Collaborative Music Programming

By Greg Davis: 

Many of the weddings I’ve attended in my life have suffered from what I call “generic playlist syndrome” or GPS for short. GPS occurs when an over eager event planner and an under skilled DJ come together for the same event.

What results is something I like to call “team mediocrity.” It’s when the music adds little to no value, becomes borderline boring, and makes guests want to leave without ever realizing why. When it comes to choosing a playlist (music programming) for your next event, client/DJ collaboration is a MUST!

If you’re an event planner getting ready to hire a DJ or a DJ getting ready to play an event here’s a few tips you can make use of to avoid generic playlist syndrome. With reputations on the line it’s absolutely necessary that both the client and the DJ are on the same page. Any failure to meet in the middle will leave the event less than satisfying and cause your guests to walk away feeling unfulfilled.


The first thing any DJ or event planner needs to do is establish the purpose of the playlist. Will there be dancing or will it only be used to provide background music? As you can assume from that question the purpose of the playlist will be the determining factor of which kind of songs or tracks make the cut. Once you’ve defined the purpose it’s time to move onto the style.


The style will determine the genre of music you generally choose songs from. If the wedding has a country theme then country music is probably the most appropriate style of music. Likewise if you’re having a 80s themed party then 80s dance music would be a better choice. Understanding the purpose is necessary to determine the style of music. Once you have the style you’ll need to take into consideration the environment.


Although the environment is number three it’s actually one of the factors that influence all the others. While the purpose determines the style, and the style determines the environment the environment will initially influence the other two, before the other two have a chance to influence the environment. In order to better understand the environment, you’ll need to consider the location of the event.

If it’s outside then nature will probably be a theme, or at the very least, a noticeable portion of the events display. The environment isn’t just limited to the setting however, it also reflects the atmosphere. What type of mood do you want to set? Once you’ve determined your environment you can move onto energy and flow.

Energy and Flow

The energy and flow of the playlist will directly affect the listener’s enjoyment. Regardless of the type of event, you’re DJing a poor level of energy or a choppy flow can break your set and cause those in attendance to “not feel it.” Taking listeners from the airy peaks of high energy to the valley for a breather is absolutely necessary to establish good energy and flow, but there’s nothing worse than being on the dance floor and having a high energy song suddenly transition into a low energy song right at the point of musical climax.

Having a firm grasp of the energy and flow expectations will leave everyone feeling fulfilled and satisfied. Correct usage of energy and flow means that your guests have an idea of where the music is going before it goes there.

In Conclusion

Whether you’ve hired a DJ or you’re a DJ preparing to play an event, the key to a successful set is client/DJ collaborations. Understanding the purpose will help determine the style. Once you’ve got that your playlist will need to set the correct environment that caters to the energy and flow the client wants for their guests.

Do things right and your sets will be flawless, do them wrong and you’ll leave guests scratching their heads asking themselves “what was that?”

Greg Davis is highly interested in all aspects of music. He’s a more than casual listener who enjoys working in the music industry as a writer and stagehand at various events. When not working or writing about music he can be found dancing at local concerts and shows hosted by


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