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This year's Mobile Beat convention in Las Vegas was billed as “MBLVXX – Celebrating 20 Years of Mobile Beat.” I made my annual trip west, hoping for the usual dose of education and inspiration. That’s what DJ conventions, large and small, give me: a double shot of learning and motivation. Overall, I was not disappointed, although, like any convention, there were some “hits” and some “misses”. I’ll use that criteria as I recap the week.
HIT: Randy Bartlett’s seminar “Behind The Scenes.” This was the highlight of the week for me by far. Mr. Bartlett’s main message was how smooth things can look in your performance if and when you prepare in advance. He had some great videos that supported his case, both in the good and the bad extremes. “The advantage of taking care of things behind the scenes,” Bartlett said, “is you increase the likelihood of things going well at your events. If your only goal in the planning stage is to avoid blame for things going wrong at your events, you don’t understand the importance of preparation and how it can lead to better events and more referrals.” Bartlett’s best point was when he said, “The guests want to feel that it’s real.” Along with the awesome seminar, Randy has added yet another great DVD to his 1% Solution oeuvre. You can get your copy by visiting
MISS: Keynote speaker Ted DiBiase- WWE’s “Million Dollar Man.” His seminar entitled “Champion in Any Field: The Three C’s of Success” was a bit of a disappointment. For a wrestler who was known as an outrageous personality, Mr. DiBiase was a less-than-inspiring speaker. He regurgitated a lot of famous quotes from historical individuals, but I can Google “inspirational quotes” just like he can. I would have preferred to hear his success story in his own words. Mr. DiBiase made an excellent point about pursuing one’s passion but recognizing your talents first (meaning: just because I want to be the starting third baseman for The New York Mets, my talent will probably not get me there.) My other takeaway from Mr. DiBiase’s seminar was his obvious respect and admiration for WWE’s founder, Vince McMahon. Even his moniker “Million Dollar Man” was Vince McMahon’s idea. He clearly still idolizes him. Mr. DiBiase even said at one point, “I love that man.” This proves to me how a good leader can impact someone’s life.
HIT: Mark Ferrell’s seminar “You Only Get One Song.” As I’ve stated in these pages before, I have two criteria for a good seminar: content and presentation. If I get one of the two, I’m happy. Mr. Ferrell scored two for two in my book. His message of providing “TLC” (Talent, Love & Care) for his clients resonated with me. I also loved the point he made that “We all ‘do’ the same thing; it’s ‘how’ we do it that matters.” And it was rather humbling when Mr. Ferrell said, “We compete with people like Ryan Seacrest, Oprah, and David Letterman, whom our audiences see every day. DJ good is not good enough.” He encouraged us all to “develop your art form,” making the point that “As performing artists, your performance is your product.”
I’ve seen Mark Ferrell speak many times before and am always inspired by him. He has achieved a high level of success in this industry yet is willing to share so much with his peers. He and his wife offer some great workshops around the country, and any DJ would benefit from them. If you’re serious about being a performer, I’d encourage you to check them out.
MISS: “Booking Big Gigs” presented by Beth Standlee. Standlee owns a sales training company called TrainerTainment, and she is an experienced speaker. She was comfortable on stage and knew her material well, but I have to be honest; it was a bit more basic than I expected based on the title. Maybe it’s just a function of how many sales seminars I’ve seen in the past few years, but when someone tells me to “have a website,” I roll my eyes and think, “Yeah, we’ve got that, move on!” That said, Standlee’s claim that she “shopped” ten DJ companies in preparation for her seminar, and only three even returned her call, proves that maybe most of our industry still needs to learn some “basics” of running a business and doing sales.
HIT: Breaking bread with friends and industry peers. John Young, my esteemed publisher, hosted a Disc Jockeys News Writers Dinner that I was thrilled to attend. I also enjoyed the W.E.D Guild dinner and a breakfast with my fellow writers on “” In fact, every meal throughout the week was enjoyed with some industry friend or friends I don’t get to see so often. These days, social media fools us into thinking we stay in touch with people. Still, no matter how many Facebook posts I read from my friends, nothing will ever replace sitting across a dining table, bar, or blackjack table and sharing real together time. That’s one of the actual benefits of attending.
MISS: The Riviera. It’s such a tired, old casino at the far end of the strip. I went to a club in Encore (one of Steve Wynn’s properties) one night, and the stark difference between leaving Encore and then arriving at The Riv was extreme. I know it’s affordable, and I’ve heard the argument that our industry can’t support anything better.
I don’t pretend to know what it takes to host one of these things, but all that knowledge means nothing when you leave a beautiful, high-end property and arrive back at The Riv.
HIT: Cupid. He performed Tuesday night as part of the American Disc Jockey Customer Appreciation party. I thought he was fantastic. He packed the dance floor multiple times with The Cupid Shuffle and other line dances and genuinely seemed appreciative of the support our industry has given him.
MISS: Naughty by Nature. It's just another over-the-hill-hip-hop group who thinks cursing at their audience gives them some “street cred.” I’m no prude, but they exceeded my tolerance for “F-Bombs” in the first two minutes of their performance. How about having a hit in the last 15 years before you cop that much attitude?
HIT: Other notable seminars throughout the week. Larry Williams kept a packed room enthralled with his “B SIDES: Secrets to Your Next Success!” Dean Carlson was also effective with his seminar “Prepare to be Great!” And my good friend Jorge Lopez gave a solid and thought-provoking seminar entitled “Peak Performance” that I thoroughly enjoyed.
FOULED OFF: The showroom floor. Not quite a hit but not a miss either; this year’s expo floor had the usual assortment of booming speakers and splashy lighting effects. Photo booths are clearly the hottest upgrade du jour, and there were six of them on display.
HIT: The ADJA National Meeting. Dr Drax asked me to MC this year’s meeting, and I’m happy to say things went well. Congratulations to some very good friends who took home some of the annual awards: Brian Hines, who won the Peter Merry Leadership Award, and the Connecticut Chapter for winning Chapter of the Year.
MISS: No Jimmy Johnson. Veterans of this expo have come to expect “Mr. Lucky,” his green jacket, and the way he introduces each seminar and keeps the flow of the week going. This year, his position was eliminated, and there was no mention of him or his absence. Obviously, the producers of this show can do whatever they choose, but in the spirit of “Celebrating 20 Years of Mobile Beat,” I thought eliminating and then ignoring someone who has been so instrumental to the success of their shows through the years was inappropriate.
Overall, it was a successful week in Las Vegas for Mobile Beat, and I’m sure most attendees were happy they made the trip. The thing about DJ Conventions is you can focus on the seminar or two that didn’t live up to your expectation, or you can remember and learn from the moments that did. I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, so for me, the “Hits” far outweighed the “Misses.”