Why you should leave the DJ'ing to the DJWhy baying to the crowd can make your night a disaster
Part of a DJ’s job is to read the crowd, and make the night flow. We tell you why you should work out the music before the event and not as you go along
“Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.” Rita Mae Brown,
Why are we a better at our job when we have done it for a number or years? Well probably because we have made enough mistakes to know what not to do!
We give you an example of one fundamental mistake we once made that we really don’t ever intend on doing again.
When we turn up at an event we have already done our homework. We have liaised with the client to get a good feel for the music they want. Having got that established we will then spend a good few hours then running up a playlist on a laptop. To do this we will always have more songs in the playlist than we would need for the evening. So say you have a 4 hour playtime you would normally have 5 hours worth of songs in your playlist.
The songs would be grouped into sections, so this helps you ‘flow’ the evening with genres and styles of music. This is essential.
Now we are not saying we cannot take requests, or change the makeup of the playlist. It is important that any DJ is flexible where they need to be, but the structure of the evening is planned ahead of time.
One fly in the ointment is not getting requests, as they can normally be accommodated. However, you can get at many events, an ‘expert’ or two in the audience. Now these ‘know music’ and will be quite happy to tell you that you don’t know what you are doings especially when they have had a drink or two!
Now they are normally characterised by being able to shout out random requests to you, along with an insistence that you need to place them right away. Whatever the pressure to comply you have to temper this with the fact that by playing the song at the wrong time you could completely ruin the flow of the evening. This can be hard to get back.
For example, if you are playing a 50’s Rock and Roll set, putting in a Take That song, no matter how great a song it may be, will do nothing for the flow of the show.
If someone is particularly insistent on a particular song being played then an old DJ trick is to make sure everyone knows who has asked for the song. This way when it goes down like a lead balloon everyone knows who to blame.
One other ‘no no’ is to play a song you have never heard of. This can happen where someone comes up to you with their Smart Phone with the latest from such and such, and you must put this on there and then. It could be completely out of sync with the genre you are playing, and that dreaded (and DJ’s do dread it) evacuation of the dancefloor can easily happen.
If you are hiring a professional DJ then speak to them beforehand but let then do their job on the night. Remember they do this week after week and if they were no good at it then they would never put themselves up in front of a critical audience to do it.
Mistakes? We have all made them. It is what makes an experienced DJ good at their job.
Experienced DJ checklist
- Prepared playlist after pre-event consultation with client
- Playlist split into genres
- More songs that required for the full evening
- Will say ‘no’ to ‘experts’ who know music better than them
- mixing songs from different genres
- not having enough music
- playing songs without vetting them beforehand
- allowing guests to provide an ad hoc playlist