Since the first DJ Expo in 1990, DJs, producers and industry professionals have made an annual pilgrimage to Atlantic City, New Jersey for an exhibit hall full of top gear and unique networking opportunities. For some, attending the Expo is a given, but for others, it can be difficult to travel to, as well as pretty costly.
Our in-house DJ and manager of partnerships, Raj Thomas, was recently in the same boat as many other DJs – wondering if it’s worth the time and travel to attend the Expo, or other conventions, such as NAMM and Winter Music Conference. After attending the DJ Expo as a first timer, Raj confirmed that it was definitely a beneficial experience and worth checking out. Read more about his Expo experience below:
“To Expo, or not to Expo? That was the question I’ve asked myself for years. Always playing with the decision only to end up deciding not to go. I have all the gear I need — why should I go? I already know how to DJ — why should I attend workshops that discuss what I already know?
Well, this year I decided to take the leap! It was a game changer.
If you think you know it all, you might be surprised. I attended multiple workshops the first day since the exhibition floor wasn’t open till the next day. It was fun, quirky and informative. I learned some really interesting techniques for mobile DJing, as well as listened to a really wonderful speaker that spoke about including special needs considerations into your events. It was interesting to learn the importance of making people with special needs such as Autism feel comfortable. On the second day, I attended more workshops, including a very insightful look at Mashup production. I feel like I took a lot from these workshops and was excited that everyone in the room was there to network and meet new people.
This year’s Expo had two huge keynotes I attended. Laidback Luke was super insightful. He talked about his early career and what he looks for when people submit music. The second keynote was from the legendary Biz Markie! The term “Nobody beats the Biz” is not just a catchphrase. To hear how interconnected he is with the birth and rise of hip hop was amazing! There is so much more I learned from these, I can’t write it all here.
The Expo showroom is way more fun than experiencing new products in a retail environment. Why? The attention you can get from the knowledgeable staff makes it super interactive and educational. Since the representatives are all pushing their respective products, they know the products inside and out and can answer any crazy questions you may have. This also usually results in the product rep you’re talking to being more patient with you versus the traditional sales guy who may rush through your questions if they feel you aren’t buying today.
Tips for Your First Expo or Convention
- Check in early. Get your pass squared away before the long lines start to form.
- Bring minimum of 500 business cards on the trip if you are attending multiple days. These will come in handy for important networking opportunities.
- Ration your business cards and always keep track of how many you have left. The last thing you want it to run out and then meet someone important.
- Speak to everyone! Nothing wrong with saying “Hi” and shaking hands — you never know who you’ll meet so might as well try to meet everyone.
- Follow Up! Most people hand their cards to people and never follow up. Once you are back to your hotel room I suggest bringing out the stack of cards from people you met and sending emails to everyone you met. If you don’t have a lot of time, prioritize who is the most mutually beneficial persons or companies and email them first.
There are few places for DJs to go where you can learn new skills, genuinely network, and grow personally as well as professionally. The DJ Expo is one of those places.”
So, if you’ve been thinking about going to a certain conference or expo for a while and haven’t pulled the trigger, we hope this helped make your decision to attend a little easier.
Let us know if you attended the DJ Expo or if you have any other events you think are beneficial to attend. We want to hear your tips and about your experiences!