The prolific American radio journalist and columnist Walter Winchell for creating the term, “disc jockey.” Little did Walter know that he launched a household phrase that celebrates 80-plus years of history, revolution, and the advancement of mighty turntable warriors and consummate artists, of which I am thankful to be in the category of. We have the amazing ability and responsibility to bring audiences together through the powers of recorded music and unique charisma. When I, along with my colleague Alvin, received the opportunity through Fig to attend the recent Las Vegas DJ Show, a convention for the craft in subject, I discovered that, hey—we need that togetherness also.
The four-day event took place at the upscale Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, right on the Vegas strip. In its essence, the show is a big ol’ convention, complete with badges, daily schedules, and free plastic bags for swag, but the show was formed to be much more than that. Highlights included a keynote presentation from model and boxing announcer Michael Buffer, hands-on workshops powered by New York’s Scratch Academy, performances by the world-renowned DJ Hapa and DJ Flipside (the latter of the famous Jump Smokers trio), a full DJ competition, a dealer’s room featuring the latest gear, and several panels on enhancing our artistry and business. Oh, and many networking opportunities, club parties, and 24-hour casinos were readily available in the mix as well. Can’t forget those.
This was both my first DJ convention and my first time in the so-called Sin City. The only sin I committed was gluttony—that is, I imbibed on as much education as I possibly could. I gained a ton of perspective on the difference between sales (what we do and provide) and marketing (what our clients can benefit and expect from us), the art of valuing our process and illustrating it, and how to enhance our website for ease of use. My thirst for technical skills was also quenched as I learned how to use phrasing (four beats, or counts, equals one phrase) when timing songs and even with hosting, and how to craft mixes for all occasions. Meeting with other deejays from all over the nation was also nourishing as it gave a platform to relate and connect beyond music.
In addition to the late Mr. Winchell, I sincerely thank James Gustin, one of the owners and artists of Fig Media. James’ vision of seeing his team of artists go out into the world to learn, grown, and thrive is a blessing, and he was my inspiration to come to Vegas for this event. His leadership has given me the inspiration to be the leader I am today. Also, I thank the team at ADJA—the American Disc Jockey Association—for putting together this juicy, yet intimate event. The non-profit organization has helped artists “build and grow their business” since 1999, and they care highly about ethics, excellence, and being a strong professional hub for deejays in the United States.
So, it’s been a few weeks since the DJ Show, and I have been back to work with a few gigs already under my belt. The knowledge gained from the event is already paying off, as I feel a deeper emotional connection with my crowds and the work that I do, as well as have more confidence when discussing pricing and other important . While “deejay” applies to what I do, I’ve discovered more about who I am: A human being that lives to make memories for others. I hope Walter’s smiling from his broadcasting box in the sky.
Written by Brent Rolland—event producer, DJ, and now enlightened traveler, with Fig Media.