Marco Janssen interview

During the DCE championships 2015 occured the past september, we had the occasion to get a closer view on how the event organisation works. Thanks to the very kind help of Marco Janssen, we watched the "behind the scene" of the DCE media communication.

Hence, we got the idea to propose to Marco an interview, with the willing to inform the italian marching audience on how the biggest european marching competition is managed.

So, let's start!

- Hi Marco, firstly, would you tell us something about you? When and how your passion for drum corps was born?

First of all, thank you for doing this interview. I am really happy to tell you more about the DCE webcast.

In 1982 the corps director of a new corps, Blue Spirit Drum & Bugle Corps from Middelburg (The Netherlands) asked my brother Erik and myself to join the new corps. We both joined and played in the brass section. We loved it! The hype from the USA that hit Europe at that time, and all those crazy drum corps fans we met, it was just awesome and we fell in love with the activity. Erik and I entered Blue Spirit's staff team in 1989, and I became a board member in the 1990s. In 1998 Blue Spirit merged with Juliana and I marched Juliana for one year.


Since when have you been involved in the Drum Corps Europe and in which role?

During my marching year with Juliana I realised that drum corps in Europe needed something new to secure its future. The idea for Drum Corps Europe was born. DCE officially started in 2000, with a lot of former Blue Spirit members. The advantage of starting an organisation with people who have been on the field themselves is that you know what is important to the members and how you can accommodate them in the best way. The philosophy of DCE was simple: creating a competition platform for European corps without all the rules, regulations and penalties that existed in other organisations. We wanted to keep it simple, with as few rules as possible.


- We guess that the organisation of the championships finals requires a big commitment: how many people are involved? In which roles?

The DCE crew is not that big actually, about 25 people. They take care of things like the ticket sale, help desk, corps contacts, field management, tabulating, catering, public relations, finances, hosting our guests, announcing, etcetera. However if you include the DCE judges, the Video Vault team and people who work with us during the DCE Championships (like stadium people, first aid etcetera), it will be around 100 people in total. For the webcast we have about 20 people involved, including a director, camera operators, vision mixer, audio tech, webcast coordinator, post production manager, social media manager, download manager, field production, studio manager, webcast hosts and analysts. They are all volunteers, we don't have the resources to pay anyone, except for expenses like hotel and food. It's fantastic to have so many dedicated people in our team who work so hard.


- About event and webcast, how do you define the format of that day? How many time and meetings it requires?

EVENT - The preparation for the new Championships start about two weeks after the last event. We evaluate the event: what went well, what can be done better next time? Then we start preparations for the registration that always starts on 1st November. During the winter and spring we have only 1 Skype call per month. Everyone in the board has his own task, and we use an online task management system to keep an overview of who is doing what, which tasks have been completed, which ones are in progress and which ones are new. During the summer we have Skype calls every week (or when necessary twice per week) until the date of the event. During the Championships weekend we spend the whole Friday on preparations in the stadium. The Championships day itself has a pretty fixed format, starting with Permier Class Prelims, followed by Junior Class Finals and Premier Class Finals. This format seems to work very well for building the tension.


WEBCAST - The webcast preparations usually start in March or April. Each year we think of new ideas how we can format the webcast, what topics will be in it, which guests we want for the interviews in the studio and on the field, these kind of things. During the summer all ideas are executed. We record short video clips about things that happened during the season or other interesting topics. A detailed script is written that describes almost every minute of the day, we check the equipment, cables and accessories and fix it if needed, and we prepare all animations, commercial videos from sponsors and the corps videos. All corps that participate in DCE can have a free commercial run during the webcast. They can promote the new season, an open day, or whatever they want.


- How big was the impact of the digital communication against the other traditional media like newspaper, TV spots, radio?

We use a variety of platforms to communicate the event to local audiences. We send a lot of press releases throughout the year to television, radio and news papers in the area. Usually the media pick these up quite well. We usually don't use a lot of paid adverts. These are quite expensive and we think there are better ways to spend it for the benefit of the drum corps community. We put a lot of effort in online media, like our website in five languages (including Italian, by our web team member Nicola Esposito), social media and of course the live webcast. The webcast has become one of the big accelerators for our event. With the webcast we'd like to show the world what is happening in Kerkrade. Many thousands of fans around the world watch it and we hope that these fans will come and enjoy the event live. :-)

This is also the reason that we would like to keep the webcast free to watch: we want to reach as many people as possible. Luckily many fans supported the webcast financially through a crowd funding campaign this year. It was so great to see the support, and we would like to thank everyone who donated.


- How the multichannel digital communication (twitter,web site, youtube, facebook) favourites the spread of the marching news to the D&BC world?

Social media have become really important, they are now our main way of communication. Drum corps is a real community and social media platforms are ideal to spread the 'drum corps virus'. ;-) All news stories we publish on the website are put on Facebook and Twitter, and we post webcast items on YouTube. We cooperate with partner organisations and promote each other's events. We also have the DCE Video Vault where fans can watch all performances of the DCE Championships of this year and previous years.


- Let now switch to a more general questions.Marco what's your opinion about the state of the activities related to the D&BC in Europe?

Drum corps is pretty strong in Europe at the moment. This year we saw the most attended DCE Championships ever, and we also hear good things from partner organisations. But the marching activity is still small and we see a huge potential to grow the marching activity in Europe. Cooperation with partners is key here. We all have the same goal, so why not working together and strengthen the development? Since the partnership between the Irish Marching Bands Association (IMBA) and DCE, we see great things happening in Ireland, which is fantastic. We also notice more and more cooperation between corps, exchanging knowledge and experience. The activity will benefit from exchanging information.Also, I think the youth is very important. Teaching and inspiring kids to get involved is investing in the future. Drum corps is a great environment for kids: it's about learning music, sports and working together with others in one team, for a common goal. I can't think of any other activity that combines all these things.


- UK and NL are, nowadays, the top marching countries leader in Europe. The big technical and cultural gap between them and the other countries it's clear to all: do you think that this gap could be filled in the future?

The gap is being filled as we speak! Look at the strong German corps: we had more German than Dutch corps in the Premier Class Finals. And not to forget Mosson Secutores: they ranked 7th place out of the 14 Premier Class corps in their debut year at DCE. That was beyond impressive, and I think it has definitely put Italy on the European drum corps map instantly. I heard many people saying that they had one of the most crowd pleasing performance of the day, and were this year's surprise. Yes, the UK and The Netherlands are strong, but with five different nationalities in the Premier Class Finals there is some big potential.


- We read on the news that in Europe the winter indoor season is increasing thanks to the Indoor Music Games: tell us something about it.

We'd like to see the marching music activity growing in Europe. The Indoor Music Games, consisting of a series of SoundSport events (supported by our friends from Drum Corps International), are an excellent ways to get new groups involved in the marching music activity but don't currently have the resources to compete in the summer season. The Indoor Music Games are regionally focussed, which is much more obtainable for groups than having to do several shows. Although there are no championships, the highest scoring corps of the season will be the champions of that season. All shows will be held in sports halls, and the season is a spring activity with events running from February until May. This allows groups who wish to go on and compete in the summer season to do so.


- Last but not least: do you have any news, rumor, that you can share to all the italian audience for the upcoming 2016 season?

We are looking very much forward to the 2016 season, both with the Indoor Music Games and the European Music Games. 2015 was definitely a good year, and we hope that 2016 will be even better! We already have been contacted by new corps and corps that want to come back to the competition next year. I can't give you any names yet, but things are looking really good. I'm sure European fans will be very interested in the Italian developments, and we hope that 2016 will be memorable.

Here's some pictures taken during the DCE championships 2015: