve done for over 15 years in a row, the same schools year in and year out…People know that we’re going to be at the event, it’s going to be cool; people want to go. This past weekend we had 1,800-person and 1,400-person dances. We also did 21 events that same weekend…We put on a great show. So I think that’s what’s kept the clients coming back every year and kept us busy for so long.
M B: From your video we assumed that was everything you had. But you can do a couple of those at one time–
K P: We had six of those that same night.
M B: And then a couple of other two-speaker and-a-microphone level-type dances?
K P: Yeah. Everything’s scalable. You do have those shows that are smaller. But that client that may book a $700 or $1,000 show, six months later may book a $10,000 show. The school that you saw in that video was a $40,000 dance. That was production. That wasn’t the venue cost or catering. That was the “DJ.” That same school, when I started doing stuff for them, was a $500 client. But we built a rapport; we built a demand. That school just had their homecoming and we sold all the tickets out for their homecoming dance in one week.
M B: When they come to you asking what you can do next year to top it, what do you do?
K P: Yeah. That’s always the hard part. When you’re like us, always swinging for the fence, it’s hard to swing harder sometimes. We’re always trying to do the most cutting-edge that we can on a budget or with a budget. Obviously you see Academy Awards or large festivals that Tuning the School Dance to Full Effect DJ Kris P and N-Effect Productions Bring Club-Cool to School have million-dollar budgets, how do you create that same look, feel, and environment on a $2,000, a $5,000, a $10,000 budget? It’s definitely a challenge.
…[but] we’re lucky enough to have such a great rapport with our clients. For the most part the clients say here’s the date, here’s the theme, wow me, send me a bill. And they give us a lot of creative freedom…
So a lot of the job that we do is educating our clients and creating the rapport for them to trust us. We go to schools all the time that only have a 400-person turnout out of a 4,000-person school, and within one event we double, triple, quadruple their attendance and they can’t figure out what happened; how did another thousand people magically show up? And we do it all the time.
M B: But you did mention that you’ve had a school that was surprised at the great attendance and that they actually made money on the dance, yet they didn’t call you back the next time….
K P: Yeah. And sometimes people do that, and hopefully they learn from their mistakes or call you again, or however you want to say it…But at the same time, you hopefully find the clients that do understand that you are doing the job. I mean, you’re not just the “DJ.” You’re not just in the corner, pushing buttons. You’re creating an experience. You’re creating a lifestyle, almost. And once you create that lifestyle and you create that kind of brand, almost, you have a rapport now with the kids, or whatever the audience is.
Now you’ve got instant draw. Every time you come back you’ve got that rapport. It’s just a building process. But it’s amazing how fast you can go from an event that has 100 tickets sold to an event that has 1,000 tickets sold a week later. It’s pretty amazing.
M B: Considering the level of production you do, how do you handle it, staff-wise?
K P: On a busy weekend we have about 20 guys working; on a slow weekend it’s 10 guys. A lot of it is just building shows that you can handle. I mean, you never want to go out and do a half-hearted event. You always want to go out and do a great job, so you always have to make sure that you’ve got the right staffing, the right equipment. Plan ahead, plan properly.
M B: How do you build up your jocks, until they can be the lead on the 1,000-person, $40,000 budget event?
K P: A lot of our DJs are people we know are really good DJs. The pro-duction part is almost like a whole other animal. I’ve had the same DJs working with me for 10 years, or I hire freelancers who I know can do a great job, and then add our produc-tion elements to their show. We were talking about at the con-ference here earlier, that a lot of times it’s the whole show, it’s the whole experience. It’s not necessarily how great that one DJ is; it’s how great that one DJ was with the confetti, with the video, with the decor that we did.
M B:-the production more than the separate pieces-
K P: Yeah. And I think people lose sight of the big picture when they focus too much on one particular item, or get too concerned about one thing; they’re not concerned about the overall show. People care about the overall experience. I actually took a poll once of 1,000 high school students, decision makers; I asked, “What would you rather do, go to the coolest venue in town with a basic DJ, or have an amazing setup like in one of our promo videos.” And 83 percent said they’d all rather go to one of our shows than to an amazing venue.
M B: So how many years have you been at your current level? And how many more years do you think you’ll maintain this kind of schedule before you sit back a little bit more?
K P: We’ve been running a pretty hard schedule of 400 events a year for over 10 years. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, full-time. I was DJing clubs and parties a few years before that. I started when I was in high school. I owned my first nightclub when I was 18 years oldÑI was still a senior in high school. It was actually an all-ages club; they didn’t have a liquor license. And as students were coming in from all over the area, that taught me about school dances. I had never even thought of that. When I was in high school, I only went to two or three dances the
entire time. I never really thought they were cool. So now I’m creating that cool factor, making them want to go. But you know, I love doing it. It’s been a great ride and I don’t see myself slowing down anytime soon.
…I’m really about the quality. I like doing great events. I don’t want to do every single show out there. I want serve the clients that want us there and really want to have a great show. So I say “Let’s keep chugging away and keep doing what we do and just keep pushing the envelope.”
M B: OK, time to get personal…I mean about your personal gear setup!What do you personally roll with?
K P: Typically, two [Pioneer] CDJ-2000s. Actually my personal rig has DVJ-1000s, and then like a DJ-900 mixer. The reason I still use the DVJs is just because I loved and played on them for years with Pioneer, but I love the fact that if a client gave me a DVD last-minute, I can stick a DVD in and just hit”play” and run a video out to a screen or something like that without having to rip and convert or anything like that. Just a utility-type thing. But definitely CDJs and Pioneer mixers and stuff like that. All great products.
M B: Very cool. Anything else that you want the DJs to know about you?
K P: You know, if anybody ever tells you that it’s not possible, that you can’t do itÑyou know, when I first started I was doing $300 DJs, looking at $3,000 balloon arches in a ballroom at a prom, and asking why the balloons cost 10 times more than I did; I convinced the client to give me that money to decorate the place better. And next thing you know, I’m doing these very high-level events because I educated my clients on what was cool.
Don’t ever take anything for granted, and don’t think there’s ever really a limit. Nobody ever thought somebody could do a $40,000 high school dance as a DJ. You know what I mean? People hire an event planner and pay them $60,000 or $70,000 to plan an event, but nobody would think about the DJ. It’s all how you market yourself. Don’t ever think there’s a limit to what you can do.

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Megan Fry (12 Posts)


Filed Under: Business, Issue #148, School Dances