Handling request and drunk people can be the catalyst for a bad night so in this article / video I will give you tips and insights on how to squash the issues before they arise, so you can have the space needed to do you thing.
So here's what I'll cover, I'll give you ideas on how to handle requests, weather or not you should play the requests and how to be ready for requests if you receive them.
So firstly, I'll be honest, requests don't have to be a bad thing, in ways they can give you ideas on what tracks your crowd wants to hear which is great, but the only issue is that sometimes they can distract you from mixing and have the potential to disrupt your momentum and worse, I often find people see a new DJ hit the booth and they choose that moment to come and introduce themselves. Now lets face it, the transition between DJs is usually the hardest part and if you add a handful of requests into the first 5 minutes of your set it can be enough to throw you off balance and the funny thing is, it happens all the time - people see you and want to come and say hi as soon as you hit the decks.
So my advice, take someone with you to help you deflect the requests, at least until you have warmed up. So personally, what I used to do is, I would take my partner with me for the big shows and for the first 10 minutes of my set she would speak to anyone that approached the DJ box and ask them how she could help. If they wanted requests she would take them for me, if they wanted to say hi, she would let them know to come back in about 10 minutes or perhaps even let them know what time I finish and ask them to party with us afterwards.
See the thing is, it is important to be kind to your fans but then again there are boundaries that people shouldn't cross and if they do cross those boundaries you may be forced to take action. So what are the boundaries and how can you avoid them in the first place. Well, having someone to come between you and the crowd while you're playing is always a good move. Another method we used to do is, take a notebook called song requests and when people approached the box we could just pass them the book and this way, if they had requests or even a little message for the DJ they could write it out, which is often easier than yelling, over the music, to one another. But what I mean by boundaries are, sometimes people just don't know when to give up and let's say you have a person coming up to your ever few minutes shrugging and saying where's my track and it gets to a point that they are even being aggressive and it is throwing you off your game, you could politely tell them you don't have it, and if they keep harassing you I would get security and ask them to have the person removed. Now personally it doesn't often come to that but I'll be honest there have been times when the requestor crossed a boundary into harasser and if someone won't leave you alone, you have every right to get them removed form the event as it's important that you stay focused as the party is depending on you.
Now I'll be honest, in my 15 plus years of playing live most of the time people are cool and if they didn't take the request pad and wanted to talk, I would smile and talk to them like friends. But there are is something I would be careful of saying and that is, I don't have it. I noticed whenever someone asked for a song and I replied I don't have it they would always reply with, well, what do you have and sometimes they would then use that as an invitation to jump into the box with me and start looking through my library. So my advice, never say, I don't have it. If you don't want to play it you could say something like: that's a great track, I'm just a bit busy at this moment but I'l see if I have it as soon as I can and will aim to play it by the end of my set. If you don't plan to play their track the more non committal and vague you are the better. You could even try to relate to the requestor by saying what a great track that is, but you are not sure how well it would suit the moment or you may even say one of the other Djs that night loves that track and you need to save it for them .
However this is assuming you don't want their request. I'll be honest sometimes I welcome requests and base my set on them. Meaning, sometimes you may be thinking about a song and at that moment someone comes up and requests that same track. Then that is 100% a sign that track must be played and you can use that as an opportunity to connect wth the person as you both share common tastes. Other times, perhaps I have no idea what to play next at which time requests give me ideas, but again, if you don't have a good feeling about what is being requested don't play it as at the end of the day the people on the dance floor have no idea about dance floor dynamics and they are requesting based on personal preference and may suggest a track that they love but sometimes there tastes may be obscure and a bad request can ruin your dance floor but it's not that persons fault, it's your fault for listening to them. So again you have to filter out the requests and often they're rubbish and other times they almost feel like signs from above on what you should play next or at least work towards.
Now one last question my students ask me and that is how do you prepare for requests, and do you take extra music just in case. I guess this is one of the advantages of using your computer. You most likely have your whole music library at your fingertips and this increases your chances of actually having the track being requested and if not you could probably even download it then and there if you really wanted to, but when using USBS, you are limited by how much you could fit onto that USB. So my advice just have loads of tracks to choose from. you could have multiple playlists with different vibes and maybe even a playlist full of classics, some more commercial playlists and even playlist full of all the stuff, for your genre, that is really popular right now, not to mention, most importantly, the playlist that you have built your set around especially for that event.
People often see requests as a bad thing but in many ways it can give you ideas on what people on your floor want to hear and it can also be a good way to connect with your audience and find common ground. Also if you are single or open to meeting someone, you'll find being a DJ brings loads of opportunities to hook up (haha) and you may often receive advances with people coming up to the box and flirting with you, in which case, maybe you could go out of your way to play their tracks if you wanted to create a connection haha. I remember my partner now of 12 plus years I met at one of my club events and instead of her approaching the box I approached her and asked her what she wanted to hear. Then form that request I could gauge the kind of music she wanted to hear and I could craft something based
on her style but at the same time I still needed to be careful not to go on too bigger tangent as you must always stay true to the vibe of the events that you are playing.
At the end of the day, the DJ is the centre of the party. If you are doing a great job and are 100% in sync with your crowd, you may find people coming up and high fiving you and instead of requesting tracks they applaud you for your track selection. Trust me there's no better feeling than the energy at parties and when you're truly in sync wit your crowd, playing all the right tracks at the right time, it can honestly feel like a spiritual experience. It's very elevating on so many levels and I personally feel that's one of the big motivating factors for a tonne of DJS. How many people out there have had those kind of experiences?
So long story short, I'd be open to requests but personally if you are concerned about them, take a notebook with Requests written at the top and when someone approaches the DJ box, smile at them and past them the pad. If they wish to talk to you in person you can let them know you are super busy and are happy to talk afterwards, or if you are like me, you could even have a friend to assist with such moments s you can keep your focus on what you need to do, which is probably what I would do if I felt nervous about a show and had limited experience.
I hope that's been helpful. If you have a method you use to handle requests and drunk people in clubs I'd love to hear all about it, or perhaps you may have a story you wish to share, either way can't wait to read your comments below. Thanks for watching.
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