A mobile DJ's job is NOT to break new music.. :-(

Status
Not open for further replies.

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
I was quickly browsing thru the ADJA online magazine..
First article I glance thru by Mike Walter, he mentioned (and a paraphrase)
"We dont break music at our events. Its not our jobs... We are there to play music the crowd will recognize"
Wow, does it ever bug me that our industry has that attitude.. and I wonder how it become so ingrained in us? to the point where its considered fact...
so it makes sense that;.. radio DJ's and bar DJ's can and should break new music.. but not us?

lets go back in time a bit.. I believe The reason mobile DJ's didn't always break new music, is we usually had access to it the same time (or even later) then john Q public..
Radio jocks (even the ones in small markets) received new releases all the time.. Club DJ's who made a name for themselves also either received super new releases or worked very hard curating new stuff (because they had too, because their "genre" was a lot narrower, and they played a lot more)

but that didnt stop us back then (I remember breaking new music all the time when I was young and hip) and it especially shouldn't stop us now.. (the music industry is BEGGING for curation of new artists)

I'm sorry.. but the idea that we can only play well known top 40 songs, and doing anything else can actually harm us?..

I call B.S..
huge truckload of B.S.

I'm NOT saying we should play a huge percentage of unknown songs.. I'm saying that as professional curators of music, we should at least learn how to fit one or two in during the night..

Flame away :)
 

DJ J Mac

Member
I'm not going to flame you on your thoughts. I agree, we should be using new and sometimes unheard of music. A lot of times we'll buy albums as opposed to downloading songs and as such have a shot at playing a song that won't even chart for another year sometimes two.
 

RobbyRob

Member
in my experience ive noticed that people tend to leave the dance floor if they don't recognize the song. i'll wait for new releases to gain popularity to play. Rather wait till popular before i test the water and take a chance on a flop
 

Cap

Always At Your Service
I'd like to know where the hutzpah came from the one actually dared to define what a mobile DJ's job is and isn't? Hell, 30 years ago weddings weren't a part of the job description either.

Should've followed that bright shining star in the east, but I was too busy tending my flock.
 

DJSkinnyGuy

Active Member
well, it usually takes a few times of a song being repeated before it even catches a person's (non-dj) ear. you can't play a new and unheard of song multiple times at a function where you'll probably perform for these people ONCE. a person listening to a radio station will always tune into their fave station and be passively subjected to something new, repeatedly. at a club, you have your regulars. we all know most people will dance to songs they already know.
 

oldschooldj

Member
I have always used the newly introduced music for cocktail hour or lead in time for dances. Most people like it but haven't become familiar/comfortable enough with it to dance. Within a few months it will cycle into the dance sets. Of course with TV and U-Tube, the minute someone does something stupid to a new song it immediately becomes a hit (Gangnam, Harlem Shake, Thrift Shop). Some of these songs would have never made the playlist before U-Tube.

Ray J.
 

DJSTEVEZ

DJ Emeritus
From my perspective...

In my neck of the woods, a wedding reception is 4 hours in duration (not including cocktail hour) which for me breaks down to a precious few 240 minutes.
Utilizing 240 minutes are courses of the meal and formalities.
Given what's left for music, and dancing, I believe one has to be very strategic about what they play.

Now...if there's a new dance song you feel can't miss, like say by Rihanna, then go for it.
If there's a new Buble tune that will bring the romantic types to the dance floor, then great.
If you just have a hunch, you're the expert, I say go for it.

All the above being said, while it's great to play new music...for me, I can't say I see it as my job to "break" new music. My job is to entertain the people who hired me along with their family, friends and loved ones, to the best of my ability. If that includes playing new music as part of the equation, then great, however it's not my job to (nor have I been hired with the expectation of) "educate them" nor use them as lab rats. -Z-
 
Last edited:

Mark Evans

Mobile Beat Moderator
Staff member
I agree with Steve in that we have a limited amount of time to play to our crowd. We're not playing to you hip crowds like at clubs, who also have a format to adhere to. I used to do that when I started weddings in the 80's even playing something like Footloose cleared the floor. It was bizarre to me. People like stuff they are familiar with to dance to.
 

Scott Hanna

Member
I don't think it's a mobile DJ's job to just play top 40. I think it's a mobile DJ's job to understand what a particular crowd wants.

