As a DJ, you will have times where your juggling the music to appease everyone. There’s nothing uncommon about this.
However, there may come a time when this gets particularly tricky to navigate and could lead to someone being unhappy, since you cannot always please everyone.
Here is an example below that fits this scenario. I’ve written about it here to show how it was handled proactively while remaining professional.
Despite the effort, someone was still unhappy at the end of the wedding, however because I brought it to attention first, this didn’t reflect bad on me as the DJ since it was discussed as a possibility in advance.
- Destination Wedding, San Diego.
- Bride & Family from Europe and requested mellow house music (IE: Kaskade)
- Groom & Family from New York and requested Hip Hop & Rap
- Wedding Guests from both above (20%), as well as other parts of the USA (80%).
During the final consultation with Couple where the details and timeline is reviewed, I noticed these details mentioned above.
The music is on opposite ends of the spectrum and therefore even with transitional songs, may be a bit tricky to navigate, but still doable.
The Bride was adamant on only house music during dancing and other parts of the wedding, including dinner.
I advised (consulted) the couple that in my past experience, this is workable, however these two music requests are opposite, and taking the guests into consideration, they will have their own music they will (respond to) dance to as a collective (Top 40, Current Players/Hits etc).
I asked the couple what they wanted for the reception in terms of outcome, such as:
- Guests to have a good time and dance [appeasing guests more]
- Less dancing but stay strict on the House music & Hip Hop/Rap [appeasing couple more]
- If strict on House/Hip Hop/Rap, what ratio would be a good fit [appeasing bride or groom more specifically]
- Combination of everything above using my best judgement [appeasing everyone]
[Note: This was a calculated conversational route (setup) to getting a specific answer while letting the couple still remain in control. The *reason* for this I state below. Remember, the DJ is here to consult, provide a service, and “prescribe” a solution to any possibility that pertains to the DJ, not jump to conclusions.]
Couple responded with option 2 at first, but then shifted to option 4, but made it apparent their main focus was option 1, they wanted guests to have a good time and dance so the guests would enjoy the wedding.
Continuing forward, I informed the couple that this is workable, reassuring them. I did also include the following during the conversation based on observations and past experience:
- Because of the fact the music requests of the couple were on opposite ends of the spectrum, there may be periods where the dance floor transitions completely between genres, or clears out for periods of time. [Reason: Even with genre transitional songs the dance floor may be full with a specific genre, but when switching will clear out.]
- Playing house music during dinner may get some adverse reactions from guests that are not accustom to it, as opposed to other subtle dinner music which may be expected from guests. [Reason: If the majority of guests are not from Europe, they would expect the DJ to be playing dinner music, not house, even if requested by couple.]
- In the past guests have requested the music changed when it is music they do not normally hear. [Reason: guests assume the DJ is the one picking the music without a set agenda or style request. Also some of the Hip Hop and House songs requested by couple were not top hits/popular]
The key point of the 3 items above and bringing this to the couples attention in advance is one thing: Each of the 3 above will create confusion within the event.
Confusion in the respect of “Out of the norm”. Confusion where as guests, family, or anyone there other than the couple, will ASSUME you (the DJ) are the one making these decisions which could lead to further assumptions being made that you don’t know what your doing (Complaints normally come from this area).
Remember, you only met with the couple, and the couple most likely will not be informing everyone else specifics of your meeting and their music decisions.
Notice that I am not saying this cannot be done, I am merely advising the couple carefully of some potential possibilities.
The best way to do this without being too direct about their specific wedding and speculating that this WILL happen [you don’t want to assume], is giving an example of this as a past occurrence, in which this, or something similar, happened at a past event or wedding, and these observations (cause-effect) are what you noticed took place at that past event.
Your taking the stance here as your being proactive, so your addressing the possibilities early on and being informative.
Moving along, the couple confirmed understanding of these possibilities and agreed to play it by ear while using my (the DJs) best judgement. They also respected the fact that I discussed this with them in advance. [This showed they trusted my opinions and indirectly showed they valued the professionalism thus far. This already places the DJ in a position of authority at what he does, which helps further down the line should anything arise.]
Reception was under way, music was being played as discussed.
During dinner, requested house music was played at request of the bride. As predicted, guests seemed confused and out of place.
Dancing started, mix of House, Hip Hop/Rap/ Current Players/Top 40 was played.
Things were going smooth, until Bride wanted more house.
More house was played (specific requested songs by bride) and dance floor did not respond well. [This specific crowd responded more to the Top Hits, some Hip Hop, Current Players, but not house at all]
Groom, approached and wanted more Hip Hop.
[Now, you can see here where things can start to go awry. Each side of the couple wants more of their style of music.]
Subtly worked in more of each while also juggling the current players for the crowd also.
With an hour to go, Groom approaches and states it’s ok to only play Hip Hop/Rap the remainder of the night.
I asked if this would be appropriate since the bride also wanted more house music as well.
Groom stated yes, brought bride back up to confirm [Not my request but works for me] and I continued forward.
Follow Up & Feedback:
Couple compliments the MC style, the sound/lights, and the day.
The bride states she was unhappy with the music because more house music was not played, and people didn’t dance to the house music she wanted played.
Never get defensive here, it will always end wrong for you. Look at the brides “Action” as a “Reaction” instead, and ask “Why” to understand the action of why she feels that way – from a standpoint of understanding.
Assess the answer, and reply from a state of fact instead of a state of emotion.
Remember, you are the DJ, the expert at your craft. Converse with confidence here. Help her understand why she feels the way she does, but more importantly why the music was the way it was.
Remember above where I stated the *reason*, this is where it applies.
You (the DJ) mentioned the possibility of this in advance, therefore, when you advise on “Why” the outcome, it appears much more factual to the couple as well because of this prior notice, instead of not saying anything up front, and advising afterwards, where it may lead to the assumption of you making excuses.
I recapped what I stated before, adding that it is a tricky request.
Dissecting her “Reaction” statement as two individual explanations:
- More house was not played: Reiterated the couples main focus was option 1 above (for the guests to have a good time) and therefore I kept a constant blend of all requested music, while including the immediate requests at the wedding of the Bride and Groom as well.
- People did not dance to house music requested: Explained that most of the crowd was not from Europe, so the particular songs selected may not have resonated with the crowd, which is a relation of Crowd-Song, not necessarily the DJ as the DJ simply plays the song.
As a summary, the goal for this example is to show the position you take as a DJ, the conversation handling, and most importantly, being proactive and holding confidence in your self and your abilities.
Advising the couple in advance of the possibilities, lends to more confidence after the fact, where confidence is needed most for the DJ.
Without advising up front, one may feel the need to react off emotion first, give excuses, or handle the situation differently than described above.
Furthermore, the actions of advising in advance, show professionalism, knowledge and understanding of your service, and confidence that you will be able to handle the situation (in advance), and that you handled the situation the best you could professionally (afterwards).
This example can be relevant to other types of events and reach outside of just music.