Some of us, as DJ’s, tend to develop a big ego when it comes to our performance. As a DJ, you need to adapt to every situation and every type of event. The following is a simple guide for various types of events. The way you act as a DJ, may very well affect your reputation, and most importantly, your future income and marketability.
You’re the DJ. You deserve respect and you must take control of the event and the dance floor, but don’t forget that you’re ultimately providing a service.
Club | This is probably the easiest type of event when it comes to DJing. You’re your own boss (for the most part). You’re being hired by a club owner, manager or promoter to entertain a crowd and sell drinks. You should know what it is expected from you – what type of music is and isn’t allowed. And, ultimately, if you decide to take the job, you need to abide by whatever guidelines the person who is paying you has set. I say that this is probably the easiest type of event because most of the time, you can play whatever you want – as long as you satisfy the needs of the crowd and take the sale of drinks into consideration by flipping the dance floor often to get patrons to the bar. When it comes to music requests, you can delay playing them until they fall into the right genre, tempo, etc. Or, if you choose, you can even deny any requests that don’t follow the format you’re playing and even deny all requests for the entire duration of your performance. That’s the kind of power you have. But, remember the rule that you’re still providing a service. So, it may be in your best interest (within reason, of course), to satisfy the crowd as they may or may not come back based on how you treat their requests.
Bar | This is also an easy type of event but it differs from a club because a bar may require a wider spectrum of music genres. And, with that, you may find it more difficult to stay in one genre for too long. This is also good, because you can flip the dance floor more often. And, at some bars, you may find that dancing isn’t even necessary. As far as requests, you will probably encounter odd requests and it will be up to you if you decide to play them or not.
Performance | Without a doubt, when you’re DJing for a specific performance, you don’t have to cater to the crowd. They’re there pretty much to see you and what you have prepared for them. This means absolutely zero requests. However, you may find a few people who just don’t understand what your role for the night is (or they may be too drunk) and they may make requests. You’re within your right to ignore such requests completely and focus on your performance. The only tricky part of this type of event that I’ve seen but very glad to not have experienced myself is when you’ve been hired to create a certain vibe, with a certain type of music – and the promoter or the venue screwed up and the crowd wants something entirely different to what you’ve prepared for them. When this happens, you can either a) go with your set as planned, b) change the set you’ve prepared for the night to another one that you may have created for another event that matches this crowd better or c) freestyle – aka read the crowd.
Radio | The program director, music director or mix show director is the one who you’ll listen to. He or she will let you know what is allowed to be played. I wish I could say that you can play whatever you want, but those days are long gone. The mix show radio DJ is no longer in command.
Internet | Most internet radio stations have rules just like radio… but they’re usually not as strict. Even better, if it’s your own personal broadcast, you have the freedom to do whatever you want. You can even take requests to build a bigger following if you’d like or take absolutely no requests at all.
Private Event | This is indeed the most difficult of them all. If you’re a mobile DJ, this is your realm. Here, you need to leave your ego at home. You are basically a jukebox. Yes, you can play prepared sets or freestyle during your performance but the possibility of getting music requests is high. And, since you’re there to provide a service, you should play such requests (again, within reason). For instance, if you’re DJing a wedding which is an all ages event, you may not be able to fulfill that request for gangsta rap, but if whoever is paying you makes such request, you best believe you will need to play it. Well, that is if you want to be hired again. A private event is all about customer satisfaction. That’s it. Most experienced DJ’s will get less requests that less experienced DJ’s because they’ll read the crowd and program that night in such a way that most every one will have a good time. The good old saying that you can’t please everyone usually rings true at this type of event.
Respect | Whatever type of event you’re doing, you need to command respect. That is to say that no one should take advantage of you. Ever. But, don’t forget that respect is earned, not given and respect is usually a two-way street.