All deejays have been there. The party’s bangin’, people are dancing and you get the most intoxicated guy in the crowd hovering over the DJ booth requesting songs that don’t fit in with your set at all.
As a DJ, you’re being hired for a job. Part of that job is to please the crowd, but it’s hard to please everyone. Party-goers should realize that the job of the DJ is not to stand there and play every song on your iPod Top 40 playlist. They’re part of the atmosphere, providing you with great music to dance to. While it may look like all they’re doing is clicking buttons, there is much more going on than meets the eye.
First, we’ll explain the job a little more. When a DJ gets a job to play in a club or at a party, they generally get hired to—a)play their genre, or songs they’ve produced, or b)play music that suits the club, whether it be Top 40, hip hop or jazz. This should be determined upon hiring. The DJ will prepare for the night by creating a set list compiled of songs that flow and mix together well. Throwing in odd requests will make the set sound jumbled and out of order.
Now that the DJ has made it to the club and has started spinning realize that they are doing a job. A DJ must concentrate during most of the set for proper mixing and everything that involves live DJ-ing. Screaming requests at the DJ will not only distract them from their job, but also frustrate them.
Sometimes it is okay to request songs from the DJ. If you’re at a wedding or birthday party, the DJ that’s been hired usually is hired specifically to handle requests. They will often have a list you can write your request on. The best thing is to get your requests in before they’ve started their set, so they can work the set to flow nicely.
Never request songs from a headliner DJ. Such as Tiesto, pictured above—these DJ’s are paid big bucks to play music they’ve produced, or set lists they’ve wrought up before the night has started. Yelling requests is not only insulting, but won’t be acknowledged. It’s not that the DJ is stuck up—though some are—it’s that they are a professional and, honestly, they know what sounds good and what will get people going. Think of the show as a concert. You wouldn’t run up to the stage and request that Jay-Z sing a Snoop Dogg song, would you?
If the DJ does allow requests, consider the music that’s being played that night. Don’t request a glittery Beyoncé pop song if the DJ is pumping out dirty glitch hop, and don’t request dubstep if they’re playing ethereal ambient music. Part of DJ-ing is setting the vibe, an atmosphere using music as the base structure to connect with an audience.
If you see your drunk friends going for the DJ booth, whether they’re going to ogle the DJ or stream out a line of requests do everyone a favor and hold them back. Let the man do his job, thank and ogle afterwards.
As with most things all it takes is a little understanding into the situation to better determine what is and isn’t appropriate. Limit your requests to house parties, unless the DJ accepts requests, and remember that this person is doing a job. An unbelievably fun and crazy job.