If I thought the best song to play was a new song, I'd play it. However, I've yet to run into a crowd were it seemed that the best song to play at the moment is a song I know no one there has never heard of. I'm talking dance music. Dinner/cocktail/ slow dance music doesn't matter if I slip an unheard of song in.

Some DJ's think that by playing the new and upcoming song, people will think they are hip. I disagree. I believe most people want to hear the songs they like, not the songs they've never heard of. As others have mentioned, even if they will like it later, I don't have time to convince them that they are going to like it.
 
Last edited:

Mark Bloom

Member
Almost certainly, a lot of what is played at an event is new to someone (unless you play stuff like "Celebration" that I personally stopped playing in 1985 so I could continue to live with myself).

I've had good luck playing totally new songs (not on American radio yet), if it is a good song and mixes well with the previous. Maybe one or two per gig. I do tend this keep things contemporary, even though I've been doing the DJ thing since 1975. About 2 1/2 years ago, I played "We Don't Speak Americano" at a corporate party, it was big in Europe at the time, but hadn't hit the USA. It filled the floor, after I talked it up very briefly ("Here is the biggest dance song in Europe right now")..
 

Sam Whitman

New Member
I'm going to disagree with the OP on this one. I say that it's NOT my job. But I also disagree with the "play songs that people will recognize". You play songs they love or want to hear. I never play the newsest stuff that's been played on the radio just that week and no one has really heard of it. in a club? Yeah sometimes I will but I always tell my clients "If you had to buy the album or go to the concert to know the song, I most likely won't play it unless you request it. If I play the newest song and no one knows it, it almost always bombs, they almost always look at me like "I don't know this. What is this?" Now if it's been in rotation on the radio for a little bit and it's starting to pick up I'll play it, but not in it's first week of rotation.

I think about it this way a lot, similar to how it was posted above, realistically you only have so much dance time, an hour and a half to 2 hours, if you're lucky. You really don't need to repeat artists as far as Top 40 musc. So example, Macklemore, he has a new song out, been in rotation for a bit Can't Hold Us, why would I play that when I can play Thrift Shop, a song that's not brand new but is still killing it. Why would I play the new Justin Bieber #thatPower (awful name) when I can play Beauty and a Beat? Which people already know and will recognize and dance to. It's not my job to tell you what's gonna be popular, it's my job to play what you already like.
 

djtunes

Checking Reality
In the most literal translation "It's not our job..." for wedding DJs and other events with that guest make up I agree. At any teenage event I'll break out something brand new if it's dope to me. Once I have them hooked on my DJing and lubed up for fun (LOL JK) I can mix in something they've possibly never heard before. In their mind I'm the authority on music at that point and they'll usually go any direction I take them. It's the Pied Piper effect.

If you're playing at a school and play something unheard of yet then it charts and the kids are saying "yeah yeah OUR DJ at the last dance has already been playing that." Then it just solidifies your popularity at that school/with that client.

With the right vibe happening at a wedding reception I can get away with it too, but I am not going to try too much unless it's something by a BIG artist that is easily recognized; Pitbull or B.E.P. for example. Like the previous posters said, there's a limited time slot to deliver to the client what they expect. Know the client. If there's a dance floor full of the B&G and all of their college friends I could mix in a new song and be prepared with a reliable emergency exit song just in case they start to dispatch.

At bars and clubs it's best to play new stuff IMO when the dance floor is not packed (at least in my area). I have had snobby drunk chicks look at me funny just by playing a remix instead of the original version. Drunk people, I tell ya - idiots. :)
 

djtunes

Checking Reality
I'll admit it's too bad that some people are so self entitled that they will only allow their self to enjoy something that they are already familiar with.

That's why it's sad but true that "it is not always our job as mobile DJs at private special events to break new music." I like that version better.

