Managing Song Requests

By Stu Chisholm, “The Complete Disc Jockey”

Our clients hire us for our expertise. A big part of that is our ability to “read” an audience’s mood and know what to songs to play because of our music knowledge.

This isn’t done by magic and it’s also not some mysterious Amazing Kreskin-like mentalist ability. In fact, everyone walking into a room full of people they don’t know does this unconsciously.

The Difference Between “People” and “DJs”

People automatically take notice of who and what is in a room when they walk in, noting ages, genders, races, environment, “vibes,” etc.

DJs do the same thing, but more deliberately. We also talk with guests, asking them subtle questions, like “what radio station do you listen to most?” Or not-so-subtle ones, like, “Who is your favorite artist” or “Can I play something for you tonight?”

With wedding receptions, we often have specific special dance songs to play and requests from the bride and groom as well as the wedding party.

Sometimes a song that’s requested is one that you know through experience will fill the dance floor and other times you know that a requested song will produce the opposite effect if play during open dancing versus cocktail hour or dinner.

Then there’s the on-the-spot guest requests we have to field; the ones that begin with “Everyone will dance if you play it!”

Preparation is Your Greatest Ally

I like to take any pre-submitted requests and print two lists; one by alphabetical song title and the other by genre and beats per minute (BPM). This might sound a little “over the top” but it’s actually really helpful.

I use the alphabetical list to have guests pick songs from. Obviously if someone requests a song that’s not in the list and it fits in the musical flow, I’ll fit it in for them.

The Genre/BPM list allows me to put together amazing sets with pre-requested music and on-the-spot requests, as well.

Not All Requests Are Created Equal

People walking up with requests aren’t a nuisance. They’re a valuable resource! As a group, they’ll give you real time feedback. Individually, they’ll let you know what might get them on your dance floor. Yet not all requests are created equal. Sometimes, you’ll just have to “not have that song with you.”

Some guests will try to push you to play their song through various tactics. One is that of authority. (“I’m the bride’s sister” or “the groom sent me over to ask..”) Another is of urgency. (“We’re leaving in the next five minutes…”) Then there’s the guest who thinks that, if he drops a dollar or two on you, you’re now obligated to play whatever he wanted. I usually diffuse that one by refusing any money.

The bottom-line with music programming is that a good DJ always makes choices that will appeal to the dancing majority! This in combination with proper preparation and request response savoirfaire will make you a real crowd pleaser every time!

 on Email on Facebook on Twitter
Editor in Chief - Marketing Manager - Technical Consultant at Pro Mobile DJ & Mobile Entertainment News
This is the space where all of our contributing writers will have an opportunity to put their biographical information. As the new Editor in Chief of Pro Mobile DJ I have about 1800 articles to review and edit and setup an author bio section for each one. In the meantime, this will show on all articles. If you are a former contributor please send your information and bio to writers@promobiledj.com or give me a call.

We are striving to be the best information center anywhere for DJs and Mobile Entertainers. We appreciate the knowledge shared with PMDJ over the last 7 years. The conversion to a new theme and format to replace the old and obsolete theme previously used has been a HUGE undertaking. We will get there, I promise.

Alan Dodson, Editor in Chief