Everything You Need To Know About DJ Requests
Want to know how to deal with DJ requests?
Some DJs take them, some don't! So what's all the fuss about DJ requests and how do you cope with them on the job?
What is a DJ request?
A DJ request is when someone in the audience requests that you play a song they want to hear. Sometimes they will come up to the DJ booth and ask directly, sometimes they will write it down and sometimes it will be arranged in advance of the gig.
What type of DJs take requests?
Some DJs take requests and some don't. It's normal to take requests when you're playing in a bar or club especially if it's commercial or pop music orientated. It's less common in larger venues or where there are headline acts who are booked to play their sound or their own music. For example, you wouldn't be able to ask a headline DJ at a festival to play your favourite song. You wouldn't even be able to get near the DJ booth!
DJs that take requests:
Smaller Bar & Club DJs, mainly those who play commercial genres.
DJs that don't normally take requests:
Bigger club DJs
DJs seen as artists in their own right (normally DJ/producers)
How to take a DJ request
Taking DJ requests can cause many problems. Here are some of the most common issues when taking requests and some tips on overcoming them.
TAKE REQUESTS IN ADVANCE
When it comes to how to take the requests the easiest way to take them in advance. For example, if you're DJing at a wedding you'll want to double check the playlist with the couple and the organiser in advance of the event. Make sure they are happy with the selections. Even when you do this, be prepared for the audience to ask additional requests so make sure you ask the couple about what age ranges and styles of music to prepare for. Even then, you'll still need to have access to more music just to keep them happy on their big day.
It's a good idea to have an internet connection and a computer handy for you to download tracks on the night if you think they would be a good fit for your set.
Being a Wedding DJ can be very difficult because you need to keep a broad audience happy but concentrate on the bride and groom, bride and bride or groom and groom! It's their big day!
TOP TIP ON TAKING DJ REQUESTS - USE A CLIPBOARD or iPAD
Dealing with requests, especially from drunk people can be hard. You want to keep everyone happy but at the same time it's your responsibility to make sure the overall selection of tracks works together nicely. You have to decide if the request is appropriate for the evening or not. Sometimes, the best option is to deflect the requests using a cunning clipboard technique. Before your gig, get a clipboard with some paper and tie a pen to a piece of string so that you don't lose the pen in the club. Now write down 20 or so lines of song requests. Now, at the gig, when someone wants to make a request hand them the clipboard and pen and they can write it down for you. This is also a great idea because you can concentrate on mixing and it can be difficult to talk to someone in a loud environment. This trick is great because if there is less discourse between you and the person you can maintain your distance and avoid being distracted from the job. It's also good because if there are already 20 or so songs on the list and they are number 21 you can say that you've already got some lined up and might not get around to it. It's also good because you can put a disclaimer in text at the top of the page, something like ' Please feel free to write down a request, if I have the song and it fits with the overall mood I will gladly play it for you. Please be aware I cannot play every request.'
Some entrepreneurial DJs will even take this concept a step further and digitise the system with a form on an iPad. You an also ask the person for their permission to add you to your mail-out. This might help you get more work as a DJ.
Customer Service & Difficult Customers
Ultimately, you are a customer-facing worker so you need to act in a professional way, even when they are rude.
Always take the high-road if they take the low road and take pride in your professionalism. If a customer is not happy that you are not playing their track you can politely tell them that you only have a limited selection to play from or that you have been set a brief from the promoter, owner or booker. If they would like to talk further it's better than they talk to the promoter, owner or booker direct so that you can continue with your job of mixing.
If a customer should become difficult to handle you can call on security, if there is any. Normally the best option is to talk to the bar manager about your concerns.
If at any time you felt threatened you can simply pack up and walk away as no one needs to take abuse while at work.
TOP TIP - USE BOOKING CONTRACTS
It's a good idea have a contractual agreement with any bookers that covers what happens in the case of you suffering abuse by customers of the venue or guests etc. You can have a clause that mentions if you are threatened of abused by one of their customers you reserve the right to cease your performance, pack up your kit and leave but still charge them the full amount. For this reason, you always
How To Play a DJ Request
Now you've got the request and the track you'll want to mix it into your set. Remember, not every transition needs to be beat-matched or key-matched. Requests are normally of radio edit commercial tracks and you can simply mix them in by crossfading from A to B over a three second period using the X settings on the crossfader curve. The X setting will dip the volume at the point the two tracks overlap, hiding the worst of a dodgy beat or key match. This is generally how most wedding DJs mix between a vast range of genres and BPMs. Don't feel pressured to beat-match the requested song into your mix unless you think it will work well. Keep it simple.
Avoid playing the track if you think it will kill the mood, your job is to DJ for the majority of the crowd, not just one persons taste. Only play the song if it fits into the mood of the night. Learn how to politely and professionally decline any requests if they don't fit with your mix.
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