It is good advice to new DJs to say "don't try to make yourself famous at a wedding by playing something nobody ever heard of."
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
ok :)

#1 response (yes I have brought this subject up a few times LOL) seems to be;
"We dont play "unknown" songs because they clear the dance floor.."

thats relatively correct.. sure.. using unknown songs increases your chances of a floor bomb..
BUT I don't think as much as many assume.. (IE: yes, it can increase the chances of losing people, but I dont think the percentage is as bad as some people think.. )
I'm pretty sure I'm not the only who tried out a new mix and killed the floor? Then next show we changed the mix and the 'top 40' song that killed the floor last time NOW keeps it going!..

my point?
I think its less about how many people love ALL the songs played,
and more about the mix itself..
1.) Sometimes the songs is just not very danceable..Popular or not (I call them 'B' sides, and using them only to extend a mix when the crowd is begging for more of that genre, but i dont want to 'waste' my better songs)
2.) I almost never start with a 'b' side or unknown song.. but what songs they 'fit' with-in the mix is even more important..
with a less popular or unknown song your ABILITY to 'fit' that song into a great mix is even MORE important..
and yes.. it can be done.. but it does take more work..
3.) trust.. the crowd has to trust you.. and it has to be a good crowd.. right crowd, right mood, right skillz, then as DJ you can do ANYTHING you want.. as long as it kills ;-)
4.) you HAVE to know your music.. That song working 100% depends on your mixing ability, and your ability to predict if the crowd will like it..

(more to come) ;-)
 

DJSkinnyGuy

Active Member
... But I also disagree with the "play songs that people will recognize". You play songs they love or want to hear...
in other words, songs that they recognize.

...So example, Macklemore, he has a new song out, been in rotation for a bit Can't Hold Us, why would I play that when I can play Thrift Shop, a song that's not brand new but is still killing it. Why would I play the new Justin Bieber #thatPower (awful name) when I can play Beauty and a Beat? Which people already know and will recognize and dance to. ...
at a wedding, probably not. teen or intermediate dance, these songs will work. but then again, you didn't mention what type of event this was...
 

djtunes

Checking Reality
Around here, any wed. rec. with a substantial group of 20-something year-olds who are into new music Thrift Shop will go over great. I'll use it later rather than earlier. Even though the lyrics have a muted F-bomb and it's obviously the F-bomb once the B&G and 6 to ten of their friends flock the dance floor when they hear it there isn't much the older people are gonna say. It's those kids' thinkg here and now. Just like they had Elvis and Buddy Holly.
 

Sam Whitman

New Member
in other words, songs that they recognize.



at a wedding, probably not. teen or intermediate dance, these songs will work. but then again, you didn't mention what type of event this was...
You're right but I would play either these of at a wedding for younger bride and groom probably not the Biebs just because haha
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
ok :)

a.) Another valid response was (paraphrased) "We only have so much time to play music, why would I waste any time playing unknown music?"
let me rework that.. maybe a better question is "Why is "breaking" new music important to us?"
but i'll come back to that after the next point.. (and hopefully connect the two)

b.) in the same vein of thought is "our clients don't expect us to break new music"..
Really? are you 100% sure of that..?
That, I DO have some factual information to base my opinion on..
for almost 10 years I gave all my clients a 'feedback' form (and I of course met and had long discussion with them before the event too)

One of the questions on the feedback form was "have you seen a wedding DJ lately (in the last couple of years)? If yes, what did you like or didnt like about the DJ?"
Its not a major response, but a definite recurring response was "DJ played all the same music as the last one we saw"
You and I know why we do this.. if you tracked any wedding DJ's "most played" songs it will start to look a lot like the "mobile beat top 200"..

but what differentiates you from the next guy?

lets put it another way..
Why are turntables still going strong to this day? Why is Serato so popular? Even the most die hard turntablist will admit that one of the big reasons is the PERFORMANCE ASPECT..
Why do we worry about our company names and logos? our looks, our announcements, etc etc.. because we want to stand out, in a good way..
one of the things thats been mentioned in this forum is how important (why an ipod cant do our job) is how well we PROGRAM the music..

How do we prove our skills as a DJ..
mixing .. check.. though like the beat-mixing argument .. it may not be hugely important, but as a DJ would it not be a good skill to work on? (a good beat mixer can mix in an unknown song and people will be grooving to it, before they realize they dont know it LOL )
Performance.. check? if your not doing anything different.. then theres a good chance you wont be remembered.. sure we can compensate in so many other ways.. but in the end we ARE DJ's, so shouldnt our performance include a large portion of the music aspect..
Programming.. check? If your ability to "program" is really good.. You're not that far away from being able to use those talents to include "unknown" songs. and done right, people might remember you for it..

so...
back to a.)
"Why is "breaking" new music important to us?"
DJ's are the "experts" at music curation (if we werent the three points above would be meaningless)
If your waiting for the crowd, or the radio to tell us what is "good", then you might not be considered an "expert"..
and in this day and age.. We should be striving to be better at all the 'aspects' of being a DJ..

