I'll start with a little explanation for any non DJs reading this blog post. BPM | PRO is an annual DJ mega event that has ran for the last decade. It's actually aimed at the entire industry from studio equipment, to stage rigging, to live production and of course every kind of band, singer or DJ you can imagine.
You start with the Chauvet Arena, the centrepiece of the exhibition with a full range of different live shows all the way from an Elle Sax House session to the main attraction, a live performance from the Magnificent DJ Jazzy Jeff. Some other highlights were a set from Slipmatt and the Freestyle DJ finals.
The FX stage give us regular demos of the latest pyrotechnics, visual screens and other effects like confetti cannons, co2 blasts and flame columns. The PA experience is a great way to hear your next system before you buy. With so much on offer these days this is the best way to help you decide how to spend a lot of money.
As well as the smaller scale systems there was an arena for the Pro gear for larger arenas and outdoor work. QSC were the official sponsors and had there own demo room for the event. Some very impressive stuff from the US was on display. Then there are the many exhibition stands from all the major manufacturers where you can get your hands on the latest tech. Mixers, controllers, lights, speakers, mics, just about anything the Modern DJ needs to put together their show.
Finally and most importantly for me is the learning opportunities. With a massive 4 learning areas putting on talks, seminars, demos and debates over the two days there was almost unlimited learning potential. I spent the majority of my Monday in the learning areas and even taking part in some.
The BPM Story - Day One
So we set off at 8am Sunday morning and arrived to ditch the car at the hotel around 11.45. We started by heading straight off to the exhibition area to get first dibs on the wristbands for the ADJ afterparty. We missed this last year and missing free drinks was not something we were going to do a second time. Then it was time to collect hospitality tokens for more free drinks. Many of the suppliers will give you tokens if you spend time speaking to them. Some even have their own VIP areas.
There didn't seem to be a lot of new stuff on show so the trip around was a lot faster than it was the year before. We stopped for lunch where I spent a whopping £13.50 on a hog roast sandwich, some crackling and a beer. We sat at the light console stand to eat and watch a due playing some tunes on the keys and sax. I did have a nice little chat with the saxy lady about my new hobby.
We then watched a little of the DJ Freestyle heats as we had been kidding one of our group Justin that he was entered into the competition. Some really good displays of various styles of DJing. We then moved onto the first arena where all the controllers and turntables are on display for a bit of a mess about. It's a loud room with messy noise as a load of wanna be DJs are cutting, scratching and looping. A few controllers did catch my eye and I may be making a future purchase.
We were about 5 beers deep when we wandered in to the watch the Jazzy Jeff Q&A session. There was a half hour interlude where we got ready for the main attraction and got our flashy wristbands. Then the main attraction began with Dwayne Jordan doing an introduction to his set.
We got a mystical trip through the years of hip hop and soul with some really unexpected drops and a masterclass in how to work the decks and timing. As a long time fan of Jeff and his work with Will Smith it didn't disappoint. The 90 mins set flew over and despite wanting to hear more of his own stuff and his work with the Fresh Prince it was still a mind blowing set.
We headed off to check into the hotel but stopped off for a bite to eat at the Gourmet Burger Company. It's hungry work jumping around.
I have to say I was neither impressed by our room at the Hilton or the ADJ after party. The band they had on were quite good but 30 mins to queue for your free drinks was more than I could handle. I gave up at around 11pm and with sore feet and legs jumped a taxi the short way back to the hotel. Please remember I was working till 2am the night before and drove 3 hrs to get to Birmingham before the day even started.
The BPM Story - Day One Two
It was always going to be the better day and what I was paying my money for. We started with an excellent breakfast followed by an hour in the health club steam room and jacuzzi. We were back at the exhibition by 11am however and after a quick recap it was off to the learning zone. Oh nearly forgot, the Lite Console team provided us with the worst burned coffee I have ever tasted.
Sadly I missed the start of the first session as we went to the wrong hub. Fabio Capozzi of the NADJ was presenting on Competitor-based fee strategies in the DJ industry and how they are essentially false advertising. Price matching has become a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to how we value our services, which causes cost confusion with customers. The real message was the dangers of moving your price to suit the client and how customers will view you.
Next up Tony Winyard hosted the The DJ Debate. The debate would be about a topic that mobile DJs seriously disagree with and the debate would allow two teams to put across intelligent arguments to the audience to try to convince them there side of the argument is the right side. I was looking forward to this but actually ended up taking part. It was a bit of a poor and staged topic and the fact that one of the teams was pre selected and prepared was a tad poor.
The question was is asking for £750 for a basic 5 hour disco being greedy. I was the second speaker on the yes team. I had only 10 mins to prepare my argument and 3 mins to deliver it to a very crowded room of fellow professionals. I put across my points and managed to add a bit of humour but sadly we lost quite badly. The main issue being one of my team was a philosophy student who loved debate and only put across a moral argument and the final member of the team actually wanted to be on the other side but was happy to join our team just to get involved.
Personally I don't think greed enters into it and in Hampshire or Cheshire this is probably an average price for people earning an average of 50K per annum. In our region it's a rare price and only a few people get this kind of fee for JUST a DJ service. Its a good £500 more than my price and more than I would ever pay for a disco wedding or not. I can provide a DJ, Photo Booth and some love letters for that price and you could haggle in free uplighting too.
Next was Gary Evans a DJ originally from Australia who has made it big in the UK. He is also the current TWIA Wedding DJ of the Year and someone with a lot of weddings under his belt. Gary discussed what he does to enhance the wedding reception and how he upsells his service to cover the wedding breakfast. We got to see videos of his grand entrances for the married couple and what he does to fill in slower areas of the day.
Some great tips and I think a few things I'd like to incorporate into my show, but most of all I was staggered by the range of different non DJ training he has undergone to get where he is including acting class and a residential comedy school for 6 weeks. That is dedication.
The last presentation and probably the best of the day was a touching look into the work of Euan Bass. His stage name is Ian Stewart and he talked about how to firstly get more testimonials and then how to turn them into referrals - this is something that I certainly want to be doing and some of his nuggets were priceless.
For my £15 entry the knowledge and experience I take away is worth every penny times ten alone and i'm hoping it gives me a bit of a foot up on some of the competition. I personally would like to thank the NADJ and the presenters for their great work.
Last year was my first BPM and it was full of wonder, this year didn't have the same impact and despite Jazzy Jeff being magnificent indeed I still enjoyed the 90's dance classics for its sheer energy so last year was better for day one. Day two however was much better this year and as we'd prepared for it came a little more refreshed and ready it pulled the event back for me. Sadly that was the last BPM | PRO as next year the organisers are going to a new format for the next decade splitting the event into smaller more focussed events.
It's a long two days, a lot or walking and standing and wishing I was richer but I've come back wiser and with some great ideas on how to make my service better and give my clients more.