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Moon Phase

June 2019
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Bruce [userpic]

Hey peoples - yes, I do exist! I just gradually got a more and more busy life, and finally just couldn't manage the hour a day I used to devote to journaling.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

However, there's a rant that's been building for some time, and that may even get me in some trouble, but, y'know, sometimes you just have to let it out, right? Right? Bueller?

And this one, is, of course, work related - basically, what differentiates the professional DJ from the amateur. Some of this applies to karaoke, as well, but comes out in more... obvious... form when dealing with DJs.

Top of the list, and that from which everything else derives, is the question of focus on the customers. Whatever one's personal motivations for the job might be, and independent of how much - or even if - one is getting paid for the gig, the professional DJ's top concern needs to be what the people they are playing for would enjoy hearing.

This doesn't mean that one should only play what people immediately want to hear. The best DJs introduce people to new music, on top of playing stuff they recognize.

The DJ that just plays "what they feel like playing" is not, in any way, a professional. They may occasionally manage to get paid, but they're not a professional. Frequently, they're not so much even an amateur as just masturbating.

And the DJ that won't play something that a large part of the crowd obviously wants to hear, simply because the DJ is tired of hearing it? Well, that's moving from the "masturbating" realm into the "asshole" one.

It's important to keep in mind at all times that one is not, nor should one be "in control" of the crowd. One may exert some subtle influence, but on the whole, one is the servant of the crowd, and is there to respond to their needs.

Which brings me to requests, and the customer that dares to bring in their own music. Whether or not one plays a request goes back to rule 1: Will it make the crowd happy? Obviously it'll make the requester happy, but if everybody else hates it, one will have to say "no." Last week at Nox we blew off a guy who wanted to hear California Gurls - which is a fine pop song (I personally like it), but not exactly what the rest of the room would want to hear on a Goth/Industrial night. Not that I'm not periodically tempted to mix in some Ke$ha...

In general, though, requests are in-genre, and while the DJ may be tired of hearing a particular track, they need to judge what the crowd actually would enjoy, and behave according to that only.

Customer-supplied music is slightly trickier. Granted, if it's music one knows, or at least a band one knows, one again simply applies the first rule, and works from there. If one doesn't know the music, one needs to move on to whether one knows the customer and trusts their judgment.

And if one does, one should just play it.

And last, but not least, there's the question of learning to separate the musician from the music. It's fun and interesting to learn more about musicians. It's a fascinating thing to meet them, and to form an opinion of them as people.

It's also terribly irrelevant to what one should play. Some extremely nice, personable people make mediocre music. Some complete assholes make great music. The great music is what should be played. It's a really cool thing when one gets to play a good track by someone one respects and admires. And it may rankle to play a really great song by somebody one hates.

But you know what? Suck it up.

I'm not saying there aren't songs I won't play, but it depends on the song, not the artist. For example, a really great, catchy, danceable tune promoting white supremacy? Not gonna happen. On the other hand, a great love song by a white supremacist? Sure!

Current Location: The Duplex
Mood: annoyedannoyed

What brought this on?

Let's Just Say...

Certain life experiences, and leave it at that...

Speaking of "what the customer wants," if you can pick up "Save Me San Francisco" by Train when it's available, that'd be AWESOME.

well said

So I haven't read much of your journal yet, I don't get on here much either and generally just read the top posts on my friends page. I did not realize what an incredible writer you are! This post was well thought out, writen and very informative:) Thanks!

Re: well said

Thank you, dear!

I just don't have the time to write that I used to - and besides, I generally tell myself that if I'm going to write, I should write better ad copy. My website is sooo out of date...

And then I go off and do something else. It's a vicious cycle.

I agree completely. Honestly 1/3 of the music I spin isn't music that I necessarily like myself, but it's what the crowd wants to hear. I used to HATE playing "Single Ladies" with the firey passion of a thousand supernovas...but that's what folks wanted to hear. But I know what you mean. There are some DJ's who only play what they want to hear, and get a power trip off of thinking they can control everything. However those are generally the DJ's who have an empty dance floor. On the other hand there's the type of DJ who literally takes in any request they get, and their set sounds more like a drunken iTunes mix than a planned out DJ set.

I completely agree on both counts.

As far as I can see, the two things that identify a really good DJ are (1) knowing your music, and (2) reading the crowd. The technical aspects are a distant third - the DJ that can figure out what to play that'll please their audience, but has 2 second silences between songs, is head and shoulders above the DJ that can seamlessly play a continuous track of stuff the customers don't really want to hear.

And while I think there are times one can do every request one gets, there are many others where one has to tell people that while they may want to dance to American Pie, no-one else in the room feels the same way...