28 februari 2014

4 Talking Points From Dancefair 2014

Most people thing of the Amsterdam Dance Event when they think of DJ-related shows in The Netherlands, not knowing that last weekend’s Dancefair – in Utrecht – is one of the largest DJ/producer-oriented events in the whole of Europe. It’s a big deal: On the Saturday night Armin Van Buuren’s “State of Trance 650” world tour passed through, a highlight with visitors from all over Europe, rocking the city well into the wee hours and providing a great focus for the event.

At the show itself, Armin himself conducted a workshop as did Hardwell, which were a nice diversion from the more predictable showings from many of the big DJ brands, from Native Instruments to Novation and from Ableton to Gemini. But I’m not going to bring you reports on what gear was there (most of it was reported by this very site from NAMM anyway, and a lot is being held back by manufacturers for Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany next month – watch this site for all the news, of course). Instead, I’ve found a handful of other talking points that go beyond shiny new boxes (well, kind of…). Here they are:

1. Get your name out there with the Party Branding App

One of the most interesting things I saw was the “PBA“, or “Party Branding App”. Many readers ask how to build a following, get their names out there, reach people that might be interested in their DJing, and so on. If this is you, PBA might just be the thing. It’s your very own iOS/Android app, that you can customise in your own style for others to install on their devices.

You get a nice and simple CRM (content management system) with it, and when you’ve added your content, PBA place your app in both Apple and Google app stores for you. Now all you need to do is get everyone you know to download it (for free). Through the CRM you can create events, sell tickets, see how many people are coming and do a host of other things. Of course there are all kinds of statistics available, too.
The PBA business model is based on micro transactions. So first you buy credits (smallest amount is five credits for €5, but the rate goes down if you buy more credits at once). Then you can go and create an event and send a push message about it. That would cost you three credits. It’s like simultaneously giving all your fans and followers a copy of the flyer for your next event. You can upload pictures (this costs credits because of the extra storage needed) but also link to SoundCloud audio or YouTube video (for free).

The app is totally free until you actually do something with it and even then the fees are low. And how cool is it to be able tell your friends, promoters and venue owners that you talk to, as well as other DJs and indeed everybody else you want to keep updated on upcoming events, to just go and “download my app”?


Of course this isn’t something to replace other marketing activities, but it’s most definitely the easiest and cheapest way to add smartphone apps to your communication mix. The website is in English as well as Dutch, and is well worth checking out.

2. A cost effective way to get your kit fixed fast

Ever had DJ gear fail on you just after the warranty has expired? Sent stuff in through the official channels (first to your dealer, then dealer to manufacturer, then…)? Been charged ridiculous “troubleshooting” fees? Waited forever and paid top dollar for the repair? If you’re in Europe and nodding vigorously right now, this will be of interest to you.

I found a company right here in The Netherlands called DJ Repair, and that is just what they do: repair DJ gear. Anything from a Technics Mk1 SL1200 to the latest Pioneer controllers, they’re on it. They also cater for customers in Belgium, Germany and the UK. In Holland they even have your gear picked up. Diagnostic fee is €17.50 (€55 for water/spill damage due to the extra testing), but if you have a good idea of what’s wrong (say a broken fader or a display that is cracked), they can give you a repair quote over the phone before you decide to send it in. They also promise quick turnaround times – after all, who wants to be without their gear for weeks? Definitely worth looking them up if your gear needs some TLC.

3. Your tracks signed on the spot with Demo Drop

This has become a bit of an annual feature at the fair. DJ/producers who attended last weekend had the chance to bring a track to the “Demo Drop” and get it in front of 70 labels! And it’s no gimmick: At the 2012 Dancefair, for instance, a total of 42 tracks by visitors to the fair were signed. It’s a great idea and a real attraction.

But if you couldn’t be there, or your tracks are not ready yet, you can still send them in up to March 1 2014 to be added to the Demo Drop promo platform for €19.95 per track. So, if you think you’re sitting on a winner, here’s a great way to bring your work to the attention of a host of industry pros. Who knows what might happen?

4. The new Roland Aira gear wowing everyone

OK, OK, so it’s shiny new boxes, but if you haven’t noticed, the new Roland gear is kind of a big deal. That’s why the only new hardware I’m going to tell you about is the new Roland Aira system. It’s modular and consists of four pieces of kit: The TR8 Rhythm Performer drum computer (it can do all that the TR808 and 909 can, plus loads extra); the TB3 Touch Bassline bass synthesiser; the VT-3 Voice Transformer; and the System-1 Plug-Out synthesiser.

Now I am not a musician, but what I saw Dave Ahlund and Faisal do with this gear was drop-dead amazing. I think if you are serious about making your own music, this is something to definitely check out, especially since the prices are – so I was told – very reasonable for what you get. Units here in Europe vary from €200-300 (for the VT and TB) to €500 for the TR8 and about €600 for the System-1, so a total set can be had for just under €1550.

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