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!