DJ Scott's Blog Articles

(Picking your music can Make it or Break it...)

Have you ever been in this situation?  You are invited to the wedding of a friend, the ceremony was beautiful, afterwards you arrive at the reception hall, have dinner and after the events are over you are looking forward to having fun and dancing away the rest of the night.  Once the fast music starts playing, there really are not too many songs that you are familiar with or would even enjoy dancing to, so you decide to call it an early night and leave thinking that the DJ was really bad, but was this really the DJs fault???
I started DJing in the 80s and was a DJ at the largest bar on the Ohio University campus for 8 years, during that time I also started my mobile DJing career and founded DJ EXPRESS.   30 years later I am still going strong and DJ / MC / Host and Coordinate approximately 40 events each year.  In my 30 years of experience as a wedding reception, I have seen this scenario played out a few times. 
For your evening to be a success you really need to think about three different styles of music and when they are played.  First, is the music played while your guests are arriving at the hall, during cocktails or hors d'oeuvres and then though dinner.  I have compiled a play list that consists of some great music from the adult contemporary and light jazz greats, such as; Michael Buble', Frank Sinatra, Kenny G, Najee, Boney James, Nora Jones, Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, Etta James, Chicago and such, this play list has about 8 hours of great cocktail style music. Next we need to think about the event music, this is the music that is played in the background during the main events of the reception; Grand entrance, cutting of the cake, garter and bouquet tosses, bridal dance, bridal party dance, father / daughter dance, mother / son dance, anniversary dance. (the songs that are popular for these events can be found and played on my website).
Finally we need to plan the party music, the music that will be played after the events are over, the music that will keep your guests at the reception because they will be having a great time. I was recently asked by a prospective client how I would be able to keep the guests at her reception entertained for the duration of her event, she wanted all of her guests to be dancing and having a good time from beginning to end.  The following is my e-mailed response back to her.   Great question about music and getting people to dance.  Just know, that no matter what music is played there are some people that will not dance no matter what, there are some that will only dance to slow songs and there are the others that will dance all night long.  Even though some people are not dancing, they are still enjoying themselves by listening to the music, talking with others or watching the people that are dancing. The key to music selection really falls in your court.  The more flexibility you give the DJ to actually do his job, the more dancing and fun there will be.  I have a list on my website that is called the TOP 200.  This list is dynamic and songs are added or removed a few times a year due to their popularity but for the most part this list has proven itself to be the best songs to keep people dancing and entertained, in my 30 years of experience as a DJ.  I usually ask the couple that I am DJing for, to print out this list about a month before the reception and sit down together and go through the list,
1) cross out any songs that the do not want played
2) mark songs that must be played and I ask them to leave alone the songs that are ok if requested and if there are songs that they want that are not on the list, they may simply add them at the end of the list.

Over the past years I have had a few receptions where the couple had a specific play list, they decided not to take my advice on music because they thought they knew their guests tastes in music, do you know how many times I have heard "play this, everybody will dance to it"  this phrase has led to the clearing of the dance floor MANY times.  It is often the case that if you don't let the DJ do their job, your guests will suffer.  A prime example was this past summer when a couple gave me a list of music to play and wanted nothing to do with the top 200 list.  I expressed my concern but stated that this was their night and I will play the music that they have requested.  After all the special events were over and I started playing their fast music, nobody was dancing and even the photographer came up to me and said " what are you doing"???  It got so bad that about 1/4 of their guests had left, the Groom came up and asked me to play whatever It is that I normally play, within 20 minutes I had gotten most of the guests to the dance floor and proceeded to keep them dancing the rest of the evening. The moral of this story is that there is music that we like to listen to and there is music that people will dance to, usually they are not the same.  If you want music that you can listen to all night, why pay a dj to be a glorified jukebox when you can just load up your ipad or phone but if you want the night to flow smoothly and you really want your guests to have fun, you need to let the DJ do what he does best.    The Key to all of this is for the DJ to remember that this is their special night and he is working for the couple that has hired him.