Don't Shoot The Messenger!

By Adrian Cavlan

Today I want to talk about our role as DJs and musical “hosts” at an event and our obligation to accommodate all the people attending.

Sometimes people get a little upset when a song they don’t like comes on. They can express their displeasure in a number of ways: walking off the dance floor, giving a dirty look to the DJ, giving the “thumbs down” to the DJ, giving the “cut throat” sign to the DJ, giving the “hanging in a noose” sign to… you guessed it: the DJ.


Rough gig, this DJ thing, eh? One song and suddenly there’s a lynch mob?

Of the above-listed expressions of displeasure, only one is really not kind of (or very) rude: walking off the dance floor. That is your right and prerogative at any time. 

You’re not feeling a song? Time for a drink. We get it, and it’s ok.

But pause to ponder this: when you are a mobile DJ for hire, your job description is to go into an unknown environment, playing for an unknown audience, and, with a level of prescience that is simply taken for granted, keep everyone simultaneously happy for the duration of the event.

Wait… what??!!

Impossible... Right?


So, what we (at least here at Sound In Motion) do is first ask the client (the person hiring and paying for us to be there) what their favorites are and what they think their guests will generally like. Please note carefully: these songs and genres will be our first priority for play on the night of the party! Yes we are DJs, and in some senses, “artists”, but in this case, first and foremost, we are service providers, and that point is never lost upon us.

So then there’s the second level: the songs and genres that the guests at the event are requesting and/or reacting to. This is important, as in some cases, it’s more about individual requests, and in others, it’s more about reading and reacting to the crowd’s response to each selection. In either case, it is still done in the spirit of service: the guests are family, friends, co-workers… people who the client/host cared about enough to invite to share the celebration with them. So to the DJ, they are also important, and also to be catered to.

Then there’s the last bit: these are the songs the DJ chooses and uses to create  a sensible progression in weaving together the songs/genres from the first two categories listed above (client requests and guest requests/reactions). This part is essential in giving the music flow and direction.

So now that I have, as usual, gone off into some kind of philosophical dissertation, let’s get back to the point:

That song you hate that just came on?

Very good chance it was requested by the client or perhaps her Aunt Sue. 

In fact, if you take a look on the dance floor, there will likely be a small group or even only a person or two who are very, very happy that we are playing this song. 

So how about giving them their three minutes to enjoy their flavor while you come on up and say hello and request yours?

As always, we are happy to accommodate… even later, when someone gives us the dirty look while we’re playing your favorite… LOL!

Adrian Cavlan