For over a year and a half, I used the internet to please people who had requests for music that wasn’t in my collection. If I didn’t have the song, I went online and either used YouTube or a streaming website to find it for them. No more! After seeing the light, I recently quit that practice. I thought I’d give you my reasons.
More than that, I realise that the following tips also touch on why a DJ shouldn’t try to fulfil every request anyway. (Luckily, after talking to the bar owner where I play, I recently stopped that too.) It’s just that DJing from laptop makes it more difficult, because people expect you to be online. Anyway, here are my reasons:
- People abuse it – Imagine having to play every request. Now add in the fact that patrons knowing because you possess a laptop, you have the ability to go online for music. Instead of asking for one song, I have experienced those requesting up to ten. Adding more irritation, some patrons insist I play songs in a particular order. Also, after playing the first requests, some patrons request more songs. Sometimes, you never get to mix. You’re just filling in orders like you’re a store clerk
- Some songs are either inappropriate or terrible – Some requests run people out of the bar. Sometimes patrons tell me I absolutely need to play a certain song. According to them, the song is that good! Then when said song gets played, I find out it sucks. Just when I had the crowd going, some idiot picks a crappy song. Also, when I have a crowd positively chillin’, a patron requests an angry song involving a growling lead singer and lyrics about death, Satan, and so on
- You lose control of the night – Sometimes, patrons overdo it when it comes to genres. With me, it was non-Jamaicans constantly requesting Jamaican music played by other non-Jamaicans. Nothing against the music. Yet, these suburban ska folks almost took over my night. I play diverse music – not just one genre all night
- Some online songs either won’t play or stop midway – Imagine people grooving and having a good time to the song. Women dancing on bar counters. Folks shouting the lyrics. Suddenly, the song stops playing. I can’t take folks yelling “fire the DJ”!
- It can freeze your laptop – Your laptop can only take so much. Imagine your boss piling more and more work on you.. That’s the same thing you’re doing to your laptop as you’re running both your DJ software and the internet. Keep that up and the laptop freezes on you. Again folks start yelling “fire the DJ”…
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- Songs can sound awful – People are more sensitive to audio versus visual. You may have the hottest looking gear. You may be an attractive DJ who belongs on the cover of a fashion magazine. Yet, very few will forgive awful sound. (Tip: if you do have to play straight from YouTube, maximising the video size will also maximise the audio quality)
- You lose credibility as a DJ – More than likely, your knowledge of music is why you got the gig in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with taking requests. Some requests steer you in the right direction. But if you attempt pleasing everyone, patrons begin seeing you as a jukebox they don’t have to place coins in. Your credibility of knowing how to move the crowd gets thrown to the wayside
• DJ Stone Crazy is a DJ from Central Florida, USA. Here’s his blog.
What do you think? Do you sometimes feel obliged to go online to find music for patrons as you’re DJing? Or would you never do that? Do you even entertain requests at all? Please let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.