Before I write about the second day of events at the International DJ Expo, I have to start with a special set of thanks and kudos to the DJ Times and Promo Only crews. It is very rare that I attend a conference that is so meticulously organized and exectuted as this one. Panels started on time, rooms were ready, registration was quick and efficient, the venue was well situated and financially manageable – all of these things are due to the hard work of Jim Tremayne and the DJ Times crew. Cary Vance and the Promo Only crew deserve special acknowledgement for attracting and entertaining the dance music industry – every dance radio station (terrestrial, satellite, and internet), every major dance label, many major mixshow DJs and a level of nighttime entertainers that is exceptional. It is very rare to go to a US based dance music conference where the industry people are both easily accessible and united together in a positive spirit of improving the world of dance music together. This all becomes evident as you read the following.
My day started with the radio station panel – where Cary Vance led the discussion with major radio stations, programmers and DJs on the panel – and get this – in the AUDIENCE. We are talking morning panel with a full room. Those who have attended dance music conferences realize how amazing this occurrence. Radio panels often devolve into negativity but moderator Cary Vance, set the tone with his tshirt which said “Make Music, Not Enemies” and celebrating the successes of last year – the launch of New York dance station Pulse 87, the merging of Sirius and XM, and the Hot 100 crossover success of songs from Ultra and Robbins records.
I loved how the panelists described dance radio as "feel good music that makes you want to bop you head" and that its "not a gay format or 140 beats per minute techno format," but a commercial "hit based station." My favorite quote was "people don't know what they like, but they like what they know" - as a dj in a commercial dance club - I totally understand that. In the dance community, we often get caught up in subgenres, underground vs commercial, etc. The energetic dialogue (get it dialogue – people talking to each other –not at each other) was quite refreshing and set the tone for a wonderful day.
Being the tech geek that I am, I followed the sound of explosive dance beats and checked out the DJ Times Exhibition area. On its own, access to this room alone is worth the cost of conference registration. Seemingly every manufacturer of DJ and Lighting equipment had elaborate booths set up showcasing their latest wares. A momentary bout of ADD took over as I was attracted to flashing lights, digital screens, new toys, hot speakers – and I visited several booths – Pioneer, Denon, Traktor, Yamaha, M-Audio, Hercules, American DJ, Promo Only. Whew, I could have spent hours in there but I would have missed a special lunch. Luckily, site-writer was staying in town an extra day to cover the room extensively – watch for complete coverage in the next day or two.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect at the Promo Only sponsored lunch. I knew that all of the record labels would be in one room together with radio programmers and mixshow DJs. I had an idea that it would be similar to Amsterdam Dance Event networking but the reality was it was more like a scouting camp pow wow. After sharing a quick meal, Cary Vance stood up and led a roundtable discussion. Everything from a new mixshow chart to radio station promo shows to a possible Miami meeting was discussed. What was most impressive to me was how well everyone got along. Not that I was expecting bloodshed or anything, but being part of the dance industry, I know there are rivals and a bit of competition – for radio rotation adds, chart placements, and even song licensing. Witnessing everyone get alone and contribute to a productive discussion was nothing short of inspirational.