One mobile DJ based in Atlanta, Ga., who shut down his business in 2014 after attending DJ Expos in 1999 and then 2005-2008, says he doesn’t really remember anything that really stand out from the conventions he attended.
Among DJs from throughout the nation, however, that particular DJ seems to be alone—perhaps that’s why he shut down his business.
Those DJs who return to Atlantic City every August say the annual gathering has changed the way they do their business, and therefore their lives.
“I attended the very first DJ Expo back in 1990, and had a ton of fun meeting DJs from all over the world and being able to pick their brains as to how they ran their businesses,” recalls Denny McConnell of Music To You Entertainment in Reading, Pa. “Up until then, I was a single operator, but the Expo got me to see the bigger picture of how to run my business more efficiently.
“So I started hiring more DJs and became a multi-op company, branching out of just doing the bar scene to doing wedding receptions, birthday parties and even corporate parties. I’ve been to every DJ Expo since that first one—and even after 25-plus years of attending the show and meeting up with some great friends and companies, I’m still learning something new every year.”
We recently searched for jocks who can tell us about how the DJ Expo has changed their lives. What new business concepts, or lessons, or features have they learned from Expos past? Any new products, panel discussions or seminars that hit them like a steam-train and especially impacted their company?
“Every year I would save money from September to August and couldn’t wait to see what new toys they were going to have,” says McConnell. “I call them toys, but they were anything but toys. I remember the year the Pioneer CDJ-500 CD turntables were going to be released at the Expo, and I was so excited to get them.
“One year we were on the exhibit floor, and I came around a corner and there’s Roger Sanchez [at the Pioneer DJ booth] demonstrating the brand-new CDJ-500s and the brand-new DJM-500. Well, I parked myself in front of Roger that whole day and was mesmerized by what he was doing so much that on Thursday of that week I bought the very set he was playing on—case and all.”
McConnell says he was excited to have the latest gear for DJs, and moved on to the CDJ-700 and was equally excited to eventually buy what became industry-standard CD turntables: the CDJ-1000.
“Well, I saved all year for those, and then lo and behold, one year karaoke was brand new. Pioneer’s my company of choice, and it had the latest in karaoke—the LaserDisc, which was not cheap by any means, at $150 a pop for 28 songs. But I had $3,000 on me and, God knows I couldn’t go home without it.
“I always say to myself, ‘How is this going to make me money?’ I couldn’t see my audience liking the wiki-wiki-wiki of the scratching on the 1000s, so it was karaoke, and I figured it would be good for maybe three years—enough to get my money back.
“Well, believe it or not, I’m still doing karaoke in 2017, still going every year and stealing tidbits from other DJs and meeting new friends each year. And those are just some of the ways that DJ Times’ DJ Expo has helped me grow my Music To You business of 43 years.”
Instead of pointing to one big Expo moment that’s impacted his career, K.C. KoKoruz of The Keith Christopher Entertainment Group in Chicago says there have been a million little things at Expo that have helped him develop his company.
“A large part of my success was from the knowledge that was shared with me as an attendee by the wonderful presenters at DJ Expo,” says KoKoruz, “as well as through the friendships I’ve cultivated through the years attending the show.”
In November of 1992, when DJ Expo came to The Windy City, KoKoruz – then 21-years old – says he was less than three years into his DJ business when he decided to attend the show. His takeaway? The Expo proved to him that DJing could be a serious and potentially lucrative endeavor.
“The majority of my business at the time was schools, colleges, fraternity parties and weddings,” says KoKoruz, who was DJing full-time, but just barely, he admits. “I attended the DJ Expo and suddenly saw people who had very organized and successful companies that were clearly making a nice living in the DJ industry. What inspired me more than anything else—and what I can still remember—was the fact that these people were indeed making a nice living doing what I loved doing. I worked harder than ever that year, and my business more than doubled within nine months.”
One year later, KoKoruz got on a plane to Los Angeles to attend the next version of DJ Expo, which was held at the Sheraton Universal Hotel. This time he was even more impressed, because he got to have breakfast with industry vets like John Rozz and Andy Ebon, and met even more of the show’s speakers – professionals like Jeff Greene, Randi Rae, Joe Hecht, Mike Alexander and others. “I came home even more pumped,” he says.
Since that show, KoKoruz has made DJ Expo an annual experience and his business has benefited.
“My company continued to grow and we were no longer in our little office,” he says. “In 1994, DJ Times brought the show to Atlantic City, where it’s stayed ever since, and since then, I’ve seen the premiere of the Pioneer CDJ, the Pioneer DVDJ, the Beatkeeper. I saw the Macarena introduced there, the Cha Slide, and countless other games and dances that I’ve used over the years. I’ve seen computer software introduced to DJs and I’ve received help to organize my business.
“I’ve seen LED lighting technology introduced, game-show sets, various music services such as Promo Only and Bobby Morganstein’s collection of CDs, videotapes and DVDs. I’ve even watched then-unknown artists such as Lady Gaga and Pitbull perform, while trying to become musical giants.
“I’ve learned everything from marketing and sales to training and performance from watching so many great people like Mike Walter, Jeffrey Craig, Bobby Morganstein, Adam Weitz, Steve Moody, Randi Rae, Jeff Greene, Paul Binder, Randy Bartlett, John Murphy, Gerry Siracusa and Sean “Big Daddy” McKee, to name just a few.”
Back over in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., Scott Goldoor of Signature DJs has attended a number of DJ Expos. “I learned a ton in the marketing, social-media, and lighting seminars,” he says. “It’s always great seeing, meeting, and networking with old and new performers. I thoroughly enjoy meeting performers and owners of other companies from across the country, while I also see dozens of local guys that I work and network with regularly through the course of the year.”
Again, DJ Expo has become an annual must-attend event for Goldoor. “The experience there has been invaluable,” he says. “The main tips I’ve picked up from the many seminars I’ve attended have been more geared toward me, as a business owner, following up with customers, and being a little more diligent with my calls and emails.
“In regard to social media, while I’ve gained much insight into this, it’s still a glaring weakness with my company. I’ve recently hired a social-media consultant, who does some of our posting, advertising and Facebook types of boosting.”
As for lighting, Goldoor says he’s grateful to have learned through the DJ Expo to offer these many extra add-ons, and this has changed how he does his business. “Of course, many of the facilities at which we work,” he says, “are offering uplighting as their own add-on or including it as part of their own package, which has limited some of my upsells.”
But probably the greatest takeaways Goldoor says he’s received from the annual DJ Expo has been the friendships—most of them local—he’s established with business owners in and around his tri-state area.
“We’ve networked with each other, referred work to each other, helped each other out with photo-booth rentals, and loaned out each other’s lights for our upcoming events.”
And all those things have changed Scott’s life, and the lives of other mobile DJs from throughout the United States – DJ Expo brings them all together.