Knowing music is in our job description, new and old music..
 
Last edited:

Sam Whitman

New Member
ok :)

a.) Another valid response was (paraphrased) "We only have so much time to play music, why would I waste any time playing unknown music?"
let me rework that.. maybe a better question is "Why is "breaking" new music important to us?"
but i'll come back to that after the next point.. (and hopefully connect the two)

b.) in the same vein of thought is "our clients don't expect us to break new music"..
Really? are you 100% sure of that..?
That, I DO have some factual information to base my opinion on..
for almost 10 years I gave all my clients a 'feedback' form (and I of course met and had long discussion with them before the event too)

One of the questions on the feedback form was "have you seen a wedding DJ lately (in the last couple of years)? If yes, what did you like or didnt like about the DJ?"
Its not a major response, but a definite recurring response was "DJ played all the same music as the last one we saw"
You and I know why we do this.. if you tracked any wedding DJ's "most played" songs it will start to look a lot like the "mobile beat top 200"..

but what differentiates you from the next guy?

lets put it another way..
Why are turntables still going strong to this day? Why is Serato so popular? Even the most die hard turntablist will admit that one of the big reasons is the PERFORMANCE ASPECT..
Why do we worry about our company names and logos? our looks, our announcements, etc etc.. because we want to stand out, in a good way..
one of the things thats been mentioned in this forum is how important (why an ipod cant do our job) is how well we PROGRAM the music..

How do we prove our skills as a DJ..
mixing .. check.. though like the beat-mixing argument .. it may not be hugely important, but as a DJ would it not be a good skill to work on? (a good beat mixer can mix in an unknown song and people will be grooving to it, before they realize they dont know it LOL )
Performance.. check? if your not doing anything different.. then theres a good chance you wont be remembered.. sure we can compensate in so many other ways.. but in the end we ARE DJ's, so shouldnt our performance include a large portion of the music aspect..
Programming.. check? If your ability to "program" is really good.. You're not that far away from being able to use those talents to include "unknown" songs. and done right, people might remember you for it..

so...
back to a.)
"Why is "breaking" new music important to us?"
DJ's are the "experts" at music curation (if we werent the three points above would be meaningless)
If your waiting for the crowd, or the radio to tell us what is "good", then you might not be considered an "expert"..
and in this day and age.. We should be striving to be better at all the 'aspects' of being a DJ..

Knowing music is in our job description, new and old music..
I agree 100% on all of those aspects, yes, I know the new music, and it's good but that doesn't mean I play it, I have all the stuff they don't know about yet but I am not going to play it because they don't know it. If you have a guest that says "I really like that Justin Timberlake song Suit and Tie" are you going to play Pusher Lover Girl? Probably not because it's not what they want to hear. If a bride really likes Beat it by Michael Jackson and Fire are you going to play Scream? Probably not because they don't know the song and I am not going to risk playing something that might work that's brand new when I can drop something that I KNOW is going to work.

Now in a club it's totally different, I play what I want, what's new, what's going to make people buy drinks, but thats because no one is paying to see me they are paying to dance to anything with a beat and drink. I stand out because I make it a point to only pick songs that make guests go "OHHHHHH I LOVE THIS SONG" or "WOWWW I REMEMBER THIS ONE!" Not "man I like this song I gotta get the name of it" or risk the "I've never heard this, and I'm not too much of a fan" it's because I select songs that I KNOW will get that I love/Nostalgic reaction. It's one opinion vs another and at the end of the day it works for you then great! You're making money and booking weddings and if what I was doing wasn't working then I would tweak it until it did but it seems to me that what we do works for both of us.

I will admit though, if I find a song that I KNOW is gonna be hot, it has been on the radio a bit and I know it's gonna be a party anthem, I will drop it.
 

cscdj

New Member
90% Rule

Using a rule that a DJ buddy of mine - Rich Wells came up with several years ago - "90% percent of the music you play should be known by 90% of your audience" leaves plenty of room for breaking new music.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top